What Is Linux?

It is almost certain that if you have used a computer or the internet for some time you will have been in a scenario where Linux was playing a part in what you were doing. Now, you might be thinking that not only do you not know what Linux is, but you are also 100% certain that you have never used it.

That is a reaction that many people have, and it is not unreasonable simply because Linux is not something that is immediately recognisable nor is it especially prominent. However, we can say with as close to certainty as we can that you and billions of others come into contact with Linux almost every single day.

Linux is used by Google, Facebook, and Twitter, which are in the Top 10 of the most visited websites on the internet. To give you an idea of just how many visits they get, their respective daily visitors are 29 billion for Google, 7 billion for Facebook, and 1 billion for Twitter. Many others use Linux, so it is a fair assumption that every internet user has some kind of interaction with Linux daily.

Linux Basics

Linux is an open-source operating system. Operating systems are used to manage all the hardware that is found in devices with the most obvious ones being desktop computers and laptops. Other examples of operating systems include Windows and Mac OS and the primary function of all of them is to allow hardware and software to communicate effectively.

One of the key advantages of Linux is that it is open-source which provides great flexibility for those who use and wish to operate it. They can run it for any purpose, alter it to suit their needs, redistribute it to others and also distribute those versions which they have altered. This makes Linux more of a community-based project rather than a commercial asset in the way that Windows is for Microsoft and Mac OS is for Apple.

Referring back to the first section when we stated that almost everyone has some interaction with Linux every day, here are just a few examples of where Linux operating systems can be found and some of the organisations who use it for their computer systems.

  • Android Phones And Other Android Mobile Devices
  • Almost All Large Scale Supercomputers
  • New York Stock Exchange
  • Air Traffic Control Systems
  • NASA
  • CERN (Yes, Linux helps operate the Hydron Collider)
  • Amazon Kindles
  • Digital Signage Including Advertising Signs
  • Games Consoles
  • Smart TVs
  • Roku TV Box
  • In-Car Entertainment Systems
  • Washing Machines
  • Smart Refrigerators

This list is far from complete, but we hope it confirms to you just how much Linux contributes to many of the activities in which you participate every single day.

Individual Elements Of Linux

As with all operating systems Linux comprises several elements which perform specific functions. Some of the most important are as follows.

Kernel: This is the central core of Linux and is responsible for managing memory, the CPU, and any peripheral devices which are connected to the main device.

Bootloader: As the name suggests, the bootloader manages the initial booting up of the computer or device.

Daemons: Despite how it sounds it has nothing to do with evil spirits but is instead used to control any background services such as sound or printing.

Init System: Works in conjunction with the daemons and also helps to manage the boot system after the bootloader has completed the initial boot.

Graphics Server: This allows the graphics to be displayed on screens. You might see this called the ‘X’ system in some Linux documentation.

Desktop Environment: This is the main interaction element for users. With Linux, there are several desktop environments to choose from which each has different browsers, file managers and configuration tools.

Applications: Just as with most digital devices, the core systems will not have every application needed by the user. Linux has a vast array of compatible software and applications which can be installed for additional functionality.