Introducing Linux

What is Linux ?

Linux is an Unix-like operating system written by Linus Torvalds with contributions of developers across the Internet. It is often considered as an excellent and low-cost alternative to other more expensive operating systems.

Linux is created in 1991 as a hobby by a young student, Linus Torvalds, at the University of Helsinki in Finland. He had an interest in Minix, a small UNIX system, and decided to develop a system that exceeded the Minix standards. The first version (ver 1.0) of the Linux Kernel developed by Linus was released in 1994.

But with only a kernel, it does not work without applications. There are a lot of other utilities and programs that combined together to make up the capabilities of current Linux distributions, including those from Free Software Foundation's (FSF) and GNU (GNU stands for GNU's Not Unix). While the Linux kernel is maintained by a core team led by Linus, the utilities are maintained by their respective authors.

Linus has placed the copyright under the GNU General Public License, which basically means that one may freely copy, change and distribute it, but may not impose any restrictions on further distribution, and the source code must be available for free access/use. However, the licenses of the utilities and programs, which come with the Linux distributions, do vary.

The use of Linux was more on the educational side a couple of years before. But it is becoming very popular and is used in many Internet servers. The Graphical User Interface of Linux is XFree86, which is a free implementation of X Windows, the standard graphical systems on many other UNIX systems. The two common graphical user interfaces are GNOME (GNU Network Object Modeling Environment) and KDE (K Desktop Environment).

The more appropriate name for Linux should be GNU OS on Linux or GNU/Linux. But GNU is often left out as people tend to more focus on the name Linux as GNU tools are available on almost all platforms in addition to Linux.

The kernel and most of the utilities in the Linux distributions are developed under the GNU General Public License, and the respective source code is freely available to everyone. This however, doesn't mean that all Linux distributions are free -- companies and developers may charge the user a certain amount of money provided that the source code remains available. Linux may be used for a wide variety of purposes including networking, software development, and as an end-user platform. Linux is often considered an excellent, low-cost alternative to other more expensive operating systems - Microsoft Windows.

It has become quite popular worldwide and a vast number of software programmers have taken Linux's source code and adapted it to meet their individual needs.

How about its hardware support?
Linux can support most common PC hardware. It has gained support by hardware vendors that some will provide a Linux version of their hardware drivers as well as Microsoft Windows. Universal Serial Bus (USB) support is available. Linux supports a wide range of graphics cards, and most current graphics cards are supported.

Is installing Linux as easy as installing Windows?
Well, yes and no. With the right hardware, it can be a rather easy job, but it becomes tricky and need expertise to configure the hardware when the hardware is not working with the Linux drivers provided.

The graphical system (XFree86) does not come with a comprehensive and easy configuration program. When there is a problem, an average user may not be able to get a working GUI without assistance.

Is using Linux as easy as using Windows?
Another yes and no. The working style of the graphics interface of Linux and Windows are very similar, there are a lot of applications, and some major software companies are committed to support the platform, e.g. Sun Microsystems, Corel, IBM, Oracle.

There are some MS Office like application suites available. Some of them are even free, e.g. Sun Microsystems StarOffice.

So, is Linux suitable for you ?
It depends. You can have a dual OS on your hard disk, but new commands (e.g. mount) have to be acquainted with. If you have the skills, you may find Linux useful as an operating system platform, especially in server side. Finally, make sure your hardware (e.g. sound card, display card) is compatible with Linux before installing it.

Linux vs Windows:
As we know, there has always been a battle between Microsoft Windows users and Linux users. Some say that Windows is better, other say that Linux rules. We did the test and brought you the details.

The most interesting thing about Linux is that you can download it from the internet for free, instead of paying for windows. And if you want to use Windows on more then one computer you have to buy licences for all computers.
Linux is also highly adaptable, meaning it’s possible to modify the source code to suit your own needs.
Another advantage of Linux is its strong security. While Linux doesn’t often fall victim to network security vulnerabilities, Windows does. Linux isn’t also a major target for virus writers, while Windows is.
There is also plentiful online help for Linux; you can find hundreds of FAQs, how-to have and message boards on the web, but this is the same for Windows too.
And the last but not least advantage of Linux is its system requirements. You can easily install Linux on a 486; try to do that with the latest version of Windows. Linux is good at fitting in where Microsoft leaves machines behind with windows’ ever-increasing minimum system requirements.

But we also have found lot disadvantages of Linux, for example you have to be an expert to program you Linux environment or hardware. If you fail to learn at least a smattering of Linux’ intricacies, chances are good that you won't get much done.
Linux is also lagging hardware support, without a major push for Linux drivers from hardware manufacturers;

Also installing something in Linux is not always a walk in the park, you will find it rather difficult to (re)write shells, command lines or other things, while in Windows it is just one click away to install your program.

Another bad thing about Linux is that it uses second-tier software, so it just can’t match against the best Windows applications.  Because Linux is free it is normal that there are many distributions, so it can be hard to choose the right distribution.

After all this we can conclude that while Linux is the best thing to use as server and this in hands of an expert, we still find Windows a bit better to use for running applications like Photoshop, text editors (like word), etc. So saying something like “LINUX is better” or “Windows sucks” isn’t right. You must decide what you want to do with your computer (do you want it as a server, do you want to learn programming, do you like to try things out, do you just want to play on it, etc) before you choose any operating system.

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