Objective of this paper is to compare linear buckling analysis formulations, available in commercial finite element programs. Modern steel design codes, including Eurocode 3, make abundant use of linear buckling loads for calculation of slenderness, and of linear buckling modes, used as shapes of imperfections for nonlinear analyses. Experience has shown that the buckling mode shapes and the magnitude of buckling loads may differ, sometimes significantly, from one algorithm to another. Thus, three characteristic examples have been used in order to assess the linear buckling formulations available in the finite element programs ADINA and ABAQUS. Useful conclusions are drawn for selecting the appropriate algorithm and the proper reference load in order to obtain either the classical linear buckling load or a good approximation of the actual geometrically nonlinear buckling load.