5 Innovative Linux Operating Systems You Should Try Today

Austin Luong 15-03-2017

There are many, many Linux operating systems out there, variations upon a theme. Each one unique in their behavior, and appearance. In this flurry of operating systems however, a few stand out in regards to what they bring to the table. And the word for that can only be described as innovative.


1. Fedora: The Early Adopter

When you think of innovation, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the bleeding edge. Fedora certainly ticks the boxes in that regard, as it changes with the shifting Linux environment. It makes an effort to not only be part of it, but to carve the way for many other operating systems.

5 Innovative Linux Operating Systems You Should Try Today Fedora

Red Hat, the company behind Fedora Fedora 25 Has Arrived: Here's What's Changed Fedora 25 delivers the latest from the GNOME project, but what's the story with the new display server, Wayland? Is the next generation display server really ready for prime time? Read More , uses this operating system as a test bed for new technologies. It does its best to use the latest and greatest in a fairly dynamic environment. As a result of this, it’s always constantly changing and improving. For example, it was one of the first Linux operating systems to adopt Wayland How To Try Wayland, A New Display Server For Linux Linux distributions will soon get a new display server called Wayland. Let's take a look at Wayland, and see how you can try it out right now. Read More , a replacement for the X Display server.

One benefit of this is that any new and upcoming things in the Linux world can be all found on it. The latest version of the GNOME desktop GNOME Explained: A Look at One of Linux's Most Popular Desktops You're interested in Linux, and you've come across "GNOME", an acronym for GNU Network Object Model Environment. GNOME is one of the most popular open source interfaces, but what does that mean? Read More for example, ships with Fedora. Another very interesting thing that Fedora provides is the ability to upgrade to major versions Why You Need to Upgrade Ubuntu Every 9 Months It's that time again, when Canonical announce that support for one of its standard Ubuntu builds has come to an end. But what does this mean to the end user? Read More (e.g. 24 to 25) without downloading a new installation disc. Something like this could certainly benefit more static Linux operating systems such as Ubuntu 6 Big Reasons to Upgrade to Ubuntu 16.04 A new LTS release of Ubuntu means security and stability. Whether you're upgrading or switching from Windows, let's take a look at what's new in Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus. Read More .

While it may not be the best for people who want something that’s consistent in its behavior — there will always be some problems for early adopters after all — if you want to know where the Linux desktop is moving, Fedora is your best bet.


2. Void Linux: Rolling Release With a Twist

When you think of a rolling release What Is a Linux Rolling Release, and Do You Want It? Learn more about why certain Linux distributions have a "rolling release" schedule and what that means for you. Read More Linux operating system, the first thing that comes to mind might be Arch Linux Arch Linux: Letting You Build Your Linux System From Scratch For Linux power users, it's highly desirable to be able to completely customize your system. Sometimes, that can be best achieved from the start -- by piecing together the components that you'd like to include... Read More , or many of its derivatives. In many ways, Void Linux is very similar to Arch yet stands out in some unique ways.

But first, a quick primer on what a rolling release is: basically, it’s a way of developing a Linux operating system that leaves it constantly updated. The idea is that you don’t need to upgrade it once in a while using a fresh install disc Install Ubuntu on Your Computer Using a USB Flash Drive Want to try Linux but don't own a DVD burner? Why not use a USB drive instead? Here's how to install Ubuntu from USB in minutes. Read More .

Like Arch, Void is built from the ground up, meaning that it’s not based on any other Linux operating systems. Contrast this with Linux Mint Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu: Which Distro Should You Choose? Linux Mint and Ubuntu are two popular Linux distros, but which is best? Should you choose Ubuntu or Linux Mint? Read More for example, which is based off Ubuntu (which in turn is based off Debian).

While Void also seems to be aimed at experienced Linux users, the installation process is much friendlier. For example, Void has an actual installer program, unlike Arch. It also supplies a live desktop to test it out. There are also some interesting architectural decisions that makes it different from many Linux operating systems.


5 Innovative Linux Operating Systems You Should Try Today Void

For example, many Linux operating systems these days use a special piece of software called systemd to boot up the computer they’re running on. There’s some controversy Open Source Software and Forking: The Good, The Great and The Ugly Sometimes, the end-user benefits greatly from forks. Sometimes, the fork is done under a shroud of anger, hatred and animosity. Let's look at some examples. Read More to it (an understatement), but any further discussion would take up pages worth of information. Void uses a lighter alternative called runit.

Because of them, in use, Void tends to be faster and lighter than its counterparts. For example, its start-up time is surprisingly quick, since it uses a different way to boot the system up from the norm. If you enjoy what Linux operating systems like Arch How to Install Arch Linux the Easy Way with Antergos Old PC or laptop need a new lease of life? Thinking about switching to Linux, but don’t know where to start? With Antergos, you can install Arch Linux the easy way! Read More have to offer, you might like how Void goes about it.

3. Elementary OS: A Focus on Design

Innovation comes in many forms, but the most noticeable comes through presentation. Elementary OS It's Time to Try Something New: Elementary OS Loki Elementary OS isn't your typical Linux distribution. Some would say it isn't a distro at all. But is Elementary really a usable alternative to Windows and macOS as its developers claim? Read More does this with flying colours all around. From the start, it was designed with ease of use and uniformity in mind, and it shows throughout the entire operating system. When it comes to looks and intuitive work-flow, it’s one of the best around.


Many of its applications are home grown, specifically designed for Elementary’s Pantheon desktop. From the calendar application to even the email client, everything blends in, with an almost Mac-like aesthetic Make Linux Look Like macOS With These Easy Tweaks If you like Linux but want it to look more like macOS, you're in luck! Here's how to make your Linux desktop look like macOS. Read More . Which isn’t a bad thing.

5 Innovative Linux Operating Systems You Should Try Today Elementary OS

A lot of this stems from Elementary’s strict adherence to a core set of values. It’s these set of guidelines that really makes them stand apart from other Linux operating systems, at least in terms of design. This laser focus leads to a consistent and polished production. A refreshing sight in the Linux world, where its variety is a double-edged sword Why Isn't Linux Mainstream? 5 Flaws That Need Fixing Linux market share crossed the 5% mark in late 2010, and sat there for about five years, spiking at 5.9% in June 2015 before settling back down. So why has it failed to grow? What... Read More . While there’s a lot of choice to be had, there are benefits of unity, and Elementary OS is an example of that.

While this Linux operating system isn’t the greatest example of technological innovation, it makes up for it with an unparalleled focus on quality. And that alone is quite a feat, with all the variety that needs to be sifted through.


4. CoreOS: Exercise in Minimalism

These days, it’s called Container Linux, but the things it brings to the table still stand, even if its original name doesn’t. It’s a name known more outside of the desktop world, designed for servers and the like. And for good reason: many of their design choices, such as restricting the base system to the bare minimum (hence the name CoreOS), were made around being ideal for that purpose.

5 Innovative Linux Operating Systems You Should Try Today CoreOS

This was done to an even further degree by running essential applications inside containers — a way of keeping them isolated from each other, similar to sandboxes What's A Sandbox, And Why Should You Be Playing in One Highly-connective programs can do a lot, but they're also an open invitation for bad hackers to strike. To prevent strikes from becoming successful, a developer would have to spot and close every single hole in... Read More but more restrictive. They do this with a piece of technology called rkt, a home grown alternative to Docker How to Safely Test Desktop Applications in a Secure Container With Docker Docker is a popular platform for developing and testing server-based applications. But did you know you can also use it to safely and secure run new programs on your desktop? Read More . Especially helpful for an operating system designed around mass deployment.

Along with this, this Linux operating system is designed around easy management of multiple minimal systems at a time. While the common user might not find this useful, having maybe three computers at most, it’s especially helpful if you, say, own a large network’s worth of them.

Its success has led to Red Hat (creator of Fedora) creating their own, similar operating system called Fedora Atomic. It’s testament to the innovation that CoreOS has brought to the table, and will (hopefully) do so in the future.

5. Gobo Linux: Refining the Linux File System

You might know about how the Linux file system What Are Those Folders in Your Linux Root Directory? Open a file manager on your Linux box and select Computer in the sidebar to display your system folders. But do you have any idea what each of them hold? Let's take a look! Read More and its list of abbreviated folders work. Gobo Linux argues that the current structure, of ambiguously named locations should be done away with. This is expressed through their own, innovative way of sorting programs out: separating each one into their own folder.

Traditionally, programs are placed into different folders, depending on the type of files they have. For example, configuration files might all be stored in one folder (e.g. /etc), with actual programs in another (e.g. /usr/bin). Gobo Linux then, is quite a departure from that norm, placing all these files into their own special place, under the aptly named /Programs directory.

5 Innovative Linux Operating Systems You Should Try Today Gobo

This carries several positive benefits, not really seen in more traditional operating systems. Interestingly, while this may make the file system easier to understand for users new to Linux, that’s only as a by-product to Gobo’s primary goal. Specifically, being able to install applications from source How to Compile & Install TAR GZ & TAR BZ2 Files in Ubuntu Linux Read More , and easily manage them.

The operating system does not rely on a package manager Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? A key difference between the main Linux distros is the package manager; the differences are strong enough that it can influence your choice of distro. Let's look at how the various package managers work. Read More to keep track of everything. As they describe it, the file system itself acts as one, since all the parts of a program are stuck in one place. Removing a program then, is simple as removing the program folder. Another advantage of this is Gobo can easily run multiple versions of different applications. For example, /Programs/Firefox/45.0 and /Programs/Firefox/44.0 could run without a hassle.

While this may seem like a rather novel idea, it certainly has some merit. And while this hierarchy hasn’t really been adopted outside of Gobo Linux, it’s definitely innovative, both technologically and appearance-wise.

Pushing Boundaries

Every Linux operating system is based on the same foundations: the system kernel What Is a Kernel in Linux and How Do You Check Your Version? Linux is an operating system, right? Well, not exactly! It's actually a kernel. But what is the Linux kernel? Read More , and a few other important pieces of software. So those which manage to stand out despite this common ground should be commended and acknowledged. This is regardless of the sort of innovation expressed, be that through appearance or technical ability.

What other Linux operating systems do you think are innovative and why?

Related topics: Fedora, Linux, Linux Distro.

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  1. Mike
    March 23, 2017 at 4:00 am

    I have liked the idea of moving people slowly and Zorin seems to be a more "windows like" environment for the timid to get used to another OS for windows refugees. I also like opensuse 11 with kde 4.1 for that "mac-like" feel. Of course, new mac operating systems are slowly morphing into Linux these days.

    Two things the Linux community needs is a training wheel version that all of the various camps will sign on to and support. The second is a more friendly community. I will say that since the days of minix things have changed for the better, but to lure people out of the windows you need to provide a nice wide door with and smiling and inviting people to help with the transition.

  2. Mike
    March 23, 2017 at 4:00 am

    I have liked the idea of moving people slowly and Zorin seems to be a more "windows like" environment for the timid to get used to another OS for windows refugees. I also like opensuse 11 with kde 4.1 for that "mac-like" feel. Of course, new mac operating systems are slowly morphing into Linux these days.

    Two things the Linux community needs is a training wheel version that all of the various camps will sign on to and support. The second is a more friendly community. I will say that since the days of minix things have changed for the better, but to lure people out of the windows you need to provide a nice wide door with and smiling and inviting people to help with the transition.

  3. John Merc
    March 21, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Gobo linux unique way of putting programs in one place and its advantages sound familiar...

    Wait... Its Windows...:)

  4. pi2r2
    March 20, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    I agree with Ron Ablang. Innovation is meaningless if it doesn't work or isn't reliable.

  5. Ron Ablang
    March 20, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Less about innovation, I care more about the LINUX distributions that will recognize and use my wifi adapter out of the box.

  6. Ben L
    March 16, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Along a somewhat similar vein to Gobolinux, there's NixOS, based around the fully delcarative Nix package manager. It also keeps applications separately stored and throws the standard hierarchy out the window, but is configured using a single source of truth and allows arbitrary rollbacks. Neat stuff!

  7. Patrick
    March 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    In light of the CIA leaks, I'm not so excited about Fedora anymore. RedHat (because of RHEL) is a big enough company to warrant planting a "mole" employee to insert backdoors. Or maybe I'm just paranoid.

    • Edd...
      October 23, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      Let me put it this way Patrick - you're not paranoid..!

      Cue systemd...

  8. TB
    March 16, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Is that mention of major upgrades on Fedora being unlike Ububtu supposed to mean you can't upgrade Ububtu?
    If it is, what do you think k do-release-upgrade does?
    Or for the more adventurous - replace one release name with the next in /etc/apt/sources.list and just do it with apt.

    • Spyjoshx
      December 19, 2017 at 2:15 am

      Maybe you can, but that doesn't mean it always works well. I have NEVER had a successful Ubuntu version upgrade without having wipe my hard drive and start from scratch.

  9. Lex
    March 16, 2017 at 12:38 am

    This is a nice article in regards to the distributions using the modern Linux 4.x series. Found a couple of distributions I'd never heard of to give a try on one of my many systems that already have Linux on them. Elementary OS has come a long way, it's beginnings were really shaky but now that it's maturing, things work a lot better now.

    Would you feature some BSD variants in your next article? My first suggestion is PC-BSD based on the kFree/FreeBSD user environment and operating system. PC-BSD has X-Windows and a couple of desktop environments on installation of such. I've seen GNOME 3 and XFCE4, however, there may be more.

    • Patrick
      March 16, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      PC-BSD is now TrueOS. If I could get the CrossOver program to work on it, then it would be my OS of choice. Unfortunately, I have too many issues trying to run games with Wine.

      • Lex
        March 16, 2017 at 6:22 pm

        I still call it PC-BSD for the workstations and call it TruOS for the server.

        I assume you're referring to this page:

        If you take a look at their download page, you'll see what I'm talking about:

        Well, I don't bother with Wine because the vast majority of the files that are absolutely necessary in a modern Microsoft Windows environment are either incorrectly coded in the Wine support library or not at all. Way too many FIXMEs. CrossOver is actually designed for a GNU userland. If you could get the equivalent kFree userland for FreeBSD you'd be set. Just a cover of clever shell scripting patches in place, it should then work.

        What version are you trying to get CrossOver to work on, specifically? Are you trying to use it on a ZFS partition? Which is one of the problems why it also won't work, incompatible with it and it's utilities. As is Steam from Valve Software for Linux, can't use ZFS but EXT 2, 3 or 4 works just fine.

        • Patrick
          March 27, 2017 at 3:00 pm

          In all fairness, this was months ago. I am not good enough at Linux to install CrossOver on a non-supported distro/OS.

          According to the TrueOS website, they merged the two under one name (TrueOS), rather than having a desktop and server distinction.

        • Patrick
          March 27, 2017 at 3:04 pm

          I'm basically just a geek who hates Windows (ever more since 10 hit), and has tried to use Linux off and on since the early 2000s, but never could get it to work right to do everything that I do in Windows.

  10. Pedro Allende Rosales
    March 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    There are many, many Linux operating systems out there...
    Wrong, there is just one.

    • duschaan
      March 15, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      ...and the winner is !?