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What is Linux? Everything about Linux for beginners
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Linux Operating System definition

Linux is a kernel originally developed by Linus Torvalds for hobby purposes. Later, with his famous message to the newsgroup, it became the operating system of today. The understanding of the development, use, distribution, and sharing of software products independent of individuals, institutions, and organizations has created the concept of free software. The first thing that comes to mind in this context is the GNU/Linux operating system developed by Linus Torvalds from the beginning and supported by a large number of volunteer programmers communicating over the Internet.


History of Linux

Linux is getting more and more popular for individual users not only among coders and IT professionals. In 30 years, it became one of the world’s most famous projects with millions of lines of code. Let’s have a look at Linux’s history, details and its main features which make it attractive and useful.

The story started in 1991 with the message of Linus Torvalds, a 21 years old computer scientist. He wanted to create a new free operating system kernel. With this aim in mind he sent a mail to coders in Usenet:

Hello everybody out there using minix – I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since April, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things)

Torvalds chose penguin as the mascot of Linux in 1996. It was developed as part of the GNU project licensed under the GNU General Public License, a free software license. The project gained the support of a large number of volunteers and in time Linux has reached its current position.


Who is Linus Torvalds?

By that time he studied computer science at the University of Helsinki. With the aim of creating a new free operating system, he announced Linux kernel and began to write the operating system for his current hardware. He announced this project and requested help from the developers. So it started as a hobby project. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.


How can Linux be defined?

Linus Torvalds in 2012
Linus Torvalds in 2012

Linux cannot be considered as an operating system in its own right, but it provides the essential snippets for the creation of operating systems. From personal use to large companies around the world are using it. With the addition of many free and open-source projects, Linux is now called an Operating System. Such distributions are also easily interchangeable with the ability to install other/new operating systems on top of each other.

Linux demands a small number of hardware resources. This is one of the most important features for many companies regarding the high amount of resource expenses. Linux is also essential for startups because it is a very good free operating system. As an operating system, it also allows you to read and make any changes to the source code. Linux Foundation is a non-profit technology consortium founded in 2000. It is established to standardize Linux, support its growth, and promote its commercial adoption.


How does Linux work?

Linux is the kernel. But with many other components, it becomes an operating system. Linux is built with a certainLinux Logo set of principles which is also known as the Linux Way. Linux Way means the philosophy behind the Unix system. The components of Linux are replaceable, which differs the distros from each other.

The Linux way can be summarized as follows:

  • Use programs that do the required task well
  • Link the programs to accomplish complex tasks
  • Store information in plain text files when possible
  • There are several ways to do the tasks
  • Master the command line to have more power
  • Prefer command line over the user interface

The core components of a Linux system are the Boot Loader, Kernel, Daemons, Shell, X Window Server, Window Manager, and the Desktop Environment.

What is Linux Kernel?

The kernel is the main component of the Linux operating system. It communicates with the hardware directly. The kernel allocates system resources, manages the memory, processor time, disk space and any other external devices running on the system. New kernel versions are released periodically so it is good to upgrade the kernel for the system to perform better.

Recommended: How to update Linux Kernel without reboot?

What are Daemons in Linux?

Daemons can be considered as the services running in the background. They manage the network connection, USB devices, filesystems, user logins, the webserver and many more. The term “Daemon” is a common word on the Linux world because they run silently and most of the time invisible to the user.

What is Linux Shell?

The shell implements a textual interface, which allows the user to run programs by entering the Linux commands. That is why the shell is also called the “command line”. Having a shell allows the user to make any changes to the system. It allows the user to have total freedom and administration over the operating system.

Most of the Linux systems use Bash (Bourne Again Shell). There are many other shells like C shell, KornShell, Z shell, Fish Shell, Ion Shell, etc.

What is X Window Server?

Although Linux can be used with just the command line, X Window Server allows the user to use the Linux OS with a graphical environment. X window is responsible for processing the input from the keyboard, mouse, tablets and other input devices. Still, most of the Linux distros use Xorg, but nowadays Wayland is getting more popular, and becoming the default display server of some distros like Fedora.

What is Window Manager in Linux?

The window manager communicates with the display server. It manages the windows and is responsible for drawing the window border, bringing them to the front, minimizing or maximizing them, moving on the screen and hiding them. Most of the popular Linux window managers are:

  • Kwin
  • Metacity
  • Xfwm
  • Compiz Fusion

What is Desktop Environment in Linux?

Desktop environments are the collections of programs to provide the user with an interface. They allow the user to do common tasks on a graphical user interface.

KDE Plasma Desktop Environment
KDE Plasma Desktop Environment

Multiple desktop environments can exist on a system, they can be installed and used over one. Most of the common desktop environments are as follows:

What is a Linux File system?

The file system controls how data is stored and retrieved on an operating system. It manages the files on the disk drive such as SSD or HDD. There are several file systems, which are Linux-based. Most of the common file systems are:

  • Ext3
  • Ext4
  • BTRFS
  • VFS
  • NILFS
  • SquashFS
  • ReiserFS

Linux has a different directory structure. The top-level directory is called “Root”. Any file on the system is a descendant of the root directory. The root directory contains other directories such as:

  • bin – programs needed to perform basic tasks, i.e. change a directory or copy a file
  • dev – special files that represent hardware devices
  • etc – configuration files
  • home – contains private directories of users
  • media or mnt – Mount point for external drives connected to this computer, i.e. CDs or USB keys
  • tmp – temporary files
  • usr – programs installed on the computer
  • var – variable data produced by programs, like error logs
Linux filesystem
Linux filesystem

What can Linux do?

For a regular user, it works like a Windows or macOS operating system. You can browse the web, check your emails, use Office applications, read PDF documents, listen to music or watch videos, and view or manage your photos. Not with limited those, it is also possible to play video games on a Linux operating system. This can be done via an application like WineHQ or directly executing the game itself. Nowadays there are too many video developers that create games for Linux operating system too.

For more advanced users, Linux can be used as a server. It also can be used as an alternative network element, or it can also be a router/transition element for connecting multiple networks, especially in different protocols. When used for this purpose, it can easily be configured as a firewall for security purposes.

Linux Server

In addition, it can serve as a bridge to separate the flow of two segments on a network. In most organizations, Linux is also characterized by its use as a terminal server to connect one or more modems. The use of Linux is becoming increasingly preferred by the best web hosting companies. In addition, Linux is an open-source platform with and light-weighted structure, making it a preferred choice for scientific research. CentOS sets an example with its use in supercomputers.

Here are many different web servers that can be installed on a Linux operating system. The most popular are Apache, LiteSpeed, Tomcat JSP, and Nginx. You can manage your hosting business with a stable, strong Linux server distro such as AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux, Debian, Ubuntu Server, OpenSUSE, Fedora, CentOS, etc. It is also possible to find many premia or open-source web control panels and billing systems that run on the Linux operating system flawlessly.

Related


Is Linux hard to learn?

The easiest and free way to learn UNIX, known as the ancestor of operating systems, is undoubtedly Linux, a powerful alternative to its competitors. It is ideal for those who want to work under UNIX operating systems, use applications, develop software. Moreover, the developing Linux operating system is becoming more and more attractive even for a basic user by offering more than the support provided under MS-DOS, even with incomplete applications.Linux Distros

The Linux operating system can share the same disk with other systems, use multiple processors in the most active way and work on multiprocessor computers, and work with almost all hardware on the market and all graphics cards in the use of text code. With all these features, the majority of Internet service providers prefer to make Internet connections, e-mail, and newsgroup shopping.

Linux, like many other free software products, is available free of charge. Contrary to the general and misconceptions, the fact that it is distributed free of charge and is still under development does not adversely affect professional use. On the contrary, the use of the Linux operating system has advantages in many areas, especially in private use.


Which is the best Linux for beginners?

There is no certain answer to this question but many Linux distros are getting more user-friendly. The distributions below are the 7 best for beginners in common:


Is learning Linux worth it?

In simple words, Yes!. Linux is worth using, especially for server systems. Today, many companies using the OS as a Linux all in one for Dummiesserver such as a web server, mail server, DNS server and so on. Learning the Linux commands may be daunting in the beginning, but after it gives you the freedom to do almost any administration actions on the system. If you are the root user, you have full access to the system and can make any modifications to it.

If you are a Network or System administrator, or you want to have a career in such positions, you have to be familiar with Linux. Linux is one of the best projects in the open-source world, so most of the applications running on the OS are also open-source so it is required to be familiar with those tools and applications too.

Linux is getting more popular and now there are many good Linux distros for home users also. That means you can use it for your daily computer use too. Linux is a stable, secure and fast operating system. It is also possible to play video games on a Linux operating system.


Is Linux better than Windows?

Both Linux and Windows operating systems have their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the advantageous features of Linux.

Windows vs Linux: Package Loader

Windows doesn’t work without downloading the installation files, many of the Linux operating system types have embedded package managers. These administrators automatically download and install from the operating system repository with a single command. However, it can be used with the program in the desired package stage by revising an existing file that varies between systems.

Windows vs. Linux

Windows vs Linux: File Structure

Linux is developed with a codebase written with the support of many people, so it is quite different from the structure of indows. Instead of drive names like “C:”, “D:” that Windows users are used to, a single file tree and the drives attached to it appear. Although it is technically necessary to learn the working principle of a new file system, it will be worth it in addition to its contributions.

Windows vs Linux: Lightness

Linux is able to run on even lower platforms with a significant difference from Windows. Although Windows has tried to improve its current processor to resolve this situation, compatibility with existing cards has not been achieved.

Windows vs Linux: Operating System Debugging

While Linux provides easy access to operating system registrations, this is not possible on Windows. Even at startup, many distros provide us with information about the operation and performance of the units, while Windows eliminates the possibility of easy debugging.


What are the best and popular Linux distros in 2022?

There are hundreds of distros you can find. You can try each and find the best one for you. In common, the most popular 7 Linux in 2022 are as follows:


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