Chances are, if you have been on the internet much, you have probably heard of the operating system called ‘Linux’. However, many people have very little in the way of actual (or supposed) knowledge about this operating system. Over the next few months I will be introducing different Linux distributions (distros), as well as talking a bit about the whole Windows vs. Linux (vs. OSX) debate. However, this week I will be simply providing an intro do this vibrant and ever expanding corner of the computer world.
A little history:
Although the roots of Linux (such as Unix) can be traced back decades to work that AT&T did in the 1970’s, the story of the ‘Linux’ operating system itself began in 1991 with a student name Linus Torvalds. While in school, Linus began writing his own Unix based operating system to take full advantage of his personal computer’s hardware. Here’s a snippet of Torvalds’ announcement online of his new operating system:
‘I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix [an operating system of the time], as my OS resembles it somewhat […]
I’ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months, and I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them :-)’ ~Source
The Linux OS has continued to grow since that small hobby project started in college and is now contributed to by developers and communities from all over the globe -no longer “just a hobby”.
Although Linux is a global phenomenon, Linus Torvalds has continued to regularly work on the Linux kernel and is still the most active contributor on it to this day:
So, what is this series about?
The goal of this short series of posts is to introduce Linux to non-Linux and less technically oriented people. I myself am no Linux guru and simply use it because I find it to be practical and functional for different uses. That being said, I am NOT a Linux fanboy: everyone’s needs are different, and there is no one perfect choice that fits every individual situation. I regularly use Windows (for gaming), and if I could afford an Apple computer I would probably get one just to try it out…needless to say I use what enables me to get the job done in the most efficient way. Sometimes it’s Linux, sometimes Windows.
Why is this relevant?
Historically the majority of people who have owned personal computers have stuck with Windows -and rightfully so. With it’s recognizable interface, functional design, and (most importantly) pre-installation on most computers produced, people had little reason to explore outside the realm of what Microsoft gave them. However, in the past several years with the mobile revolution and the introduction of Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and others, people have begun seeing just how easy it can be to pick up new operating systems. The fact that Dell is now shipping consumer laptops pre-installed with Linux instead of Windows is a sign that the times they are a-changing. Now is the perfect time to consider if Linux might be the right choice for you.
What to look for next:
Next month I will lay out some basic groundwork and definitions to make describing the different Linux distros easier, and will offer a brief introduction to the distro that I have the most experience with (and use the most reguarly). Hopefully over the next few months you will gain a better understanding of what Linux is and offers, and if you still decide to upgrade to Windows 10 after all is said and done I won’t weep any tears.