What is Linux POP OS capable of?

As a relatively new Linux-based operating system, POP OS uses Ubuntu package sources and follows the release cycle of new Ubuntu versions. Linux users will already be familiar with the lean Gnome desktop environment. Notable features include pre-installed packages, integrated hard disk encryption, native drivers suitable for gaming, practical graphics options, and plenty of optional tools.

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What is POP OS?

Linux users are virtually inundated with new Linux distributions for laptop and PC. Most prefer to stick to well-known distributions such as Debian, which is a classic among the Linux server distributions, or the desktop distribution Ubuntu. But Linux-based systems like Pop!_OS (original spelling), released in 2017, offer some more exciting features than Linux, depending on user needs. Ubuntu and a standard Gnome desktop environment serve as the basis for the desktop-focused distribution. The release cycle of POP OS is based on the Ubuntu version scheme. The current version 21.10 was released on December 14, 2021.

What are the functions of POP_OS?

POP OS is a polished Ubuntu sequel boasting some useful new features, including an intuitive installer, an optionally encrypted hard disk setup, automatic window tiling, and efficient graphics options that make optimal use of resources. Below we present the most important features.


By default, POP OS offers an OEM installation without a specified user by default. The installer itself is simple and self-explanatory. During installation POP OS also provides the option to encrypt the hard disk. Users, time zone or region can be set up from within the Gnome dialog after rebooting.


Pop!_OS can be downloaded as a live image in two versions. One for Intel/AMD systems with free drivers and one with a proprietary graphics driver for Nvidia graphics cards. In both cases, the system offers out-of-the-box GPU support with a strong focus on gaming.

Graphics options

Since POP OS is geared at gaming, the graphics options stand out. The system offers functions for the flexible selection of graphics cards, which can be accessed via Gnome Shell and power icon. Users can select whether applications should start with a dedicated graphics card or whether one should be disabled. This makes it easy to configure energy-saving options or optimal graphics performance and use system resources in an energy-efficient way or at optimum performance. The graphics options include:

  • Integrated graphics: Fully disables Nvidia GPU for optimal battery performance
  • Nvidia graphics: Disables Intel GPU while rendering runs on Nvidia GPU for optimal graphics performance, but limited battery life
  • Hybrid graphics: Activates both graphics cards, Nvidia GPU is in standby mode and can be activated as needed, useful to switch rapidly between graphics performances without rebooting
  • Compute graphics: Rendering via Intel GPU; Nvidia GPU is not disabled, but available in the background

Window tiling

Automatic window tiling makes navigation and operation particularly practical. Necessary and open windows can be resized and distributed as tiles on the screen, which is particularly efficient for complex programming and administration. Active windows are identified via “Show Active Hint”.

Recovery partition

By default, POP OS creates a recovery partition during installation. This can be booted as a live system via the boot loader if required. In case of errors, you won’t have to make a USB stick bootable to reboot or repair the system.

Firmware upgrades

Thanks to Linux Vendor Firmware Service upgrades to firmware can be performed automatically in POP OS via the Gnome settings. This means users can rely on up-to-date bug fixes, optimizations, and closed security gaps.

System upgrade

The proprietary upgrade tool offers the possibility to update the POP OS distribution if upgrades are available. The download is automatic in the background, but the installation is executed only after user confirmation.

Lean Gnome user interface

Visually, POP OS is lean and well-arranged. Users of Gnome will already be familiar with the interface. Switching from dark to light themes can be adjusted from the Control Center. Gnome Tweaks can be added for more personalized settings.

Extensions and tools

The Pop!_OS extension manager is particularly handy to extend the desktop environment by adding various extensions. The system also provides countless up-to-date tools such as Snap, Visual Studio Code, Android Studio, Bioconductor, Inkscape, Postman and many more via the package management and software repository. The universal flatpack packaging format is supported. Subsequent installation of packages is easy and automated.

Overview of pros and cons of POP OS

The following is an overview of the most important advantages and disadvantages of POP OS.

Advantages Disadvantages
Modern, sleek look with practical window tiling Parallel installation of POP OS and Windows, not very beginner-friendly
Flexible graphics options for switching between graphic chips and energy-efficient GPU usage Two different installation options for AMD/Intel and Nvidia graphics cards appear out-of-date
Optional hard disk encryption during installation Better for experienced Linux users with command shell experience
Automatic upgrade tool and automatic reinstallation of packages and software Stability of the system is not always provided due to unexpected crashes
Easy and quick installation Integrated software equipment not very extensive

System requirements

The system requirements POP OS are x86-64 architectures with at least 2 GB of RAM. However, 4 GB of RAM and 20 GB of storage are recommended by the manufacturer to guarantee smooth operation. Basically, the system runs on any Ubuntu capable hardware.

The history of development and outlook of POP_OS

POP OS was developed by System 76, a US hardware manufacturer for servers, desktop distributions and notebooks, as a proprietary operating system for its own computers and released on October 27, 2017. Although the source code is freely available, the system, unlike other Linux alternatives, is not developed further by an active community, but by the manufacturer itself.

Looking toward the future, there is still plenty to come for POP OS. The system has been one of the most popular Ubuntu-based Linux distributions for years and is regularly featured among the top ten. In addition, System 76 is in constant growth, which means that regular upgrades and useful optimizations can be expected.

Security aspects

POP OS provides regular security updates for System 76 proprietary packages. If software is not updated, Universe and Multiverse components, similar to Ubuntu, are at risk of security vulnerabilities. Even Ubuntu components that are modified by the manufacturer can open attack points for malware if they cause kernel and security gaps. However, since updates, patches and upgrades are possible, this security aspect is not all too worrying.

Who is POP OS suitable for?

POP OS is suitable for users who are already familiar with Linux and Ubuntu, but prefer added flexibility in graphics options. Given its OOTB support for AMD/Nvidia GPUs, convenient installation and navigation, and energy-efficient usage, POP OS proves to be a good choice for gamers with specific graphics needs as well as developers and administrators. The system is also attractive for media and graphic design users because of its practical extensibility and countless extensions.

Here are the alternatives

The number of Linux and Ubuntu distributions continues to expand constantly. Besides POP OS, there are numerous alternatives with different features and advantages. These include:

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