Linux (pronounced Lee-Nooks) is an operating system, similar to Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac OS X. An operating system is software that manages all of the hardware resources associated with your desktop or laptop. To put it simply – the operating system manages the communication between your software and your hardware. Without the operating system (often referred to as the “OS”), the software installed on top of it, wouldn’t be able to function.
This very popular open source operating system can run on all major hardware platforms including x86, Itanium, PowerPC, ARM and IBM mainframes. (Open source software means that you can view its' source code and change it to suit your needs.)
Linux is dominating in the world of technology, from mobile phones and tablets (as Android), super computers (over 97%), web servers, data centres, digital TV screens, watches, cars, refrigerators, world's stock exchanges, satellites etc. Linux is now growing in popularity for home computers and business users.
The GNU Project, started in 1983 by Richard Stallman, had the goal of creating a "complete Unix-compatible software system" composed entirely of free software. Work began in 1984. Later, in 1985, Stallman started the Free Software Foundation and wrote the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) in 1989. By the early 1990s, many of the programs required in an operating system (such as libraries, compilers, text editors, a Unix shell, and a windowing system) were completed, although low-level elements such as device drivers, daemons, and the kernel were stalled and incomplete. The defining component of Linux - the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel was first released on 5 October 1991 by Linus Torvalds.
The name "Linux" technically refers to an operating system "kernel", a single but key component. In everyday use, the term "Linux" is frequently used to refer to a complete operating system, which consists of the kernel and some of the thousands of other programs, required to make an operating system useful. Much of the important system software that is typically installed on a Linux system comes from The GNU Project, a project to build an operating system made entirely of free software. The whole system is basically GNU with Linux added, which is why Linux is often designated as GNU/Linux.
Typically, GNU/Linux is packaged in a format known as a distribution for desktop and server use. Some popular mainstream distributions include Debian, Mint, OpenSUSE, Fedora, ALT, CentOS, Deepin, Manjaro, ROSA, Mageia, Scientific, OpenMandriva, PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu and there are many others. 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. A distribution oriented toward desktop use will typically include X11, Wayland or Mir as the windowing system, and an accompanying desktop environment or the graphical user interface (GUI) is built on top of it, such as GNOME or KDE software compilation.
In addition to already large number of free and open source software, a growing number of proprietary desktop applications are also supported on Linux, such as Autodesk Maya, Softimage XSI and Apple Shake in the high-end field of animation and visual effects. There are also several companies that have ported their own or other companies' games to Linux, with Linux also being a supported platform on both the popular Steam (Valve) and Desura digital-distribution services.
Many other types of applications available for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X also run on Linux. Commonly, either a free software application will exist which does the functions of an application found on another operating system, or that application will have a version that works on Linux, such as with Skype and some video games like Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2. Furthermore, the Wine project provides a Windows compatibility layer to run unmodified Windows applications on Linux. It is sponsored by commercial interests including CodeWeavers, which produces a commercial version of the software. Since 2009, Google has also provided funding to the Wine project. CrossOver, a proprietary solution based on the open-source Wine project, supports running Windows versions of Microsoft Office, Intuit applications such as Quicken and QuickBooks, Adobe Photoshop versions through CS2, and many popular games such as World of Warcraft. In other cases, where there is no Linux port of some software in areas such as desktop publishing and professional audio, there is equivalent software available on Linux.
Most modern Linux distributions include what most would consider an “Apps Store” for easy and simple application installation. This is a centralized location where software can be searched for and installed. Ubuntu Linux has the Ubuntu Software Center, Deepin has the Deepin Software Center, some distributions rely on Synaptic, while others rely on GNOME Software. Regardless of the name, each of these tools do the same thing – a central place to search for and install Linux software.
Installing, updating and removing software in Linux is typically done through the use of package managers such as the Synaptic Package Manager, Apper, PackageKit, and Yum Extender. While most major Linux distributions have extensive repositories, often containing tens of thousands of packages, not all the software that can run on Linux is available from the official repositories. Alternatively, users can install packages from unofficial repositories, download pre-compiled packages directly from websites, or compile the source code by themselves. All these methods come with different degrees of difficulty; compiling the source code is in general considered a challenging process for new Linux users, but it is hardly needed in modern distributions and is not a method specific to Linux.
Linux distributions have also gained popularity with various local and national governments. The federal government of Brazil is well known for its support for Linux. News of the Russian military creating its own Linux distribution has also surfaced, and has come to fruition as the G.H.ost Project, and since then many other projects have developed there too. Various Indian states have gone to the extent of mandating that all state high schools run Linux on their computers. China uses Linux exclusively as the operating system for its Loongson processor family to achieve technology independence. In Spain, some regions have developed their own Linux distributions, which are widely used in education and official institutions. France and Germany have also taken steps toward the adoption of Linux. Besides the growing popularity in the above mentioned countries like Brazil, Russia, China, Spain, France, Germany we can add Holland, Portugal, Iceland and the list is expanding with countries from Africa, Central and South America, Asia etc.
Major studios including DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, Weta Digital, and Industrial Light & Magic have migrated to Linux. According to the Linux Movies Group, more than 95% of the servers and desktops at large animation and visual effects companies use Linux.
Linus Torvalds continues to direct the development of the kernel. Richard Stallman heads the Free Software Foundation, which in turn supports the GNU components. Finally, individuals and corporations develop third-party non-GNU components. These third-party components comprise a vast body of work and may include both kernel modules and user applications and libraries.
Most Linux distributions support dozens of programming languages. The original development tools used for building both Linux applications and operating system programs are found within the GNU toolchain, which includes the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) and the GNU build system. Amongst others, GCC provides compilers for Ada, C, C++, Java, Fortran, and Go. First released in 2003, the LLVM project provides an alternative open-source compiler for many languages. Proprietary compilers for Linux include the Intel C++ Compiler, Sun Studio, and IBM XL C/C++ Compiler. BASIC in the form of Visual Basic is supported in such forms as Gambas, FreeBASIC, and XBasic, and in terms of terminal programming or QuickBASIC or Turbo BASIC programming in the form of QB64.
A common feature of Linux includes traditional specific-purpose programming languages targeted at scripting, text processing and system configuration and management in general. Linux distributions support shell scripts, awk, sed and make. Many programs also have an embedded programming language to support configuring or programming themselves. For example, regular expressions are supported in programs like grep, or locate, while advanced text editors, like GNU Emacs, have a complete Lisp interpreter built-in.
Most distributions also include support for PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python and other dynamic languages. While not as common, Linux also supports C# (via Mono), Vala, and Scheme. A number of Java Virtual Machines and development kits run on Linux, including the original Sun Microsystems JVM (HotSpot), and IBM's J2SE RE, as well as many open-source projects like Kaffe and JikesRVM.
GNOME and KDE are popular desktop environments and provide a framework for developing applications. These projects are based on the GTK+ and Qt widget toolkits, respectively, which can also be used independently of the larger framework. Both support a wide variety of languages. There are a number of integrated development environments available including Anjuta, Code::Blocks, CodeLite, Eclipse, Geany, ActiveState Komodo, KDevelop, Lazarus, MonoDevelop, NetBeans, and Qt Creator, while the long-established editors Vim, nano and Emacs remain popular.
Does the operating system you’re currently using really work “just fine”? Are you constantly battling viruses, malware, slow downs, crashes, costly repairs, and licensing fees?
If you’re looking for one of the most reliable, secure, low cost, freedom from vendor lock-in, and dependable OS for both the desktop and the server, which guards your privacy, look no further. With Linux you can be assured your desktops will be free of trouble, your servers up, and your support requests at a minimum.