What is Linux? All About You Want to Know

What is Linux

Just like Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac OS X, Linux is an operating system. An operating system is software that manages all of the hardware resources associated with your desktop or laptop. To put it simply – the operating system manages the communication between your software and your hardware. Without the operating system (often referred to as the “OS”), the software wouldn’t function.

The OS is comprised of a number of pieces:
The software that manages the boot process of your computer. For most users, this will simply be a splash screen that pops up and eventually goes away to boot into the operating system.

  • The kernel: This is the one piece of the whole that is actually called “Linux”. The kernel is the core of the system and manages the CPU, memory, and peripheral devices. The kernel is the “lowest” level of the OS.
  • Daemons: These are background services (printing, sound, scheduling, etc) that either start up during boot, or after you log into the desktop.
  • The Shell: You’ve probably heard mention of the Linux command line. This is the shell – a command process that allows you to control the computer via commands typed into a text interface. This is what, at one time, scared people away from Linux the most (assuming they had to learn a seemingly archaic command line structure to make Linux work). This is no longer the case. With modern desktop Linux, there is no need to ever touch the command line.
  • Graphical Server: This is the sub-system that displays the graphics on your monitor. It is commonly referred to as the X server or just “X”.
  • Desktop Environment: This is the piece of the puzzle that the users actually interact with. There are many desktop environments to choose from (Unity, GNOME, Cinnamon, Enlightenment, KDE, XFCE, etc). Each desktop environment includes built-in applications (such as file managers, configuration tools, web browsers, games, etc).
  • Applications: Desktop environments do not offer the full array of apps. Just like Windows and Mac, Linux offers thousands upon thousands of high-quality software titles that can be easily found and installed. Most modern Linux distributions (more on this in a moment) include App Store-like tools that centralize and simplify application installation. For example: Ubuntu Linux has the Ubuntu Software Center (Figure 1) which allows you to quickly search among the thousands of apps and install them from one centralized location.

Different Types of Linux

Exploring Types of Linux Operating Systems: A Comprehensive Guide by PC Plus Computing Inc.

Linux, renowned for its open-source nature, offers a diverse range of operating systems tailored for different needs. Whether you’re a developer, a system administrator, or an everyday user, understanding the various types of Linux distributions can help you choose the best option for your requirements. This guide by PC Plus Computing Inc. provides a detailed overview of the primary types of Linux operating systems.

1. Introduction to Linux Distributions

A Linux distribution (distro) is an operating system built around the Linux kernel. Each distribution includes a kernel, system libraries, user interfaces, and a package manager. The diversity in distributions caters to various use cases, from personal computing to server management.

2. Major Types of Linux Operating Systems

a. Debian-Based Distributions

Debian is one of the oldest and most influential Linux distributions. Its stability and extensive repository make it a popular choice for servers and desktops. Key Debian-based distributions include:

  • Ubuntu:

    • Overview: Ubuntu is perhaps the most well-known Linux distribution. It aims to provide a user-friendly experience while retaining powerful features.
    • Variants:
      • Ubuntu Desktop: Designed for personal computing with a graphical interface.
      • Ubuntu Server: Optimized for server environments with a focus on performance and security.
      • Ubuntu Core: A minimal version tailored for IoT devices.
    • Features: User-friendly, extensive software repository, strong community support.
  • Linux Mint:

    • Overview: Based on Ubuntu, Linux Mint focuses on ease of use and a familiar desktop environment.
    • Features: Includes various desktop environments like Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce, known for its user-friendly interface and multimedia support.
  • Elementary OS:

    • Overview: Elementary OS is designed to be visually appealing and intuitive, with a focus on simplicity.
    • Features: Custom desktop environment called Pantheon, polished aesthetics, and a user-centric design.

b. Red Hat-Based Distributions

Red Hat is a major player in the enterprise Linux market. Its distributions are known for stability and enterprise-level support.

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL):

    • Overview: RHEL is designed for enterprise environments with a focus on stability and long-term support.
    • Features: Comprehensive support, certification for enterprise applications, and strong security features.
  • CentOS:

    • Overview: CentOS (Community ENTerprise Operating System) is a free alternative to RHEL, providing a similar experience without the commercial support.
    • Features: Ideal for servers and enterprise environments, known for its stability and reliability.
  • Fedora:

    • Overview: Fedora is a cutting-edge distribution sponsored by Red Hat, known for incorporating the latest technologies.
    • Features: Provides access to the newest software and features, a strong community, and serves as a testing ground for RHEL technologies.

c. Arch-Based Distributions

Arch Linux is known for its simplicity and flexibility. It follows a rolling release model and is aimed at advanced users.

  • Arch Linux:

    • Overview: Arch Linux is a minimalistic distribution that provides users with the freedom to customize their system.
    • Features: Rolling release model, extensive documentation via the Arch Wiki, and a high level of user control.
  • Manjaro:

    • Overview: Manjaro is based on Arch Linux but aims to provide a more user-friendly experience.
    • Features: Pre-configured with graphical installers, a range of desktop environments, and a focus on ease of use.

d. SUSE-Based Distributions

SUSE Linux distributions are known for their enterprise focus and extensive configuration tools.

  • openSUSE:

    • Overview: openSUSE is a community-driven distribution that offers robust tools for system administrators.
    • Features: YaST configuration tool, strong community support, and available in two versions: Leap (stable) and Tumbleweed (rolling release).
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES):

    • Overview: SLES is designed for enterprise environments with a focus on reliability and support.
    • Features: Enterprise-level support, advanced security features, and integration with SAP.

e. Other Notable Distributions

  • Kali Linux:

    • Overview: Kali Linux is specialized for security testing and ethical hacking.
    • Features: Includes numerous penetration testing tools and is used by security professionals.
  • Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian):

    • Overview: Designed specifically for the Raspberry Pi hardware, this distribution is optimized for small, single-board computers.
    • Features: Lightweight, includes educational tools, and is tailored for the Raspberry Pi hardware.
  • Slackware:

    • Overview: One of the oldest Linux distributions, known for its simplicity and adherence to Unix principles.
    • Features: Minimalist approach, extensive customization, and a strong focus on stability.

3. Choosing the Right Linux Distribution

The choice of Linux distribution depends on your needs:

  • For Personal Use: Distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Fedora offer user-friendly experiences.
  • For Enterprise Environments: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, and SUSE Linux Enterprise are ideal for their stability and support.
  • For Advanced Users: Arch Linux and its derivatives like Manjaro provide flexibility and control.
  • For Security Testing: Kali Linux offers specialized tools for ethical hacking and penetration testing.

4. Conclusion

Understanding the different types of Linux operating systems can help you select the right distribution for your needs. Whether you’re looking for a user-friendly desktop experience, a robust server environment, or a highly customizable system, Linux offers a range of options to meet diverse requirements. For personalized advice or technical support, contact PC Plus Computing Inc., where our experts can assist with selecting and configuring the best Linux distribution for your needs.

Contact PC Plus Computing Inc.

Explore the world of Linux with confidence, knowing you have expert support at your fingertips.

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