13 New Alternative Operating Systems You Should Try Out (Including Distributions)

The OS is the most important system software powering all devices and gadgets that you use everyday. We all are familiar with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Blackberry etc. However, there are many more operating systems that you haven’t even heard of. Some of them are developed by large corporations, while others are small project worked on by geeks.

Presenting, a few cool alternative operating systems with some unique features and looks. Most of them are in beta version, so we don’t recommend you to install these on your machine. If you want to play with them, you can try them via virtual environment using VMWare or VirtualBox.

13. Syllable


Syllable is an open source operating system specially designed for Pentium processors. It was forked from AtheOS. The aim is to develop an easy-to-use desktop operating system for personal use.

Syllable OS is packed with a native web browser, media player, email client and many more applications. It supports preemptive multitasking with multithreading, symmetric multiprocessing and device driver for common hardware. It also features GNU toolchain, Software ports (including Perl, Python & Apache) and file system drivers for FAT, NTFS and ext2.

12. SilveOS


SilveOS (also called Web OS) is a Silverlight operating system that brings the convenience and comfort of classical desktop application in your browser. It comes with numerous built-in applications that run in Silverlight’s security sandbox.

Besides start menu, taskbar and sidebar, it includes Internet Explorer, Paint, Notepad, Video player, YouTube viewer, Twitter clients, games, RSS reader and many other applications. The only negative point is it doesn’t provide any free storage.

11. EasyPeasy


EasyPeasy is Linux-based operating system for netbooks, built on Debian and Ubuntu. It is customized for low-powered computers and access to web applications. EasyPeasy is an open source project, however, it uses proprietary software or web apps over free software alternative like Skype over Ekiga.

EasyPeasy OS comes with pre-installed web applications and codecs and uses a recent Ubuntu release as a base. It is also configured with WiFi and wireless drivers that allow you to connect your netbook to the Internet and enjoy the web apps direct from the desktop.

10. Qubes OS

Qubes OS

Qubes is open source operating system developed to provide high security for desktop computing using “Security by Compartmentalization” method. It is based on Xen, X Window System and Linux. The architecture is based on a secure bare-metal hypervisor and it lets you sandbox many system level components like networking and storage subsystems.

Qubes implements a Security by Isolation approach. It utilizes virtualization technology to isolate different programs from each other. It also allows you to define security domain, for example, you can have your personal, bank, shopping, work and random AppVM (Virtual Machine) and use applications within those VMs.

9. ReactOS


ReactOS is an open source re-implementation of Windows NT architecture, compatible with all Windows applications and drivers. It also has been ported to the ARM and AMD64 processor architectures. The operating system shares some of its code with Wine Software, which allows you to run Windows app on Mac OS X and Linux.

The aim of this project is to provide an OS that is binary compatible with Windows and allow you to use it as Windows alternative without need to change the software you are using. It is still in Alpha stage and recommended only for evaluation and testing purposes.

8. Elive


Elive (or Enlightenment live) is a Linux distribution based on Debian for Intel processors. It uses the Enlightenment X window manager instead of KDE or GNOME. It has highly developed internal structure that makes it adaptable to all your needs. Moreover, it comes with clean, polished and dynamic interface.

The system is so customizable that you can alter the behavior and automate tasks according to your convenience. It never blocks or destroys your data due to unacceptable error. Elive is packed with tools that allow you to digitally sign, encrypt or decrypt correspondence with minimal effort. You can sample the distribution before installing it on the system.

7. SteamOS


SteamOS is a Linux Distribution which is being positioned as a new PC gaming OS. It is designed to run on Steam Machines (or Steam Boxes) and to compete with consoles like PlayStations, Xboxs & Wiis. It will be available to everyone for free, so you will be able to download and install it on your existing hardware.

SteamOS is Valve’s project and their aim is to drag the PC gaming ecosystem away from the Microsoft. SteamOS will come preinstalled on the Steam Box or you’ll be free to install it on any hardware you like, including Mac, Windows and Linux desktops. It comes with Valve’s own software repositories but you will have the options to add other package repositories.

6. Tails


Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live System) is a Linux Distribution based on Debian. You can run it from portable mediums (without installation) like flash drives or optical disks. It runs on RAM, so all files and browsing history is automatically deleted once the system is turned off.

It aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity and helps you use the Internet anonymously, leave no trace and use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt messages, files and emails. It comes with numerous built-in apps pre-configured with security – instant messaging clients, web browser, office suite, image and sound editor and more.

5. AmigaOS


AmigaOS 4 is one of the series of Amiga operating systems that runs on PowerPC microprocessors. It comes with its own desktop environment called Workbench, that has a range of functions to help user manage their documents in an intuitive manner. It also gives you the options to change the fonts (or use anti-aliasing fonts), background, icons or theme.

AmigaOS 4.x has a notification system that allows application to inform users about what is going on by displaying a message or note above everything else on the screen. There is also a smart crash system called Grim Reaper that can catch application error(s) and tries to handle them while preventing system crash or freeze.

4. ZeroPC


ZeroPC is a cloud operating system that lets you manage office work, prepare project and do other tasks similar to how you do on your desktop. You can run an operating system or virtual application within a browser, which preserves your data and user session.

It gives you 1 GB of free storage and allows you to connect cloud storage services such as SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and more. It’s like travelling with your computer without carrying its hardware. ZeroPC is available for both Desktop and Mobile devices.
You can open files directly with your local Windows application and use Windows file explorer to browse all of your online content. It opens files on demand via secure HTTPS connection without needing to sync files to your desktop.

Also Read: 10 Most Expensive Software in the World

3. Jolicloud


Yet another cloud operating system which you can download and install in your PC or use it in the browser. Jolicloud (also called Joli OS) is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, designed to connect low cost computers to the cloud.

Jolicloud provides you with the full cloud experience – store and use your favorite applications anytime, anywhere. It has more than 15,000 web apps you can access using the system. Moreover, you can manage all your online stuff at a single place called “Jolicloud Me”, which currently supports Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Picasa.

2. Papyros

Papyros - New Alternative Operating Systems

Papyros is a modern operating system being developed with latest technologies. It is developed on the Arch Linux and using OSTree to provide simple, easy-to-use and hard-to-break system. It also has a rolling back feature that you can use when something fails.

The operating system will be packed with some exciting features including powerful notification support, atomic upgrades and more. Qt 5, QtQuick and Wayland are used for the desktop shell and applications. In order to design a great UI (with high degree of polish and animations), all desktop and apps will be built with the Material Design standard.

1. Chromium OS

Chromium OS

Chromium OS is an open source project which aims to develop simple, fast and secure operating system for people who spend most of their time on the web. Some devices come with Chromium preinstalled as their primary operating system. This includes Kogan Agora Chromium Laptop and Xi3 Modular Computer.

Recommended: 7 Future Linux Smartphone OS other than Android

Chromium OS has three-tier architecture, consisting of firmwaresystem-level software and window manager. The firmware contributes to fast boot time by not probing for hardware, system-level software includes the Linux kernel which improves the boot performance and window manager handles user interaction.

Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

View all articles
Leave a reply

  • nitrofurano says:

    please avoid such mess – operating system and distribution are two totally different things