What is Linux?
Linux is a leading operating system for desktops, servers and systems such as mainframe computers and supercomputers. More than 90% of today’s 500 fastest supercomputers run some variant of Linux. Linux also runs on embedded devices such as mobile phones, network routers, televisions and video game consoles. The Android system in wide use on mobile devices is built on the Linux kernel. Google, for example, runs Linux systems for its enormous number of servers.
Who can use Linux?
- Anyone, from single user home use to large corporations;
- Linux can be installed on any PC or laptop.
How do you use Linux?
- Typically Linux is packaged in a format known as a Linux distribution for desktop and server use. Some popular Linux distributions include Red Hat, Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint, Debian, and openSUSE. Linux distributions include the Linux kernel, supporting utilities and libraries and usually a large amount of application software to fulfill the distribution’s intended use;
- Linux distribution versions are available for free download from the various distribution project websites. Typically, the desired distribution is an .iso file which, after downloading, can be burnt to a blank disc. This disk is used to install the operating system onto a computer. Linux can also be installed with a USB stick;
- Live desktop discs can be used to run Linux on a computer for demonstration purposes, as well as for diagnostics. This makes it possible to experience a working Linux desktop without even installing on a hard drive;
- When you get a distribution of Linux, you also get the freedom to study, copy, change and redistribute it in a different form – that’s what makes it truly free software;
- Some companies create business opportunities by selling support and services around a particular Linux distribution. Corporate customers buy guaranteed security updates and assistance. Other services often include training and on-demand improvements to software;
- Companies, such as HP or IBM, contribute to Linux because they pre-install it on servers they sell;
- An extremely wide community participates in the development and improvement of software, decreasing costs and improving efficiency.
Some benefits in using Linux.
- It’s free: Linux is free software – free as in freedom and free to obtain. Install it on any number of computers and make as many copies as you like. You can even study it, transform it as you please, or build and sell your own distribution;
- Free applications: there is a wealth of free software available under Linux. (See this link as an example: Sourceforge). You can edit professional documents, burn music CDs/DVDs, process photos, design a website, do your bookkeeping; there’s no need to spend loads of money on software with restrictive licenses. The default software installers make it incredibly easy to find, install and remove programs;
- Easy system configuration and maintenance: keeping your computer and its OS in shape for extended periods needn’t be a struggle. Over time, Linux runs just as efficiently as on the first day. There is no need to de-frag your hard drive, for example. Temporary files don’t clog the system. Linux is also very easily customized to exactly match your needs, and style.
- Security: forget expensive and restrictive anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc. software. Linux is extremely secure. It is often difficult for users of other systems to believe that there are no spyware nor viruses under Linux – but it’s true. Malicious programs have a hard time doing anything at all in a well-built system such as Linux. Regular, easy software updates keep the system secure without the need for extra apps clogging up the system (not to mention, draining your funds);
- Support: Linux benefits from a great sense of community whose friendliness will surprise you. Whether you’re trying to do something experimental but can’t succeed, or simply getting to grips with the basics, there are a lot of people around to help you out. The companies behind the main GNU/Linux distributions, such as Canonical and Red Hat, also provide expert commercial support, as do many smaller support businesses, including Strong Signal IT.