What is Linux?
Despite the fact that Microsoft’s Windows OS still dominates the computer market, Linux is gaining popularity. In fact, Linux is used on many different types of devices, including Android phones and tablets, Chromebooks, digital storage devices, personal video recorders, cameras, and wearables. Linux is also one of the most popular operating systems for servers, powering over two-thirds of all websites and offering superior performance in comparison to other server-side OS options.
Linux is a free and open source operating system kernel developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991. The kernel acts as an intermediary between the operating system and hardware, managing low-level tasks such as process management and granting application software access to hardware information. The Linux kernel is highly adaptable and is able to be modified by anyone with the right programming skills, making it one of the most popular and flexible operating systems around.
In terms of functionality, linux is similar to the operating systems you may be familiar with such as Windows and macOS (formerly known as OS X). It has a graphical user interface and allows you to run programs that create things like word processors, photo editors, and video games. Almost all major software vendors have created a version of their software that runs on Linux.
You can find a wide variety of linux versions, which are called distributions, on the Distrowatch website. Each has a different approach to the desktop environment. For example, some focus on a modern user interface, while others use a traditional desktop environment. Some have a specific purpose, such as running servers or acting as an init system.
The Linux community offers massive support for users. It has forums, question boards, and even dedicated websites to help users with issues. It’s a great way to get started with a new operating system and learn how it works.
Almost all Linux distributions offer a Live version, which lets you run the operating system from a CD/DVD or USB flash drive without changing your existing setup. The process is very easy to follow, and you can try out a Linux system for as long as you want. If you decide that it is the right choice for you, then you can install it on your PC. Depending on the distribution you choose, the installation process will vary, but most offer a very quick and straightforward process. You can also download a PDF guide to installing Linux, available from the Linux Foundation. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the most common installations.