What is Linux?

Linux is the operating system kernel that powers a large percentage of computers on the planet. It’s used in server computers (including the fastest supercomputers in the world), laptops, tablet computers, televisions and video game consoles. It’s also the basis for the Android system that’s widely used in mobile devices.

In a nutshell, linux is an open source software platform. It’s designed to be modular, so developers can add or remove specific tools, components and packages to create customized versions of the operating system that are tailored to different needs. Unlike other operating systems, which are typically designed for a single device, Linux can be installed on as many devices as users want.

Linus Torvalds created the Linux kernel in 1991 as a student at the University of Helsinki. He wanted to build a free version of Minix, an operating system based on Unix that was then in use at the university.

The kernel, which provides an in-memory software and hardware interface for the CPU, is surrounded by user space, which is the area where the applications running on the machine are stored. The applications are controlled by the kernel and can be either free to use or proprietary. Thousands of applications for Linux are available, just like those for Microsoft Windows and Apple’s macOS.

Most Linux-based applications are free to use, but some of them can be purchased as well. The Ubuntu Software Center, which comes with the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, is a popular place to find applications for your computer. It also offers a search function that can help you find the programs you need.

A major benefit of a Linux-based computer is its inherent reliability. Because the operating system is open source, it’s less likely to be vulnerable to malware and viruses, which often target proprietary systems. Linux servers can run for years without requiring a reboot, and that kind of stability is attractive to sysadmins who must maintain an ever-changing collection of hardware.

Depending on which survey you look at, between one-half and two-thirds of the Internet’s websites are powered by Linux servers. That’s because the operating system is secure, flexible and affordable to support. You can get a Linux PC for under $500, which is less than you’ll pay to support a proprietary OS like Microsoft Windows.

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