About Linux

The Linux kernel (properly known as GNU/Linux) was introduced in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, and since then hundreds of modern and user-friendly “distros” (distributions) have been built upon it by individuals and organizations from all over the world [1]. To this date, Linus Torvalds continues to maintain and improve the Linux kernel. One of the wonderful aspects of Linux is that it is open source software governed by the GNU General Public Licence, and because of this, it may be used, copied, distributed, and edited with relatively few limitations. So basically Linux can be freely and legally downloaded and installed on as many computers as a person wants. This licensing was pioneered by Richard M. Stallman through the GNU Project, which he founded in the early 1980’s. Linux has been developed by people with wide areas of expertise and is free for anyone to use. A natural question is how can Linux be free? The answer is that many people have created Linux distros as a hobby, while others such as Ubuntu, Fedora, and OpenSUSE have corporate sponsors who make money by charging for professional support. This professional support is great for businesses and other organizations who use Linux, but is not necessary for individuals. Most Linux distros have developers and users who provide free documentation and advice through community forums. One huge advantage of Linux is that it is not nearly as vulnerable as Windows to viruses and spyware, and it is not plagued with registry errors, hard drive fragmentation, or cumbersome software license agreements! In Linux one will find distros which are very user-friendly and just as modern and up-to-date as Windows 10 and Mac OS. While there is a learning curve for Windows users who try Linux, it is highly worthwhile to give it a chance!

A screenshot of Ubuntu, which is one of the world’s most popular desktop Linux distros:
 Ubuntu 12.04 screenshot

Other Interesting Facts About Linux:

  • Linux distros, Mac OS X, and the various BSDs are all Unix-like operating systems, and because of this, there are many similarities between them [2].
  •  Linux operating systems are used on only about 1% of the world’s computers today according to marketshare.hitslink.com, but Linux is used on the majority of the world’s top supercomputers and on a large percentage of Internet servers with support from such corporations as IBM, Novell, Red Hat and Canonical [3][4]. Click here to see a surprising list of worldwide organizations and government entities who are using Linux [5].
  • Linux is widely used by motion picture studios in the creation of high-powered movie special effects. For example, DreamWorks Animation uses Red Hat Enterprise Linux across the production and business levels of its operations, and Weta Digital used Ubuntu Linux in the creation of the blockbuster Avatar [6][7].
  • Puppy Linux, a small distro, can completely run in as little as 64 MB of RAM (or even less) and does not require a hard drive. Because of this, small distros like Puppy Linux are well-suited for use on extremely old computers [8].
  • Linux can be installed on and completely run from a portable USB drive plugged into any computer which can boot from a USB device. So in essence, people can carry their operating systems virtually wherever they go. Pendrivelinux is a website dedicated to showing people how this can be done [9].
  • Beginning with version 12.04, Ubuntu can be installed as an app on dual core Android phones to turn them into full-fledged desktop computers, when docked to a keyboard and monitor. Click here to learn more [10].
  •  Linux powers Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as many other major entities on the Web. Linux is also behind 8 of 10 financial trades in stock markets around the world [11].
One of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, the Titan in Oak Ridge, Tennessee runs on Linux [12]:
“Titan1” by An employee of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. – http://www.olcf.ornl.gov/titan/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Titan1.jpg#/media/File:Titan1.jpg

Tux,” the mascot of Linux, was created by Larry Ewing, Simon Budig and Anja Gerwinski [13]:


1.    ^ “Linux Distribution.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_distribution.
2.    ^ “Unix-like.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix-like.
3.    ^ “Operating System Market Share.” http://marketshare.hitslink.com/operating-system-market-share.aspx.
4.    ^ “Top10 June 2010.” http://www.top500.org/.
5.    ^ “50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect.” http://www.focus.com/fyi/information-technology/50-places-linux-running-you-might-not-expect/
6.    ^ “Linux in Schools”: The Film Industry – Weta Digital. http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2010/09/linux_in_schools.php.
7.    ^ “DreamWorks Animation Utilizes the Red Hat Portfolio to Build a Private Cloud for Financial and Creative Applications.” http://www.redhat.com/promo/dreamworks/.
8.    ^ Puppy Linux. http://puppylinux.com/.
9.    ^ PenDriveLinux. http://www.pendrivelinux.com/.
10.    ^ Ubuntu for Android. http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/android.
11.    ^ “Linux Creator Linus Torvalds Receives One of the World’s Highest Technology Honors.” http://www.marketwatch.com/story/linux-creator-linus-torvalds-receives-one-of-worlds-highest-technology-honors-2012-04-19.
12.    ^ http://www.olcf.ornl.gov. https://www.olcf.ornl.gov/titan/.
13.    ^ “Tux.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tux.

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Updated 1/30/18