Key Facts

  • Debian, one of the oldest and most stable distros is a great option for beginners.
  • Ubuntu is a firm favorite owing to its user-friendliness and the convenience it provides.
  • Clear Linux has been designed to provide exceptional performance and cloud and local security.

There are numerous reasons a user might want to run Linux. Some might enjoy the robust toolchain for software development. Others might enjoy the ability to customize their user experience to their liking, going beyond what Windows and macOS have to offer. Linux is a robust and mature kernel, and a good variety of operating systems leverage it.

However, Linux distros, or operating systems, can have issues with compatibility with computer hardware. This can be a result of lacking vendor support. Drivers can be lacking, or they might not exist at all. Hardware like CPUs, if lacking support, can function poorly and make using the PC inconvenient. So where does that leave users of AMD processors?

What To Look For in a Linux Distro

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Usage and support are just a few criteria you will have to take into account when choosing your distro.

©Software:Arch Linux developersScreenshot:VulcanSphere, GPL , via Wikimedia Commons – License

Every user has different needs when it comes to using their computers. So there are a few considerations you can take when choosing a Linux distro:

  • Hardware compatibility
  • Software compatibility
  • Bleeding Edge vs Stable Release
  • Usage
  • Support

Hardware Compatibility

Linux distros don’t benefit from the same market share as Windows or macOS, and as such there can be a bit of a delay when it comes to getting decent support for newer hardware. In the case of more obscure pieces of hardware, there can be zero support over years. If you are using common or popular components, this might not be a consideration.

Web-based utilities like the Linux Hardware Database give the means to check your PC’s hardware. Linux Journal also provides a handy list to check for distro-specific hardware compatibility across desktops and laptops alike. Most consumer laptops and prebuilt desktops shouldn’t worry, but if you’ve just bought a brand-new processor that has been on shelves for weeks, it’s worth a look.

Software Compatibility

There is a multitude of commercial software applications available for Linux distros. Those looking to utilize software packages like WINE should be at least aware of what is compatible with both their hardware and distro alike.

Software compatibility isn’t a crucial consideration in choosing a Linux distro, because most software is compatible with required dependencies. For those missing the variety of applications on Windows, pass through virtual machines and WINE allows for use of software that hasn’t been ported. Gaming and productivity software alike have seen a bit of a renaissance on Linux-based operating systems.

It is assumed, however, that if you’re interested in using Linux as your daily driver that you’ll be using open-source software. There is a good variety of analogous open-source software and sites like Osalt provide a good directory for searching for Linux-compatible tools which fill a specific niche.

Bleeding Edge Vs. Stable Release

Do you prefer to have up-to-date operating systems or something that just works as intended without any glitches or bugs? It is a tough question but it’s the basis of whether you want something on the bleeding edge or something stable. The difference is quite stark, with the former being continual iterative updates and hotfixes and the latter being periodic massive updates meant to bring new features.

For those with some familiarity with working in a Linux distro, the bleeding edge might prove more attractive. You would be receiving the latest updates and drivers on a regular basis. Additional features should be tested at your discretion as they are added, however. It does require a little more know-how, and experience with Linux is a must since it is very much not a casual user experience for most bleeding-edge distros.

Stable releases receive updates far less frequently. There are some significant upsides to this, as patches can and will break compatibility with certain devices or introduce bugs. If you are in a production environment or using any sort of Linux-based server, stable release is for you. If you want something that you can set and forget, stable release is probably the best choice. It doesn’t require quite as much passing familiarity with Linux, and most of the major issues are addressed by whoever maintains the OS.

Usage

Not all distros are created equal. Some are good daily drivers, others are tailored to specific use cases. Consider something like Ubuntu vs Kali Linux. Both run an operating system using the Linux kernel.

Ubuntu is meant as a good general-purpose Linux distro. It has a visually pleasing desktop environment, comes with a good assortment of standard applications, and can fit many use cases.

Kali Linux on the other hand works as a penetration testing platform for white hat hackers. Utilities are geared towards probing and testing networks to find vulnerabilities. It has a web browser and notepad, but it isn’t geared toward daily use unless you’re in a specific profession.

Consider what you want out of any of the Linux distros available. Whatever your intended use is should dictate your choice of operating systems. Some are optimized toward higher performance in certain areas.

Support

Support for Linux distros can vary between user-made documentation or official channels through contracts for your organization. The individual doesn’t need a support contract, so user-made documentation and troubleshooting are far more important.

More common Linux distros have a good amount of documentation available. Some distros have years and years of experienced users solving a variety of complex problems.

Support contracts are more of a consideration if you’re running Linux distros in a production environment, where prompt and swift troubleshooting is more effective than troubleshooting through user entries. Time is money in production, and reducing how much time you spend on fixing an issue is vital.

The Best Linux Distros for AMD Processors

So with some of the legwork out of the way, what are the best Linux distros to use with your AMD processor? AMD processors have wide support across the market, with Ryzen processors being fairly common in budget and high-end computers alike. As such, support is good across the board, and implementing chipset support is swift. Here are a few of the best you can use with your AMD processor:

  • Best for General Use – Debian
  • Most User-Friendly – Ubuntu
  • Best for Performance – Clear Linux
  • Best for Customization – Pop!_OS
  • Best for Experienced Users – Arch Linux

Best for General Use – Debian

Debian is one of the oldest and most stable Linux distros on today’s market. The main branch of Debian is Debian Stable, which means releases are readied every two to three years on average. Debian makes for a good daily driver for those who aren’t ready to get deep into the inner workings of a Linux distro. It is a long-lived operating system and makes for a great introduction to Linux as a platform.

For those worrying about compatibility patches for things like web browsers, you can manage that on your own or opt instead for Debian Sid which is a rolling release bleeding-edge version of Debian. Debian has been a favorite for years. It provides a stable and effective computing platform for a variety of uses from development to just general web browsing.

Most User-Friendly – Ubuntu

Perhaps even better for newcomers, Ubuntu provides a stable base for users and has enough familiarity in the interface to make transitioning to Linux distros an easy process.

Ubuntu has a hybrid release schedule, with major updates every two years and interim updates present every six months or so. This is a distro that isn’t going to make you hunt down optimal drivers for installing on your system and just let you get into using your system right away. Whether you’re on AMD on Intel-based processors, there is robust support for whatever CPU you choose to use.

Best for Performance – Clear Linux

Clear Linux is a distro developed by Intel that is optimized for top performance. While you can configure any of the distros in this guide to be geared toward performance, Clear Linux is designed from the very start to deliver optimal speeds.

What sets Clear Linux apart from the pack is while optimized for Intel processors, it is also remarkably efficient for AMD CPUs. Users can expect bleeding-edge security mitigations, cloud and local security, and peak performance from Clear Linux.

For those who are wanting to customize their user experience, the official Clear Linux repository also is home to over 4000 packages.

Best For Customization – Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS touts itself as an operating system geared towards STEM and creative professionals. The included software supports this with packages for deep learning, coding, media production, and data science. For users who like the concept of customizing their OS to their liking, Pop!_OS is easy to configure visual styling and workspaces.

For gamers, there is a good deal of support for applications like Steam, which also has a fairly diverse library of games to choose from for Linux distros. Core performance is also customizable. It can be optimized for performance, battery life, or some combination thereof. Pop!_OS is a solid choice for AMD processors. It has a solid base of common applications for media professionals and casual users alike.

Best for Experienced Users – Arch Linux

To say you need to have experience to install Arch Linux is an understatement. Arch is a lightweight Linux distro. It requires a high degree of familiarity with Linux and how it operates. For seasoned Linux users, it is a highly flexible platform where the operating system is customized at the point of installation to your liking.

Arch is a solid choice for AMD processors, and really any processor or hardware. Do be aware, however, you’ll have to follow an installation guide or some prior research before placing it on your PC. It can be run absolutely bare if desired, running on the bare essentials. It can also have feature parity with distros like Ubuntu and Debian.

Up Next…

Interested in similar articles? Click on the links below:

Key Facts

  • Debian, one of the oldest and most stable distros is a great option for beginners.
  • Ubuntu is a firm favorite owing to its user-friendliness and the convenience it provides.
  • Clear Linux has been designed to provide exceptional performance and cloud and local security.

Best Linux Distro for AMD Processors FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Do AMD processors work well with Linux distros?

Functionally there is no difference between using an Intel or AMD processor with any Linux distro of your choosing. AMD and Intel use a shared x86_64 architecture and most driver support relates to fully using the functions of a specified chipset.

Is Linux good for gaming?

Linux can do a fair bit of gaming, especially with Valve’s forays into the Steam Deck. Windows is still king for gaming, but there are some workarounds like pass-through virtual machines with a dedicated GPU and KVM.

What is Linux good for?

Linux distros can be used for the same sort of tasks that any other operating system might be used for. Certain distros can be tailored for specific tasks, like cybersecurity testing, gaming, or media production work.

Are Linux distros used in business?

Linux distros as a whole have a much smaller market share compared to Windows for desktop usage, but they see a fair bit of utilization for server installations. Part of this can be attributed to stable branch distros allowing for configurations that won’t be taken down for updates at a critical hour barring a catastrophic vulnerability being found.

Linux distros also see a fair amount of use for 3D artwork, with specific distros oriented toward maximum performance in rendering.

Is Linux safe to use?

Linux by and large isn’t focused on by bad actors for malware attacks. There are certain malware exploits that target Linux distros, but most malware targets Windows machines. Windows having such a large market share for desktop usage marks at as a far greater target for exploits and malware.

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