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June 16, 2016updated 22 Sep 2016 12:16pm

Linux operating system

Find out how Linux differs from other operating systems.

By James Nunns

Linux has grown in popularity due to its more flexible and customisable nature compared to its more popular counterparts Windows and Mac.

Linux is in essence an operating system. It is the software on a computer that enables applications and the user to access devices on the computer.

The open source OS sits underneath all of the other software on a computer, receiving requests and relaying them to the computer’s hardware.

Like other operating systems, Linux offers a graphical interface and various types of software, such as word processing applications.

However, it differs from other operating systems by first being open source. This means that it is free and available to the public touse, edit, and also contribute to.

It is also different in that there are many different distributions of Linux, thanks to its open source nature. While there are many distributions, a lot of the core pieces of the OS remain the same across different versions.


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The benefit of this is that it makes the OS extremely customisable. Users are able to swap out numerous applications for other Linux compatible versions and core components can also be changed, such as which system displays graphics.

Although most people use a Windows or Mac OS, Linux is a very popular choice – around two-thirds of the web pages on the Internet are said to have been generated by servers running it.

Due to its popularity there is a large amount of support that is available from the open source community and from companies like Canonical, SUSE, and Red Hat, which all offer commercial support and their own distributions.

Linux was initially created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, who owns the trademark of the name.

For users that are skilled enough, they can contribute to Linux. The Linux kernel is written in the C programming language.

Linux foundation

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