Linux Distro Reviews: Tuxedo OS

Tuxedo OS is a Linux distro created by Tuxedo Computers, the makers of laptops and PCs designed specifically to run Linux. While similar to other projects, Tuxedo OS has several unique features....
Linux Distro Reviews: Tuxedo OS
Written by Matt Milano
  • Tuxedo OS is a Linux distro created by Tuxedo Computers, the makers of laptops and PCs designed specifically to run Linux. While similar to other projects, Tuxedo OS has several unique features.

    What Is Tuxedo OS?

    Tuxedo OS is based on Ubuntu LTS, the long-term support version of the world’s most popular Linux distro. This gives Tuxedo the benefit of one of the widest software repositories and the deepest hardware support of virtually any distro.

    One common complaint with Ubuntu LTS is that the Linux kernel and software can become somewhat stale throughout the release’s two-year life cycle. This can be especially problematic for the newest hardware that older versions of the Linux kernel may not yet support. Tuxedo solves this by updating the kernel, the graphics stack, and some popular applications throughout the life of a release.

    Tuxedo uses KDE Plasma for its desktop environment (DE), pulling the KDE stack directly from the KDE Neon repos. KDE Neon is the distro maintained by the KDE developers and receives updates to Plasma and KDE apps as soon as they are available. Tuxedo does a bit of additional testing but still updates the KDE stack within a couple of weeks of Neon. This extra QA helps smooth out Plasma’s rough edges.

    Other than a custom color theme, which can be easily changed, Tuxedo OS makes no major changes to KDE Plasma. The distro also includes relatively few pre-installed applications beyond the basic suite of apps, leading to a relatively lean install.

    Tuxedo hosts its own repos, mirroring the Ubuntu ones. As a general rule, system updates are pushed out every Monday, while security updates are pushed out as soon as they become available.

    Like other popular distros based off of Ubuntu—such as Linux Mint—Tuxedo includes Flatpak and does not include Ubuntu’s snaps.


    Tuxedo OS has an unusual two-step installation process. When booting off of a USB drive containing the installation ISO, users are first presented with a setup process for the installer. After going through several steps, the actual installer runs.

    When the installer first runs it will ask if you want to proceed with full-disk encryption enabled. If you select Yes, the installer will proceed with a streamlined install process. If you choose No, you will still be given the option to select full-disk encryption later. Since Tuxedo is using the popular Calamares install application, the prompts will be familiar.

    There is one oddity users should be aware of, however. If you select full-disk encryption at the first prompt, the installer will automatically partition your disk with a 2GB swap partition. If, however, you decline the first prompt and proceed with the installation, the installer will create an 8GB swap partition unless you opt to manually partition the disk.

    As a result, if you want to minimize the size of your swap partition without manually partitioning, you should select Yes when the install initially asks if you want to install with full-disk encryption.

    Tuxedo Control Center, Tomte and Performance

    Tuxedo OS comes with the Tuxedo Control Center (TCC), giving users the ability to change profiles, control CPU performance, fan speeds, set up charging profiles, and more.

    TCC’s full functionality is only compatible with Tuxedo’s own computers, but that doesn’t mean the utility doesn’t work on other devices. For example, non-Tuxedo hardware doesn’t benefit from the hardware sensors that reveal CPU frequency and fan speed. Nor does generic hardware benefit from the battery charging profiles—the ability to lower the charging speed and threshold to preserve the battery’s lifespan.

    Tuxedo hardware also benefits from Tomte, Tuxedo’s utility to help install and configure drivers. This utility is a one-stop-shop for any and all drivers a Tuxedo computer needs to reach its full performance potential. Non-Tuxedo hardware will likely not benefit from Tomte.

    Despite these limitations, all hardware should still benefit from the performance profiles. YouTuber Mumbling Hugo tested the profiles on non-Tuxedo hardware and found a major performance boost when choosing the correct profile. In fact, Tuxedo beat his previous best-performing distro when the correct profile was selected.


    Another major benefit of Tuxedo OS is its focus on privacy. Germany has established itself as one of the most privacy-conscious jurisdictions, benefiting from the EU’s focus on consumer privacy. As a German company, Tuxedo takes privacy seriously, collecting no telemetry from its users.

    Tuxedo also improves privacy over the default Ubuntu. Ubuntu-based distros include a NetworkManager connectivity check to Canonical’s server, which Tuxedo reroutes:

    In the same breath we have turned the NetworkManager connectivity check from a Ubuntu URL to a TUXEDO URL. “Connectivity Checking” is a function of the NetworkManager package, which checks at intervals whether there is a connection to the Internet. At Ubuntu and therefore TUXEDO OS, the URL was used for this purpose, which checks the connection every 300 seconds. Since we already mirror the Mirror servers of Ubuntu and therefore no IP addresses of customers go to Canonical, we have decided to place the URL for the connection test on their own URL for TUXEDO OS. This means that the URL is used for the automatic queries in NetworkManager. We hereby guarantee that we do not record this access on the server side.

    Tuxedo OS Is a Unique Offering In the Linux World

    As a result of the above factors, Tuxedo OS is more akin to a semi-rolling release than either a full-rolling or static release distro. The underlying base is the solid and stable Ubuntu LTS, while the kernel, graphics drivers, Plasma DE, KDE apps, and some popular apps are updated on a continuous basis. This makes Tuxedo somewhat unique in the Linux world, putting it in the company of Pop_OS!, another distro made by a hardware manufacturer.

    On the whole, Tuxedo OS is an outstanding distro and easily one of the best KDE Plasma-based options around. In my testing of the distro—on a Tuxedo Pulse Gen 1 laptop and an older HP Pavilion—Tuxedo OS is easily the most stable and reliable KDE Plasma distro I have ever run. On many distros—openSUSE Tumbleweed, Fedora, Kubuntu, Neon, Manjaro, etc—I have always found Plasma to be relatively buggy, although the degree has varied from one distro to another. Much of this stems from Plasma’s extensive feature set and the pace of its development.

    Tuxedo OS, on the other hand, significantly smooths out Plasma’s rough edges, leading to THE best experience I have ever had using Plasma, and one of the best choices overall.


    4.5 out of 5 stars

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