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The Basics of Linux

With the increasing popularity of smart phones, tablets, Netbooks, laptops, and other similar devices, you may have probably heard of the term Android.  Android is the operating system running behind the mobile devices.  But do you know that Android is built on the core of another operating system?  Android is built on the Linux kernel.  We now take a brief look on understanding the basics of the very popular operating system called Linux.

According to Wikipedia, “Linux is a Unix-like and POSIX-compliant computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution.”  Unix is a multitasking and multi-user operating system which was originally developed at AT&T’s Bell Labs in the late 1960’s and had many variants like BSD and MINIX.

In 1991, Finnish-born Linus Torvalds created Linux while attending University of Helsinki.  Frustrated by the licensing issues of MINIX, Torvalds decided to write his own operating system that later became the Linux kernel.  A kernel is a key component in an operating system and handles the input and output requests from any software and then translates the requests into data processing instructions.

Available for free download and use, Linux is installed in servers and desktop of key corporations and residences.  This is the essence of the free and open source software (FOSS) development and distribution model.  Anybody is freely given the license to use, duplicate, learn and to modify the operating system in any way possible.  However, the source code must be openly shared to everyone so that everybody is encouraged and given the opportunity to enhance the software.

Using the Linux kernel, developers have created different “flavors” or variations of Linux called Linux distribution.  Some popular distributions for servers and desktops include Debian (Ubuntu and Linux Mint derivatives) and Fedora (Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS derivatives).

Powerful servers are used for hosting web sites.  Some web sites venture into E-commerce.  They need to have a very stable operating system to support the demands of online purchasing. One such E-commerce site is nomorerack.com, an online shopping destination that offers a wide range of products from clothing to electronic gadgets.  To avoid any nomorerack scam, the server must be regularly monitored for performance issues.

Another Linux distribution is installed in embedded systems or devices such as routers, televisions, tablets, video game consoles, and mobile phones. A very popular Linux distribution used in mobile devices is the Android operating system.

Linux is designed in a modular manner wherein developers can develop or modify particular modules to do specific tasks.  When one module malfunctions, the whole operating system is not necessarily disabled.  Rather than that, developers just isolate and fix the problematic module without affecting so much the rest of the operating system.

Current development of Linux is very much active.  Many developers are creating new modules to further enhance the performance of the Linux operating system and its subsequent distributions.  Improvements have reached so far such that some Linux distributions have mimicked functionality from a Windows operating system.