Android and Linux–Brothers or Cousins?

I have been keeping an eye on Android because it seems like an excellent operating system platform for laptops and desktop PCs – perhaps.  Android has already made it into the tablet space,and two laptop manufacturers, Toshiba and Asus, have announced Android based laptops.  This represents a very real edge of the wedge into the operating systems space dominated by Microsoft Windows for two decades.  And with the money, marketing savvy, and technical expertise of Google behind Android, there is a very real chance that Android could become a very real third alternative in the operating systems space – Windows, Apple, and Android.

But wait, what about Linux.  Don’t they already represent a third choice?  Well, yes they do.  The question is:  is Android a fourth option, or just really another Linux distribution, like Ubuntu, Fedora, or Suse?  Maybe the version that finally gets the kind of momentum behind Linux that it has been lacking?

At it’s heart, in the operating system kernel, Android and Linux are very similar.  Where they differ is in the Application Interface.  Current Linux distributions use KDE, Gnome, or Xfce for application interfaces.  So from a certain perspective Android simply is another application interface.

There are some repercussions for Google if Android is indeed Linux, then it is probably subject to the GNU General Public License, and should put Android in the public domain.  But Linux distributions and Android both stand on the shoulders of UNIX, which was created by Bell Labs in 1969, and was the first operating system that was compatible with almost any computer, and portable from one computer platform to another.  There is evidence that Apple’s OSX operating system is also quite UNIX-like as well.  So is Android really Linux, or just another Unix product?

Do we care?  Probably not.   The fact that there is a super capable smart phone operating system to compete with Apple’s iPhone platform, and Blackberry, and Windows Mobile 7 is the driving force behind the rapid adoption of Android.  It makes sense that for people who like it on the phone and tablet should want to see it on a full fledged computer, and was probably unavoidable.  And more likely part of Google’s long range plan for Android.  This positions Google as the first real competitive threat to Microsoft and the Windows operating system in a long time.  We can hope, and expect, that this will begin to drive down the higher cost of Windows and Microsoft’s popular application suite, Office.  And, while we are mentioning it, maybe this is force Apple off it’s high horse and get the outrageously high price points for Apple gear to come down to something more competitive as well.  Which should be good for everyone, regardless of which platform you prefer.


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

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