What is Linux?


Linux is an open-source operating system initiated by Linus Torvalds in 1991 and supported by numerous developers worldwide. Built upon a Unix-like structure, Linux has gained significant popularity due to its flexibility, reliability, and extensive user community.

The kernel of Linux facilitates communication between hardware and software components, forming a complete operating system when combined with various software elements. One of the greatest advantages of Linux is its ability to be freely distributed and customized according to users’ needs, providing substantial flexibility for both individuals and organizations.

History of Linux

The story of Linux begins with Linus Torvalds, a student at the University of Helsinki in 1991, who started working on a kernel for an operating system. Torvalds was dissatisfied with some limitations of Minix, a small Unix-like operating system he was using at the time, which led him to decide to create his own kernel.

Linus Torvalds named his developed kernel “Linux” and shared its source code on the internet. This sharing enabled developers worldwide to contribute to the project. In 1992, the Linux kernel was licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), leading to its rapid adoption and development by the open-source community(Linux Operating Systems Developed by Countries).

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Key Features of Linux

  1. Open Source: Linux is licensed under the GNU GPL, allowing free access and modification of its source code. This feature enables users to tailor the system to their specific requirements.
  2. Multi-User and Multi-Tasking: Linux supports multiple users and tasks simultaneously, efficiently utilizing system resources.
  3. Security: Linux offers robust security features such as user permissions and firewalls. Additionally, being open-source facilitates the rapid detection and patching of security vulnerabilities.
  4. Portability: Linux can run on various hardware platforms, making it versatile and adaptable to different systems and devices.
  5. Community Support: With a large developer and user community worldwide, Linux receives continuous updates and improvements. Community support ensures quick issue resolution and the addition of new features(Linux: A Cheat Sheet to Essential Commands).

Different Linux Distributions

The Linux kernel is packaged with various distributions (distros), each offering a tailored package for specific user groups or usage scenarios. Popular Linux distributions include:

  • Ubuntu: User-friendly distribution suitable for beginners. Supported by Canonical, Ubuntu is known for its simple and user-friendly interface.
  • Fedora: Popular among developers and advanced users. Supported by Red Hat, Fedora is ideal for those who want to experiment with the latest technologies.
  • Debian: Known for its stability and extensive software repository. Debian adheres strictly to the principles of free software and serves as the foundation for many other distributions.
  • Arch Linux: Offers flexibility for users who want to customize their systems. Arch Linux provides users with full control with minimal intervention, often preferred by advanced users.

Linux distributions cater to different user needs, and this flexibility contributes to Linux’s wide user base. Each distribution offers various desktop environments, package management systems, and pre-installed software, allowing users to make choices based on their preferences.

Applications of Linux

Linux finds application in various domains:

  1. Servers: Linux is commonly used in web servers due to its low cost and reliability. Popular web server software like Apache and Nginx often run on Linux. Additionally, Linux is preferred for various server applications such as databases, file storage, and network services.
  2. Embedded Systems: Linux is utilized in numerous embedded systems, from smartphones to home appliances. The Android operating system, based on the Linux kernel, is widely used in millions of mobile devices. Moreover, Linux powers devices like network routers, smart TVs, digital cameras, and automotive systems.
  3. Desktop Computers: Linux provides a user-friendly desktop experience with various desktop environments and applications. Desktop environments like GNOME, KDE, and Xfce cater to different user preferences, while popular applications like LibreOffice, GIMP, and Firefox run on Linux.
  4. Cloud Computing: Linux forms the foundation of cloud infrastructures. Major cloud service providers often use Linux-based systems to manage server and storage resources. Additionally, container technologies like Docker and orchestration tools like Kubernetes run on Linux.
  5. Supercomputers: Many of the world’s most powerful supercomputers are Linux-based. Linux’s high performance, scalability, and flexibility make it suitable for demanding tasks such as big data analytics, scientific computing, and simulations. For instance, IBM’s Summit and Sierra, among the fastest supercomputers globally, run on Linux.
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Advantages of Linux

  • Cost: Linux is free and open-source, eliminating the need for licensing fees. This allows organizations to reduce costs and allocate resources to other areas.
  • Security: Linux’s open-source nature facilitates rapid detection and patching of security vulnerabilities. Additionally, strong security features and authorization mechanisms help protect systems.
  • Customization: Linux’s open-source and modular architecture enables users to customize the operating system according to their needs. Different desktop environments, package managers, and configuration options allow users to shape their systems based on preferences.
  • Community Support: Linux is supported by a large user and developer community. This community ensures quick issue resolution, contributes to the addition of new features, and supports the overall development of Linux.


Linux has secured a significant place in the operating system world with its flexibility, reliability, and strong community support. Offering various advantages for both individual users and large enterprises, Linux has become an indispensable tool in the technology industry, with different distributions catering to diverse needs and extensive applications across various domains.

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