What is Linux?
If you’ve heard the word Linux but aren’t aware of what It is then this post will give you a brief introduction to:
- What Is Linux?
- Why Use Linux?
- What are distros?
- How to get started with Linux?
Linux is an operating system just like Windows. It is used almost everywhere including cars, mobile phones, home appliances etc. The main function of an operating system is that It handles the communication between Software and Hardware of your computer. Without an operating system, your computer would be useless.
The programs which you’ve installed requires your computer hardware to function. Operating system provides your programs access (a way) to that hardware so they can work properly. A simple example would be to play a video game. A video game would require your graphic card (which is a hardware). This is a perfect example of a software (game) requiring graphic card (hardware) to play itself and the connection between this software and hardware happens through operating system.
There are three most common operating systems, Windows, MacOS and Linux. Linux is an open-source operating system. An open-source software is the one whose code is freely available and It can modified and redistributed. Windows and MacOS are not open source. They can only be modified by their respective companies. This is the reason there are a lot of linux distros out there and majority of them are freely available.
Why use Linux?
You might ask that instead of using any other operating system, why some people prefer Linux?
I’m not going to argue whether Linux is better than other operating systems or not. Every operating system is good for its own purpose. Instead of comparing things with each other, I try to learn them. I regularly use both operating systems (Windows and Linux). Here are some reasons why to use Linux:
- Linux is free.
- It’s open-source.
- Command line. *
- Very few viruses.
- Huge community.
- Many distros to choose from.
- Most servers run Linux as It’s easy to customize.
The reason is put an asterik (*) next to Command line is because I wanted to discuss the importance of learning command line. All major operating system these days focus on graphical user interface (G.U.I). The reason is that it makes the work easier. You just need to perform couple of clicks and some keyboard strokes and you’re done. You might ask, why preferring command line?
I love command line, not only because it looks cool but It is also very fast as It doesn’t need to load all those icons and animations while performing a task. Just type a command, press enter and It’s done. Once you’ve gotten the hang of It, you’ll prefer It.
What are distros?
Linux is different from other operating systems. Let’s take an example of Microsoft Windows. Whenever a new version of Windows is released, It’s released by Microsoft itself. Everything inside Windows is produced by Microsoft and then distributed as a single package. However this is not the case for Linux. Linux is not created by a single company. Different organizations uses Linux kernel (which is open-source) to make their own operating systems (distros). Even you can create your own Linux distro. Some of the most popular Linux distros are:
- Linux Mint
- Elementary Os
- Kali Linux
How to get started with Linux?
If you simply want to try out Linux without actually installing It, then you should search for “How to make a live Linux USB”.
If you want to install Linux on your computer, there are 3 main ways.
- Replacing Windows with Linux
- Dual booting Windows with Linux
- Virtual Machine
Replacing Windows with Linux
This option is for those who wants to separate themselves from Windows or have a computer with no operating system and wants to install Linux on It. Through this way, you’ll only have one operating system on your computer and that will be Linux.
Dual booting Windows with Linux
Dual booting means having both operating system on the PC. If you dual boot Windows and Linux then It means that you’ve both operating system present on your hard drive and every time you start your PC, you’d be presented an option that in which OS you’d like to boot in, Window or Linux. This is a good option for those who have older computers on which virtual machines do not run smoothly. Through this you can only run one operating system at a time.
This is by far the safest and easiest option. You just have to download a virtualization software to run your operating system. If you’ve at least 4 GB of RAM on your PC, I’d suggest you going with this option especially If you’re a beginner. The above methods are not recommended If you’re a complete newbie since you could end up loosing your data. Through virtual machine, there’s no risk of loosing any data. We’ve a separate tutorial explaining How to install Linux Mint as a Virtual Machine.
If you want to go with the any of the first 2 options, make sure to backup your important data before proceeding. You never know what will happen during the installation. So It’s better to spend couple of minutes backing up your important files before proceeding, than regretting later.