Linux – Introduction

Linux – Introduction

Linux is a UNIX-based operating system originally developed as for Intel-compatible PC’s. It is now available for most types of hardware platforms,ranging from PDAs (and according to some reports, a wristwatch) to mainframes. Linux is a "modern operating system", meaning it has such features as virtual memory, memory protection, and preemptive multitasking.

Linux is built and supported by a large international community of developers and users dedicated to free, open-source software. This community sees Linux as an alternative to such proprietary systems as Windows and Solaris, and as a platform for alternatives to such proprietary applications as MS Office, Internet Explorer, and Outlook.

As a result of this community, there is a very large collection of free software available for Linux.There are graphical environments (GUIs), office applications, developers’ tools, system utilities, business applications, document publishing tools, network client and server applications — the list goes on.

Linux specifically refers to the Linux kernel.However, the kernel is useless without a set of tools and applications to run on the kernel. Linux is most commonly distributed with this toolset and a collection of applications in what is called a distribution" . The most common are Redhat, Mandrake, Suse, and Debian. Distributions differ in three basic ways: the process for installing the distribution, the applications available, and process for installing and managing these applications.

Why want to use Linux?
The reason to install Linus Opreating System are

  • Configurability
  • Convenience
  • Stability
  • Community
  • Freedom
  • Convenience

While Linux takes some effort to get set up, once it is set up, it is surprisingly low-maintenance. Package management can simply be a matter of running two commands in the shell. Linux also offers complete remote access. This allows the user to act exactly as if she is sitting at that computer’s desk, potentially across town or on the other side of the world.

  • Stability
    Linux is based on the UNIX kernel. It provides preemptive multitasking and protected memory.Preemptive multitasking prevents any application from permanently stealing the CPU and locking up the machine. Protected memory prevents applications from interfering with and crashing one-another. Linux and related tools are also open-source. This means that the source code is available for the public to view. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of developers working on the various pieces of Linux. In this open development process, bugs are fixed very quickly. In addition, bugs are fixed immediately, instead of waiting for the next major release. It certainly helps that the people who develop Linux and associated tools use their programs every day.
  • Community
    Linux is part of the greater open-source community. This consists of thousands of developers and many more users world-wide who support open software. This user and developer base is also a support base. Worldwide, the Linux community is even greater. There is a mailing list for just about every project or piece of software in active development – if you have a question about a program, who better to ask than the person who wrote it? There are also newsgroups and web pages which have collectively with the mailing lists probably addressed every problem someone new to Linux has encountered several times over.
  • Freedom
    Linux is free. This means more than just costing nothing. This means that you are allowed to do whatever you want to with the software. This is why Redhat, Mandrake, and Suse are all allowed to sell their own distributions of Linux. The only restriction placed on Linux is that, if you distribute Linux, you must grant all the privileges to the code that you had, including providing the source. This prevents a corporation from using the Linux kernel as the basis for their proprietary operating system.

Advantages of LINUX

  1. Linux is free:
    As in free beer, they say. If you want to spend absolutely nothing, you don’t even have to pay the price of a CD. Linux can be downloaded in its entirety from the Internet completely for free. No registration fees, no costs per user, free updates, and freely available source code in case you want to change the behavior of your system.
  2. Most of all, Linux is free as in free speech:
    The license commonly used is the GNU Public License (GPL). The license says that anybody who may want to do so, has the right to change Linux and eventually to redistribute a changed version, on the one condition that the code is still available after redistribution. In practice, you are free to grab a kernel image, for instance to add support for teletransportation machines or time travel and sell your new code, as long as your customers can still have a copy of that code.
  3. Linux is portable to any hardware platform:
    A vendor who wants to sell a new type of computer and who doesn’t know what kind of OS his new machine will run (say the CPU in your car or washing machine), can take a Linux kernel and make it work on his hardware, because documentation related to this activity is freely available.
  4. Linux was made to keep on running:
    As with UNIX, a Linux system expects to run without rebooting all the time. That is why a lot of tasks are being executed at night or scheduled automatically for other calm moments, resulting in higher availability during busier periods and a more balanced use of the hardware. This property allows for Linux to be applicable also in environments where people don’t have the time or the possibility to control their systems night and day.
  5. Linux is secure and versatile:
    The security model used in Linux is based on the UNIX idea of security, which is known to be robust and of proven quality. But Linux is not only fit for use as a fort against enemy attacks from the Internet: it will adapt equally to other situations, utilizing the same high standards for security. Your development machine or control station will be as secure as your firewall.
  6. Linux is scalable: From a Palmtop with 2 MB of memory to a petabyte storage cluster with hundreds of nodes: add or remove the appropriate packages and Linux fits all. You don’t need a supercomputer anymore, because you can use Linux to do big things using the building blocks provided with the system. If you want to do little things, such as making an operating system for an embedded processor or just recycling your old 486, Linux will do that as well.
  7. The Linux OS and quite some Linux applications have very short debug-times:
    Because Linux has been developed and tested by thousands of people, both errors and people to fix them are usually found rather quickly. It sometimes happens that there are only a couple of hours between discovery and fixing of a bug.

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