Linux for Starters

Linux for Starters: Your Guide to Linux – Introduction

This is a series that offers a gentle introduction to Linux for newcomers. Let’s kick off this series with the very basics.

What is Linux?

The term ‘Linux’ strictly refers to the operating system kernel, a computer program at the core of a computer’s operating system that has complete control over everything in the system. The kernel manages the system’s resources and communicates with the hardware. It’s responsible for memory, process, and file management.

Think of the Linux kernel like a car engine.

Linux is 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, as long as they do so under the same license.

How does Linux work?

When we talk about Linux, we are usually referring to one of the many hundreds of distributions (known as distros) that use the Linux kernel. A distro is analogous to an actual vehicle that houses the car engine.

A distro does the hard work for you taking all the code from the open-source projects and compiling it for you, combining it into a single operating system you can boot up and install.
While each distro has the Linux kernel at its heart, they differ in many respects.

A distro provides the user with a desktop environment, preloaded applications, and ways to update and maintain the system. Each distro makes different choices, deciding which open source projects to install and provides custom written programs. They can have different philosophies. Some distros are intended for desktop computers, some for servers without a graphical interface, and others for special uses. Because Linux is an open source operating system, combinations of software vary between Linux distros.

Popular distros include Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Debian, Arch, and many more. Some distros are more suitable for newcomers.

Next page: Page 2 – Why use Linux?

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – What is Linux?
Page 2 – Why use Linux?
Page 3 – What do I need?


All articles in this series:

Linux For Starters: Your Guide to Linux
Part 1What is Linux? Why use Linux? What do I need?
Part 2Choose a Linux distribution meeting your specific needs and requirements.
Part 3Make a bootable Ubuntu USB stick in Windows.
Part 4We show you how to install Ubuntu 21.04 on your hard disk.
Part 5Things to do after installing Ubuntu.
Part 6Navigating your way around the Desktop.
Part 7Updating the system, install new software.
Part 8Open source replacements for proprietary Windows desktop software.
Part 9Get started with the power and flexibility of the terminal.
Part 10We cover the basics of files and permissions.
Part 11Getting help from your system.
Part 12Learn all about the file system.
Part 13Manipulating files from the shell.
Part 14Maintain your system with these simple tips.
Part 15Managing users on your system.
Part 16Explore different desktops to GNOME 3.
Part 17Gaming on Linux.
Part 18Protect your privacy with this guide.
Part 19Access the Windows desktop from Linux using a remote desktop client.
Part 20Set up a virtual machine running Ubuntu as the host and openSUSE as the guest.
Part 21Wine lets you run Windows programs on Linux without emulation.

Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, alternatives to Google, fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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3 comments

  1. Your greatest need when switching to Linux is an open mind. If you think LInux is Windows with a different name, you will fail.

    1. You can make almost any distro look like Windows, but it is also done for you. if you want it done for you I would recommend Zorin.
      From the Zorin site:
      Zorin OS is designed to be easy, so you don’t need to learn anything to get started. The Zorin Appearance app lets you change the desktop layout to feel like the environment you’re familiar with, whether it’s Windows, macOS, or Linux.

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