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Alternative Open-Source Operating Systems

Posted 06-26-2018 at 08:53 PM by Mill J
Updated 06-06-2020 at 01:05 PM by Mill J


Here is a list of some interesting open source operating systems outside of the world of Windows, Mac, Linux and BSD.

Disclaimer: This is by no means a complete list! I have not tried ALL of the OSes listed here, some are unmaintainded, so use your own judgement, I'm not responsible for any errors caused by them.

This list is divided up into catagories.

The first catagory list the most well known alternative OSes, these should be usable by about anybody.

The second catagory is a little more advanced, and so on.

The last catagory is ONLY for very adventurous who are interested in building their own operating system.

OSes With A Full Desktop Experience

ReactOS An open-source Windows clone.

HaikuOS Inspired by the BeOS, Haiku is fast, simple to use, easy to learn and yet very powerful.

Icaros is based on AROS: a free, open-source rewrite of AmigaOS 3.X

Plan9 from Bell Labs is a research system developed at Bell Labs starting in the late 1980s.*

FreeDOS is a complete, free, DOS-compatible operating system

Syllable OS is a complete operating system that is easy to use, powerful, lightweight and extraordinarily fast and responsive.

Small OS's with GUI

MeetixOS An OS built From Scratch As A College Project

DexOS the game console OS.

HelenOS A micro-kernel OS written from scratch.

KolibriOS A tiny OS written completely in assembly. Based on MenuetOS.

VisOpSys Written “from scratch”, and developed primarily by a single hobbyist programmer since 1997.

MenuetOS MenuetOS is a real-time and multiprocessor Operating System written entirely in 32/64 bit assembly language. Note: Only 32bit version is open-source.

ContikiOS is an open source operating system for the Internet of Things.

Redox OS is a Unix-like Operating System written in Rust.

ExirionOS is for computers that can be used in specific operations that require execute a task at a time.

Ghost a micro-kernel based operating system for the x86 architecture.

MonaOS is new, small, simple, open source and well structured.

Cli Operating Systems

PureDarwin is the Open Source operating system from Apple that forms the basis for macOS.

MinocaOS is an open source, general purpose operating system written from scratch.

AkarOS is an open source, operating system for manycore architectures.

OSFree is a development project, aiming to replace eventually all OS/2 subsystems with Open source analogues

Source Only(currently) OSes

HarveyOS Harvey is a distributed operating system. It’s most directly descended from Plan 9 from Bell Labs.


JehanneOS is a simple operating system based on Plan9.

DEOS, The distributed exokernel operating system.

AtomOS Operating System written in C# from scratch aiming for high-level implementation of drivers in managed environment.

QuestOS a relatively small operating system, designed to be dependable and predictable.

Hobby, Educational, or Incomplete OSes

FreeNOS is an experimental microkernel operating system for learning purposes.

MikeOS is a learning tool to show how simple 16-bit, real-mode OSes work

AquariusOS Is Based on MikeOS.

TomOS is forked from MikeOS.

TachyonOS is based on MikeOS.

WaveSystemOS A system made from OSDev tutorials, written in C/Assembly

IntermessOS is a teaching operating system.

Xv6, a simple Unix-like teaching operating system.

Lisbon OS Project.

Cobalt is a new operating system based on FreeDOS.

DayOS is written in assembly and c/c++.

Dream OS, Home-made operating system, developed in C and asm for x86 architectures.

Frost OS is a free operating system written in FreeBASIC and Assembly with the goal to create a small and stable system.

Genis is an OS written in managed code (C#).

InfortusOS is a hobby OS. It's written in C and Assembly.

ManuOS, a simple os.

LucasOS is A Mini Operating System.

SOS OS is a simple, tiny toy OS implemented in Rust.

ThorOS is an operating system created for learning purposes and for fun.

ICS OS, this project aims to develop a simple yet operational instructional operating system for teaching undergraduate operating systems courses.

OneOS the all-in-one OS.

FlingOS, An educational operating system written in C#. A great stepping stone from high to low level development.

PiscisOS is a tiny operation system based x86 architecture.

PerceptionOS is a hobby operating system

X1 OS is a very small operating system meant to introduce students to low-level.

OpenMach OS is an experimental operating system developed with the goal of advancing operating system research.

TempOS was born as an undergraduate work.

ISystem x86 is a multitasking and x86 based operating system, in development since January of 2014.

GhostBirdOS, A lightweight, multi-tasking graphical operating system, JUST FOR FUN!

Dennix is a small unix-like hobbyist operating system written from scratch.

Virtix is an operating system with one goal in mind: simplicity.

NativeOS is an x86 kernel made as a hobby project from scratch.

Zicronix is a 32-bit Operating System written in FASM.

LuxOS is a new Unix-like operating written for the PC, aiming for high performance with minimal requirements.

ByteOS is simple hobby operating system for the x86_64 architecture, written in C.

Osdev has a nice list as well

I hope you find this list useful. However if you'd like to see an OS added to this list, just post a link and a reason in the comments below and I'll see if I can add it.

On the same note, if you find a dead link, wrong link, or an operating system that doesn't belong in the category or even the list, let me know.

Mill J
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