What is Linux?

02 September 2010

We've always known Windows...but what's Linux and how does it differ?

Linux's official mascot/logo. They call this penguin, Tux.

Alright, starting from today, most posts will be based on Linux for a while. Maybe about 4-5 posts will be about Linux, and I would like to introduce this wonderful operating system/kernel to everyone as it is actually, a very good competitor along with Mac and Windows.

What is Linux?
People now are so used to Windows, I don't think they even know what other OS-es are there available in this world.

A kernel is the central component of an OS. In Windows, they use the NT kernel. Linux is a kernel. There are so many distributions of Linux you see out there, such as the famous Red Hat, Ubuntu and so on. They are using the Linux kernel, and to generalize it you can call Linux an operating system.

Linux is open-source, meaning that it is developed and supported by a bunch of people who have too much of free time and is giving it out for free.

Ubuntu Linux's official logo.

There are many Linux distributions or distros, which are OS-es built on the Linux kernel with many different software and features included. Each distro can work differently and support more on special purposes, such as BackTrack for networking/penetration testing purposes.

By default, all programs are installed for you to use. Web browsers, instant messaging clients, e-mail clients, image editing tools, music players and many more are already there. You don't need to worry about a single thing and it is very easy to use.

Linux is ugly? Wrong. This is the gorgeous OpenSUSE 11.3 KDE Desktop.

Why Linux is good?
1. With the latest distributions, it is very user-friendly, and sometimes even more user-friendly than Windows.

2. You can install software by just ticking the software you want from a list of open-source software, and it will download and install the packages for you without you doing anything.

3. It is completely free. No piracy, no illegal stuff, no worries. Well, except for some distros like Red Hat which commercialize their distro. The rest is free.

4. Some distros have a higher CPU performance compared to Windows.

5. Very good security. You can basically go online without a firewall.

6. Full access and customization. You can do anything in Linux, and even create your own distro without violating any laws. Very flexible.

Linux is not user-friendly? Wrong. This is Ubuntu Netbook's GNOME Desktop.

The problem about "hardware drivers not supported" is actually no longer there, because the latest distros have most drivers, and if they don't, you can download them directly from the repository. You just have to get used to the different system, and Linux is actually very very good. Don't just stick to Windows! It's boring!

Mandriva, also another Linux distro. Beautiful log-in screen.

In the next post, I'll show you how to get started with Linux, and what distros are recommended.