If you’ve heard about Pop!_OS, you might have seen people often referring to it as the best Windows alternative or the ideal Linux distribution for gaming. Here’s what’s different about this Linux distribution

What Is Pop!_OS?

Pop!_OS is a Linux distribution (commonly called a distro) developed by a firm called System76. Put simply, a Linux distribution is an operating system built on the Linux kernel. Linux is open-source, free, and an excellent alternative to Windows and macOS.

Since 2005, System76 has been manufacturing Linux computers that ship with a distro called Ubuntu preinstalled rather than Windows. In 2017, the company created its own distro, Pop!_OS, based on Ubuntu, and began offering it as an alternative.

What Makes Pop!_OS Different?

There are a lot of significant factors that set Pop!_OS apart from Windows, macOS, and even other distros. Here are some of them.

Pop!_OS Is Free To Use and Ad-Free

Being an open-source project, Pop!_OS is entirely free. If you have a computer you intend to use for basic tasks, and if you don’t want to pay for a Windows license, you can install Pop!_OS instead. One of the best things about Pop!_OS is, unlike Windows, you get a clean, ad-free experience.

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The Visual Appeal

At first sight, one might argue that Pop!_OS’s home layout resembles that of macOS. While that’s true, the distro is not a total macOS ripoff.

And, it’s not just the looks. The OS also offers lots of distinct features. One of the community’s favorite features is something called “auto-tiling.” As the name suggests, the feature arranges windows into tiles and gives you a bunch of keyboard shortcuts to navigate them, thereby ensuring that you spend less time moving your mouse and more time getting work done.

Linux Gaming

Linux users often recommend Pop!_OS for gaming not because it supports more games than other OSes but because it allows you to play games without worrying about installing graphics drivers. When downloading the distro, you can choose between a standard variant and another variant with NVIDIA drivers preinstalled.

Why does this matter? For starters, installing NVIDIA drivers on Linux has not always been very easy. Although NVIDIA developers have started giving importance to desktop Linux and the driver installation process has become easier over the years, you might still run into issues when installing those drivers manually. Pop!_OS makes it easier so that you can install Steam and run games out of the box.

That said, Linux gaming, in general, is getting better thanks to the Proton compatibility layer. A fair share of credits for the improvement of gaming on Linux also goes to Valve’s Steam Deck, which pushed major anti-cheat companies to bring anti-cheat mechanisms to Linux desktop.

Software and Apps

Pop!_OS comes with Pop!_Shop, equivalent to the Windows Store on Windows. Installing apps via Pop!_Shop is a piece of cake. Not only that, most of the popular apps are present in the store, so you don’t have to worry about installing your favorite apps.

Pop Shop

For example, you can install Slack, Telegram, Steam, VS Code, etc., directly from Pop!_Shop. In the process of finding popular apps you use on Windows or macOS, you might also stumble upon open-source alternatives, which you might like better than the original apps. And even if you don’t, you still have options for running Windows software on Linux.

On top of all that, Pop!_OS also offers two ways of installing applications: via Flathub and Pop!_OS’s repository (for DEB files). Hence, you also get the flexibility of installing from your preferred medium.

Pop!_OS Consumes Less System Resources

You need to have at least 4GB of RAM to run Windows and macOS smoothly. Pop!_OS, however, requires only 2GB of RAM. Hence, if you have an older machine, you can install Pop!_OS to bring it back to life.

Unlike Windows 11, which will not work if you’re rocking an Intel 7th Gen or lower and Ryzen 1000 series or lower processors, Pop!_OS has relatively relaxed hardware requirements. Of course, if you’re determined to install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware, we’ve got you covered.

Pop!_OS Is Friendly to Everyone

We’ve talked a lot about the Pop!_OS features, but you might be asking, “Why Pop!_OS out of all  distros?”

The answer is because it’s well suited for both beginners and intermediate Linux users. Some other distros tend to assume you’re already very experienced with Linux. Now, of course, there are lots of distros that are also beginner-friendly, but Pop!_OS is more polished and looks more appealing.

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A Linux Distro For the New and Seasoned Alike

Pop!_OS is one of the best distros for Linux newbies, gamers, and people tired of Windows and macOS. Like most distros, it’s easy to install. All you need to do is head over to the official website, find and click on the ‘Download’ button, and download the ISO. You can then follow our Linux installation guide.

Backing up your data and replacing Windows with Pop!_OS could be a tedious task, though. Instead, you can choose to dual-boot, allowing you to run both Windows and Pop!_OS on the same computer.

Or, if you want hardware guaranteed to work with Linux, you can buy a laptop that comes with Linux. System76’s laptops and desktop PCs come with Pop!_OS.

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Profile Photo for Mohammed Abubakar Mohammed Abubakar
Abubakar is a freelance writer for How-to Geek. Although he holds a degree in Computer Science, he chose a career in writing to help people with technology. He has two years of experience writing about consumer electronics, Android, Linux, Windows, and open-source software on websites like Fossbytes.
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