What is Linux?
|Tux, the official Linux mascot|
Linux, often described as a technical user’s operating system, is quite popular in many circles of computer processing because of its versatility and easy-to-use framework. Many associate Linux as the operating system of choice among corporate IT professionals and not suited to regular Internet users, though the system now gains traction among regular consumers with each passing day.
The history of Linux
In the 1960s, computers were huge; they filled whole rooms. Housing the equipment needed to run a computer network and ensuring each of those pieces remained functional created many organizational issues. Compounding that problem, each computer ran on a different operating system. Software was customized for each product so as to serve a purpose specific to the company’s needs. This meant that work for one system didn’t mean developers could work on another operating system.
Considering the expense of computers and the amount of effort involved in training users how to understand the functioning of the computer and its operating systems, the overall cost ended up being quite high. In 1969, a group of developers at Bell Labs began work on a single solution operating system which could address the compatibility issues faced by companies. From their efforts, they produced UNIX, a program that was simple, ran on the C programming language and could recycle code.
As technology advanced and computers became smaller, UNIX became the operating system of choice among mainframes at large companies and government entities. Due to the slow nature of the system, it never quite gained traction among home PC users.
In the 1990s, Linus Torvalds, a computer science student at the University of Helsinki, decided to create a free academic version of UNIX, from which Linux was born. Two years after he first began work on the project, more than 12,000 Linux users could be found, all of whom actively contributed to the creation of the operating system. In the end, they created a full UNIX clone fit for use on personal workstations and even servers.
Linux is used extensively throughout the desktop market, despite fierce competition from Microsoft. While the hardest hurdle to overcome has been office applications, the operating system offers MS-compatible software from word processors to spreadsheets.
The more popular use of Linux continues to be on the server side to the stable and reliable experience it gives to companies and organizations. Entities like Amazon and the U.S. Post Office use the operating system for database and trading service management.
The best thing to happen to the Linux community is Android. The operating system used among many smartphones, while not pure Linux, still operates on a standard Linux kernel. This makes the heart of every Android device Linux-based.
Installing Linux on a desktop
Unlike other operating systems like Microsoft Windows, Linux is available free of charge due to its open source nature. The software maintains its popularity among developers because it can be changed to suit the needs of its users, whereas altering the source code of Microsoft Windows would void any software warranty.
Linux can be downloaded through their main website or through the websites of any Linux distribution location. To install the operating system, users have to follow the same process as with installing Windows on a desktop. The operating system has to first be loaded on to a CD or jump drive, which is then accessed during a computer boot and the installation process begins. Overall, the installation matches the rest of the user experience in ease of use, and allows for many users with multiple hard drives to run instances of both Linux and Windows on the same desktop.
Common Linux commands
Linux utilizes many commands that serve a wide range of operation functions. While you may have the option of picking between the thousands of commands presently available, several common commands do exist as shown below.
The “tar” command serves a very important purpose as the operating system’s primary archiving utility. Common tar commands include:
- To create a new tar archive: $ tar cvf archive_name.tar dirname/
- To extract from an existing tar archive: $ tar xvf archive_name.tar
- To view an existing tar archive: $ tar tvf archive_name.tar
The “grep” command allows for users to search plan-text data for specific expression, or match. Common grep commands include:
- To search for a given text string in a file: $ grep -i "the" demo_file
- To print the matched line of text: $ grep -A 3 -i "example" demo_text
- To search for a given text string in all files: fortwa$ grep -r "ramesh" *
The similarities of Ubuntu
A common derivative operating system of Linux is Ubuntu. As one of many different versions of Linux, Ubuntu was devised to create a more easy-to-use Linux desktop experience. In comparison to many other Linux offshoots, Ubuntu is one of the more recent newcomers, though it quickly gained the respect of many Linux users because of its overall achievement of usability and efficiency in a desktop setting.
Originating from an older Linux distribution called Debian, the system was devised by a South African Internet mogul who formed the company Canonical Ltd. to promote and support the system. Ubuntu is among the more popular versions of Linux among many audiences because of how usable it is to the modern Windows consumer. For individuals new to Linux, Ubuntu effectively places itself as the best Linux option available on the market.
While Linux may be harder to manage than Windows because of its differences in design and audience, it still offers more flexibility and configurations. The operating system is available for free and can be changed to suit the diverse needs of its users. The longevity of the operating system speaks after its appeal to many professionals, and that can only mean Linux will continue to be available to the public for years to come.