Often I forget that many of you don’t really know all that much about Linux aside from it’s name.
While this is gradually changing, I felt compelled to elaborate in a way that might introduce some of you to what Linux is, and what it does, that keeps me so enthusiastic about it.
When we refer to Linux what we are really referring to is the entire family of server systems, desktop operating systems, mobile operating systems, and other embedded systems that rely on the Linux kernel.
- Most of the internet runs on Linux servers.
- Android runs on Linux and is the most popular mobile OS in the world.
- The vast majority of supercomputers use Linux operating systems.
- Linux desktop systems account for a much larger market share than we can actually account for.
- Mac, Solaris, BSD, and Unix, are all related to Linux through their primary kernel design.
So let’s address these in order. Servers running Linux account for nearly every website you have ever heard of, been on, seen, visited, or personally run. Unless you actually specifically avoided every website you ever heard of in favor of one running on a different type of server, which would be unlikely.
Android and in fact Google’s Chrome OS are both running Linux kernels that have been developed to those tasks commercially. Android’s market share is actually 51.4% presently. Google Chrome books are regularly the top selling laptops on Amazon. (Which bodes well for Acer who I just adore.)
Supercomputers running node systems and cluster computers in general require the kind of scalability of Linux to function in tandem in most cases though to be fair Solaris is also amazing at this.
Linux desktops… Mint is the 4th most popular OS in the world, and it is only one of countless distributions of Linux desktop operating systems which of course begs the question, “How many users?”
We have no idea in fact. One of the perks or pitfalls of a primarily free operating system for desktops is that there are no sales to track directly. Likewise the data online is considered flawed and or skewed. But it is safe to say that between all of the Linux distributions that are desktop-centric, more of us are Linux than you would ever suspect.
Many big businesses are using Linux desktops for serious applications. The people at Cern have their own distribution of Linux called Scientific Linux.
As for the kernel being similar to Mac, Solaris, BSD, and Unix, these are all really Unix-Posix type operating systems that can compile Unix code. (Windows was not designed to do this. Their kernel is quite different.)
To a new user of the Linux desktop, the first major difference they will typically notice is the speed of the operating system, followed by the options for installing some serious software that is non commercial. This is primarily thanks to the creator of GNU license, who would have us insist on calling Linux operating systems “GNU-Linux Operating Systems.”
In reality no matter what we call it, the truth is that open source communities have worked together for decades to improve the software that is available. As a result the Linux Operating system has evolved at a rate that dwarfs every other operating system combined.
Remember also that unlike licensed commercial software, Linux is generally free of charge. More importantly it is a window into the open source software world, where you are free to modify and change software without fear of penalty.
You can create your own versions of most of the software available on Linux, as well as the operating system itself, and even sell it, provided you transfer the same rights to modify the software you received.
Many myths about open source software have persisted since the earliest days when it was typically untrusted. Today the communities of developers who look at every line of code are primarily concerned with making it flawless and secure because big businesses are running on open source software whether you realize it or not.
The entire internet is a pretty good example.
Ultimately the aim of this article is to invite you to learn more. If you have multiple computers and would like to give Linux a try just let me know how old the computer is and I can suggest an operating system.
If that computer is less than 8 years old and has more than 1Gb of ram expect me to recommend Linux Mint 17. A Ubuntu based OS that has me capable on 8 machines with no regrets.
Out of the box
- LibreOffice free office software
- VLC Video
- Banshee Music Player
- Firefox Browser
- GIMP photo editing suite
- Thunderbird email
- Driver installer and updater
- Software center*
*With over 45,000 free tools like skype, games, whole programming platforms, IT tools, servers, etc.