What is Linux?

What is Linux?

All about the Linux Operating System


Linux is one of the most well-known and most-used open source operating systems in the world to date, but what is Linux?


Linux is essentially the software that sits underneath other software on a computer and receives and relays requests from other programs to the computer’s hardware. Linux is used by a lot of developers due to the fact that they prefer developing on unix systems.  This is because the production server for the software that they are developing is Linux based and has been used by developers for many years.  The main reason for this is that it has various tools available for the user.

So what is Linux exactly?

The first version of UNIX was developed many decades ago and was used primarily as a research operating system at many universities. High powered desktop workstations from companies such as Sun were all based on the UNIX system. Thereafter a number of companies such as HP, IBM, Silicon Graphics and Apollo decided to enter the same field and compete against Sun. Each one had its own version of UNIX which made software sales difficult.  Windows NT offered a solution to the marketplace and had the same sort of features as the UNIX operating system such as security, large-scale memory, disk management and support in a way that was compatible with most Windows applications. The adoption of Linux in production markets started in the 1990’s and organizations such as NASA used the Linux Operating System instead of expensive machines and thereafter started using a commodity of computers to run Linux. Linux started being used commercially within companies like Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard who wanted to veer away from the Microsoft operating system. Today Linux is used throughout the computing market and has become widely used by most supercomputers. Since then the use of Linux in home and enterprises has been continuously growing. One of Linux’s biggest successes has been in the mobile device market with Android being one of the most dominant operating systems on smartphones and tablets.  Linux gaming has also started to become incredibly popular and has had the likes of Valve showing its support and rolling out SteamOS which is its own gaming-orientated Linux distribution.


User interface

The user interface which is otherwise  known as the shell is either a command-line interface, a graphical user interface, or is a control that is  attached to the associated hardware and is very common for embedded systems. When it comes to desktop systems, the default user interface is usually graphical, but the CLI is available through the terminal emulator window or on a separate virtual console.

CLI shells are text-based user interfaces that use text for both input and output.  Many low-level components use the CLI which are suites for automation of repetitive and delayed tasks to provide a simple inter-process communication. The most popular user interfaces on desktop systems are the GUI shells that are combined together with other extensive desktop environments.  These interfaces are based on the X Windows System and provide network transparency as well as the ability to permit applications to run on one system while at the same time being displayed on another system where the user is then able to interact with the application.

There are many X display servers with the reference implementation, X.Org Server, being one of the most popular.


Linux appeals to many types of people:

  • Those who already have UNIX knowledge and want to run it on PC hardware.
  • Those who want a stable and reliable computing platform.
  • Those who want a high-performance computing platform.
  • Those who want to experiment using different operating systems.
  • Those who are looking for a good amount of control over their operating system.
  • Those who have had a bad experience with Microsoft.
  • Those who would like more flexibility and configuration options.


What is the difference between Linux and Windows?

Linux is an open source operating system whereas Windows OS is a commercial operating system. Linux has access to source code and is able to alter the code as per each user need whereas Windows does not have access to the source code.  Linux can be fitted to a range of systems whether they are low-end or high-end whereas the Windows operating system needs a higher hardware requirement. Many servers around the world are running a Linux hosting environment as opposed to a Windows hosting environment.


Components of The Linux System

Linux Operating System is made up of three components:


Kernel – This is the core part of Linux and is responsible for all the big activities that happen in the Linux operating system. It consists of many modules and interacts directly with the underlying hardware while at the same time providing abstraction that can hide low level hardware details to system and application programs.


System Library − System libraries are special functions that implement most of the functionalities of the operating system and do not requires kernel module’s code access rights.


System Utility − System Utility programs are in charge of specialized and individual level tasks.


The architecture of a Linux System

The Hardware layer – This consists of all the peripheral devices such as the RAM, HDD and CPU.

The Kernel − This is the core component of the Linux operating system and is able to interact directly with the hardware providing low-level services to the upper layer components.

The Shell – This is an interface to kernel that hides the complexities of the kernel’s functions from its users as well as take commands from the user and executing the kernel’s functions.

Utilities − Utility programs provide the user with most of the functionalities of an operating system.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Linux



–        Linux runs on Open Source which is easily available for many users.

–        Boasts excellent security.

–        Revives old computer systems.

–        Excellent software updates.

–        Customization options for users.

–        Free of charge to use.

–        Massive community support.

–        Many distributions available.

–        More difficult to find applications that you need.

–        Different desktop managers can lead to a very fragmented experience.

–        No standard desktop environment.

–        Poor support for games.

–        Desktop software is relatively rare.

–        Linux is a very popular operating system for hacker as Linux’s source code is freely available due to its open source operating system.

–        Malicious criminals are able to use Linux hacking tools to exploit vulnerabilities in many Linux applications, software, and networks.


The things You can Do with Linux

You can create a dedicated media centre or video game machine.

Run a Home Server for Backup.

You can use Linux for Streaming and Torrenting.

Fully Automate your Entire Home

Work with Hard Drives as well as Partitions.

Host a Web Site.

Host a Web App.

Make a Chromebook More Useful

Troubleshoot Other Computers

Is Linux hard to learn?

If you focus on learning the syntax and basic command within the operating system Linux will be relatively easy to learn especially if you already have experience with technology. The development of projects using Linux is one of the best ways to reinforce your knowledge.

Can Linux OS run Windows programs?

Wine is an open source program that is able to run Windows software on Linux with no Windows. Wine is able to run programs directly on your Linux desktop and gives you the power to download exe files for Windows applications and then run them with Wine.

What does Linux look like?

You can customize the way your Linux desktop appears and make it look virtually identical to Windows if you want to, but initially the Linux system looks virtually the same as the Windows system and both work in very much the same way for most PC users.


What can people use Linux for?

  • Your own personal computer
  • Space Robots
  • Game Consoles
  • Smart Televisions
  • Smart watches
  • In-car and In-flight entertainment
  • Digital Signage
  • Self-driving cars
  • Smart refrigerators and washing machines
  • Chrome Books

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How do I install Linux on my PC?

Firstly choose a boot option

Step one: Download a Linux OS.

Step two: Now to create a bootable CD/DVD or USB flash drive.

Step three: Boot the media on the destination system and then decide what you would like to do regarding the installation.


Ways to master the Linux operating system

Here are some ways in which to practice and master the Linux operating system.


  • Play around and Learn How to Use the Terminal
  • Add Repositories with Untested Software
  • Learn Another Desktop
  • Install Java
  • Practice Fixing Things
  • Compile the Kernel


What does Linux offer?

1)     High security

Installing Linux onto your system is one of the best ways to avoid and control viruses and malware. When Linux was developed it was made with security in mind which has in turn made it much more security orientated and less vulnerable to viruses than the Windows operating system.  Programs are unable to make changes to any system settings and configurations unless the user is logged in as the root user.  If you are not logged in as the root user then there is little damage that you can do to the operating system as you will only have limited privileges. You will be able to browse the Internet freely without worrying about viruses infecting your system.  Users are also able to install ClamAV antivirus software to further secure their systems. Linux is a modular operating system, which means that its overall security can be more easily managed.  Every piece that makes up the Linux operating system can be audited, monitored and secured and has built-in tools and modules to enable it to further lock down, monitor, report and correct any security problems.  Linux tries to separate the user space from the kernel space which makes the processes that run through the system not available to all users, dependant on their role and privileges.  Other user processes are also not available to the system as a whole thus making it the best operating system for a business that requires a distinct, separated and secure permission system.

2)     Good stability

The Linux operating system is very stable and does not normally crash, in fact the Linux OS runs just as fast as it did when it was first installed many years ago. The uptime for Linux servers is extremely high and it has an availability of around 99.9%. Linux needs to be rebooted after every update or patch and it is for this reason that it has the highest number of servers running on the Internet.

3)     Easy to Maintain

Maintenance of the Linux Operating System is excellent as the users are able to centrally update the Operating System and all of its software very easily. Linux has regular updates for every variant that it offers and has its own central software repository which is used to update the system as well as to keep it safe.  The updating is done periodically and as an alternative the user has the option to automate the updating process themselves.  Updating a Linux system is easy to do and there is no third-party software that needs to be individually updated.


4)     Linux Runs on Any Hardware

With every new release of Windows OS, a huge number of hardware systems become obsolete because their technical specifications are no longer adequate to run the latest Windows OS. Linux is able to make very efficient use of its system’s resources and installation can be customised for users as well as for specific hardware requirements. The installation procedure allows its users to choose the modules that they would most like to install.  It also allows them to install Linux to old hardware which can help a business to make the best use of all their hardware resources.  Linux is able to run on a variety of hardware and gives life to old slow Windows systems by the installation of a lightweight Linux system.


5)     Linux is Free

An added bonus is that Linux is completely free, and users do not need to pay for anything. All the basic software that is normally required by a computer user is included and advanced users are even available.  Professional software that is equivalent to the software used in Windows for desktop publishing, photo editing, audio editing and video editing are also readily available.  It is for this reason that many businesses use the software free of cost so as to reduce their IT budgets substantially.

6)     Linux is Easy to Use

Linux has become very user-friendly and has a good graphical user interface (GUI) with almost all the same functionality that Windows has. The GUI has developed so much that whatever users want to do on Linux they are able to achieve just as easily as they would have had they been using the Windows Operating System with the added bonus of not knowing any commands.  You are able to install Wine otherwise known as the Windows Emulator onto your computer so that you can use some applications that usually on work on windows onto your Linux operating system.  Many games are also now available on Linux and users can also install PlayOnLinux to run various windows games.

7)     Excellent Customisation Options

Users have great advantage in customising the Linux system as per their requirements and what they need. There are numerous choices for wallpapers, desktop icons and panels as well as various desktop environments to choose from. There are about four to six options to choose from when it comes to any task right from the GUI interface and file managers, to the DVD burners and browsers. Some of the most popular browsers have Linux versions available to their users. Linux makes use of many small programs that each do various tasks with excellent capability. These programs, however, can also be combined in order to design extremely powerful programs and utilities.

8)     Linux for Education

The education sector also uses Linux so that they are able to have access to various educational software and programs.  Students are able to use this software to study how it works and then move onto modifying and extending the code to suite their specific needs.  This helps the student to learn all the internals of the operating system as well as the software.  By doing this it helps them to develop new software and innovation based on the needs that they themselves experience.  Users can contribute to Linux even if they are not programmers by assisting with documentaries and testing.  Schools and colleges use Linux as an educational tool as it is an extremely beneficial teaching aid and is free.

9)     Strong Community Support

Linux has an extremely strong community support system through various forums that can be found on the internet. Questions that are asked in these forums normally get a very quick response from many volunteers that have a passion for Linux and want to assist users to solve any Linux problems that they may be experiencing.  There is also a paid support option available for bigger commercial enterprises that offers day and night support for critical applications and services.


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