Is Android Linux?

In order to maintain clarity, it is important to note that Android is not simply a Linux distribution. This is because Android has modified the Linux kernel to a greater extent than a typical distro would. That being said, it is true that Android is built upon the foundation of the Linux kernel and serves as an expansion of it.

People’ve been talking about Android and that its core is just an offshoot of Linux, and therefore, is just basically Linux. But is that actually true?

Short Answer: Yeah– but not exactly.

It is important to clarify that Android is essentially an extension of
Linux kernel
. The developers of Android did not start from scratch since they had pre-existing work in the form of Linux or a pre-built code. However, it is incorrect to refer to Android as simply “Linux” due to this relationship.

The term
linux h
holds several vague interpretations. It may indicate either the
Linux Kernel
or the GNU software, as well as encompassing various
Linux distributions
in its meaning.

Additionally, Android doesn’t make complete use of the Linux Kernel; it only incorporates specific components that it deems significant. Therefore, it cannot be considered a Linux distribution in the truest sense.

The devices for which Android and
Linux distribution
are designed are quite contrasting. While Android is intended for hand-held devices with touch-screen pads,
Linux distribution
is more suited for desktop computers and servers.

By examining the loading screens in
Android devices
, you can establish a correlation between the two; it is, in fact, the Linux kernel that is initiated. Nevertheless, it is evident that the resemblances are limited. Upon closer examination, you will notice the absence of the Glibc library and other libraries commonly present on a
Linux device

But What Exactly are the Differences?

To present a solid case against categorizing Android OS as “Linux”, let’s examine in detail some of the key characteristics of each.

Firstly, it should be noted that Android departs from the standard Linux kernel and omits certain key Linux libraries, opting instead for libraries unique to the Android platform. This distinction is important because it undermines the assertion that Android can be classified as a Linux distribution, as most distributions do not modify the Linux kernel to the same degree as Android.

Customizability is a defining characteristic of
Linux Distributions
, which is not nearly integrated to the extent that Android is. Unlike Linux, where root access is only a few command lines away, a special application is required to break into
Android kernel

The Linux software utilized by Android is unfamiliar territory. Unlike Linux distributions where applications can work seamlessly across all variations, this is not the case with Android. Aside from sharing the same kernel, Android and
Linux distros
have no similarities in their remaining software components.

The issue of licensing needs to be addressed. Linux distributions are known for being open-source, which is a defining characteristic of the Linux ecosystem. Although Android’s base software is available to the public, the development of its advanced features has remained private, making it less open-source than Linux.

The Origins of Android OS

In 2005, Google obtained the Android OS from Android Inc. and launched it in 2008. It has since become the go-to operating system for touch devices, competing with IOS. Unlike IOS, which is limited and exclusive in terms of customization, Android is open-source, encouraging programmers and developers to create their own versions and applications.

Initially, Android was marketed as a sophisticated operating system to digital camera companies. However, it failed to gain traction, and eventually, it found its place in the smartphone industry. A curious fact, indeed!

How Linux Came To Be?

Linux, an open-source Unix-like operating system, was initially designed for Intelx86 computers but has since expanded to other platforms. Linux has gained immense popularity and is considered the most widely used general-
purpose operating
system in history, especially if Android is included as a Linux-based OS.

Linux distributions that are labeled as “strictly” are favored more by tech enthusiasts in specific niches rather than general users. They have also gained popularity in the present time among server hosts, who frequently utilize Linux distributions like Ubuntu and CentOS.


The crux of the matter is the specific meaning you attach to the term “Linux”. If your definition necessitates the inclusion of GNU software, then Android fails to meet your criteria. Similarly, Android cannot be considered a Linux distribution as it lacks the typical features associated with such distributions. However, if a program built on the Linux kernel meets your definition of “Linux”, then it can be classified as such.

Frequently Asked Questions