Thursday, September 30, 2010

Article: What is linux?

Okay, so here is my first article about linux, and it'll be a a very basic topic: What is linux? The reason why I'm writing this is pretty simple: Many people tell you something that is absolutly wrong!
Now, what is linux? Linux is not an operating system. It is, technically, the kernel of the operating system. So what it does, can be described best as the doorway for your software to your hardware. With that being said, I may give you this example: If an application wants to save a file on the harddrive, it does not do this by accessing the disk by itself, but by passing the file to the kernel who then saves it. The same with loading a file, showing graphics, or even read an input from the keyboard. Everytime you do something with your hadware, the software has to use the kernel for this.
That was the part for technicians. For beginners, linux normally means the base operating system, GNU/Linux. As you may guessed from the section above, you cannot do anything with the kernel by itself. It doesn't have a user interface, even a commandline interface is not available. So in order to get a minimal user experience, you'll need some basic tools, combien them and call it GNU. Originally, GNU was meant to become it's own operating system, but they where missing a kernel (and they still are, but for those who are interested, look for GNU Hurd). Therefore, they combined the GNU tools with linux, and voila, we have an operating system. Now don't get to exited about this, because it only features a command line interface, a texteditor and many tools to get informations about the hardware. And you can also access your harddrive, yeah.
Then again, for us desktop users, this is still unusable. What we need, is a desktop environment, webbrower, e-mail client, instant messaging tool, office suite, a.s.o. You can get this in one package, and that would be a Linux Distribution. This is the most used solution for our desktop pc, notebook and/or netbook. Here we have a huge selection, and every distribution has it's own pros and cons. But this is not what I want to talk about, because now I only want to tell you: Linux is not an operating system.
The reason for this is pretty simple: There is no standard for an operating system. You may define an OS as what Windows is, but that is only a desktop operating system. There are also OSs for smartphones, in-car computer, TV, DVD players, gaming consoles, microwaves, freezers and in the future your socks. The pretty awesome thing about this is, that GNU/linux runs on all these platforms. So what do you think, is this an operating system?

27 comments:

  1. Good info.
    I actually didn't know what it was but always hear about it.

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  2. So wait.. this disk i have that says Linux isn't Linux at all!? :o

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  3. Hmm, never knew much on this stuff

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  4. I am a linux advocate. Recently one of our DNS appliances took a shit on us so we needed a quick fix. Setup an ubuntu 10.04 LTS server with BIND as a slave DNS and its back up and running smooth.

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  5. Baby don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. No more.

    Sorry about that. I read linux as love and couldn't resist :D

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  6. Did you know that the fee you legally owe SCO Novell if you use Lunix ($699) is $300 more than the price Windows Server 2003 Web Edition, which has more features, greater stability, and has been shown time and time again to have a higher ROI?

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  7. I'd like to interject for just a moment, wait never mind. Good post

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  8. I think the OS is any kind of a program code which simplifies the communication between the user and the hardware.

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  9. @Dungeoneer yep thats about right

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  10. I used to use Ubuntu, just felt weird to me, so I went back to Windows

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  11. what exactly can linux do that windows can't?

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  12. I will just say: don't touch Linux if you're not a "casual".

    I had Debian for like 2 or 3 years, it was awesome OS. It's speed was really uncomparable to Windows, but after some time I ended up getting back to Win- just because 90% of the "new" games weren't working properly on wine.

    Generally it's not an OS for people that don't program, make websites or just work with computers everyday.

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  13. I've always been vaguely aware of linux, very informative

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  14. @RandomlyRated
    That depends on what you want from an OS but how about this: It's free and open source.

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  15. I do have o say, my personal experience with linux was quite a friendly one. But this didnt last very long till i started to miss my mac os

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  16. Good info to hear, might come in handy in the future if I decide to build another computer from scratch.

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  17. i actually learned something about lynux today

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  18. i'll be using Ubuntu in the near future.

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  19. I was wondering what linux was also

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  20. I tried Sabayon years ago, didn't like it at all to be honest.

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