Have you ever been confused about what Linux really is? Look no further than Resell.biz’s introduction to Linux.
In the tech world the growth and advancements of Linux are talked about almost daily. Many of you are already familiar with this unique operating system. Others may have only heard its name when purchasing web hosting or other online services. In this post we explore what Linux is, its history, what ‘distros’ are and why you may consider switching to Linux.
Since this is a basic introduction to Linux we’ve provided several links in order for you to broaden your knowledge.
What is Linux?
Put simply, Linux is an operating system. You’re most likely familiar with other operating systems such Windows or OS X (Mac). Linux is the third most popular operating system used around the world, behind the aforementioned two. It is more commonly seen on web servers, supercomputers and Android mobile phones rather than desktop and laptop computers. What makes Linux different from the top two operating systems is the fact that it’s open source. Open source basically means that you can see the source code that was used to develop it, and any glitches or bugs are fixed by programmers as they are discovered. Linux is easy to download and in many cases you don’t have to pay a penny for it.
An operating system, or OS, is a bridge between the hardware on your computer and the software that you download onto it. An OS is absolutely essential in order to work with any type of computer. When computers first gained popularity, a drawback was that you had to have a basic understanding of computer programming to use them, but the introduction of ‘operating systems’ changed that and allowed more widespread use.
Linux, being open source, means that there are many different versions known as distros, but more on that below.
When did Linux begin?
Linux was originally developed by a Finnish computer science student named Linus Torvalds. Torvalds was fed up with his school’s UNIX operating system so he set off to create his own. Torvalds didn’t envisage Linux becoming such a thriving force in the IT world. He was quoted saying, “I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones”. What started as a hobby produced one of the most popular operating systems in the world.
Torvalds initially just created the kernel, which is the very base or center of an operating system. Linux developers soon teamed up with GNU General Public License in order to create a complete OS. Today, Linux has grown into arguably the most powerful and most secure operating system available.
What are distros?
As mentioned above, Linux has been developed into multiple different versions. These different versions are called distros (short for distributions). With Linux being open source, developers have taken the Linux kernel and created many different operating systems. Some of the most popular Linux distros are Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat and CentOS. Each one of these different distros share the same Linux kernel but have been developed to cater to various needs.
Why should you consider Linux?
Generally Linux is not the first choice for those wanting to use a computer for typing up Word documents or accessing the internet. Although very popular, Linux does entail a steep learning curve that can intimidate many beginners. Those more adventurous will commonly play around with Linux to explore how it works and how it differs from the traditional Windows or Mac operating systems.
Another reason why many switch to Linux is because of its customization options. Being open source, you can essentially tailor your OS to your exact liking, and Linux is extremely flexible in this sense. Developers are constantly working to improve various Linux distros in order to fit changing needs.
Linux is also proven to be faster and more secure than other operating systems. Linux requires less space from hardware resources, keeping it a small yet powerful part of your computer. Linux is significantly more secure than Windows, mainly because it’s a much smaller target. This added security and power makes Linux the most popular option for web servers around the world.
Finally, one of the biggest reasons that many are switching to Linux for their primary OS is because it is free. The Linux community is very passionate about keeping Linux free, which explains why there isn’t a corporate company running the project. In some cases, such as using Linux in a professional setting, there may be certain fees required. However, if you’re using Linux for your own personal use, it is completely free.
How can I switch to Linux?
Once you’ve made the switch, explore forums and other sources around the web for support and advice. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean you can’t come to love it.