What is Linux?

What is Linux?

The Beginner's Guide

Victor Okonkwo's photo
Victor Okonkwo
·Aug 1, 2022·

8 min read

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Table of contents

  • History Of Linux
  • Linux Pros and Cons
  • PROS
  • CONS
  • Linux Flavours
  • My Experience With Kali Linux

Hey there🎉,

Welcome back to this space, I really hope you have been out learning.

We would be discussing Linux today. What it is, Its Pros, Cons and how to get started with using it.

History Of Linux

Before we dive into what Linux is, we would want to look at why it was created in the first Place.

Time travel many years back😉. During the advent of Computer systems, when they were as big as rooms. Computer systems worked with different Operating systems which was a headache to deal with. Just to give more context, each computer system needed its own Operating System. If you had 10 Computers, you needed 10 different operating systems (🧐).

This made maintaining these systems super expensive and really stressful. To get a head start at fixing this challenge, some really cool developers (really cool!) at Bell Laboratories started to develop an Operating system with the aim of making it compatible with a lot of already made Computer systems. It was not an easy task definitely but it ended up a .... Yes, success! It wasn't one of those projects that stopped halfway. They were able to build an Operating System that was ;

  1. Simple and Elegant.
  2. Written in C Programming language.
  3. Able to Recycle Code.

Ohh, yes! You didn't bother to ask what name they gave it! They called it UNIX (UNiplexed Information Computing System). I know right, the name does not match the abbreviation. It's also called UNICS. There you go. As mentioned before, different Computer systems had different Operating systems before the invention of UNIX but even after the invention of UNIX. UNIX still needed a bit of the code from the initial Operating system of these computers to run. We call it the Kernel today.

Now, even with this fantastic achievement, the developers did by creating UNIX. Computers were still expensive to acquire at the time. Over time, computers became more portable until people could have a Personal Computer in their houses running UNIX on it. It was considered a precious asset at the time.

Well, even with computers being all portable. They were still expensive, so a smart man decided to build a free version of UNIX which in the eyes of an Average Developer at the time would be a crazy thing to do but the young named Linus Torvalds decided to do it anyways.

He was a student at the time and wanted to have a free academic version of UNIX for students to use. As any developer would do, he started to ask questions and made efforts to make his dream come true. Just to get a peep, here is one of the posts he made on comp.os.minix around 1991:

From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds) Newsgroups: comp.os.minix Subject: Gcc-1.40 and a posix-question Message-ID: <1991Jul3.100050.9886@klaava.Helsinki.FI> Date: 3 Jul 91 10:00:50 GMT Hello netlanders, Due to a project I'm working on (in minix), I'm interested in the posix standard definition. Could somebody please point me to a (preferably) machine-readable format of the latest posix rules? Ftp-sites would be nice.

After this post, a lot of people started to pick interest in having a free version of UNIX in their homes. He got a number of supporters. A few years after his post, Linux was out and it had a nice number of users.

Yep! This is how Linux came to life, this is a brief summary and you could find a more detailed story here.

##The user interface

One of the major reasons why non-Tech-savvy individuals despised Linux was its predominant Text mode which was priceless for system administrators and those who had a hold of how to use Linux. With the increase in graphical operating systems like windows or Mac Os, users prefer to have an easy ride rather than take some more time learning how to use the command line.

If you don't understand me when I say Text Mode, here is a brief description according to Wikipedia.

Text mode is a computer display mode in which content is internally represented on a computer screen in terms of characters rather than individual pixels.

This text mode dominant OS has over the years gotten revisions to make it easier for non-Tech Savy individuals to use Linux. There are different Graphical User Interface that one can utilize to make their desktop environment look more aesthetic and fluid. An example I use personally is Gnome, a great GUI. I would say it is a mix of Windows and Mac OS 😉.

Future of Linux

The Linux community has been ever-green and growing. Creating more ways to accommodate the dynamic nature of different Operating systems and also have the Security of the OS at heart.

Talking about the Future of Linux is like talking about the Future of Augmented Reality 😎. The truth is, as people get to understand the security flaws and inflexibility in other Operating systems, they turn to Linux and get the 'WOW' feeling.

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Linux evolved in a completely different way. From nearly the beginning, it was rather casually hacked on by huge numbers of volunteers coordinating only through the Internet.

This is a quote from Eric S. Raymond.

Linux has a bright future as it is Open Source and loved by a lot of Techies mainly because of it's speed and Security.

Linux Pros and Cons

Everything in the 21st century has its pros and cons. In this section, I would mostly outline the pros and cons of using Linux from experience, for you to get a better understanding of how it competes with other commercial Operating Systems.

As I said, this is from my experience. It might be biased❗

You could tell me if it is when you are done reading.

PROS

  1. It's Free🤗
  2. It gives you the ability to modify and tweak things to your taste.
  3. It gives you more power over your resources and it's even more advantageous to those who know how to use the command line.
  4. It takes less memory to run.
  5. Security is at its core of development.
  6. Linux gives you the ability to switch between GUI mode and Text mode to suit your level of resources and experience.
  7. It's Open Source.

CONS

  1. Though a lot of things have evolved in the Linux Community, you still need to use the command line at some point.
  2. To get the most out of Linux, you have to be Tech Savvy.

Quick Tip: If you are using Windows or macOS at the moment and you are looking to switch to Linux, You could try it out from the jump with Virtual Machines. This ofcourse comes with the need to have some computing power (Around a 4GB Ram, 4 Cores PC should be fine to test out Linux).

Linux Flavours

Ok, that said. Let's move on to the different flavours/distros of Linux you could choose from. Flavour just mean types, no hard stuff around it😎. I have only used Kali Linux extensively, so I would just be listing them with some star reviews gotten from the internet and maybe give a little brief of my experience with Kali Linux.






Name Official Description Official Download Site Stars
Ubuntu Ubuntu is the modern, open-source operating system on Linux for the enterprise server, desktop, cloud, and IoT. Download 4.3 / 5
Kali Linux Home of Kali Linux, an Advanced Penetration Testing Linux distribution used for Penetration Testing, Ethical Hacking and network security assessments. Download 4.6 / 5
CentOs Consistent, manageable platform that suits a wide variety of deployments. For some open source communities, it is a solid, predictable base to build upon. Download 4.1 / 5
Fedora Linux Fedora Workstation is a polished, easy-to-use operating system for laptop and desktop computers, with a complete set of tools for developers and makers of all kinds. Download 4.1 / 5
Puppy Linux Puppy Linux is a unique family of Linux distributions meant for home-user computers. It was originally created by Barry Kauler in 2003. Download 4.0 / 5

This is a brief list of the most popularly missed ones and as I said, the ratings are pulled from the internet and might not be correct according to your sentiments. You can get a full list here.

My Experience With Kali Linux

At the point of switching from Windows to Linux, I had tried running Puppy Linux and Kali Linux on Virtual Machines and chose to stick with Kali Linux because it was easier for me to navigate my way around some things. I know to some extent that Ubuntu is a great choice for those just switching either from Windows or macOS to Linux but you could play around with different flavours to know which suits you.

My general advice would be to know why you want to make the switch. As a Video editor who uses a lot of Adobe products, I would definitely not advise you to switch over completely. If you are up for the challenge, you can dual boot your PC to run both windows and Linux (Remember to backup your files!). This gives you a good way to switch whenever you need to.

As a developer, I would advise other developers to look towards switching to Linux because it challenges you to learn more things and just maybe, you would love Open Source software after your experience.

Thank you for sticking around till now. I hope this helped you in some way or form.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the Comment Section. If you have a question or contribution you can connect with me via Twitter at @viceodev.

 
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