The beginner should learn about the basic concepts of Linux which is an operating system that is based on the Linux kernel. It is an open-source community that has multiple distributions, powerful features, and well-structured architecture. I will try to provide a brief description in this article on the introduction to Linux.
What Is Linux?
Being a Unix-like operating system, Linux the open source community, manages the hardware and resources. Like Windows, Mac, and other OS it is the operating system that acts as the core of Linux Dsitros. It creates a connection between the hardware and the user and executes the applications.
Where You Can Use Linux?
As for all computers, the popular operating systems Windows and OS are available so the question is where one can use Linux. When the operating system was introduced it was a server OS but nowadays it has become very popular and widely used on the desktop. Being lightweight and its capability, it is used from hand watches to powerful computers.
The Linux operating system
Linux is not a complete operating system rather it is a kernel. Including the kernel, mainly the applications and things one runs over the kernel is called an operating system. Then the question is why it is called the operating system. As it includes a shell, command line, and GUI tools for that reason it is called the operating system.
When an operating system like Debian, or Redhat uses the Linux kernel then you can call it Debian Linux, or RedHat Linux. Linux is Free software. So according to its range of purposes, you can run this according to your preference. As one can see the source code and modify it, he can share the improvement with others.
History of Linux
Before Linux, the operating systems Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Unix were very expensive and the source code was protected as these were proprietary and modification was not possible for free, it needed high license fees. At the beginning of 1984, Richard Stallman developed a Unix-like operating system GNU which is the acronym of the ‘GNU is not Unix’.It was free software which was not completed. But in the 90s there were many applications that were like Unix.
In 1991, Linus Benedict Torvalds was at the University of Helsinki in Finland, he was using Minix which was a non-free operating system, and felt the necessity of a free and open-source OS that fulfilled the cause of GNU. By September, of that year, he first created the code for the Linux kernel which was named version 0.01. Then after the change of the code for frequent time, and after 4-5 editions the complete kernel was ready. To make this a successful operating system, it was combined with GNU which was free software. By the combination of GNU+Linux kernel=Linux operating system had been created which users are increasing day by day. At the beginning of the journey of Linux, there were around 100 developers but one year later the number multiplied and it reached around 1000.
As free software, the source code was modified time by time and continuously developed since then and released version to version. And it fulfills the requirements of the user for a low-cost operating system that can run on a PC. Nowadays around 29 million people use Linux.
Distributions Of Linux Operating System
From the open-source project and programmer, the code of the Linux distribution has been compiled. Linux distro is the short form of Linux distribution. The kernel, an operating system’s base, desktop settings, package management systems, terminals, and commands are all included in a distribution. The Linux tree is distributed in many families. Here I have shown some major distribution families:
1. Debian Linux
In the Debian Linux family, the distribution is the origin of Ubuntu, and Ubuntu is the source of other distros like Linux Mint, Kubuntu, and Kali. For a stable and open-source distribution, Debian is widely used because of has the largest and most appropriate repositories. Ubuntu is the most used and popular distro because it uses a huge software repository, and provides more stability and usability. Some key facts are shown about Debian Linux:
- Free software: It is fully free software. According to the General public license, all its software packages can be redistributed.
- Full-Featured: As it has a huge support of packages, it has also a tool that handles these packages. Using this tool’s features users can install, and upgrade the system package.
- Versatile operating system: It comes with more than 59000 software packages and is supported by many architectures around 9 among them are x86, ARM, and PowerPC so for that reason it is called the versatile operating system.
- Package Maintenance: High level of package maintenance by upgrading the system and each component without reforming the structure of the configuration file.
2. RedHat Linux
The original Linux distribution is the RedHat Linux which is the commercial distribution for big companies. Fedora, RHEL, and Mandrake are some of the derivatives of Red Hat distribution. It is the most stable and secure distro in Linux. Some key factors are shown below about RedHat Linux:
- Open-Source: It is an open-source community that also provides free projects and improves innovations and system structure.
- Enhance Security: Redhat maintains strong security by giving SELinux and SCAP. To identify the vulnerabilities, it updates the system automatically.
- Package maintenance: It uses rpm-based yum and dnf tools to manage all the packages efficiently.
3. Gentoo Linux
A community-driven distribution that is specially designed for programmers. It is a source-based distribution that provides flexibility, and faster results to the user. The key factors of Gentoo Linux have been shown below:
- As a source-based Linux family, it shows high-speed performance while maintaining packages.
- Support kernel customization which helps the users to configure their own kernel.
- It is allowed to be installed on the non-Linux system by Gentoo Prefix.
4. SUSE Linux
In the SUSE distribution, OpenSUSE is widely used because it can be freely used by the end user. OpenSUSE uses Zypper as the package manager to manage the system effectively. The key factors of SUSE Linux:
- It uses zypper package manager with the rpm backend support.
- YaST is another tool to manage the system configuration and administration purposes.
- For retailing and other sectors, SELS is used.
5. Other distributions
Besides these derivatives, there are other distributions like Arch Linux, Slackware, Alpine Linux, Firefox OS, etc.
Linux Support and Service
Linux provides several services for many servers, embedded systems, and users. Here are some of the important aspects of Linux support and services.
In the Linux distribution, any kind of distro can be installed which is compatible with the system. In fact, around 4-5 distros can be installed on the distribution. Ubuntu, Linux Mint, RHEL, Fedora, Arch Linux, and OpenSUSE can be installed on the Linux distribution.
The server support includes DNS, Web, and database support. Here are some of the important features of server support:
- Installation and Configuration.
- Automatic Backup and Recovery.
- System Problem Debugging.
- Security Enhancement.
Linux Community Support
Mailing servers and online forum-based communities support the users by giving proper information and details about any Linux topics making it vast and active. This community is the group that includes individuals, and organizations who mainly discuss problems related to Linux, elaborate the answers to questions, and assist the user by giving resources that help him to solve the queries and problems. Below are some of the community support names that have been mentioned:
- Ubuntu forum
- Arch Linux Forum
- Linux Mint Community
- Gentoo Linux
- Stack Exchange
- Ask Ubuntu
Linux Security Hardening and Assessment
Some essential steps need to be done to ensure the security hardening process. The steps are shown below:
- Kernel Update
- Access Control
- Firewall Integration and Configuration
- Secure SSH
- Network configuration and Security.
It provides support by monitoring installation and configuration and sending email alert notifications. It also supports Resource and Performance in monitoring.
Migration from Windows to Linux
Linux provides the transition from the Windows desktop to the Linux desktop which is called dual booting. It is not only from a desktop but also migrates from a Windows server to a Linux server.
Here are some common Windows to Linux migration examples:
- Cloud server
- Web server
- Mail server
- Database server
- Datacenter Transition
Linux provides other services like Peripheral and printer Support and Remote Administration Support.
Features of the Linux Operating System
There are some huge features that make Linux a unique operating system. Below I have shown some features:
The corresponding features’ short description is shown here:
- Free and Open Source
Linux is a free open-source operating system. Users can use it without incurring any cost as it is completely free. As an open-source system, its codes are accessible to all and can be modified and improved where it has a single license all over the world.
- Flexibility and stability
Because of its flexibility, one needs just install the necessary components on the system, it does not need to be installed in its whole. It can be embedded into the wristwatch to any large device. It provides great stability which ensures that multiple servers can run for a long period of time.
The user can customize the font size, keyboard language, and background color according to their preference because of its higher usability.
- Command line Interface
Linux provides a shell which is the interface between the kernel and user. The user runs the applications on the shell using commands and then executes the applications which provide the fastest result.
- Graphical User Interface
Linux provides graphical interface support like Windows by installing the packages from the command line interface or by the server.
- Lightweight and Compatibility
This operating system is so lightweight that it can be installed on any small hardware and it uses quite small disk space while installation. It is compatible with all kinds of file formats.
- Encryption system
Linux operating system provides strong security through end-to-end encryption. It provides a secure key, shell, and feature. All the files are stored with a key and also allow the user to authenticate it by password.
- Multi-user Support
Linux allows multiple users to use the system simultaneously which facilitates multiple programs at the same time.
- Well-defined file system
Linux comes with a hierarchical file structure where all files are categorized by their type and stored in a specific directory. There are different kinds of directories like Binary directory (bin), Unix system resource (usr), configuration directory (conf), data directory, and memory directory.
- Accessible Update
The Linux operating system notifies the user about the new updated version and provides accessibility to the new updated version which keeps the user’s system always up to date and users can update according to their needs.
Architecture of the Linux Operating System
The architecture of the Linux operating system can be divided into layers that facilitate the functions, configurations, and flexibility. Below I have shown the structure of the operating system:
The peripheral components like CPU, RAM, and input and output devices are included in this layer. This layer is directly in contact with the hardware.
The core of the operating system is the foundation of the other software that works on top of it. It handles and hides all the complexity and underlying modules of the hardware which includes system management, resource, and memory management.
The user interface section interacts with the user and kernel. It hides all the complexity of the kernel and shows a user-friendly environment to the users. It takes the user commands and performs the applications. The operating system is typically categorized into two graphical shell and command line shell.
System Utilities and Libraries
The system libraries include the code that is used for implementing the special functions and applications. The utility gives the users a variety of functionalities to manage the operating system.
These applications are the programs that the user runs on top of the architecture. The applications include database applications, media players, web browsers, and presentations.
False Myth About Linux
There are some false assumptions that make users avoid using it. Here I will show the false assumptions below:
Difficult to understand
As a command line interface, users generally misunderstand that it is difficult for the user to understand as it needs code but you do not need to use the command line in day-to-day life. Moreover, the the new version is more user-friendly and provides a graphical interface too.
Lack of security
As an open-source community, there is always a misconception that it is not secure but it is not true at all. On the other hand, it is more secure because of its open-source nature as you can identify the critical issues in less time.
Less important to use
As there are popular operating systems like Mircosoft Windows there was a myth that users do not need to use Linux. But nowadays Linux is the most widely used operating system on which many government and technical corporations rely to perform critical tasks.
Lack of income
As a free and open source, it was thought that it would not be able to contribute to the business. But it is one of the biggest open source projects that makes money through community support, customization, and support and services.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Linux
Linux is a versatile free, open-source operating system, along with its advantages there are disadvantages. I have shown an overview of both below:
Application Supported By Linux
To increase system performance and productivity Linux provides a wide range of applications. So it is important to learn which applications work on Linux. Below I have shown a few applications:
- Database application
Mysql, Postgresql: Open source powerful database system.
- Graphics, and Multimedia
GIMP: Image editor which is open source and used for photo-retouching, and photo composition.
VLC player: Video and audio players work with multiple formats of files.
Audacity: Free audio tool that one can use for mixing, and editing audio.
- Presentation, WordPress
LibreOffice: Free open-source application that provides extensions and plugin support. It has many features for multiple features such as word processing with writer, Spreadsheet with calc, presentation with Impress, and database management with base.
- Web browser
Mozilla Firefox: Open source that one can use for its extensibility and wide range of performances.
Google Chrome: The user can choose which version of this proprietary web browser to use, as it also comes in a Linux version.
- Desktop Environment
Gnome: Tool to customize the environment of the desktop.
KDE: Linux environment which is popular for configurability.
Comparison between Linux, Mac, and Windows
Below the differences between the operating systems has been shown:
|Compatible with any computer and can be installed in low space.||Compatible and can be installed only on Mac. Comes with by default OS.||Can be installed on any computer with minimum resources and space.|
|Free open source, some distros have some costs.||Expensive hardware with free features.||It’s not as expensive as a Mac.|
|Versatile and require low resources.||Need high-level resources.||Low level but high compared with Linux.|
I tried to provide a general overview of Linux in this article, including its background, capabilities, distributions, and applications. I hope that reading this article will help new users to understand the fundamentals of Linux.
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