As local governments come under pressure from institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the International Intellectual Property Alliance, some have turned to Linux and other free software as an affordable, legal alternative to both pirated software and expensive proprietary computer products from Microsoft, Apple and other commercial companies. The spread of Linux affords some leverage for these countries when companies from the developed world bid for government contracts (since a low-cost option exists), while furnishing an alternative path to development for countries like India and Pakistan that have many citizens skilled in computer applications but cannot afford technological investment at "First World" prices. The cost factor is not the only one being considered though – many governmental institutions (in public and military sectors) from North America and European Union make the transition to Linux due to its superior stability and openness of the source code which in its turn leverages information security.
- In 2003, the Turkish government decided to create its own Linux distribution, Pardus, developed by UEKAE (National Research Institute of Electronics and Cryptology). The first version, Pardus 1.0, was officially announced on 27 December 2005.
- Government of India's CDAC developed an Indian Linux distribution, BOSS GNU/Linux (Bharat Operating System Solutions). It is customized to suit Indian's digital environment and supports most of the Indian languages.
- The Government of Kerala, India, announced its official support for free/open-source software in its State IT Policy of 2001, which was formulated after the first-ever free software conference in India, "Freedom First!", held in July 2001 in Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, where Richard Stallman inaugurated the Free Software Foundation of India. Since then, Kerala's IT Policy has been significantly influenced by FOSS, with several major initiatives such as IT@School Project, possibly the largest single-purpose deployment of Linux in the world, and leading to the formation of the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) in 2009.
- In March 2014, with the end of support for Windows XP, the Government of Tamil Nadu, India has advised all its departments to install BOSS Linux (Bharat Operating System Solutions).
- The Government of Pakistan established a Technology Resource Mobilization Unit in 2002 to enable groups of professionals to exchange views and coordinate activities in their sectors and to educate users about free software alternatives. Linux is an option for poor countries which have little revenue for public investment; Pakistan is using open-source software in public schools and colleges, and hopes to run all government services on Linux eventually.
- The United States Department of Defense uses Linux - "the U.S. Army is the single largest installed base for Red Hat Linux" and the US Navy nuclear submarine fleet runs on Linux, including their sonar systems.
- In June 2012, the US Navy signed a US$27,883,883 contract with Raytheon to install Linux ground control software for its fleet of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) Northrup-Grumman MQ8B Fire Scout drones. The contract involves Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, which has already spent US$5,175,075 in preparation for the Linux systems.
- In April 2006, the US Federal Aviation Administration announced that it had completed a migration to Red Hat Enterprise Linux in one third of the scheduled time and about US$15 million under budget. The switch saved a further US$15 million in datacenter operating costs.
- The US National Nuclear Security Administration operates the world's tenth fastest supercomputer, the IBM Roadrunner, which uses Red Hat Enterprise Linux along with Fedora as its operating systems.
- The city government of Largo, Florida uses Linux and has won international recognition for their implementation, indicating that it provides "extensive savings over more traditional alternatives in city-wide applications."
- Brazil uses PC Conectado, a program utilizing Linux.
- In 2004, Venezuela's government approved the 3390 decree, to give preference to using free software in public administration. One result of this policy is the development of Canaima, a Debian-based Linux distribution.
- Austria's city of Vienna has chosen to start migrating its desktop PCs to Debian-based Wienux. However, the idea was largely abandoned, because the necessary software was incompatible with Linux.
- The city government of Munich, Germany, chose in 2003 to start to migrate its 14,000 desktops to Debian-based LiMux. Even though more than 80 percent of workstations used OpenOffice and 100 percent used Firefox/Thunderbird five years later (November 2008), an adoption rate of Linux itself of only 20 percent (June 2010) was achieved. The effort was later reorganized, focusing on smaller deployments and winning over staff to the value of the program. By the end of 2011 the program had exceeded its goal and changed over 9000 desktops to Linux. The city of Munich reported at the end of 2012 that the migration to Linux was highly successful and has already saved the city over €11 million (US$14 million). Recently the Deputy Mayor Josef Schmid said that the city is putting together an independent expert group to look at moving back to Microsoft due to issues in LiMux, the primary issues have been of compatibility; users in the rest of Germany that use other (Microsoft) software have had trouble with the files generated by Munich's open-source applications. The second is price, with Schmid saying that the city now has the impression that "Linux is very expensive" due to custom programming, The independent group will advise the best course of action, and if that group recommends using Microsoft software, Schmid says that a switch back isn't impossible. The city council said they already saved more than US$10 million, and there is no major issue with the switch to Linux. Some observers, such as Silviu Stahie of Softpedia have indicated that the attempted rejection of Linux has been influenced by Microsoft and its supporters, and that this is predominantly a political issue and not a technical one. Microsoft's German headquarters has committed to move to Munich as part of this issue. In February 2017, the city council considered the move from the Linux-based OS to Windows 10 while shortly before Microsoft Germany moved its headquarters to Munich.
- The Federal Employment Office of Germany (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) has migrated 13,000 public workstations from Windows NT to openSUSE.
- Iceland has announced in March 2012, that it wishes to migrate to open-source software in public institutions. Schools have already migrated from Windows to Ubuntu Linux.
- The Dutch Police Internet Research and Investigation Network (iRN) has only used free and open-source software based on open standards, publicly developed with the source code available on the Internet for audit, since 2003. They use 2200 Ubuntu workstations.
- In 2014, Russia announced plans to move their Ministry of Health to Linux as a counter to sanctions over the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and a means of hurting US corporate interests, such as Microsoft.
- In 2018, Russia began adopting Astra Linux, an operating system which is certified to handle data classified as "special importance", on their military computer systems.
- Spain was noted as the furthest along the road to Linux adoption in 2003, for example with Linux distribution LinEx
- The regional Andalusian Autonomous Government of Andalucía in Spain developed its own Linux distribution, called Guadalinex in 2004.
- The city government of Barcelona in Spain announced in 2018 that it would migrate all desktop software from proprietary to free/open-source alternatives, and would gradually migrate from proprietary operating systems to Linux.
Linux is often used in technical disciplines at universities and research centres. This is due to several factors, including that Linux is available free of charge and includes a large body of free/open-source software. To some extent, technical competence of computer science and software engineering academics is also a contributor, as is stability, maintainability, and upgradability. IBM ran an advertising campaign entitled "Linux is Education" featuring a young boy who was supposed to be "Linux".
Examples of large scale adoption of Linux in education include the following:
- The OLPC XO-1 (previously called the MIT $100 laptop and The Children's Machine), is an inexpensive laptop running Linux, which will be distributed to millions of children as part of the One Laptop Per Child project, especially in developing countries.
- Schools in Bolzano, Italy, with a student population of 16,000, switched to a custom distribution of Linux, (FUSS Soledad GNU/Linux), in September 2005.
- All primary and secondary public schools in the Swiss Canton of Geneva, have switched to using Ubuntu for the PCs used by teachers and students in 2013–14. The switch has been completed by all of the 170 primary public schools and over 2,000 computers. The migration of the canton's 20 secondary schools is planned for the school year 2014-15
- Brazil has 35 million students in over 50,000 schools using 523,400 computer stations all running Linux.
- 22,000 students in the US state of Indiana had access to Linux Workstations at their high schools in 2006.
- In 2009, Venezuela's Ministry of Education began a project called Canaima-educativo, to provide all students in public schools with "Canaimita" laptop computers with the Canaima Debian-based Linux distribution pre-installed, as well as with open-source educational content.
- The Chinese government is buying 1.5 million Linux Loongson PCs as part of its plans to support its domestic industry. In addition the province of Jiangsu will install as many as 150,000 Linux PCs, using Loongson processors, in rural schools starting in 2009.
- By December 2013, about 500 Indonesian schools were running openSUSE.
- The Indian government's tablet computer initiative for student use employs Linux as the operating system as part of its drive to produce a tablet PC for under 1,500 rupees (US$35).
- The Indian state of Tamil Nadu plans to distribute 100,000 Linux laptops to its students.
- Government officials of Kerala, India announced they will use only free software, running on the Linux platform, for computer education, starting with the 2,650 government and government-aided high schools.
- The Indian state of Tamil Nadu has issued a directive to local government departments asking them to switch over to open-source software, in the wake of Microsoft's decision to end support for Windows XP in April 2014.
- The Philippines has deployed 13,000 desktops running on Fedora, the first 10,000 were delivered in December 2007 by Advanced Solutions Inc. Another 10,000 desktops of Edubuntu and Kubuntu are planned.
- Russia announced in October 2007, that all its school computers will run on Linux. This is to avoid cost of licensing currently unlicensed software.
Businesses and non-profits
Linux is used extensively on servers in businesses, and has been for a long time. Linux is also used in some corporate environments as the desktop platform for their employees, with commercially available solutions including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, and Ubuntu.
- Free I.T. Athens, founded in 2005 in Athens, Georgia, United States, is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing computers from landfills, recycling them or refurbishing them using Linux exclusively.
- Burlington Coat Factory has used Linux exclusively since 1999.
- Ernie Ball, known for its famous Super Slinky guitar strings, has used Linux as its desktop operating system since 2000.
- Novell is undergoing a migration from Windows to Linux. Of its 5500 employees, 50% were successfully migrated as of April 2006. This was expected to rise to 80% by November.
- Wotif, the Australian hotel booking website, migrated from Windows to Linux servers to keep up with the growth of its business.
- Union Bank of California announced in January 2007 that it would standardize its IT infrastructure on Red Hat Enterprise Linux in order to lower costs.
- Peugeot, the European car maker, announced plans to deploy up to 20,000 copies of Novell's Linux desktop, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, and 2,500 copies of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, in 2007.
- Mindbridge, a software company, announced in September 2007 that it had migrated a large number of Windows servers onto a smaller number of Linux servers and a few BSD servers. It claims to have saved "bunches of money."
- Virgin America, the low cost U.S. airline, uses Linux to power its in-flight entertainment system, RED.
- Amazon.com, the US based mail-order retailer, uses Linux "in nearly every corner of its business".
- Google uses a version of Ubuntu internally nicknamed Goobuntu. In August 2017, Google announced that it would be replacing Goobuntu with gLinux, an in-house distro based on the Debian Testing branch.
- IBM does extensive development work for Linux and also uses it on desktops and servers internally. The company also created a TV advertising campaign: IBM supports Linux 100%.
- Wikimedia Foundation moved to running its Wikipedia servers on Ubuntu in late 2008, after having previously used a combination of Red Hat and Fedora.
- DreamWorks Animation adopted the use of Linux since 2001, and uses more than 1,000 Linux desktops and more than 3,000 Linux servers.
- The Chicago Mercantile Exchange employs an all-Linux computing infrastructure and has used it to process over a quadrillion dollars worth of financial transactions
- The Chi-X pan-European equity exchange runs its MarketPrizm trading platform software on Linux.
- The London Stock Exchange uses the Linux-based MillenniumIT Millennium Exchange software for its trading platform and predicts that moving to Linux from Windows will give it an annual cost savings of at least £10 million ($14.7 million) from 2011 to 2012.
- The New York Stock Exchange uses Linux to run its trading applications.
- Mobexpert Group, the leading furniture manufacturer and retailer in Romania, extensively uses Linux, LibreOffice and other free software in its data communications and processing systems, including some desktops.
- American electronic music composer Kim Cascone migrated from Apple Mac to Ubuntu for his music studio, performance use and administration in 2009.
- Laughing Boy Records under the direction of owner Geoff Beasley switched from doing audio recording on Windows to Linux in 2004 as a result of Windows spyware problems.
- Nav Canada's new Internet Flight Planning System for roll-out in 2011, is written in Python and runs on Red Hat Linux.
- Electrolux Frigidaire Infinity i-kitchen is a "smart appliance" refrigerator that uses a Linux operating system, running on an embedded 400 MHz Freescale i.MX25 processor with 128 MB of RAM and a 480×800 touch panel.
- DukeJets LLC (USA) and Duke Jets Ltd. (Canada), air charter brokerage companies, switched from Windows to Ubuntu Linux in 2012.
- Banco do Brasil, the biggest bank in Brazil, has moved nearly all desktops to Linux, except some corporate ones and a few that are need to operate some specific hardware. They began migration of their servers to Linux in 2002. Branch servers and ATMs all run Linux. The distribution of choice is openSUSE 11.2.
- KLM, the Royal Aviation Company of the Netherlands, uses Linux on the OSS-based version of its KLM WebFarm.
- Ocado, the online supermarket, uses Linux in its data centres.
- Kazi Farms Group, a large poultry and food products company in Bangladesh, migrated 1000 computers to Linux. An associated TV channel, Deepto TV, as well as an associated daily newspaper Dhaka Tribune also migrated to Linux.
- Zando Computer, an IT consulting company located in Bucharest, Romania uses Linux for its business needs (server and desktop). The company recommends to its clients and actively deploys Linux, LibreOffice (OpenDocument format solutions) and other categories of free software.
- Nvidia, at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, company CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made his extensive presentations using Ubuntu Linux.
- Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia ICT report for 2017, showed that 19.8% of the companies in Serbia use Linux as their main operating system (up from 14.5% in 2016). Linux is largely used in Serbian large enterprises (companies that fulfil two out of three conditions: 250+ employees, revenue of 35+ million euros, total assets of 17.5+ million euros), where Linux adoption has reached 40.9%.