Power user Linux distros: 5 reviewed and rated

You're not a power user unless you're running one of these distros

Linux power users

Note: Our power user Linux distros round-up has been fully updated. This feature was first published in May 2013.

The Linux power user is a celebrated breed, despite the lack of any definitive definition of one. All newbies must toil long and hard with their Linux installations before they can describe themselves as one.

At the very least, power users have a great degree of skill on all things Linux, whether it's the kernel, Bash or package management systems – and they aren't afraid to get their hands dirty in the name of configuring the system.

Almost all modern Linux distributions require little from users before presenting them with a working distro. By definition, no power user will want to run any of these distros. This is why, despite their popularity, the likes of Ubuntu and Mint are not featured here.

In addition to a driven installation, which separates these distros from most others, what's even better is the adaptability quotient of the distros in our roundup. You can easily coax any of these distros to churn out music at parties, or host complex websites.

The development methodology and underlying package management system are still relevant concerns, but if you're driven by the desire to squeeze every ounce of power out of your Linux distro, you could be a power user…

How we tested...

All of the distros on our list have been around for a number of years – and even decades in some cases. Over this period, they've each earned a large amount of kudos by offering unique perks or advantages over their peers, whether in terms of software management or ease of installation.

All these distros are extremely stable and so our roundup isn't so much about performance as adaptability. We're looking for things that make them ideal for experienced Linux users who are tired of newbie-oriented distros and want to do more with their Linux machines. This is possible when you have great control over every aspect of the distro.

Everything should be configurable and capable of being changed to your liking. The ideal distro for power users is one that encourages you to fiddle and tinker extensively with all the different aspects of the OS, and makes you work towards a perfect system.