11 surprising ways you use Linux every day

What technology runs on Linux? You might be astonished to know just how often you use Linux in your daily life.
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Linux runs almost everything these days, but many people are not aware of that. Some might be aware of Linux and might have heard that this operating system runs supercomputers. According to Top500, Linux now powers the five-hundred fastest computers in the world. Go to their site and search for "Linux" to see the results for yourself.

NASA runs on Linux

You might not be aware that Linux powers NASA. NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer runs Linux. The International Space Station switched from Windows to Linux six years ago due to the operating system's reliability. NASA even recently deployed three "Astrobee" robots—which run Linux—to the International Space Station.

eReaders run on Linux

I read a great deal, and my go-to device is the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, which runs Linux (though most people are completely unaware of that fact). If you use any of Amazon’s services—from Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to Fire TV—you are running on Linux. When you ask Alexa what time it is, or for the score of your favorite sports team, you are also using Linux, since Alexa is powered by Fire OS (an Android-based operating system). In fact, Android was developed by Google as Linux for mobile handsets, and powers 76% of today’s mobile phones.

TV runs on Linux

If you have a TiVo, you are also running Linux. If you are a Roku user, then you too are using Linux. Roku OS is a custom version of Linux specifically for Roku devices. You may opt to use Chromecast—which runs on Linux—for video streaming. Linux doesn’t just power set-top boxes and streaming devices, though. It likely runs your smart TV, too. LG uses webOS, which is based on the Linux kernel. Panasonic uses Firefox OS, which is also based on the Linux kernel. Samsung, Phillips, and many more use Linux-based operating systems to power their devices.

Smartwatches and laptops run on Linux

If you own a smartwatch, it’s likely running Linux. School systems throughout the world have been implementing one-to-one systems where each child is provided their own laptop. A rapidly increasing number of those institutions outfit their students with a Chromebook. These lightweight laptops use Chrome OS, which is based on Linux.

Cars run on Linux

The car you drive might well be running Linux. Automotive-Grade Linux has enlisted manufacturers like Toyota, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen in a project that will see Linux as the standard code base for automobiles. It is also likely that your in-vehicle infotainment system runs Linux. The GENIVI Alliance develops "standard approaches for integrating operating systems and middleware present in the centralized and connected vehicle cockpit," according to its website.

Gaming runs on Linux

If you are a gamer, then you might be using SteamOS, which is a Linux-based operating system. Also, if you use any of Google’s myriad of services, then you are running on Linux.

Social media runs on Linux

As you're scrolling and commenting, you may realize what a lot of work these platforms are doing. Perhaps then it's not so surprising that Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter all run on Linux.

Additionally, the new wave of social media, de-centralized, federated nodes of connected communities like Mastodon, GNU Social, Nextcloud Social (microblogging platforms similar to Twitter), Pixelfed (distributed photo sharing), and Peertube (distributed video sharing) are, at least by default, run on Linux. Being open source, they can each run on any platform, which is a powerful precedence in itself.

Businesses and governments run on Linux

The New York Stock Exchange runs on Linux, as does the Pentagon. The Federal Aviation Administration handles over sixteen million flights a year, and they operate on Linux. The Library of Congress, House of Representatives, Senate, and White House all use Linux.

Retail runs on Linux

That entertainment system in the seat back on your latest flight is likely running on Linux. It’s possible that the point of sale at your favorite store is running Linux. Tizen OS, which is based on Linux, powers an array of smart home and other smart devices. Many public libraries now host their integrated library systems on Evergreen and Koha. Both of those systems run on Linux.

Apple runs on Linux

If you are an iOS user who uses iCloud, then you, too, are using a system that runs on Linux. Apple Computer’s company website runs on Linux. If you would like to know what other websites are run on Linux, be sure to use Netcraft and check the results of "What’s that site running?"

Routers run on Linux

It is possible that the router that connects you to the internet in your home is running Linux. If your current router is not running Linux and you would like to change that, here is an excellent how-to.

As you can see, in many ways, Linux powers today’s world. What else might people not realize runs on Linux? Let us know in the comments.

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Educator, entrepreneur, open source advocate, life long learner, Python teacher. M.A. in Educational Psychology, M.S. Ed. in Educational Leadership, Linux system administrator.


The ticket and train pass top up machines at stations around Auckland run on Ubuntu.

Apple uses FreeBSD which is NOT Linux. Huge difference in operation and the kernel as well.

FreeBSD and Linux both use the cores of Unix. FreeBSD and Linux and Unix share about 80-90% of the same or extremely similar source code and libraries. Anyone how thinks that the three operating systems are not completely FUNCTIONAL clones of each other have never used a command-line interface EVER, or have never gotten down to writing scripts... and truly have NO idea what is below a shell.
SO sorry to disappoint, but shells (which run just above the OS) basically male the OS feel equivalent on FreeBSD, Linux & Unix. Sh, BASH, csh, and the other shell interpreters that run on the 3 operating systems make the three OSs completely identical for MOST programmers/scripters.dy,

Thanks, I could not answer better to the comments posted earlier about FreeBSD.

In reply to by Barry Smith (not verified)

Almost all casino gaming machines run on customized versions of Linux. I already knew about most that were listed.

I just want to point out that Nextcloud is not a microblogging platform, the comment between curved brackets applies only to Mastodon and GNU Social

The link points to the Nextcloud Social app which, as another comment points out, hooks Nextcloud into the fediverse. Perhaps the text of the link should be changed to Nextcloud Social or the Nextcloud Social app?

In reply to by Ricardo J. Barberis

This is a great article! I discover Linux in all sorts of places all the time.

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