History and Usage Of Linux

This section will be about Linux and its beginnings. Since its inception, Linux has become prevalent and almost every computing sphere.

 

Linux is a direct descendant of the Unix operating system. Unix was created by government researchers who needed some custom tools. It spread to universities and students popularized it greatly. Berkeley also played an important part because they modified it extensively. This became known as BSD, the Berkeley Software Distribution. At the same time there was also Unix System V, which came from the version maintained by Bell Labs.

Linus Torvalds

Torvalds was a Finnish student in the early 90s. He was working on the core of that would be the Linux kernel as we know it. After it was finished, he combined it with the GNU operating system for the applications. Linux the name comes from the combination of Linus and Unix.

Distributions

Neither a kernel nor applications make a complete operating system. So putting them together was a must. It just so happened that different parties each the separate part ready. Others have since as well. The combination of a kernel and related packages, that run on that system, are known as a distribution. There are hundreds of distributions today. They include development systems, word processing, spreadsheet software, music players, and many other nice utilities.

Software

There are tons of nice packages available for Linux systems today. Most are free, but you can buy some also that will include extras like nice support built in. Graphics tools, web servers, and networking utilities are some of the most popular packages.

Supported Platforms

Almost everything today will run Linux. Intel, Mac, IBM, and Arm based computers all run Linux and does so very well. In fact, Linux is only getting more popular.

Portability

Originally, Unix messed this part up because vendors made versions all for themselves. So the market was very fragmented. However, Linux was written most in the <C> language. This allowed it to be portable between other systems. Doing so allowed it to spread much quicker than Unix ever could.

The Kernel

The kernel’s job is to distribute the computer’s resources. The resources of a computer are things like cpu and memory. Peripherals need access to these items as well, so the kernel will make sure each one gets what it needs. Software will request resources through system calls. The kernel then gives the software what it needs.

Multiuser Support

A Linux system is designed to have many users on one computer. This gives them each their own little area of the operating system and storage. This makes cost a lot less. In fact, this was often done to save money. An organization could have one nice machine and dumb terminals to access located anywhere in the building. It is probably still a good idea if you think about it. Another advantage to this is that it makes the machine more cost efficient. No one can use all of a machine’s resources constantly. So if one person is using it then most of the resources are going unused. This goes hand in hand with the task system. Since Linux is designed to handle multiple users, it can also handle many concurrent tasks at the same time too. This means that each user can run many processes at the same time.

Bash And Other Shells

A shell is a command interpreter. This is just an interface to the core of the operating system. It allows you to run commands and have them act instantly. It is a very powerful concept. Bash is the most popular shell, but there are many other ones. Some are older, but many are newer as well. Each user on a machine can use his own shell if that is his preference. This allows for nice customization.

Desktops

Originally computers were mostly used with shells. This involved users issuing commands as needed on a machine. They could do calculations, manage a server or use a text editor. Eventually, however, a GUI was created, and these were the first desktops. When I say desktop, I am referring to the graphical system that lets you do the same tasks as a shell. The Gnome, Cinnamon, and KDE desktop environments are some of the most popular today. They each have a very different style, but they are also fun to learn. They are fun because each has its own advantages. Today, you can even get desktops with certain spins built in to them. A spin means they come with certain software packages that do a certain role. For example, I could download an Astronomy spin that would include many types of Astronomy software. That is a really cool feature, by the way.

Utilities

Linux comes with many types of useful programs called utilities. These all do some unique task and do it very well. These are the basis behind the commands that you use in a terminal window. I can check the speed of my system, disk space, free memory, cpu usage by process and the list could go on and on.

Application Development

This is one of my favorite features. Almost every distribution has program development built in to its core. Compilers and interpreters are there. Several text editors are there too. Support for several languages come right out of the box. You can start with C++ or C immediately after an install. In one distribution I have, a very nice Python pdf book is even included along with its support of course. Many times an IDE is also included if you prefer that kind of workflow.

Whole books have been written about the history and usage of Linux. It is very rich in history and you can spend a lifetime learning useful things that you can with these  Linux essentials. Did I mention it is free and has the best computing community in the world? While it came from Unix, it has far surpassed its digital parent. There is a distribution for everyone. It does everything and more that a Windows and Mac computer can do. This is because 99% of the software is free and easily installed.

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