Best GNOME Desktops For 2021

Best GNOME Desktops For 2019

​Have you stumbled over here looking across the Internet, for the 2021 list of best GNOME desktops? Lucky you then, I’m glad you are at the right place and hopeful that you’ll find this article helpful in case you are considering trying out a new Linux distro. Or just reading this article for fun. Alright, below are the list of Linux distros that I think are the best of 2021’s GNOME desktops.

Best GNOME Desktops

Please take a poll in the last of this article. Tell us your favorite gnome desktops.  


ubuntu gnome desktops

Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux distro that is very popular among the Linux community. It’s the first distro that is usually recommended to newbies wanting to try out Linux. One greatest advantage for using Ubuntu is that soon there’ll be professional apps from big companies like Adobe, Microsoft, etc (made possible with snap) So eliminating the divide between FOSS users and prosumers.​Ubuntu started featuring GNOME desktop last year but with some slight modification from the original one. The customized desktop looks similar to the abandoned Unity desktop to ease the migration for old users. Still, the desktop looks refreshing considering the developers have done a great job with themes and icons.


  1. Solid OS for general uses purpose and newbies too.
  2. Cool orange-y custom theme which looks quite refreshing than the original GNOME Adwaita theme.


  1. The GNOME desktop is modified slightly mimicking the old Ubuntu Unity desktop. So you cannot experience the actual (or vanilla) GNOME desktop its developers intended.


fedora gnome desktop

Up next is Fedora Linux distro. The distro that is recommended for computer geeks and especially fans of cutting-edge software. Fedora has a unique ecosystem in that it deploys new and updated software to all its end users. While other major Linux distros prefer stability over new software feature updates, Fedora has a different philosophy.​Moreover, Fedora features a vanilla GNOME desktop and is also used by its developers as a development platform. That means all the new feature-bit updates land on Fedora first before any other Linux distros (of course excluding those rolling-release ones).

Like Ubuntu snap, Fedora too has a new software distribution platform called flatpak. Its software list is growing in size every day. And also features both open source and proprietary software.


  1. Best distro for getting hands-on with the latest and unmodified GNOME desktop.
  2. Always providing cutting-edge technologies over stability. Good for developers and geeks.


  1. Needs know-how knowledge of Linux in case something goes wrong. For instance reporting bugs when the software isn’t acting normal.

Zorin OS

zorin os

Zorin OS is another Linux distro that features GNOME desktop but tailored more beautifully for Windows folks. Its latest version pretty much looks like Windows 10. Also, the OS comes pre-installed with WINE, software for running Windows programs. This allows Windows folks to feel truly at home with their new Linux OS.​Zorin OS is Ubuntu-based and thus will slightly need more time for deploying new GNOME desktop after each Ubuntu release.

​This OS is recommended for those long-time Windows users who do not have the time to learn a new quirky way of computing around the original GNOME desktop. You get to reuse your old habit of getting productive with a start menu button, running MS Office on WINE, browsing the Internet either with Firefox or Chrome, etc.


  1. Mimics Microsoft Windows interface. So a long-time Windows user can smoothly migrate between the two OSes without having to learn new quirky styles for operating each OS.
  2. Ultimate users get Zorin support so if you are stuck on an issue you can contact them and they’ll be glad to help.


  1. Irrelevant for non-Windows users.

Elementary OS

elementary os

Alright, we’ve gotten familiar with Windows-like GNOME desktop but what about GNOME Linux distro that looks like Apple desktop? Elementary OS is the answer.​The developers have a desktop named Pantheon. But fret not it’s still GNOME tweaked to make it look like Apple.

Like Zorin OS, Elementary is also based on Ubuntu. However, it features specific apps that integrate seamlessly with the Pantheon desktop. For instance, Epiphany web browser looks much simpler and Apple-like compared to the Firefox web browser.

Moreover, this Linux distro features its own AppCenter where you can find both free and pay-what-you-want software.


  1. Ease of migration to Linux for long-time users of Apple computers.
  2. Privacy focussed.


  1. Irrelevant for non-Apple users.

Linux Mint Cinnamon

linux mint cinnamon

Linux Mint is another popular Linux distro based on Ubuntu. It features Cinnamon desktop originally forked from GNOME. Linux Mint looks similar to Windows as it features a start menu and taskbar panel at the bottom.​The one unique thing about Linux Mint Cinnamon is its software updater tool. It takes system stability one step further by categorizing software based on how it will affect the system. You can decide if you wish to let Linux Mint take care of the updates for you or have more control over which software gets updated and which doesn’t.


  1. Best Linux distro when it comes to updating software by categories keeping stability in mind.
  2. Recommended alternative for Windows geeks.


  1. Some GTK apps like Builder doesn’t look consistent with the Cinnamon desktop.

Debian testing

debian testing gnome

​The last we have is Debian testing. By default, Debian comes with GNOME desktop as of now and may not always be the case in the coming future since the developers may take another approach. So I have Debian listed as the last GNOME desktop. Debian too features original GNOME desktop but usually, new software features lack behind Fedora since everything has to go through an unstable version before migrating to the testing version.

​The huge kudo point for using Debian testing is that you are directly helping the community by reporting bugs, providing suggestions, and overall just by using it as your day to day platform for your accomplishing your computing needs.


  1. Experience vanilla GNOME desktop


  1. Since it’s in the testing version, users have to live with software bugs.
  2. Requires more knowledge about maintaining OS because you are likely to face software that may misbehave.


​Those are all the list of 2021’s best GNOME desktop and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article. Considering a change this year by switching to Linux? I’m guessing you already have one in mind to try out from the above list. Have some personal opinions/suggestions/corrections on the above list? Please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comment section below.


Kevin August 4, 2019 at 8:11 am

Why are you listing things that are not GNOME desktops as among the best GNOME desktops? Don’t confuse people on purpose, please.

Jocix September 4, 2019 at 1:14 pm

Cinnamon and Pantheon are Gnome Shell! However, under the hood. 😉 🙂

Robert September 22, 2020 at 1:15 am

When I went to this article, I was looking for GNOME (pure GNOME). Like you said Cinnamon and Pantheon are GNOME shell. However, I did not come to this article to read about Cinnamon and Pantheon desktops… just GNOME.

Franziskus August 4, 2019 at 8:28 pm

Hi there
I would like to throw Pop!_OS mode by System76 in the mix.

Keyikedalube Ndang December 4, 2019 at 10:14 am

Pop!_OS is gaining popularity. I love System76 geeks!!
Don’t you think Pop!_OS works best on System76 hardware? I mean it’s designed by the same team for their hardware.

SalParadise August 4, 2019 at 10:00 pm

Manjaro Gnome?
SolusOS Gnome?

Mohd Sohail September 4, 2019 at 1:26 am

Both of these are awesome! I’ll update the article soon.
Thanks for the suggestion!

Martin Logan July 23, 2019 at 11:32 am

Wow this is really from future. good hacking admin. a comment from future

Sohail July 23, 2019 at 12:36 pm

Hi Martin,

That is funny but it happened due to transferring site from another host. I can’t fix the comments timestamp manually becuase it’s too many + I don’t know hundreds of comments posted at date. 🙁

Mike November 13, 2019 at 8:41 pm

What the heck are you talking about? You included Elementary and Linux Mint? They are not Gnome desktops for pete’s sake!

Gone Postal April 17, 2020 at 4:44 am

OpenSuSE Tumbleweed (rolling) or Leap (LTS)??? During the installation you pick if you KDE, Gnome or XFCE and it does the rest.

Someone Who You Know November 22, 2020 at 6:19 am

Hi there
I would like to throw Pop!_OS mode by System76 in the mix.

Bo Antix11 January 30, 2021 at 2:20 am

Real Gnome is called Gnome and nothing else. It also works well with Wayland. I don’t want any Windows or Mac lookalike ugly X11 desktops. I live in the 20s I want Wayland now.

Ash September 8, 2021 at 2:17 am

Manjaro has a really nice Gnome edition. When Gnome goes through a major change (like shift to 40) it can get a bit glitchy for a few weeks but generally it runs very well. I also have Debian stable Gnome as backup system and although it has a few bells and whistles missing because the Gnome version is a year or so old, it works very well too.


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