Last Updated on December 7, 2022
This series 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 an open source license. Anyone can run, study, modify, and redistribute the source code, or even sell copies of their modified code, as long as they do so in accordance with the license terms.
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.
All articles in this series:
|Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.
There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.