What is Linux?

Linux is a family of free and open-source software operating systems (OS) built around the Linux kernel. Typically, Linux is packaged in a form known as a Linux distribution (or distro for short) for both desktop and server use. The defining component of a Linux distribution is the Linux kernel, an OS kernel first released on September 17, 1991, by Linus Torvalds. Many Linux distributions use the word "Linux" in their name. The Free Software Foundation uses the name GNU/Linux to refer to the OS family, as well as specific distributions, to emphasize that most Linux distributions are not just the Linux kernel, and that they have in common not only the kernel, but also numerous utilities and libraries, a large proportion of which are from the GNU project. This has led to some controversy.

Stunning Visuals

There are many different styles that can come with a Linux distribution. Some of the most popular ones include: Gnome, KDE, XFCE, MATE, budgie, and Cinnamon. Pick one that fits you! and you can change it at any time! If a language that you’d like to use isn’t already installed by default, you can typically get the packages from your distribution’s repositories.

Programming

Need to write in C, C++, CSS, Java, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, or Vala? Linux supports all of them, and the list goes on. Sure, you will hit some roadblocks. Visual Basic only supports Windows, but you can use Apple’s Swift. Generally, if a programming language isn’t limited to a specific operating system, then it likely works on Linux.

Slight Learning Curve

There is a learning curve when it comes to Linux. but how large the curve is really depends on the kind of user you want to be. Beginners and non enthusiasts typically stay with user friendly versions like Linux Mint, while hardcore users can pick versions that ramp up the difficulty to add functionality and customization like Gentoo.

Windows 'works' but Linux excels

Why bother learning a completely different computing environment, when the operating system that ships with most desktops and laptops work just fine? To answer that question, I would pose another question. Does that operating system you’re currently using really work “just fine”? Or are you constantly battling viruses, malware, slow downs, crashes or paying expensive repairs, programs, and licensing fees?

If you struggle with the above, and want to free yourself from the constant fear of losing data or having to take your computer in for the “yearly clean up,” Linux might be the perfect platform for you. Linux has evolved into one of the most reliable computer ecosystems on the planet. Combine that reliability with zero cost of entry and you have the perfect solution for a desktop platform. You can install Linux on as many computers as you like without paying a cent for software or server licensing . The price of the Windows Server 2012 software alone can run up to $1,200.00 USD. That doesn’t include licenses for other software you may need to run (such as a database, a web server, mail server, etc). With the Linux server...it’s all free and easy to install. If you’re a system administrator, working with Linux is a dream come true. No more daily babysitting servers. In fact, Linux is as close to “set it and forget it” as you will ever find. And, on the off chance, one service on the server requires restarting, re-configuring, upgrading, etc...most likely the rest of the server won’t be affected when you do restart it.

Be it a desktop or a server, if zero cost isn’t enough to win you over – what about having an operating system that will work, trouble free, for as long as you use it? I’ve personally used Linux for several years (as a desktop and server platform) and have not once had an issue with malware, viruses, or random computer slow-downs. It’s that stable. The website you are currently visiting and reading this text on is on a CentOS 7 Linux web server right now, that was made completely by one person, for free. And server reboots? Only if the kernel is updated. It is not out of the ordinary for a Linux server to go years without being rebooted. That’s stability and dependability.

What is a kernel?

Each operating system uses a kernel. Without a kernel, you can’t have an operating system that actually works. Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux all have kernels, and they’re all different. It’s the kernel that also does the grunt work of the operating system. Besides the kernel, there are a lot of applications that are bundled with the kernel to make the entire package something useful — more on that a bit later.
The kernel’s job is to talk to the hardware and software, and to manage the system’s resources as best as possible. It talks to the hardware via the drivers that are included in the kernel (or additionally installed later on in the form of a kernel module). This way, when an application wants to do something (say change the volume setting of the speakers), it can just submit that request to the kernel, and the kernel can use the driver it has for the speakers to actually change the volume.
The kernel is highly involved in resource management. It has to make sure that there is enough memory available for an application to run, as well as to place an application in the right location in memory. It tries to optimize the usage of the processor so that it can complete tasks as quickly as possible. It also aims to avoid deadlocks, which are problems that completely halt the system when one application needs a resource that another application is using. It’s a fairly complicated circus act to coordinate all of those things, but it needs to be done and that’s what the kernel is for.

What is root?

Understanding root is one of the most important parts of using Linux. Root, (also represented as the / symbol) is a user account on a Linux system that is created automatically when Linux is installed. Root is a superuser, meaning it has the power to make any changes to your system that you desire, whether that be to upgrade your system, repair the system, or break/damage/delete it beyond repair. You simply log in as root using a password you set, and make whatever changes to your computer you want. It is highly advised that you never log into root to do system maintenance. Although extremely rare, if your root user gets hacked, your computer will be under the complete control of an attacker. To prevent this problem, you simply make a regular user, named whatever you want, and when typing commands that require root privileges, like downloading software, deleting files, or adding new users, you simply type 'sudo' before the command. For example, if you are logged in as john, and you want to install firefox, if you enter "install firefox", Linux will tell you the packages are locked and to please prove that you are the owner of the computer to be allowed to do that. You must enter: "sudo install firefox". It will ask for your root password, and then once verified, the download will begin. After the command has completed, you will be returned to your default user. If your regular user account gets hacked, the attacker will not be able to make any changes because your account does not have the unlimited power that root does, and the attacker will not know the root password, trapping them in a user bubble with no privileges that can later have the password changed by root, kicking them out.

Commands like "sudo rm -rf /" can be detrimental because you are telling root to delete itself, thus not being able to do anything as root. Often used as a prank by advanced Linux users on newcomers. Make sure you trust and research what you are typing before blindly entering commands!

Choose Your Experience

Though all three are widely used there are significant differences between Windows, Linux, and Mac. Windows is dominant over the other two as 90% of users prefer Windows. Linux is free and anyone can download and use it. MAC is costlier than Windows and the user is forced to buy a MAC system built by Apple.

Quotes from real Linux users

Do companies sell
Linux computers?

Yes! If the quick and easy Linux install is too inconvenient for you, consider getting a computer that already has Linux installed. Computers typically come with Ubuntu as it is user friendly and easy to use.

Show me!

How do I install it?

Removing an OS can sound pretty scary and challenging. I am 100% devoted to making the switch as simple and easy as possible for you. Watch the video below to see a very in depth guide on how to install Linux to your computer. This video was not made by me so shout out to Chris Titus Tech. Note that his video does not take into account if your computer has secure boot enabled. You must first download the Linux ISO file, use rufus to burn the image to a USB thumb drive, plug it into your computer, and then tell the computer to boot and read only from the burned USB. He shows how to do all of that. If your computer has secure boot enabled, it will restart and then go through startup as normal and ignore the USB. To learn how to disable secure boot, click here