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What is Linux?

What is Linux? Technically it is just an operating system, but in fact, it is much more than that. Some might even call it the backbone of modern computing as most behind-the-scene work is carried out on Linux. Find out more in today's detailed article.

03 Aug, 21 by Antoniy Yushkevych 9 min Read

List of content you will read in this article:

Before Linux, we were all relying on the Unix operating system that was developed around the 1970s at Bell Labs by renowned people Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and others. There were a lot of similarities between Unix and Linux. Both the operating systems provide almost similar tools for interface, programming, filesystem layouts, and major components. However, we have come across various operating systems that are similar to Unix but none of them are as stable and reliable as Linux is. Linux has gained much popularity and has come a long way in every developer's life. There is no task that you cannot accomplish using the Linux environment, tools, and features.

Linux is secure, robust, simple, and an extensible operating system that allows developers to accomplish even complex tasks with very simple commands. In this article, we will highlight Linux, how it is different from other OS, its advantages, limitations, who uses Linux, and other various key things.

 

Just like other operating systems like Windows, Mac OS, Linux is also an operating system that has been popular since its introduction in the industry. Not only this, but it is also one of the more commonly used and recommended OS's than others for handling and running complex applications. In fact, Android is based on the Linux OS. However, the main job of any operating system is to manage the communication between the software and the hardware. OS is the mandatory factor for running any application. 

There are various different components that are connected together to create a Linux operating system. Below are those components.

  • It has a bootloader that helps in managing the boot process. It is a simple screen that will pop up and lead you to the boot into the operating system.
  • The kernel is a part of Linux which is the core of the system that helps in managing the CPU, memory, and other devices connected to it. It is the innermost level of your Linux operating system.
  • It has an init system that will bootstrap the userspace. It has the most commonly used init system called systemd that helps in managing the boot process.
  • It has daemons which are the services running in the background. Such services can be started during the boot process or once you log onto the system.
  • It has a graphical server that helps in displaying the graphics on the monitor.
  • It has a desktop environment that helps in interacting with the system. There are many desktop environments having different built-in functions and features.
  • Unlike other operating systems, Linux offers thousands of high-quality applications and software that can be easily installed using simple terminal commands. 

How was Linux Created?

In 1991, Linus Torvalds had created Linux while studying at the University of Helsinki. Linux was originally designed as a free, robust, and open-source alternative to Minix. Minix was another Unix clone that was effectively used in academic settings. 

How Does Linux Differ from Other Operating Systems?

Like other operating systems, Linux also provides you with a graphical interface and some similar software and applications that you may use on other operating systems. Today, many application and software developers are now launching the version for the Linux environment also, so the users can leverage all kinds of applications on the Linux system as well. 

However, what are the things that make Linux unique from others. First, Linux is available as a free and open-source, making its source code available for every user to make changes and adding new tools or features for everyone’s use. Thus, creating opportunities for various developers to contribute to making Linux more advanced. Also, Linux offers you various distributions possessing different feature sets and applications. Thus, making Linux more customizable from different developers' perspectives. 

 

There are many advantages to picking a Linux distribution as your preferred operating system. Below, you will find some benefits that you may learn to adore while using Linux systems.

  • Installing Linux is very simple and allows you to test the Linux environment efficiently. You can boot the Linux from the USB flash drive or CD and use it directly from there.
  • If you are an experienced Linux user or developer then you may be able to customize Linux as per your suitability.
  • It is available for free, and you do not have to worry about paying anything at all.
  • Linux is open-source allowing you to make changes to its code and adding new functionality to be used by other users.
  • It is one of the secured and stable operating systems. It has a very low chance of getting attacked by any virus.
  • Unlike the Windows operating system, Linux does not require much memory and space for effectively working. It has a very low system requirement.
  • You can run Linux along with Windows and within Windows using Virtual machines.
  • It allows you a big platform where you can configure anything easily without having any doubts.
  • It offers you a wide range of programs and applications.
  • It has a wide and strong community actively working around the clock, helping you in the troubleshooting process. 

 

Where there are pluses, there will also be some tradeoffs. Outlined below, are the few limitations that you may face using the Linux operating system.

  • If you have already worked on the Windows operating system, you may feel that Linux is not as user-friendly as your Windows system.
  • With Linux, you will not get dedicated support. If you want to fix anything then you are on your own or can take help from various Linux forums.
  • If you are a game lover, then opting for the Linux system is a bad idea due to low graphics support.
  • You will get less driver support and may not be able to use certain hardware or the older versions of hardware.
  • You may not be able to leverage the proprietary programs on a Linux environment like other operating systems.

 

There are numerous valid and effective reasons for choosing Linux over other operating systems. Below we have mentioned a few of those reasons.

  • Linux is widely used for troubleshooting purposes for other computers. Considering an example, if your computer does not boot up, you can use the live disc and access it.
  • If you want to build or host a website, Linux can be a good option to start programming.
  • It is one of the secured, stable, and robust operating systems and is the most stable one.
  • It allows you to create servers at a cheaper rate.
  • You can see Linux in every field like smartphones, fridges, washing machines, and many more IoT devices.

 

Today, more than one-third of the websites or web pages running on the internet are created by the servers that run Linux. Many organizations are amazed by the features of Linux like security, stability, flexibility, and many more. They can depend on Linux for various tasks from the simple to complex. It has commercial support from various companies like Canonical, SUSE, Red Hat, and many others. 

Apart from this, Linux is the base for your Android devices, cameras, video recorders, and more. 

 

As we all know, the Linux kernel is written in C language with some parts written in assembly language and a tint of some other languages. Before you start writing code for the Linux kernel, it is better that you learn some of the Linux concepts. But the Linux community is not just limited to the kernel and needs contribution from various programmers for a better user experience. However, Linux offers you various distributions with different programs and requires a strong skill set for contributing to any distribution. People from various fields can contribute to it.

  • If you are a tester, you have to make sure that everything is working on the different configurations of hardware and software.
  • Designers should check if they are efficiently creating user interfaces and graphics that need to be distributed effectively among various distributions accordingly.
  • A group of writers, who can create detailed and fine documentation for implementing every step, making it clear to every type of user, from beginner to experienced.
  • A skilled group of translators who make sure that each program and documentation is available in all possible languages to be used all over the world.
  • Experienced packagers that will bundle all the programs and their features all together so they will work efficiently irrespective of any distribution.

 

You should never underestimate the effectiveness and the power of the Linux environment and its different distributions. If you dive deep into the concepts of the Linux operating system, you will get different opportunities and room to work on and grow. You will be able to create new applications that can do wonders and work differently if based on Linux. There is a pool of resources online that you can consider for moving forward. Once you gain enough knowledge, it will help you in creating innovative applications.

Antoniy Yushkevych

Master of word when it comes to technology, internet and privacy. I'm also your usual guy that always aims for the best result and takes a skateboard to work. If you need me, you will find me at the office's Counter-Strike championships on Fridays or at a.yushkevych@monovm.com