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The 3 best Linux operating systems for education

Are you an educator looking to improve some old computers in school? A parent trying to find a suitable OS to give to the kids? Or, just trying to find a good, free operating system for educational purposes? If so, don’t go searching the web. Instead, check out our list of the three best Linux operating systems for education!

1. Sugar On A Stick

Sugar On A Stick is a learning Linux operating system based on Fedora Linux. S.O.A.S. runs from a USB flash drive and is designed to work on all modern laptop and desktop computers, even going so far as to support Apple Macbooks.

The OS runs a modified desktop environment known as sugar, which comes loaded with lots of kid-friendly apps, and is specially designed to make it comfortable for children to use and get around in.

The Sugar On A Stick take on Linux might not be ideal for kids of every age, and shouldn’t be your first choice if you need one OS for teachers and students alike. Still, it’s excellent kid-first UI makes it a great option to use in an environment with young children.

Notable features

  • Sugar On A Stick runs from a USB, meaning parents (or educators) can keep a standard computer as is, but give children their pre-configured USB with everything they need, no installation required.
  • Sugar On A Stick has a kid-friendly user-interface, making it perfect to use on computers where supervision isn’t always guaranteed.
  • Aside from being able to run directly from a USB Stick, Sugar On A Stick is fully capable of being installed on the hard drive of any Windows PC or Apple computer.
  • Comes with games, and educational programs for kids and the operating system can be used in a learning environment, or for a personal PC.
  • Sugar On A Stick has a Raspberry Pi release, a perfect companion for kids who are learning about computers by fiddling with the Raspberry Pi.

Download – Sugar On A Stick

There are a few places where Sugar On A Stick is available for download. Users can get a copy of the OS from the official Sugarlabs website. Alternatively, there is a Fedora Linux spin of Sugar On A Stick which includes lots of bug fixes and Fedora-specific features.

2. Edubuntu (Ubuntu with the latest Edubuntu packages)

Edubuntu is a flavor of the popular Ubuntu operating system with a focus on making computing accessible for children and teachers, by providing a full suite of programs that foster learning and education.

The Linux community doesn’t have a shortage of education-focused operating system. The reality is that there are dozens available for use. Still, Edubuntu is the best choice for most users as it’s built on a reliable, well-known Linux operating system with a vast selection of programs, hardware support, etc.

Notable features

  • Edubuntu comes with an impressive amount of educational programs, including the KDE Edutainment application suite, the GComprise educational suite, and many others.
  • It is possible to turn any Ubuntu Linux installation into an Edubuntu computer, so there’s no need to re-format if you have a spare PC running Ubuntu already.
  • Edubuntu is developed alongside educators around the world to ensure it’s a great operating system for children and teachers alike.
  • As Edubuntu is merely a set of packages, it is possible to create an Edubuntu system on Ubuntu Linux derivatives such as Linux Mint, Elementary, and others.

Download – Edubuntu

If you go to the official Edubuntu website, you’ll notice that the latest release is Edubuntu 14.04. This is very out of date, considering Ubuntu is getting ready to ship out 19.04 in a couple of months. Luckily, it doesn’t matter, as every version of Edubuntu is in new Ubuntu releases.

For best results, start with an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS base. Then, open up a Linux terminal window and use the command-below to set up Edubuntu.

sudo apt install edubuntu-desktop -y

When the Edubuntu installation is complete, reboot your current desktop session on Ubuntu to complete the installation process.

3. DebianEdu

DebianEdu is a modified release of the free, open-source Linux operating system known as Debian for educational purposes. Like most EDU-centric Linux distributions, it comes with a whole host of useful apps to use in a school setting. All of the software included is free and open, conforming to Debian’s ideological stance on open source software.

In the overall Linux community, many people go with Debian because the OS is reliable, slow to change and rarely adds new features. DebianEdu follows this same trend. If you need a good OS for a school setting that will never break, give DebianEdu a go!

Notable features

  • DebianEDU comes with a whole host of educational applications, and even the full Libre Office suite, making it perfect to use in a schooling setting.
  • The DebianEDU distribution is built on the stable release of Debian, which means that the software is always going to be safe to use without the fear of crashing.
  • Aside from coming with various educational applications, DebianEDU also ships with games appropriate for a school setting, so kids can have a little fun if they wish!
  • The DebianEDU project has many active IRC channels available for support.

Download – DebianEdu

DebianEDU can’t be installed on a running Debian Linux installation, at least not very easily. Instead, those looking to use this operating system for educational purposes must go to the official Debian website and download the latest release.

To get your hands on the latest Stable (9.0 Stretch) release of DebianEDU, head over to this page and download the ISO that suits your needs. Alternatively, if you require new features, it is possible to download the Unstable release here. Though, please keep in mind that using the Testing release of DebianEDU in a school probably isn’t a good idea, as things can go wrong.


While Windows 10, Chromebooks, and iPads often steal all the spotlight in the education space, Linux has a lot of great solutions too. Best of all, unlike those other platforms, Linux distributions that focus on education don’t violate your student’s privacy or try to gain data on them. Instead, these distributions (including the ones on this list) are created purely to help children learn and are arguably a better choice in the long run.

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