Best Linux Distro For Full-Stack Web Developers: Comparison & Analysis

This article is for those of you who are Linux-users/Distro-hoppers who are trying to find the perfect distro to do Full-Stack web development in. Let’ go ahead and explore what choice we have and analyze their differences in an attempt to choose the best Linux Distro for Full-Stack Development activities.

Let’s start by look at the short version of the answer for those of you in a hurry to start your development activities!

The Short Version Of The Answer

Winner: Ubuntu and its derivatives

Runner up: Fedora

That is just the short version of the answer, let’s go ahead and look at the longer and more informative version and learn what were the factors considered, what other choices you have and see why Ubuntu is chosen as the best distro for Full-Stack developers along with some valuable resources for getting started with your development quests!

The Analysis

Linux has already captured a huge percentage of the server market and it is the most dominant player there. As almost all the web is being run by Linux, it is a good idea to do your development natively on a Linux machine!

As Linux is getting more and more famous lots of distros are being developed to enhance the desktop support for Linux. The setup programmers would need for coding will be radically different than the setup artists and video editors would need for content creation and editing! Hence some factors that are considered important for using Linux as a workstation depends upon the kind of work that you are planning to do with your machine.

But some factors are common across all types of work. These include

  • stability
  • performance
  • support &
  • security

If you plan to do all of your productive activities over on your next Linux distro then I suggest reading the article I wrote recently given in the link below where I have analyzed and compared several options in order to figure out what is the best distro for workstation purposes.

Best Linux Distro For Workstation: Analysis and Comparison!!

If you are going to be doing lot of your development activities in Python then I suggest reading this other article I wrote on that topic!

Best Linux Distro for Python Developers: An Analysis!

In this article, we will be focussing specifically on the needs of Full-Stack developers who use JavaScript frameworks like Angular, Node.js and React for their Full-Stack development activities. Let’s see what those needs are in the next section.

The Needs of a Full-Stack Developer

Basic Needs

The basic needs of a Full-Stack programmer include the following.

  • npm package manager
  • A good code editor: VS code, Atom, Sublime Text or Brackets.
  • A good IDE: Angular IDE, Eclipse, Aptana Studio, ALM, or JetBeans IntelliJ
  • browsers to test your code on like Chrome, Firefox etc.
  • Packages and libraries, you may need for your project
  • Graphic Design tools to make necessary images: Linux does not have support for adobe so you may need to use the cloud version of Adobe products or switch to GIMP and Inkscape for your graphics needs
  • Virtualization software to test your Full-Stack apps on several operating systems: On Linux you have support for VirtualBox and GNOME Boxes
  • Source code management software like Git
  • DevOps tools like GitLab

The above needs can be fulfilled by all the Linux distros as Linux is a major operating system, as such Linux has all the capabilities needed to develop and run your code! All you need to do is to ensure you have the necessary versions of Frameworks of your choice installed in your distro. One distro is not going to be better than another in terms of how good it executes any given code as these distros are going to be using the same Linux OS underneath anyways.

Other Important Needs

Official Support for the Latest frameworks

But then we are interested in professional development, and hence we need the latest frameworks version available as soon as it is released so that we can test out our code with these latest versions. Usually, the official repo’s of most recent distributions will be behind the latest frameworks releases, but we can always download and install the latest versions straight from the framework’s official website! So, this is another need that is not a decision-making factor for us while choosing a distro!

That leaves us with one last important need.

DECISION MAKING FACTOR: Official support for your favourite Full-Stack IDEs

Not all IDEs are tested extensively on all distributions of Linux before being released. Hence it is a good idea to choose a distro based on what actual distros are actually supported by the developers of your favorite IDE. Since the Linux distro world is huge, the developers of IDEs usually test only on the most popular distros.

The Distro Choices

That leaves us with 3 most popular distro families

  • The Debian Family: Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc
  • The RedHat Family: Fedora and CentOS
  • The Arch family: Arch, Manjaro, etc

Reason Ubuntu gets 1st place

Ubuntu is the distro all major IDE companies test their software against and officially support. If you are uncomfortable with their Unity desktop, you can go ahead with one of their other flavors like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, etc. You can read more about these flavors in my other article given below.

Linux Distros vs Desktop Environments: Differences Explained!

Debian is considered to be a distro for advanced users and hence it does not have a big user base. The same goes for other derivatives of Debian which does not have a large user base as Ubuntu. This leaves us with Ubuntu and flavors of Ubuntu as our best bet for IDE compatibility purposes!

Reason Fedora gets 2nd place

Fedora is from the RedHat family, it is used as a testing ground by RedHat to test their latest features before releasing them in their RHEL enterprise edition. Hence Fedora is the most popular distro in terms of support for the latest advancements in the field of Linux. It also has a big user base, only second to Ubuntu. Due to their big user base, this is another distro IDE developers test their software again.

If your Full-Stack app is supposed to be run from a server or a cloud, then since most of the servers are running RHEL, it makes sense that you use Fedora do develop your app. As a bonus, you get to work with some experimental features months and sometimes even years before you get them in Debian based distros like Ubuntu!

What about Arch and Gentoo?

Arch, Gentoo, and its derivatives are all about catering to the needs of advanced users who can tinker their way through problems. Hence the IDE companies do not invest much of their resources in testing their app in the Arch Ecosystem as the Arch users are proficient enough to solve any problems they might come across.


If you already in love with the distro you are using, then there is no reason in switching just for Full-Stack development. If you are a beginner to the Linux world then go with Ubuntu or one of its flavors or Linux mint. If you have been around the Linux field for a while and you want to switch from the Debian family of distros like Ubuntu or Mint, then try out Fedora or Cent OS from the RedHat family for your Full-Stack development. If you are an expert in Linux, then I suggest you try the Arch or Gentoo families and install your own optimized version for doing your Full-Stack development activities in.

And with that, I will conclude this article!

I hope you guys enjoyed this article and learned something useful.

If you liked the post, feel free to share this post with your friends and colleagues!

Related Articles

Here are some of my other articles that might interest you!

A Step By Step Plan To Learn Linux..!

Best Linux Distro For Workstation: Analysis and Comparison!!

A Complete Guide For Choosing A Distro For Your Computer’s Specs..!!

Best Distro For Software And Hardware Support: An Analysis.!!

Distro-Hopping, What, Why & How Explained!

Reasons Behind The Existence of SO MANY Linux Distros: An Analysis!

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Balaji Gunasekaran
Balaji Gunasekaran is a Senior Software Engineer with a Master of Science degree in Mechatronics and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. He loves to write about tech and has written more than 300 articles. He has also published the book “Cracking the Embedded Software Engineering Interview”. You can follow him on LinkedIn