So whats this Linux you’ve been hearing about lately? People throwing around words like “Ubuntu”, “distro”, “Live CD”? Is this something you need to know about? Are you missing out on the next “thing”? Hopefully we will answer those questions and more below.
Linux (i/ˈlɪnəks/ lin-əks or /ˈlɪnʊks/ lin-uuks) is a Unix-like computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. The defining component of any Linux system is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released October 5, 1991 by Linus Torvalds. Linux system distributions may vary in many details of system operation, configuration, and software package selections.
Linux runs on a wide variety of computer hardware, including mobile phones, tablet computers, network routers, televisions, video game consoles, desktop computers, mainframes and supercomputers. Linux is a leading server operating system, and runs the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world. In addition, more than 90% of today’s supercomputers run some variant of Linux. [via Wikipedia.org]
Linux has been available as an alternative desktop computer OS since the early 1990s. At first it was thought of mostly as a “project” for geeks and hobbyists, it has evolved into a viable contender for the desktop OS market. While Microsoft Windows and Apples OS have the lions share of the desktop market, and most likely will have in the forseable future, Linux and Linux based OSs are making steady inroads.
The biggest obstacle was changing the public perspective of Linux. Graphical user interfaces (GUI) made that a lot easier. The average user was turned off by the prospect of using the command line. Once GUIs became available it put prospective users on a more familiar ground.
Recently, there has been a surge in Linux popularity. Most specifically a version called Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a very user friendly distribution (distro) with an easy to use GUI called Unity. Unity has a very distinctive design in that it utilizes a dock and large easy to see tiles. The design is rumored to be moving toward tablet usage. Ubuntu has been arguably the most popular Linux derivative for awhile. Now there is a new comer to the fray who is rapidly stealing some of Ubuntu fans. Its called Mint. Mint was initially built from the Ubuntu release but now is totally independent of Ubuntu. People are raving on its ease of use and GUI, which is a more traditional windows style.
What does all this mean to you? Basically it means that you have a viable and functional 3rd option when it comes to operating systems for your desktop or laptop. The largest and most obvious advantage to using Linux is that its FREE, totally supported by an ever growing community of developers and users. There are literally thousands of free applications, add-ons, and derivatives available for Linux. There is something out there for whatever you need to do. The caveat is that not all of them will have the “spit & polish” look/feel that you may be used to from Microsoft or Apple. But they are every bit as functional, and in most cases compatible with their MS/Apple counterparts. And they are FREE. A perfect example is Libre Office (or Open Office), which is a Microsoft Office compatible suite of applications. Word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, etc. All for free.
Got an old PC or laptop sitting around? Give it some new life and utility by installing Ubuntu or Mint on it. I guarantee it will run it better than it ran Windows. Have more questions about Linux or just want to learn more?
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