Linux: A Complete Overview

linux-distros

Linux vs Windows

This article will discuss the differences between the Linux and Windows operating softwares; we discuss some of the pros and cons of each system.

Let us first start out with a general overview of the Linux operating system. Linux at its most basic form is a computer kernel. The Kernel is the underlying computer code, used to communicate with hardware, and other system software, it also runs all of the basic functions of the computer.

The Linux Kernel is an operating system, which runs on a wide variety of hardware and for a variety of purposes. Linux is capable of running on devices as simple as a wrist watch, or a cell phone, but it can also run on a home computer using, for example Intel, or AMD processors, and its even capable of running on high end servers using Sun Sparc CPU’s or IBM power PC processors. Some Linux distro’s can only run one processor, while others can run many at once.

Common uses for Linux include that of a home desktop computing system, or more commonly for a server application, such as use as a web server, or mail server. You can even use Linux as a dedicated firewall to help protect other machines that are on the same network.

A programmer student named Linus Torvalds first made Linux as a variant of the Unix operating system in 1991. Linus Torvalds made Linux open source with the GNU (GPL) (General Public License), so other programmers could download the source code free of charge and alter it any way they see fit. Thousands of coders throughout the world began downloading and altering the source code of Linux, applying patches, and bug fixes, and other improvements, to make the OS better and better. Over the years Linux has gone from a simple text based clone of Unix, to a powerful operating software, with full-featured desktop environments, and unprecedented portability, and a variety of uses. Most of the original Unix code has also been gradually written out of Linux over the years.

As a result of Linux being open source software, there is no one version of Linux; instead there are many different versions or distributions of Linux, that are suited for a variety of different users and task. Some Distributions of Linux include Gentoo, and Slackware, which due to the lack of a complete graphical environment is best, suited for Linux experts, programmers, and other users that know their way around a command prompt. Distributions that lack a graphical environment are best suited for older computers lacking the processing power necessary to process graphics, or for computers performing processor intensive task, where it is desirable to have all of the system resources focused on the task at hand, rather than wasting resources by processing graphics.

Other Linux distributions aim at making the computing experience as easy as possible. Distributions such as Ubuntu, or Linspire make Linux far easier to use, by offering full-featured graphical environments that help eliminate the need for a command prompt. Of course the downside of ease of use is less configurability, and wasted system resources on graphics processing. Other distributions such as Suse try to find a common ground between ease of use and configurability.

“Linux has two parts, they include the Kernel mentioned previously, and in most circumstances it will also include a graphical user interface, which runs atop the Kernel”. In most cases the user will communicate with the computer via the graphical user interface.

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