Top 5 Linux distributions for Mac

macOS is a good operating system. Combined with the hardware from Apple, it quickly becomes one of the most popular platforms on PC. But as it evolved, things changed significantly. Some changes have been for the better, such as better stabilization, simpler hardware choices, increased security, and more accessibility options. Other changes annoyed a lot of its enthusiasts, such as Apple’s closed ecosystem, the iTunes vendor lock-in, and the lack of fine-tune customization.

For those of you who are looking to migrate away from macOS, this article list the top 5 Linux distro for your Mac that will make your transition much smoother. Once you started to really enjoy using Linux, you can consider running one of them as your daily driver.

1. Elementary OS – the distro that looks and feel like your Mac

Elementary OS - the distro that looks just like macOS

Elementary OS is the Linux distribution that look and feel just like your good-ol’ macOS. Based on Ubuntu LTS, it gives the user both the stability and the sleek design of its custom desktop environment-Pantheon.

As a beginner trying to migrate from MacOS to Linux, Elementary OS is the obvious choice. Elementary OS is light-weight, too. It runs well on limited-resources hardware, including lower-end devices such as Chromebooks. This is great news if you’re having a legacy MacBook lying around the house.

Besides being good looking, Elementary OS is user-friendly. All settings works flawlessly out of the box, which pre-configured sane defaults with less confusion for new users.

If you really like simplicity, a beautiful, customizable interface, and that you really enjoy MacOS style, go for ElementaryOS, you won’t look back. The operating system is fast, simple and stable, exactly what you want from a macOS replacement.

Almost all Elementary OS apps are written in Vala and publicly available on Launchpad, leveraging the same standard API suite to communicate and interact with each other. This is great news for software developers, it makes it easy for them to get started writing applications for Elementary OS and to understand how things fit together inside the OS.

The operating system also has an active online community, there are elementary OS subreddit, StackExchange and elementaryOS Linux Forums to assist whenever you need help.

Elementary OS Recommended System Specifications

  • Recent Intel i3 or comparable dual-core 64-bit processor.
  • 4 GB of system memory (RAM)
  • Solid state drive (SSD) with at least 32 GB of free space.
  • Internet access.
  • Built-in or wired mouse/touchpad and keyboard.
  • 1024×768 minimum resolution display

Download the OS free of charge at https://elementary.io/

2. Deepin Linux – Linux distro inspired by macOS design

Deepin Linux - macOS inspired Linux distro

Deepin OS is a distribution that aims to provide an elegant, user-friendly and reliable operating system. It doesn’t try to mimic macOS in look and feel, but the user experience is somehow familiar to some extent, which makes it easier for macOS users to migrate to.

Deepin OS is based on Debian, which allows you access to a huge number of quality applications to choose from. The desktop environment called DDE or Deepin Desktop Environment is developed in-house, focuses on intuitive design. On top of that, the Chinese company behind the OS also added a few home-grown applications, Deepin Software Centre, DMusic and DPlayer.

Users who migrate away from macOS may appreciate its familar interface, but Deepin OS has more to offer. The OS comes with default packages to typical needs e.g. Chrome, WPS office, System Monitor and a bunch of multimedia utilities. It also provides an easy to use program installer/uninstaller, a central app store, different from most major Linux distro which relies on command line interfaces to do these things.

Before you download Deepin and install it, please note there are a few things may turn you down. First, the OS is designed, developed and maintained by Wuhan Deepin Technology – a Chinese company. Secondly, the user interface requires heavy compute power to be smooth enough, so your old PC may not be suitable for Deepin OS. Finally, download speed for packages from the default repository may be pretty slow at times, since the servers are located in China, which does not have many direct connections to another continents.

Deepin OS Recommended System Requirements:

According to the official website, please ensure that your computer meets the following requirements, otherwise you may not experience Deepin to its fullest.

  • CPU: Intel Pentium IV 2GHz or higher.
  • Memory: more than 2G RAM, 4G or higher is recommended.
  • Disk: more than 25 GB free disk space.

Download Deepin OS free-of-charge at https://www.deepin.org/en/

3. Zorin OS – macOS lookalike Linux distro with themes

Zorin OS takes a different approach from other Linux distributions. Zorin OS is based on Ubuntu, but aims to be a comfortable switch for Windows and macOS users, so they don’t experience so much of a “culture shock” when using the new OS. The operating system has two separate build : Zorin OS and Zorin OS Lite designed for old laptops and computers.

Under the hood, Zorin OS uses either GNOME desktop environment or XFCE (on Zorin OS Lite). The UIs are heavily customized in order to be familiar and cause less confusion to macOS and Windows users. If you prefer a more intimate look and feel to macOS, you can install additional themes and icon sets to further touch up the the OS appearances.

The Zorin team offer an additional paid version of Zorin OS, called “Pro”. The Pro versions offer extra UI themes for different operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, etc. It also comes with popular programs preinstalled and a few more in-house enhancements software.

Besides all the bells and whistles, Zorin OS has its own set of cons. Firstly, if you paid for Zorin OS, whenever a new version is released, you would have to pay again. Secondly, the installation ISO is huge since it bundles a lot of software packages inside. I personally prefer to install what I need on demand. Finally, although Wine and PlayOnLinux can be easily installed in Zorin OS, allowing users to run compatible Windows software for ease of transition from Windows, I find it hard to get

Zorin OS Recommended System Requirements:

The basic system requirements to install the latest version are as follow:

  • CPU: 1 GHz Dual Core – Intel/AMD 64-bit processor
  • RAM: 2GB or more
  • Disk: 10 GB (Core & Education) or 20 GB (Ultimate)
  • Display: 800 × 600 resolution minimum

Zorin OS is available at https://zorin.com/os/

4. Ubuntu – the all-around choice

Yep, it’s Ubuntu. Sure, the OS doesn’t boast the same eye-candy like macOS, but its user interface is pretty good-looking right out of the box, and you can always install a third-party theme later.

The advantages of using Ubuntu over macOS are mostly being free from the Apple ecosystem. You have the freedom to choose your own toolsets for everything.

The default GNOME is minimal; there’s not much GUI to get caught up in. In fact, it’s becoming more and more intuitive over time as developers are now gearing towards usability over features.

Most of the basic programs for web browsing, emails, playing videos and music, read PDFs are bundled with Ubuntu. You also have access to apt package manager right out of the box, whereas you have to install a different one called Homebrew in macOS.

The biggest weakness with Ubuntu and Linux is the lack of a powerful office suite and creative applications such as After Effects or Lightroom. However, as Google Docs rises and Microsoft Office 365 are moving into the cloud, unless you’re an Office specialist, you can get most basic tasks done without ever needing a dedicated office suite.

Ubuntu is freely available at https://ubuntu.com/

5. Solus – a Linux distro that resemblances macOS

Solus is an independently developed operating system designed for home computing with a variety of tweaks that work to enable users to customize their desktop better. Solus default desktop environment – GTK, offers a simple, user-friendly, and elegant interface. Its default UI has slide-in ‘Today‘ and ‘Notification‘ panel, which resemblances the way you macOS operates.

Solus is intended exclusively for use on personal computers and does not include software that is only useful in enterprise or server environments. Preinstalled software included Firefox, Rhythmbox, GNOME MPV, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc.

Solus Recommended System Requirements:

  • A blank DVD or a 2GB+ USB drive.
  • Minimum of 10GB of disk space available.
  • 4GB of RAM for an optimal experience.
  • A 64-bit (x86_64) processor.

More information about Solus can be found at https://getsol.us/home/.

To sum up, Elementary brings more of a Mac look and feel, Zorin feels more like Windows, Ubuntu is for the average user. If you are willing to install a Chinese distro, opt for Deepin. We hope that the information above help you find the perfect Linux distro to install on your Mac.

You may be interested in our Linux software roundups, including 8 Best Open Source CMDB softwareBest Linux Video ConvertersBest Linux Home Security Software, or best SNES emulator for Linux.

If you have any suggestion, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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1 thought on “Top 5 Linux distributions for Mac”

  1. Solus looks nothing like MacOS !!

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