The Basics of Linux


The Linux operating system is a powerful, free, graphical system that can be used on a wide variety of electronic devices. Like other operating systems, it allows you to control and interact with the hardware, as well as to install and run programs called applications (also known as apps). There are many versions of Linux, or distributions, available, including ones that are designed specifically for use on mobile phones, supercomputers, and laptops. Most of these distributions can be downloaded and installed without making any changes to the computer, allowing you to try them out on your device before committing to a full installation.

Most versions of Linux are released under the GNU General Public License, meaning that the source code is freely available to anyone. This allows individuals to modify the software, and even sell or give it away. It also means that anyone can make and install a new version of the kernel, the core part of the system.

In addition to the kernel, a Linux system includes libraries and utilities for handling data and performing basic tasks. These programs, along with a command-line interface and desktop environment, make up the complete operating system. Linux also includes a powerful scripting language, which is used to automate many system tasks and extend the capabilities of other programs. The Linux scripting language is called ksh, and it is written in a programming language called C.

The combination of a powerful scripting language, a flexible and highly configurable operating system and an extensive range of compatible hardware makes Linux an ideal platform for a variety of applications. It is also inherently secure, thanks to its design principles and the collaboration of a large community. Regular security updates, rapid bug fixes and the ability to audit the source code contribute to its reputation as a reliable and stable system.

Despite these benefits, some organizations are reluctant to switch to Linux because of licensing costs. However, most Linux vendors charge a fee only for the system support they provide, and these fees can be lower than those of commercial operating systems.

For most users, the most difficult aspect of a Linux deployment is simply learning how to operate the system. There are a number of tutorials and online communities dedicated to helping people understand the basics of Linux, as well as more advanced features. Once you have mastered the basics, you can start thinking about using it as your primary operating system.

Depending on your library’s budget, you may be able to find computers that are preloaded with Linux, or you may want to propose installing it on existing equipment. For either option, you should begin by determining your needs and writing a proposal. This should include a justification for using Linux, a list of the benefits you expect to see and a plan for implementing the new system. You should also include a timeline to guide your work. A one- or two-page proposal is sufficient for most academic institutions.

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