Home Applications of Linux-Based Operating Systems

Updated on July 12, 2020
Al Stine profile image

Postgraduate Computer Science and Information Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Geographic Information Systems and Cartography.


Linux is an open-source operating system that runs on computers and other electronic devices. Today, a small number of computer users use Linux operating systems compared to Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X users. Linux is however, embedded in other electronic devices such as TVs, watches, servers, cameras, routers, printers, fridges, and even cars. In fact, most, if not all supercomputers today run on a Linux based operating system.

Despite a wide variety of Linux applications in the electronic industry, most computer users today are more familiar with either Microsoft or Apple-based computer operating system products. Linux is usually associated with advanced computer users and programmers. Approximately less than 2 percent of computer users today use Linux operating system. 85 percent use Windows and approximately 10-15 percent use Apple OS X.

What is Linux?

Linux-Based Electronic Home Devices

Most electronic devices in many households require an operating system that relays the inputted instructions, whether you are pressing the TV remote or trying to check your heart rate on your smartwatch, Linux embedded operating systems usually provide that graphical user interface.

A large number of computer users today have never used a Linux operated computer or laptop, but unknowingly, many actually interact with Linux based operating systems in their homes on a regular basis.


Smart Screen TVs

Smart TVs today are preconfigured with applications that enable the user to be able to switch between one application to the next. Linux based operating systems preinstalled in the TV provides the platform on which these applications are run. TVs without smart features also run Linux based operating systems.


Ebook Readers, Tablets and Phones

Ebook readers, tablets, and mobile phones are usually embedded with Linux based operating systems. Android-powered mobile devices operating systems are also developed based on Linux Kernel.


Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers

The high demand for smartwatches and fitness trackers has prompted many electronic companies to manufacture a wide range of these products. The variety of systems that need to be integrated with these watches has forced many manufactures to create customizable operating systems that can easily integrate with other devices. AsteroidOS is a customizable open-source smartwatch Linux operating system found in smartwatches and fitness trackers.


Car Navigation System and GPS

Car navigation systems and GPS devices also use different versions of Linux operating systems. Garmin uses Linux for its Nuvi 8xx and Nuvi 5xxx-series GPS navigation devices.


Routers, Modems, and Firewalls

Most routers, modems, and firewalls use variations of Linux that are pre-installed by the hardware company. DD-WRT is the most common Linux open-source firmware for wireless routers and other embedded systems.


Digital Cameras, Surveillance Cameras, and Electronic Locks

Digital, surveillance, motion detection cameras, and electronic locks are usually preconfigured with an operating system. Several customized and watered-down versions of Linux can be found in some of these devices.


Satellite Receivers, Personal and Digital Video Recorders

Most satellite or cable box receivers or decoders are pre-installed with Linux operating systems. Satellite receivers such as the popular VU+ Zero DVB-S2 +DVB-T2 Combo HD Satellite Receiver are configured with Skywave Linux operating system and is able to accommodate 100s of channels.

Digital Video Recorders and PVRs also run on Linux software. The TiVo Digital Video Recorder (DVR) operating system is a version of Linux.


Synthesizer Keyboards and Audio Mixers

Embedded Linux operating systems are also common in electronic music equipment such as electronic guitars, synthesizer keyboards, and audio mixers. The Yamaha Motif is a series of music workstation synthesizers, its XS operating system is based on MontaVista Linux.


Thermostat, Smart Fridges, Stoves, and Microwaves

Several thermostats run a modified version of Linux, the present LCD screen usually provides a graphical user interface that enables the user to change the settings.

There is also a growing trend of smart fridges, stoves, microwaves, and washing machines. All these household electronic devices usually require a customizable operating system and Linux is usually the preferred one. Samsung announced a new smart refrigerator that featured an LCD screen, runs Linux and supports a range of apps.


Browsing the Internet

Interestingly, most of the servers used by the biggest internet-based companies are running on Linux operating systems. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Oracle, IBM, Amazon, and Samsung are some of the big corporations that rely on Linux operating systems tools. Surprisingly, even Microsoft uses some Linux software tools.

Whether you are on Facebook at home, searching for something on Google at work, or watching a video on Youtube with friends, you are basically interacting with Linux.


Importance of Linux Operating Systems

The importance of Linux in today's society cannot be overstated enough. Most surveys usually show that Linux users account for less than 2 percent of global computer users. If the other Linux applications outside the traditional operating system users are put into consideration, the total number of Linux users today is basically in billions.

Linux also runs on all supercomputers today, it's applications extend from rocket science to astrophysics. In addition, a recent growing trend of smart futuristic homes with all electronic devices integrated into one network means more attention will be focused on developing Linux-like customized operating systems that will be able to administer a large number of different devices.

Linux may not be the most user-friendly operating system to a standard computer user, and most people would understandably prefer to use a Microsoft or an Apple product. The ever increasing number of Linux applications around us makes it difficult to confine Linux to only computer savvy and power users. The advances in technology have also created a network dependency, most of our devices are connected to a network of devices. Learning about how Linux is present in most of our electronic devices at home not only makes us more security cautious but also equips us with a knowledge toolset that will help us navigate a technologically dependent future ahead.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 AL


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    • Al Stine profile imageAUTHOR


      3 months ago from South Equator, East Pacific

      Thanx, Liz.

      Glad it was helpful. Most people associate Linux with programmers and hackers so they usually avoid anything Linux, but the truth is we all use Linux despite our varying computer skill sets.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 months ago from UK

      When I read your title, I thought this article would be beyond me. But I have been pleasantly surprised to find that you have written it in an easy to assimilate style. I have learnt a lot.


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