Best Linux distros 2021

Best Linux distro 2021 RHEL vs Debian based

Best linux distro 2021 RHEL vs Debian based

The best linux distribution of 2021 is not easy to decide. First choice is if you prefer a Linux distro that is RHEL based or Debian based.

For a Linux server or a Linux desktop the requirements are quite different. There is no best linux distro really. Most of the established Linux distributions are great to use.

Put the names of most known Linux distros. in a hat. Pick one, that’s the best distro for 2021 and 2022. Jokes aside, you should choose what you are even slightly used to.

RHEL based Linux distributions

If you goal is to use Linux in a professional environment – at work that is. RHEL based distros. will make you familiar to the Linux enterprise environment and things will be much more familiar on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) once You used a similar OS.

Linux distro for server

For a server, you want to choose a distro that is well known and stable. Good reputation is very important. Tested packages before release is much more important. Long support and updated and running without crashing are basic requirements for a Linux server.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux – RHEL

The OS that many Linux distros. are based on is a top-tier enterprise Linux distro. With top support, security updates for critical operations. This one is not free but Red Hat have a developer subscription licensing program that allows for 16 production RHEL instances for free. More about RHEL Developer subscription here.

Centos 8 / Centos Stream

Centos 8 and Centos Stream have caused some controversy recently. Centos 7 was a downstream release distro. Updates were released on Centos 6 and 7 after they were released on RHEL 6 or 7. Now Centos 8 is upstream compared to RHEL 8. This means, updates are sent to Centos first then to RHEL. That places Centos after Fedora and before RHEL in the updates flow making Centos a testing step before RHEL instead of using fully tested packages.

With all the problems Centos 8 and Centos Stream is still a great Linux server distro to consider. Centos is free.

More about Centos 8 download page.

Alma Linux & Rocky Linux

Since the Centos 8 announcement, people have been looking for a new RHEL based distro that is downstream from RHEL. For this, these new distros. where recently created basically rebranding RHEL sources and adding their own to make a new distro.

I’ve tried Rocky Linux and the setup was the same as Centos 8.

Oracle Linux 8

Oracle is a huge company known mostly for Oracle Database and Java but I won’t go into details there. The Oracle Linux 8 is binary compatible with RHEL 8 and Many things are the same as in the Red Hat distro but they mention their kernel is unbreakable as part of the name. They have paid support available for Oracle Linux 8 but the base version is free.

Read more about Oracle Linux 8

Debian 11

Debian is one of the main well known GNU/Linux distribution. It is completely open source. It’s one of the oldest Linux operating systems.

Debian is actively developed and maintained by a community of volunteers. It might be my next choice for our linux web server.

Debian download page

Ubuntu Server 21 LTS

Ubuntu is based on the Debian distro. It is very popular for both desktop and server.

The LTS in the release details stands fro Long Term Support and it’s what you would want to use in general. It’s one of the default choices when setting up a new Linux server on AWS or Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud.

Download Ubuntu Server

Linux for Desktop

Linux has conquered the world of servers and even smartphones and tablets. Android is based on a modified version of Linux. For Desktop, Linux didn’t do so well. Crome-books might change that in the future.

Fedora 34 Workstation

A RHEL based linux distribution that Linus Torwalds (the maker of Linux and Linux kernel) claims to be using on his desktop computers or laptops.

Gets the newest packages first but can be unstable.

Download Fedora

Ubuntu Desktop LTS

Ubuntu is a more stable distro for those who prefer Debian based distros.

Download Ubuntu Desktop

Arch Linux

Never tried it but Arch linux users are very happy (vocal) with it so it’s worth trying it.

Download Arch Linux


Arch-based Linux distro that it’s user also like to talk about a lot.

Download Manjaro Linux

Distro for NAS

For a network attached storage or NAS, the best Linux distro is Open Media Valut a debian based distro.

Live / Portable

These are specialized distros. that are mostly used as a Live Linux instance from a USB flash drive or a DVD/ISO file without persistence on disk.

Kali Linux

Kali Linux is a specialized distribution for pen-testing. It’s mostly used by security professionals or ethical hacker or white hat hackers.

Get Kali Linux


SliTaz is a light-weight linux distribution ideal for a portable OS on a USB flash drive. It will work with older hardware and the size is very small.

Download SliTaz


Try any of these or any other distros you might want to look at. For server would I choose Centos 8 and for Desktop Fedora but that’s my preference. You might like Arch more or Ubntu or even Oracle Linux.

You can always try another distribution later.


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