What Is Linux?


The heart of an operating system, the kernel manages hardware resources and provides low-level services that support the software running on the system. It also manages the interface between the kernel and devices, including memory and hardware drivers. The kernel is a monolithic piece of code, but it supports a vast software ecosystem.

Unlike a proprietary operating system like Windows, which requires a license to use, the Linux kernel is available under a free license. Anyone may study and modify the source code, and distribute or sell modified versions under the same terms. This makes Linux ideal for embedded and specialized systems such as routers, cell phones, and point-of-sale systems that require an extremely small footprint and maximum reliability.

In addition to being free, Linux is known for its stability and security. This has led to a large community of users, and many major technology companies, such as Amazon, Google, and IBM contribute time and money to Linux development.

Linux is also known for its performance, especially in resource-constrained environments. It is one of the most popular systems for data centers and cloud computing.

There are a number of different versions of Linux, or “distros,” to accommodate various types of users. Most of these include a GUI (graphical user interface), and offer a wide variety of desktop applications, such as word processors, media players, and photo-editing programs. Many are designed with modern user interfaces, and include support for programming languages such as Python, Perl, and Ruby. Others, such as openSUSE, Ubuntu, and Elementary OS, are more traditional in their approach to the desktop.

A number of tools allow a user to perform administrative tasks, and the filesystem is structured to support a variety of software applications. The /boot directory stores kernel files and the boot loader, and /dev contains the device files of every hardware component connected to the computer. The /etc folder contains startup scripts, login information, and configuration files for standard system services.

While Linux is not as well-known as Microsoft Windows or macOS, it has gained a significant following among developers and IT professionals. It is used in a wide range of applications, from servers to home computers, and has been adopted by major IT companies for their products and services.

Its popularity has spurred intense rivalry between proponents of different end-user operating systems, who have fought the Microsoft versus Linux wars since the turn of the millennium. Nevertheless, despite the passionate evangelism of some, it has never achieved the kind of mass market acceptance that proponents once believed would be inevitable. This may change as more end-users become familiar with linux and its features. The fact that it is free and customizable to individual preferences will likely help drive this growth. Moreover, as it continues to evolve and improve, it may find greater use in embedded and specialized applications. Eventually, it could be the dominant operating system in these environments. However, that day is still some time off.

You Might Also Like