What is Linux?

Before we get started, here’s what you can gain after reading this article:

  • What is Linux and how does it work
  • What are the benefits of using Linux
  • How is Linux different from Windows and Mac OS
  • Who is Linux for

A Brief Overview

What is a Linux operating system?

For starters, Linux is an operating system just like Windows and Mac. These three virtual giants all carry the same function as any other operating system would: they manage the communication bridge between your software and hardware.

Put simply, you wouldn’t be able to run any software on your PC, laptop, or phone without an operating system.

The only similarity between Windows, Mac, and Linux is the fact they’re all operating systems. We’ll talk more about this later.

Linux came into the picture just 25 years ago and ever since, they’ve risen in popularity phenomenally. Linux is based and developed from another operating system created in the 60’s called, Unix.

Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, developed Linux based on the framework of Unix and that’s where we are today.

How does Linux work?

As mentioned in the previous section, Linux was developed from Unix. Both are nearly identical and Linux was even designed to render it indistinguishable from Unix.

With all the development and tweaks made to Linux, it’s evolved from the Unix system. The Linux operating system has the capacity to run a variety of hardware on your phone and even supercomputers.

Technically speaking though, Linux isn’t “Linux.”

Linux is actually referred to as the Linux kernel. Now, what is a kernel you may ask?

A kernel is the core system or framework that an operating system is built around. The kernel works alongside GNU Linux, which is the operating system that comprises several core components that allows Linux kernel to run.

Essentially, the kernel cannot function without the GNU. Linux kernel is a component that was added to the GNU system making it become GNU/Linux.

Considering that an operating system comes with a bunch of programs, applications, and tools, the kernel helps manage hardware resources and a few software that make up the whole operating system.

Together with the GNU system, both of these make up the whole package of Linux. In short, GNU + Linux kernel = GNU Linux.

How is Linux Different from Other Operating Systems?

The main difference between Linux and Unix, Windows, and Mac is that Linux is an open-source software.

This means that the source code is free for anyone to modify and redistribute. It’s also open to the public to view any time and if you have the skills, you can contribute to the source code as well.

Here are examples of operating systems that use the Linux kernel:

  1. Google Chrome
  2. Ubuntu
  3. Android

You’ll also find Linux is used widely in some way by NASA, ATM machines, government facilities, web servers, Facebook, Google, and even Amazon.

Vs. Windows

The Linux operating system differs from Windows in many ways. Here are the key differences between the two.

  1. It has a faster development compared to Windows – Because Linux is an open-source software, its contributors from all over the world speed up its development process. Linux releases a new kernel every 2 to 3 months, while Windows releases theirs every 3 years.
  2. It’s more secure than Windows – Although Windows is a default choice by many users, Linux’s security is higher than Windows due to how Linux manages account privileges in their system.
  3. It has more customizable options – Windows offers a few customizable options, while Linux has multiple Linux distributions that offer its users higher customization capabilities.

Vs. Mac

Linux and Mac are somewhat similar operating systems in regards to Unix. Mac uses an operating system known as BSD, which was also based on Unix just like how Linux was developed based on Unix as well.

Nevertheless, there are still essential differences between the two.

  1. It’s free to use – One of the biggest advantages to being an open-source software is you don’t have to pay to use the software. With Mac, you’d have to pay a hefty price to be able to use it.
  2. It has better security than Mac – Believe it or not, even with Mac already being highly adept at providing security for its users, Linux still takes the gold for security.

What are the Benefits of Using Linux?

Benefit #1: It’s free

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but open-source software is just superb. It’s one of the biggest reasons that contributed to Linux’s growth and popularity. That’s also what makes it FREE.

No license keys and no specific hardware requirements, making the installation and usage process fast, simple, and uber easy.

Sounds too good to be true? Not quite. It’s simply because of… open-source software.

Because Linux is an open-source software that allows users to modify and redistribute the source code, constant improvements and updates are sent by contributors all over the world to improve the Linux distributions.

Thanks to Linux’s global community reach, open-source software not only benefits users, but Linux itself.

Even better, users who have high apt for customization will love the benefits an open-source software can bring into their world.

Benefit #2: Customization

Users who love tinkering and prefer to have things done in their own unique way will benefit the most out of this.

Linux allows a ton of visual customization along with creating custom user interfaces like a Braille interface or a layout for those with impaired movement.

Finally, if you want to add, delete, or edit any functions or features in the system, it’s possible with Linux.

Benefit #3: Security and Stability

You’ll hardly experience any crashes, reboots, or notice slower process speeds even after using it for years. With Windows, you can easily notice the difference after a year or so.

With regards to security, I wouldn’t say its 100% completely virus-free, but it’s definitely close to that level. Being an open-source software also allows developers from all over the world to review the code and adjust any flaws they find.

Benefit #4: Performance

Still have that 15-year old dead laptop sitting in the attic? Maybe you tossed your old PC in a pile of boxes and stashed it away in your garage because it was too slow.

You probably wouldn’t have had to do that had you installed a Linux operating system.

It’s so powerful that you could use Linux from smart computers down to even kitchen equipment like a toaster. Believe me, it’s happened.

Linux’s capability to breathe “new life” into seemingly outdated computers proves just how powerful it is.

While I could go on about the various benefits there are to using Linux’s OS, the 4 benefits I’ve mentioned are one of its biggest benefits, especially for those who are new to their system.

Who Should Use Linux?

You probably already do, but you just don’t realize it.

Android phones, video recorders, tablets, cameras, and even web pages you’ve browsed here and there be it in the past or present all run Linux.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. With all the benefits I just mentioned, it’s hard to imagine a majority of people wouldn’t enjoy using it.

So who is it for then? Generally speaking, anyone who’s looking to have more flexibility and customization is a good match for Linux; however, transitioning from being a Windows/Mac user will take some time for you to get used to the system of Linux.

This means you’ll have to be patient and curious enough to understand a new system, learn how it works, and “play” around to get a better feel.

The main users who would be ideal matches for Linux are the following:

  1. Developers
  2. Programmers
  3. Server Admins

For programmers, using a Linux operating system feels like being in a playground where you’re free to try just about anything, and you have control over the entire domain.

For developers, they don’t have to worry about the drivers and it becomes easy to trim these down, allowing maximum output and usability on a developer’s end.

For server admins, it becomes easier to manage and setup web servers, which takes a huge load off their back.

In fact, a lot of companies prefer Linux because it’s a reliable platform and it’s flexible & secure. You also receive a lot of support from both the community and companies like Red Hat who provide great commercial support.

To give you a short overview of Red Hat, they are one of the leading providers for open-source solutions. In fact, Linux is one of the core offers among many other Red Hat offerings.

While Linux is a kernel that cannot operate by itself, Red Hat is the operating system that is built on top of it.

Because of Linux’s flexibility and stability, Red Hat also known as Red Hat Enterprise Linux improves the stability and performance, making it one of the many companies you can also rely on should you choose Linux as an operating system.