Free operating systems

This is a list of free and open source operating system software.


- Linux Mint

The purpose of Linux Mint is to produce a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use.

Linux Mint is one of the most popular desktop Linux distributions and used by millions of people.

Some of the reasons for the success of Linux Mint are:

  • It works out of the box, with full multimedia support and is extremely easy to use.
  • It's both free of cost and open source.
  • It's community-driven. Users are encouraged to send feedback to the project so that their ideas can be used to improve Linux Mint.
  • Based on Debian and Ubuntu, it provides about 30,000 packages and one of the best software managers.
  • It's safe and reliable. Thanks to a conservative approach to software updates, a unique Update Manager and the robustness of its Linux architecture, Linux Mint requires very little maintenance (no regressions, no antivirus, no anti-spyware...etc).


- MX Linux

MX Linux is a midweight Linux operating system based on Debian stable and using core antiX components, with additional software created or packaged by the MX community. It is developed as a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS communities, aiming to use the best tools and talents from each of these distributions. The community's stated goal is to "combine an elegant and efficient desktop with simple configuration, high stability, solid performance and medium-sized footprint". MX Linux uses the Xfce desktop environment, while KDE Plasma and other environments can be added or are available as "spin-off" ISO images.


- Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a free and open-source Linux distribution based on Debian. Ubuntu is officially released in three editions: Desktop, Server, and Core (for internet of things devices and robots). All the editions can run on the computer alone, or in a virtual machine. Ubuntu is a popular operating system for cloud computing, with support for OpenStack.

Ubuntu is developed by Canonical, and a community of other developers, under a meritocratic governance model. Canonical provides security updates and support for each Ubuntu release, starting from the release date and until the release reaches its designated end-of-life (EOL) date.

Ubuntu is named after the African Nguni philosophy of ubuntu, which Canonical translates as "humanity to others" or "I am what I am because of who we all are".

A default installation of Ubuntu contains a wide range of software that includes LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Transmission, and several lightweight games such as Sudoku and chess. Many additional software packages are accessible from the built in Ubuntu Software (previously Ubuntu Software Center) as well as any other APT-based package management tools. Many additional software packages that are no longer installed by default, such as Evolution, GIMP, Pidgin, and Synaptic, are still accessible in the repositories still installable by the main tool or by any other APT-based package management tool. 

All of the application software installed by default is free software. In addition, Ubuntu redistributes some hardware drivers that are available only in binary format, but such packages are clearly marked in the restricted component.


- Manjaro Linux

Manjaro Linux is an accessible, friendly, open-source Linux distribution and community. Based on Arch Linux, providing all the benefits of cutting-edge software combined with a focus on getting started quickly, automated tools to require less manual intervention, and help readily available when needed. Manjaro is suitable for both newcomers and experienced Linux users.

An excellent entry-point into the Linux world. Unlike proprietary operating systems, you have full control over your hardware, without restrictions. This makes it ideal for people who want to learn how Linux works and how it is different to other operating systems. From this perspective, it is also suitable for beginners similar to the way an Arduino is an excellent entry-point to embedded hardware development.

It is easily possible to run many popular Windows applications, using compatibility software such as Wine, PlayonLinux or Proton via Steam. The examples given here are far from comprehensive!

Manjaro is not a consumer-oriented operating system. You have full control and you will not be prevented from breaking your own installation - but then again, breaking things and fixing them is half of the fun! On the other hand, if you are happy with the way it works you don’t have to change a thing.

Manjaro will always be completely free. We create it, so we can have a Linux based operating system that is easy to use and stable, you the user, are the main focus, we do not take control away from you and respect your privacy.

We have a polite, friendly and cheerful Forum, where everyone is welcoming and supportive. The forum is the right place to share knowledge and talk Linux with the community we all  it.


- Debian

Debian also known as Debian GNU/Linux, is a Linux distribution composed of free and open-source software, developed by the community-supported Debian Project, which was established by Ian Murdock on August 16, 1993. The Debian Stable branch is the most popular edition for personal computers and servers, and is the basis for many other distributions.

Debian is one of the oldest operating systems based on the Linux kernel. The project is coordinated over the Internet by a team of volunteers guided by the Debian Project Leader and three foundational documents: the Debian Social Contract, the Debian Constitution, and the Debian Free Software Guidelines. New distributions are updated continually, and the next candidate is released after a time-based freeze.

Since its founding, Debian has been developed openly and distributed freely according to the principles of the GNU Project. Because of this, the Free Software Foundation sponsored the project from November 1994 to November 1995. When the sponsorship ended, the Debian Project formed the nonprofit organization Software in the Public Interest to continue financially supporting development.

Debian has access to online repositories that contain over 51,000 packages. Debian officially contains only free software, but non-free software can be downloaded and installed from the Debian repositories. Debian includes popular free programs such as LibreOffice, Firefox web browser, Evolution mail, K3b disc burner, VLC media player, GIMP image editor, and Evince document viewer. Debian is a popular choice for servers, for example as the operating system component of a LAMP stack.


- Elementary OS

The fast, open, and privacy-respecting replacement for Windows and macOS

Elementary OS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu that focuses mainly on non-technical users. It promotes itself as a “fast, open, and privacy-respecting” replacement to macOS and Windows and has a pay-what-you-want model. The operating system, the desktop environment (called Pantheon), and accompanying applications are developed and maintained by elementary, Inc.

The human interface guidelines of the elementary OS project focus on immediate usability with a gentle learning curve, rather than full-fledged customization. The three core rules the developers set for themselves were "concision", "accessible configuration" and "minimal documentation".

Since its inception, elementary OS has received both praise and criticism for its design. Wired claimed that the operating system closely resembles macOS, both visually and in terms of user experience. However, the elementary developers dispute this.


- Fedora

Fedora or Fedora Linux is a Linux distribution developed by the community-supported Fedora Project which is sponsored primarily by Red Hat Inc. with minor support by other companies. Fedora contains software distributed under various free and open-source licenses and aims to be on the leading edge of free technologies. Fedora is the upstream source of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution.

Since the release of Fedora 30, five different editions are currently available: Workstation, focused on the personal computer, Server for servers, CoreOS, focused on cloud computing, Silverblue, focused on an immutable desktop specialized to container-based workflows and IoT, focused on IoT devices.

As of February 2016, Fedora has an estimated 1.2 million users, including Linus Torvalds (as of 2015), creator of the Linux kernel.

Fedora has a reputation for focusing on innovation, integrating new technologies early on and working closely with upstream Linux communities.

Fedora has a relatively short life cycle: each version is usually supported for at least 13 months, where version X is supported only until 1 month after version X+2 is released and with approximately 6 months between most versions. Fedora users can upgrade from version to version without reinstalling.

Fedora uses Security-Enhanced Linux by default, which implements a variety of security policies, including mandatory access controls, which Fedora adopted early on.[26] Fedora provides hardening wrapper, and does hardening for all of its packages by using compiler features such as position-independent executable (PIE).[27]

Fedora comes preinstalled with a wide range of software such as LibreOffice and Firefox. Additional software is available from the software repositories and can be installed using the DNF package manager or GNOME Software.


- FreeBSD

FreeBSD is a free and open-source Unix-like operating system descended from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), which was based on Research Unix. The first version of FreeBSD was released in 1993. In 2005, FreeBSD was the most popular open-source BSD operating system, accounting for more than three-quarters of all installed BSD systems.

FreeBSD has similarities with Linux, with two major differences in scope and licensing: FreeBSD maintains a complete system, i.e. the project delivers a kernel, device drivers, userland utilities, and documentation, as opposed to Linux only delivering a kernel and drivers, and relying on third-parties for system software; and FreeBSD source code is generally released under a permissive BSD license, as opposed to the copyleft GPL used by Linux.

The FreeBSD project includes a security team overseeing all software shipped in the base distribution. A wide range of additional third-party applications may be installed using the pkg package management system or FreeBSD Ports, or by compiling source code.

Due to its licensing, much of FreeBSD's codebase has become an integral part of other operating systems, such as Apple's Darwin (the basis for macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS), FreeNAS (an open-source NAS/SAN operating system), and the system software for Sony's PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.