Introduction to Linux

What is Linux?

Linux, which is named after Linus Torvalds, is normally pronounced LINN-nix or LINN-nux though LYE-nux is acceptable. The Linux mascot is the penguin. The central Linux website is Linux Online.

Linux is a free Unix-type operating system originally created by Linus Torvalds with the assistance of developers around the world. Developed under the GNU General Public License , the source code for Linux is freely available to everyone.

The kernel, or engine, of the operating system was created by Finnish graduate student, Linus Torvalds, at the University of Helsinki in 1991. Torvalds created the Linux kernel because he liked Unix but couldn’t afford a commercial version. He drew together a band of developers from around the world and they have been developing the Linux kernel ever since, under Torvalds’ supervision. Critically important parts of the rest of the operating system came from the Free Software Foundation GNU Project, the XFree86 Project, and various other projects.

Linux combines the seasoned, mature features of Unix with support for modern hardware such as ZIP drives, colour printers, sound cards, Voodoo cards, Palm Pilots, and CD writers. One of the distinguishing features of Linux is the amount of choice given to the user. There are at least a dozen choices in graphical user interface alone, ranging from simple interfaces to the slick new KDE and GNOME environments. Linux is highly valued for its speed and stability–it’s fast and it rarely crashes.

Choosing a Distribution

Although Linux is free (you can download all the parts and put it together yourself), it’s more convenient to purchase a ready-made distribution on CD. Each “distro” has a slightly different flavour and texture. Once they’re up and running, they’re all pretty much the same, but each distribution has different installation, maintenance, and upgrade procedures. They also vary in the amount, nature, and currency of the free software they include. Some distros include “personal use” versions of commercial software, such as WordPerfect 8 for Linux. Every distro offers well over 1000 free programs.

Linux distros are: Fedora Core Linux, SuSE Linux, Slackware Linux, Mandriva Linux, Debian GNU/Linux, Gentoo Linux, Ubuntu Linux, and many more. You can search another distros by googling. These distros are frequently sold at computer stores and they’re often included as CDs in Linux books. If Linux is not carried in your local store, you can download or order the distros directly from the companies via the web, or from online discount stores. If your location is Indonesia, you can download distro from Informatika ITB or Kambing UI.

Which distro should you pick? The best guideline is this: if you have a friend who is experienced with Linux, use the same distro that he or she is using. Getting help will be much easier that way. If you’re on your own, you can try many distro (install or Live CD) and finally you can make decision which distro that you will use. You can review some distros at Linux Distributions.