Best Linux distribution for my particular Blender rig?

So please let me preface this with: I don’t expect there to be 1 “right” Linux distribution for people in general or even all Blender users.

I spent a few years in the early 2000s as a tech marketing guy for Sun and remember all of the religious wars that broke out -within- the Linux segment (ignoring the larger crusades between Linux/MS/Apple). I’m not looking to start that kind of conflict. I would just like advice on a Linux distribution for my particular case. There are too many options out there for me to be able to adequately validate them all.

I’ve been switched fully to Windows 10 (except for occasional VM usage of Linux for data recovery and TOR browsing) for close to 10 years now except for an attempt at Linux Mint back in 2012 that I gave up on. I wasn’t doing any 3D work at that time and even if I had been, Blender prior to 2.6 drove me pretty nuts.

Distributions I’m looking at (please add to the list if your best choice for me isn’t here, that’s the whole point):

  • Linux Mint 17.2 LTS has been pretty high up on the list but I’d like a long-term distro that has already moved to kernel 3.19.x if possible due to the graphic/file performance improvements I’ve read up on.
    (I know many people are trying to avoid systemd but at this point I think it is here to stay and since I’ve been out of the game for a long time I don’t have a big need to stick with a different init system since I’m barely familiar with init right now)
  • Ubuntu Studio 14.04 LTS … with a different DE installed but see note about Linux Mint and kernel/systemd
  • Ubuntu 15.04 … would get me the upgrades I’m looking for but would probably mean I’ll be upgrading the core system more often at least until 16.04 next year.
  • ??? … insert your suggestions here, especially if they have decent long-term support and/or focus on adding in the codecs/libraries/drivers that many distributions avoid for Free licensing reasons

(I’m not concerning myself with remaining Free/pure on my licensing … my main reasons for returning to desktop Linux are for having a better development environment, to retrain myself on Linux skills, and so I have more powerful shell tools, along with many of the photo tools I use being better supported on Linux … I’ll still be using Win10 where needed for things like Adobe CC).

  • NOT … as I’m looking for long-term updates and not frequent distribution upgrades, I’ve pretty well ruled out Fedora as well as most of the smaller niche distributions.

My basic needs:

  • Ease of configuring libraries to support Blender
  • Ease of getting proprietary drivers working for my vid card to utilize CUDA rendering (Nvidia EVGA GTX780ti Superclocked)
  • Ability to use other supporting media creation apps (Hugin, GIMP, etc)
  • Stability of the system over a long period of time so that I don’t feel the need to constantly install an updated distribution every few months.
  • Ability to, even under a long-term installation, easily obtain updated Kernels if a kernel version comes out that adds a feature that significantly improves performance or fixes some nasty bug
  • Decent coding/development support packages for the distribution (primarily web-base languages)
  • Dual-boot (triple or quad boot actually, as I’d like to have a TAILS partition for TOR and possibly a Hackintosh partition for testing web page compatibility, but that may be accomplished instead by a VM and the Hackintosh or TAILS partitions shouldn’t be considered a big issue for the main Linux distribution, I just need the main Linux distro to properly support multi-booting … Windows 10 will be installed first, then Linux, then the others)
  • Support for non-Unity desktops, preferably without any Unity installed, but I won’t care if I end up on Ubuntu and add in my DE on top of it.

My system configuration (I’m in process of upgrading most of it to this level from an older 16GB i5-2500K system and that’s why I’m investigating Linux again since I’m rebuilding all of my system’s OSes after the upgrade):

  • CPU: Intel i7-3770K
  • Motherboard: MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3) … aging but in this case that should be good for getting decent driver support (I had a lot of issues with getting Linux support for it when it came out in 2011)
  • RAM: 32GB DDR3-2133
  • Video: EVGA GTX 780ti Superclocked for 2 monitors + On-board Intel 4000 HD for 3rd
  • Storage: multiple drives (mix of SSD and HD) such that Windows and Linux will get dedicated drives for booting rather than partitioning out a large drive. That way if one goes down my other is still online, and all large data files will go on independent HDs.

Thanks for any input :slight_smile:

I’m by no means an expert in Blender or Linux but will offer my two cents:

When I built my system I had a lot of issues after my GPU arrived - it was a couple weeks after the MOBO and CPU so I started out fine (Linux Mint 17.1 installation was really easy). When I installed by GPU, I was confronted with a couple days of pain trying to get things sorted out but alas, as is often the case with computers, the problem was sitting in front of the computer! I didn’t realize that I would have to connect my monitor to my GPU and essentially abandon Intel iGPU. As I recall I ended up disabling it in BIOS although I’m not sure this was necessary.

Once that got sorted out, and I figured our how to install Blender, it was a pleasure.

So two things relevant to your situation:

(1) as far as I know, for the time being that third monitor will have to be connected to your GPU or perhaps a second, inexpensive Nvidia GPU that is supported by same driver as your 780ti

(2) when trying to sort things out, I tried installing Ubuntu (as I recall) and was very disappointed by the experience - given the fact that this computer was built solely for use with Blender the default UI seemed so unrefined compared to Mint that I didn’t even give the distro a chance - the colors bothered my, the icons bothered me, etc - now this was surely just aesthetics (window dressing if you will) but seeing as how you are looking at Blender, the “design” of the desktop may be a consideration for you also

As for the Blender installation issue, had to install an earlier version (that did not support my GPU) from repository first to get the dependencies and then installation of updates was a breeze (please forgive me if I’ve messed up the terminology a bit).


Installing a newer kernel is just one click in linux mint, in ubuntu afaik can be done with synaptic as well.
I use Mint 17.2 with 3.19 kernel for audo HW compat just fine ( focusrite drivers )


Bit of a thread bump/hijack here ~ I’m a Linux n00b been windows all my life. I have a spare PC that I want to put linux on and use solely for Blender and other content creation apps.

What’s the best version if Linux for someone not used to Linux?

Reading the above replies, it seens Mint is the one for me. But just checking in case things have changed in the last few months.


I’m happy with Mint. Getting the GPU to work with Cycles is a bit of a chore on Linux but it can be done.