What is Linux? Open Source 101 with A-Team Systems
If you’re new to open source software, you’ve probably wondered “What is Linux?” There’s quite a bit to know and it takes years to fully understand. So we decided it would be a good idea for us to take some time to create an intro to this dynamic system.
Without wasting any more time, let’s get started!
Please Note: A-Team Systems’ experts have decades of experience with Linux. However, we do not offer support for Linux desktops at this time. We are a server-only support company. For Linux Server support, check out our Linux Support page.
What is Linux and why is it used?
The Linux® operating system is a free and open source operating system (OS) that is based on the Linux kernel. It’s the most well-known and utilized open source operating system currently. Simply put, this software lives beneath all other software on a computer and receives and relays requests from programs to a computer’s hardware.
People use Linux because:
- It’s highly secure. Security was a huge motivator when developing Linux and it’s notably less vulnerable to viruses than Windows. Thousands of developers across the globe have gone through the source code, identified flaws, and eliminated or mitigated them.
- It runs on basically anything. You can even breathe new life into old devices by installing Linux on them.
- It’s highly stable. Therefore, crashes are rare. The OS is fast when you install it and it’ll still be fast 3 years later, which can’t be said for Windows.
- It’s remarkably customizable. There’s almost no limit to what you can do with this system.
- It has a helpful support community. Being that this is the most popular open source system, there are thousands of users across the globe with web resources that will help solve essentially any problem that one could have.
A Short History
The story of Linux is quite long, so we aren’t going to go into great detail here, but it begins in 1991 with Linus Torvalds. Torvalds was a Finnish student at the University of Helsinki when he first encountered the GNU Project. He was inspired by their goal to give computer users the freedom to utilize their computers and computing devices in the way that they wanted and needed to. This involved developing and publishing software that was free to run, copy, distribute, and modify.
Afterwards, Torvalds began to work on a new (and free) operating systems kernel. This would become the Linux kernel. In 1992, Linux began to gain traction after the X Window System was ported to it by Orest Zborowski. This allowed it to support a Graphical User Interface, which wasn’t possible before.
Linus originally intended to name the project “Freax,” combining the words “free” and “freak” with “x” as a reference to Unix. He initially dismissed the name “Linux ” as he thought it too egotistical to name the project after himself. However, one of the volunteer administrators for the project, Ari Lemmke, named the project “Linux” on the server without Torvalds’ knowledge. Over time, Torvalds accepted the name.
Who owns Linux?
Nobody technically owns Linux. By nature of the fact that it’s open source, anyone is free to use it. Furthermore, the name really just refers to the kernel, but people tend to use it to refer to the entire operating system, which isn’t entirely correct. Some refer to it as GNU/Linux for the sake of accuracy, because many of its vital tools are GNU components.
Linus Torvald owns the trademark for the name “Linux” itself, and its source code is copyrighted by numerous individual authors.
How much does Linux cost?
The GNU General Public License governs the use of Linux, which is a free and open source operating system (GPL). Anyone can run, study, change, and redistribute the source code, as long as they do so under the same license. They can even sell copies of their modified code.
What are the advantages of Linux?
1. It’s free to use
Users do not need to pay for a copy of most Linux distributions, however this is only one element of Linux users’ freedom. Furthermore, Linux distributions may be freely (and legally) downloaded and installed on as many computers as you wish, as well as freely (and legally) distributed to others. You may modify Linux to be whatever you want it to be because most distros are open source; you can even develop your own distro if you want. Linux is simple to set up. In many cases, installing Linux on your computer is actually easier than installing Windows.
2. It’s extremely reliable
Because most computer malware is designed to attack Windows (often through Active X, which is not commonly available in Linux), the chances of Linux being infected with a virus are far lower than those of Windows. Spyware, trojans, and worms are all examples of this. While Linux malware does exist, it is extremely uncommon, and none has yet to spread widely.
While Linux is by its very nature extremely safe, users should still take caution when accessing the web. Security is substantially enhanced if Linux users simply download and install software from their distro’s official software repository. A useful security feature must be made executable by someone with administrator rights in Linux, which involves a password.
Even if a Linux virus is installed on a Linux machine, it will not be able to run until a user with administrator rights makes it executable on purpose. The fact that Linux is open source is another significant component of its security. Because the computer code is open to the public, Because so many individuals contribute to Linux, security fixes are usually released considerably faster than for other operating systems. Numerous eyes are continually scrutinizing it, making it extremely difficult for malware to spread.
3. Linux does not easily get bogged down
Unlike Windows, Linux is less susceptible to spyware, viruses, trojans, and other malware that may significantly slow down a computer’s performance. Furthermore, because Linux lacks a registry like Windows, it is free of registry problems, which may cause a computer to slow down over time.
Also, because they are formatted in NTFS, the hard disks on Windows (particularly Windows XP and earlier) PCs must be defragmented on a regular basis in order to retain quicker performance. However, because Linux hard drives are often formatted differently, such as using ext4, there is no need to defragment a Linux hard disk.
4. It can revive old computers
If you have an older computer (particularly one with a Pentium III or later processor), you can install Linux on it and have a whole new machine. In many situations, Linux will run quicker, and you’ll be able to do anything from browsing the Internet to sending emails, playing games, and creating and editing documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. It’s also worth noting that Linux works well on modern machines.
5. Linux has many options in a wide variety of distros
Linux comes in a number of sizes and types, giving you a lot of options to pick from when it comes to finding the right version for your needs. Another benefit of this variation is the open source innovation that is taking on in the Linux ecosystem. Visit distrowatch.com to discover more about various Linux distros.
Many distros give you access to thousands of free software applications.
Popular Linux distros such as Ubuntu, Rocky Linux, Mint, Arch, PCLinuxOS, and OpenSUSE have excellent software repositories within their package where you can download and install practically any sort of software for free. This may include anything you can think of, including games, educational software, office suites, and much more!
Some smaller distros, such as Peppermint OS, Lubuntu, Bodhi Linux, and Puppy Linux, are built on Ubuntu and have access to Ubuntu’s software repositories as a byproduct. One of the best things about these distros is that the software they include has already been thoroughly evaluated for compatibility and security.
For example, the Ubuntu Software Center has thousands of free and open source applications that have been vetted and inspected by Ubuntu, ensuring that they are compatible with Ubuntu and do not contain malware.
6. It has an excellent software updating procedure
The bulk of the software required may be obtained, installed, and updated through a single package management system provided by Linux distros such as Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, Fedora, and many more. As a consequence, Linux users will experience a highly smooth and flawless software update procedure.
What are the disadvantages of Linux?
1. Many windows programs will not run natively
Many Windows apps, such as iTunes, Microsoft Office, and Internet Explorer, will not operate natively under Linux. The good news is that most of these issues can be solved in a reasonable manner. Music libraries, for example, may be handled with an iPod using Linux apps like Amarok, Banshee, or Rhythmbox. Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are two excellent Internet browsers for usage in the workplace.
It is also feasible to use Wine, VirtualBox, or Parallels to run iTunes on Linux, however getting decent results is challenging. LibreOffice and OpenOffice are great office suites that can replace Microsoft Office, however while general compatibility with Microsoft Office formats is acceptable in both suites, it is not flawless.
2. Linux has a limited selection of peripheral hardware drivers
In comparison to Windows, Linux has a limited range of peripheral hardware drivers (for printers, scanners, and other devices), however new Linux hardware drivers are continuously being introduced.
Closely connected to this issue is the fact that not all Linux distros are compatible with all types of computer hardware, thus a user may need to test many different distros before finding one that works well with his or her machine. Some printer manufacturers provide greater Linux support than others; for example, HP provides good Linux printer support.
3. There is a learning curve
Most Linux distros, particularly the main ones, are quite user-friendly and straightforward. Furthermore, Linux’s desktop environments resemble Windows in look in many respects. It’s worth noting that users of Windows XP who upgrade to a later version of Windows will face a learning curve as well.
Why is Linux more secure?
Linux is more secure than other operating systems because it’s extremely customizable. Developers often make concessions when it comes to safety because of the OS they’re utilizing. If an OS makes it difficult for them to include the safety features they want, they usually will end up not using those features. But because Linux is so configurable, this isn’t an issue. Users can use the security features that they want.
Which Linux OS is best?
Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro. It’s simple to use, offers great user experience, and comes with essential tools pre-installed. However, whether or not it’s the best is open to debate. Some other popular distros are:
- Linux Mint
- Rocky Linux
- Zorin OS
- Peppermint OS
Does Linux need antivirus?
Although anti-virus software is available for Linux, you are unlikely to need it. Viruses that harm Linux are still uncommon. You may still install anti-virus software if you want to be extra cautious, or if you want to check for infections in files that you send to individuals who use Windows or Mac OS.
Can I run Linux on my PC?
You can run Linux from a USB drive without changing your existing system, but if you want to use it frequently, you’ll want to install it on your PC. When you install a Linux distribution alongside Windows as a “dual boot” system, you’ll be able to choose between the two operating systems every time you turn on your computer.
Wrapping Up: What is Linux?
We hope that this post has given you a better idea of what Linux is, where it came from, and what kind of capabilities it brings to the table. If you’re just getting started with it, keep working at it. It’s a complex system with a lot to learn, but once you know it, it makes a lot of sense. Plus, we expect it to be around for many years to come.
If you need Linux server management, check out our management and support models. We offer fixed fee plans for reducing costs (and your team’s workload), all while keeping your systems secure and running smoothly.