Is Linux an Operating System?

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Linux is a popular open-source Unix-like operating system. But also, Linux stands for Linux kernel and this kernel is the core component of any operating system of Linux distributions. So, apart from being an operating system, it is also known as the name of a kernel that supports many distributions of the Linux operating system.

An operating system is a collection of programs that manages the computers’ basic functions such as managing the files, hardware, and software resources and their allocations. It makes a connection between the hardware and software. For seamless and efficient management of the system, it is the primary role of an operating system to coordinate all the resources.

Is Linux Kernel or Operating System?

The kernel is a component of the operating system. Without a kernel, an operating system can not run the system. So there is a contradiction between whether it is an Operating system or a Kernel. Let’s see which one is right.

Technically, Linux is a monolithic kernel and the correct term for Linux is Linux Distribution. First, when Linux was created it was only a kernel. However, an OS can not perform properly with only a kernel. It was then released under GNU GPL. Later the developers added the system libraries and applications to the kernel, and the development process of the kernel has continued till now.

Linux as an Operating System

Linux is an operating system that is similar to Unix. It is built on the Linux Kernel, which is a free, open-source operating system that manages the hardware and resources of the system. The Linux kernel contains a shell, graphical, and command line interfaces that are used to execute the applications that the user wants to run.

Benefits of Linux Operating System

Some unique features of Linux mainly make it popular and beneficial. Here some benefits of Linux are shown below:

  • Its open-source and free nature makes it modifiable.
  • Lightweight which makes use of it from wearable to supercomputers
  • Its customizability makes use of it on cloud servers.
  • End-to-end encryption provides strong security.
  • Provide multiuser and multitasking support.

Applications of Linux as an Operating System

By improving the system’s performance and productivity, Linux provides a wide range of server applications. Below, I have listed a few applications:

  • Server OS

For server operation, it is highly recommended to use Linux because of its security, stability, and open-source nature. It is used for server applications like email servers, web servers, and database servers.

  • Desktop OS

Because of its portability, like other proprietary operating systems, one can easily use Linux as a desktop OS. Providing a user-friendly environment, distributions like Ubuntu, RHEL, Fedora, and Linux Mint are used as desktop OS.

  • Network OS

As Linux is very lightweight for that reason it can easily be configured in any device and for that reason it can be used on network OS such as in routers and other networking devices.

  • Embedded Device OS

Linux is used in wristwatches to supercomputers because of its customizability and flexibility. It is used in various types of devices as an embedded operating system.

  • Software Development OS

Linux is widely used for the development of OS because of its open-source nature, and compatibility with different languages and libraries.

  • Cloud OS

For open-source nature, scalability, stability, and reliability many cloud computing providers offer Linux for desktops and cloud servers.


If you call Linux an operating system then you might not be wrong because it completely performs like an OS. It provides the advantages that an operating system gives and is considered a popular OS nowadays. But the correct term for Linux is Linux distribution.

People Also Ask

Why is the operating system important?

The operating system manages all the important functions of a computer system. It is a crucial component that makes the connection between the hardware and software. The main functions that are managed by the operating system are:

  1. Process Management
  2. Memory Management
  3. Manage all the fie and resources
  4. Handle I/O
  5. Controls all peripheral devices.

What are the basic components of Linux operating system?

Some basic components mainly make up the architecture of an operating system including Linux. The basic components are:

  • Hardware
  • Kernel
  • Shell
  • System Libraries and utility
  • Applications

Why Linux is better than other operating systems?

Linux is comparatively better than other operating systems because it is free and open source that mainly provides stability and can be customized according to one’s needs. These features and specialties mainly make Linux better than the other proprietary  OS.

What are the kernel types in the operating system?

Depending on the number of address spaces the different kernel types and the primary kernels are: Monolithic, Microkernel, and Hybrid kernel.

What are the names of Linux distributions?

There are many Linux distributions that have specific characteristics, and purposes and it is chosen according to the choice of users. Some popular distributions that are mostly used are Ubuntu, RedHat, Debian, Fedora, CentOS, etc.

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Afia Zahin Oishi

Assalamualaikum, I am Afia Zahin, completed my graduation in Biomedical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, currently working as a Linux Content Developer Executive at SOFTEKO. A high achieving professional with a strong work ethic and able to work in a team in order to consistently achieve my goal and build my skillset. Able to handle difficult problems with patience and swift decision-making. Read Full Bio

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