Best DIstro and DE Combo for Workstations

Bit of a twist for me on this one. On my primary desktop I am going to forever be trying new things and will always be installing and reinstalling distros. That’s fine for my general use but I am kicking around ideas for the best distro and DE combo for dedicated workstations. The workstation is mainly for hosting processes and processor-intensive things like rendering audio and video. Given that, I’m thinking stability and performance are the main considerations, much more so than what I think is “fun” or “interesting”.

So my short list at this point would be Ubuntu based distro and likely Plasma or XFCE for the DE. That would mean Kubuntu and Xubuntu are likely candidates for me but I thought it would be good to see what everyone thinks about this topic.

So, what distro/DE combo do you or would your run in this case? Thanks!

I’ve found Ubuntu Mate is really good on the resources. Mate does a great job and sits at about 500mb idle for me!


For an ‘uninteresting’ workstation I second Ubuntu Mate LTS or Xubuntu.

In my case, I am a Debian guy. I prefer Debian with Mate or Xfce for that case. Debian or Ubuntu for @EricAdams :slight_smile: are rock solid and boring in a good way. So are both DEs. Though I think you are more into Xfce. Plasma still changes too fast for my taste and is of course therefor more exciting.

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You know what my suggestion is. I am all about the openSUSE and although most wouldn’t recommend Tumbleweed for server workloads, that is exactly what I have been doing with the intent of filing bug reports. As of 20 November 2019, I have had smooth sailing. Everything has been running as I would expect.

I’ll give the general advice and that is to run Leap for the reliable workstation experience. Upgrading to the next version will be supported, even to the next major version (16.x). I have skipped upgraded machines without consequence too.

I know I have an almost unhealthy obsession with the project but you can also view my notes here on the last Leap upgrade. :man_shrugging: Maybe I’m a lucky dude or all the hardware I acquire just happens to work but I am batting a thousand right now on openSUSE success.

Of course, there was that one time…

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I like using KDE Neon with, well… KDE.
Reason for that is it gets all KDE updates really quick and with how fast KDE is being developed and bug fixes, it makes big difference for me.

Also, I’m slowly getting into helping with project a bit, so using newest and unmodified versions of KDE software helps.

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I would think OpenSUSE. Not sure why but it seems a fitting distro for this work… Maybe because it’s not fun or interesting, meeting your requirements perfectly!

I’m only joking, I do think OpenSUSE would be great here.


I did end up putting openSUSE on that system to see how it would run and it seems fine. I went with Tumbleweed without really thinking about it and in hindsight probably should have used Leap. We’ll see how it goes. Still open to other suggestions if anyone cares to make them.


Can you swap out the software sources for Leap sources and run “zypper dup” I’ve heard it’s possible

I think I’ll have a chat with @CubicleNate about that. I might be alright just sticking with Tumbleweed and using snapshots to make sure I don’t break things. I’m also curious to see if something does go awry if BTRFS and snapper will save my bacon.

Depends on the kind of processing @EricAdams is doing. If the requirement is to monitor a live audio source in combination with processing on that source then a low latency kernal may be required. Ubuntu has a simple breakdown here:


If you can dream it, you basically can do it with Zypper. I have only gone form Leap to Tumbleweed, not the other way around but the way the “dup” option works, it is kind of brute force and will make it work.


That is the fun with openSUSE, you can fiddle all you want without consequence. I have done silly things and BTRFS has saved my bacon more than once.


I have a box here for similar purposes. CentOS. It’s not the most popular or interesting distro but is used across many industries needing “heavy lifting”. I believe much of the VFX industry runs on it today still, processing gargantuan amounts of data.

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That’s true. I believe the only officially supported distro for DaVinci Resolve is CentOS. Thanks for the suggestion!

I’d use what I use at the moment: Manjaro Plasma. Absolutely rock solid, never had it crash or fall over on me due to updates. Certainly been way more reliable than Windows 10 :joy:

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Actually you can make it very usable but it needs a lot of tweaking and I cannot stand Gnome so I always end up installing another DE from EPEL.

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Same with a lot of Autodesk products. You can get them running on just about anything but… support.

All the places I worked used Plasma. When you have 500 “artists”, user friendly is king.

My audio workstation runs Ubuntu, as that what my DAW pretty much insists on.