The best GNOME 3 distro !

The search for the best GNOME distro can prove to be a very tedious one, especially if you don’t even know where to start. After going through some of the most prominent distributions currently out there, here’s what I’ve come to conclude:

Updated Sep 18, 2016Comparisons

Gnome 3.10

Since there are more than 100 different distros which offers GNOME as one of their desktop environments, it would be a “bit” difficult to test them all and see which one is the most suited for you. Instead of doing that, it would be more realistic to focus on certain aspects you wish to include inside your distro of choice, such as: high level of integration with GNOME apps, easy to install, being user friendly (or not) and having the latest versions of packages at your disposal…

The above are just general thumb rules you may use to help you solve the “GNOME quest” by yourself. Using these aspects mentioned above I have found there are basically 3 main distros which most people would probably find as the ones offering the best GNOME experience of them all, so let’s rank them one by one and use these rankings to help us decide which is the best one:



Fedora is the distribution with the largest amount of developers working on GNOME project, it has just recently built a new automated installer and uses YUM and RPM for default package management. Its release model is – scheduled release – i.e. released on a specific predetermined date.


  • Easy to install:  9/10
  • GNOME integration:  10/10
  • User friendly:  8/10
  • Large repository:  8.5/10
  • Latest software:  9/10
  • Stability:  7.5/10

All-in-All:  52/60



Arch is the most bleeding edge Linux distro there is, always providing the latest upstream packages and using a rolling-release model, it is heavily relies on the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle, and aims for intermediate to advanced users. Arch has not long ago switched its BSD style init to GNOME compatible – “systemd” system manager.


  • Easy to install:  3/10
  • GNOME integration:  9.5/10
  • User friendly:  4/10
  • Large repository:  8/10
  • Latest software:  10/10
  • Stability:  7/10

All-in-All:  41.5/60



Ubuntu has the largest repository of all Linux distributions – more than 50,000 packages and still counting, it aims to be very user friendly and unlike the other two distros mentioned above it is based off of another distribution (Debian). Ubuntu uses apt-get and deb for package management, and a more mature init called Upstart.


  • Easy to install:  10/10
  • GNOME integration:  8.5/10
  • User friendly:  10/10
  • Large repository:  10/10
  • Latest software:  8/10
  • Stability:  8/10

All-in-All:  54.5/60   –  Overall winner


In conclusion

Judging by the above mentioned criteria, the distro who got the best rankings out of the three is Ubuntu, and for a good reason may I add – out of the 3, Ubuntu is the only distro which declares being user friendly as one of it’s main goals plus having a large repo is very helpful no matter what’s your computing skill. Based on my own experience the results are pretty much reflecting what I’ve felt during the use of each distro.

But what does that means? is Ubuntu the ultimate GNOME distro for everyone needs? probably not. Although I’ve tried to make the rankings as objective as possible, it is still based on my own knowledge and perception. Beyond that, if you’ll take out the user-friendliness and ease of installation from the equation, which aren’t so crucial for experienced users, you’re going to end up with a totally different result – Fedora wins while Ubuntu and Arch are in a draw. So basically, it’s up to you to decide which variables should be taken into account when choosing your own best GNOME distro.

Best of luck :-)

COMMENTS (beta 4)

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Rizal M. S. May '15
it's been bugging me out how Ubuntu got 10 at Large repository and Arch just 8,5. It's in the AUR. you don't even have to add third party repos like PPA, you just install what you want directly from it. i'm not a good english speaker but this is what i'm trying to tell. if Ubuntu got 10/10 for repository, you have to give Arch 11/10 at repository, imho. and yeah, the comment below me is right, get Antergos instead if you have difficulties installing Arch.
Liron May '15 Rizal M. S.
Keep in mind that this post was written about 1.5 years ago, a lot of things changed during that period, however it is not important. As I concluded, the rankings are based on my own knowledge and perception (back then) which is subjected to unintentional bias, the important thing to note is that it’s up to you to decide which variables should be taken into account. All in all I think the majority of readers would agree that the herein trio are the leading contenders for the title: "best GNOME 3.x distro" though there would always be some who would disagree. P.S. Antergos is not a replacement for arch, I'm sure many arch users will agree with me on that point - if you can't handle arch installation, then perhaps you're not yet ready for the "arch way"...
Rizal M. S. May '15 Liron
yeah, i know that already. so i just stated that it's bugging me out, not you're wrong. so reader that stumble upon on your awesome blog will not misinformed or misguided, like yourself 1.5 years ago. and i know, Antergos is not a replacement for Arch, for i am an Archer myself. I agree on that. I mentioned Antergos just so you can try it instead of Arch in order to recompare Ubuntu's PPA and Arch's AUR. By you, i mean the people that stumble upon this well-written blog, because i'm sure that you've already known about what i said by the time i wrote my comment.
Liron May '15 Rizal M. S.
OK, I understand, thanks for commenting.
Fadi R Mar '15
This is a good article for those who have never used Linux before but for those of us who are sick of Ubuntu and Fedora looking for alternatives, it's not that educational.
me Mar '14
what about anteragos? its easy to install - and arch based - so fast as hell
Fadi R Mar '15 me
Thanks! Exactly what I was looking for, fast as hell! :) I'll give it a try!
Fadi R Mar '15 Fadi R
Bro, it's Antergos not Anteragos and thanks again for the heads up, it looks great!
kamrat Feb '14
Latest Ubuntu have gnome 3.8 only and adding PPA for newer version will most likely break heavily gnome-patched unity. I can't see how Ubuntu would be a good choice actually. Fedora, Arch and opensuse perhaps?