We’ve covered that list of the best Linux distributions in the past. Sure, pretty much all of them will potentially remain as some of the most anticipated distributions every year depending on what you like.

And, if you have a particular favorite, a new upgrade for that will always be something to look forward every year.

No matter what, there will be some distributions that would potentially stand out in terms of their development, feature addition, and overall improvements.

In this article, let us take a look at some of the most anticipated distributions to look forward in 2021.

Most Anticipated Distros to Look Forward in 2021

Do note that the list is in no particular order of ranking and this is also more of my opinion on this topic. You are welcome to (politely) disagree with me in the comments.


1. elementary OS 6

elementary OS 6 is undoubtedly an exciting upcoming release in 2021. It is going to be based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and you can expect all the same goodies that you get with it.

With elementary OS 6, they are focusing on a much more improved user experience. Not just limited to a seamless dark mode experience, but you can expect a lot of attention to details. Of course, it is already one of the best beautiful Linux distributions out there and the next upgrade could be a huge improvement over that.

Also, some impressive multi-touch gestures will be introduced which should be incredibly useful for trackpad users.

In addition to this, there will be a lot of details coming up in their official blog posts before the release.

2. Garuda Linux

You can find plenty of Arch-based distributions, but Garuda Linux caught our attention last year with an interesting theme in the KDE Plasma edition. Not just limited to that, you will also find a couple other interesting editions of Garuda Linux.

Considering that it fairly a new distribution, they seem to have made a good start. The distribution offers plenty of pre-installed tools to make things easy and seems to work well for many users.

So, it will be exciting to see what they plan for 2021.

3. Zorin OS 16

Zorin OS is an impressive Linux distro. For every release, they also offer a lite edition which is often a great candidate for our list of lightweight Linux distributions.

Not much is known about Zorin OS 16, but it will be based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. You can also expect significant improvements to the user experience while they focus on making it seamless for a former Windows user to get used to it in no time.

In addition to that, while going through the official forums, it is evident that they plan to have an upgrade path from 15 to 16 this time. So, you can easily upgrade from Zorin OS 15 to 16 without needing to re-install the OS, which should be a convenient option.

4. Ubuntu 21.04

Ubuntu 21.04 is definitely going to be a significant release which should give you an idea for what you can expect with the next LTS release (Ubuntu 22.04).

Of course, GNOME 40 was expected to arrive with Ubuntu 21.04. But, considering that it is going to be a major overhaul in terms of workflow, and user interface, they will stick with GNOME 3.38. Even though it could have been the most exciting change, it will be still interesting to see what improvements or tweaks they go for with GNOME 3.38.

In addition to that, it is highly likely that you’ll see Linux Kernel 5.10 powering the distro.

Not to forget, it will be also interesting to see the home directory made private in Ubuntu 21.04.


5. Pop!_OS 21.04

Considering that Ubuntu 21.04 is going to be an interesting release even without GNOME 40. It will be worth waiting for Pop!_OS 21.04.

Generally, Pop!_OS tries to go a step further and add unique features to improve the workflow as seen in Pop OS 20.04. So, I’m curious how they plan to do it this time without including GNOME 40.

Would they add vanilla GNOME 40 with Pop!_OS 21.04 or stick to the current layout of GNOME 3.38 just like Ubuntu 21.04 with their unique set of customization and options? Let’s hope for the best!


6. Rocky Linux

After CentOS was killed and replaced by CentOS Stream, the original creator of CentOS immediately came up with a new project idea “Rocky Linux“.

Rocky Linux aims to be the downstream of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) just as CentOS was meant to be. So, just like CentOS, this aims to be the community version of RHEL developed by the community.

Even though there’s no specific ETA of the release but in an official update in their forums, a timeline of around Q2 2021 was given to expect its first release as mentioned in our original coverage.

7. AlmaLinux by CloudLinux

CloudLinux OS is already a quite popular choice by various hosting services. While they already have the infrastructure needed to create a new CentOS alternative, it will be interesting to see what they come up with.

Of course, it will be yet another downstream to RHEL, but unlike Rocky Linux, the team behind AlmaLinux may have an edge for investments and support for its development.

As per their official website, it aims to offer a seamless experience to switch from CentOS. Not much is known about it, but we do have an expected timeline of Q1 2021 for its first release.

Wrapping Up

Of course, there could be some other Linux distributions that might surprise us in 2021. For now, I think these options could be the most exciting ones to look out for.

What do you think? Which Linux distribution do you think could have an exciting release in 2021? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Ankush Das

A passionate technophile who also happens to be a Computer Science graduate. You will usually see cats dancing to the beautiful tunes sung by him.