16 Weirdest Places You'll Find Linux

Linux is everywhere, if you look for it.

Linux is everywhere, from your desktops and servers to your phones and televisions. Let's take a look at some of the stranger places you'll find Linux installed in this weird world of ours. I should note that these are all very real. You won't find "Linux installed on a potato" in this list.

This slow cooker

We start our journey into Linux-powered weirdness with this slow cooker from Belkin. That's right. It's a crock-pot. "But, Bryan!" you say, "surely it must be more than just a crock-pot." Nope. It's just a crock-pot, and it's powered by Linux. Just like your great grandmother dreamed would one day happen. The future is now.

This creepy-but-awesome robot

How many times have you said to yourself, "I sure could use a robot the size of a pre-teen Hobbit with vacant black eyes that can gaze into my soul and kick soccer balls like a champ"? Well, you are in luck, because the "NimbRo-OP Humanoid TeenSize Open Platform" fills that niche. And it runs Linux.

Underwater tsunami censors

Weird? Yes, but also fairly remarkable. These underwater sensors, with modem, run Linux. The modems use acoustics to transmit data under the ocean. The practical applications could save lives, and simultaneously provide internet access to both Sealab and seaQuest DSV. That last bit is obviously not true. But the rest is. How amazing is that?

Computer engineer Barbie

She can do so much more than drive a pink jeep and date a plastic, anatomically incorrect man. Barbie, it turns out, is also a software developer. Now, take a look at how Barbie has chosen to decorate her work cubical. Note that Tux the Penguin (or a close facsimile) takes the place of honor on her shelf. That's right. Barbie is a Linux nerd.

At 30,000 feet

Have you taken a flight with one of those in-flight entertainment systems? Well, odds are it was running Linux. So if you're hurtling through the air in an aluminum tube miles and miles above the earth... take solace. The re-run of Big Bang Theory that you're watching is brought to you by the power of Open Source.

Bark-activated dog door

The dog barks. The door opens. Linux made it happen. It may not be a Linux-powered crock-pot... but it is still pretty doggone awesome. (I just came up with that pun, but you can feel free to use it under the Creative Commons. Just be sure to give me credit.)

Tim Hortons

I love Canada. I truly do. And there are two primary reasons for that: Poutine (look it up if you've never had it) and Tim Hortons donut shops on every corner. And now that I know that Tim Hortons's big, digital menu displays are running on Linux? I love Canada all the more. Those donuts respect our Freedoms, eh? (Note to self: Come up with a good joke about hockey. Otherwise delete this note so people don't think you're a big hoser.)

At this random gas station

You know those video advertising screens at gas stations? Those things annoy the snot out of me. I don't know what it is exactly, but they seem to annoy me more than just about any other type of ad. But seeing that some of them run Linux? Now I kinda like 'em.

North Korea

North Korean computers run Linux. I have nothing else to add to that.

The International Space Station

There are two amazing things I need to point out here. First: the International Space Station runs Linux. Second: the ISS used to run Windows. And, when it did, they managed to end up with a virus and malware epidemic caused by infected USB thumb drives. From Russia. That is not a joke, nor is it the plot of a James Bond movie. That actually happened. In space.

This 8-bit microcontroller

Linux in space is cool, but you know what's also cool? Linux running on hardware it simply should not be able to run on, such as a simple, 8-bit microcontroller, which one man actually made possible. He even used it to boot a full Ubuntu installation. This wins him the award for the most awesome/craziest/bored Linux nerd on the planet. And I want to give him a high-five. Now he just needs to get Linux running on that potato.

This calculator

This one probably only seems weird to those of us over the age of 30. The Texas Instruments Nspire CX calculator runs Linux, and it even has a pretty color screen. Next thing you'll tell me they'll start making watches that run Linux. Or glasses that run Linux. Someone go find a bunch of kids. I need to tell them to get off my lawn.

The Lego Super-Computer

Sixty-four super cheap Raspberry Pi computers, all connected together into one Linux-powered, supercomputing cluster. That's certainly quite cool, but we've seen networked computing clusters before. What makes this worthy of earning a spot on this list? This beauty is put together with Lego. Beat that, Cray.

Titanium surfboard robots

Solar powered, titanium-framed, fiberglass surfboards with GPS, dual-core ARM and satellite data. They built four of them, powered by Linux, to wander the oceans recording and sending back data. That’s almost as cool as a crock-pot. ALMOST.

The Chumby

Part football, part clock radio, part Linux computer...thing. The Chumby is, or rather was, an interesting little gizmo. It's basically a simple computer, with a touch screen, capable of running simple little widgets. It failed to catch on in the market, but it will go down in history as being one wicked weird (but rather cool) little leather-clad doodad.

Cow-milking system

We started with food (you didn't forget the crock-pot, did you?) and we'll end with food. Sort of. I present to you the DeLaval VMS cow milking system. This high-tech... milking... system... runs Linux. It comes complete with a "cow calendar" that sends you updates on each cow, which, despite sounding udderly goofy (I'm nailing the puns today), is less silly-sounding than a Linux-powered crock-pot. I'm just glad cows are getting milked by Free Software. If they were being milked by proprietary software... that would be bad. I think.

So much weirdness

We've really just scratched the surface here. Linux has already popped up in so many strange places, and my guess is we're going to see the rate of weirdness increase substantially in the coming months and years. But I just don't think we're going to top the crock-pot. Maybe a Linux-powered spatula. That would do it.