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Linux Operating System

Interlaken_DSC_0541
(Interlaken, Switzerland - Alvin Wong)

 

 

 

- Linux's Roots in Unix

Linux grew within a culture of free exchange of ideas and software. Like Unix - the operating system on which Linux is based - the focus was on keeping communications open among software developers. Getting the code to work was the goal and the Internet was the primary communications medium. Keeping the software free and redistributable was a means to that goal.

ON AUGUST 25, 1991, a Finnish computer science student named Linus Torvalds announced a new project. "I'm doing a (free) operating system," he wrote on an Internet messaging system, insisting this would just be a hobby. 

But it became something bigger. Much bigger. Today, that open source operating system - Linux - is one of the most important pieces of computer software in the world. Chances are, you use it every day. Linux runs every Android phone and tablet on Earth. And even if you're on an iPhone or a Mac or a Windows machine, Linux is working behind the scenes, across the Internet, serving up most of the webpages you view and powering most of the apps you use. Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Wikipedia - it's all running on Linux. 

Plus, Linux is now finding its way onto televisions, thermostats, and even cars. As software creeps into practically every aspect of our lives, so does the OS designed by Linus Torvalds.

 

- The Great Beyond

For years, Linux remained in the background, quietly powering web servers for the world's largest companies, but never finding much success on personal devices. That changed in 2008, when Google released Android and it first found its way onto phones. Android can't run Linux desktop applications that haven't been translated to Google's platform, but Android's success has been a huge boon for Linux and the open source community by finally providing that open source software could work in consumer applications. 

But Linux's reach now extends so much further than smartphones. You can already find Linux in smart TVs from companies like Samsung and LG, Nest thermostats, Amazon's Kindle e-readers, and drones from companies like 3DR. Those huge displays in Tesla cars are powered by Linux, and many car companies - including Toyota, Honda, and Ford - sponsor the Automotive Grade Linux project, which is dedicated to building software for connected cars. And when self-driving cars finally hit the road, you can bet they'll be powered by Linux. 

Companies turn to Linux today when they want to build new technology for the same reason that web developers turned to the operating system in the 1990s: they can customize it to meet their needs, and then share (or sell) the results without having to get permission. And it's all because a Finnish student decided to share his work with the world. Not bad for a hobby project.

Linux Took Over the Web. Now, It's Taking Over the World!

 

- Why is Linux so Important?

Linux is potentially a game-changer in manufacturer and product user interaction. Unlike many operating systems, Linux is open source and freely available for everyone to own it. You can download and install GNU/Linux distributions without purchase. Some companies offer paid support for their Linux distributions, but the underlying software is still free to download and install.

That’s why people needn’t rely on software suppliers as much as they would with a licensed product. They can use and transform it as they see fit, creating new versions and sharing them with others. This process gives us a degree of self-sufficiency you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

As a result, more power lies in the hands of the consumer, both in regards to user independence and controlling the quality of the software they prefer to use. A huge step away from what we’re used to, this new approach could forever change how we look at operating systems.

 

- Linux Distribution

Because the Linux operating system is open sourced and released under the GNU General Public License (GPL), anyone can run, study, modify, and redistribute the source code, or even sell copies of their modified code. This differs greatly from traditional operating systems - Unix, Microsoft Windows, and MacOS - which are proprietary and far less modifiable. 

A Linux distribution, or distro, is an installable operating system built from the Linux kernel, supporting user programs, and libraries. Each vendor or community's version is a distro.

For example, RedHat is one of the major Linux Distributors worldwide.

 

 


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