Linux is a free open source operating system based on Unix. It was created by Linus Torvalds in 1991. The main feature of Linux is the Linux kernel, the codebase that sits at the center of all Linux distributions.
Linux was born in 1991 when Linus Torvalds, a computer science student at the University of Helsinki, started working on his own kernel as a hobby. Torvalds posted the source code on the Internet and asked others to contribute to his project. This collaborative development model led to the creation of Linux.
Linux's popularity has grown since then and it has become a fundamental part of the Internet's infrastructure. We can see below some of the most relevant dates of its evolution:
- 1992: The first version of the Linux kernel, version 0.12, was released under the GPL (GNU General Public License).
- 1994: Version 1.0 of the Linux kernel was released, establishing the first fully functional kernel.
- 1996: Tux, the penguin, was introduced as the official mascot of Linux.
- 2007: Version 2.6.23 of the Linux kernel was released, introducing an important feature, the completely fair scheduler (CFS).
- 2011: Celebration of the 20th anniversary of Linux.
- 2021: Linux kernel 5.13 released, including initial support for Apple's file system, support for the SMB3.1.1 protocol, and security and performance improvements.
The term "Linux distribution" refers to a specific version of Linux that has been packaged for the distribution. Each distribution includes the Linux kernel and a collection of software that has been selected and configured to work well together. Some of the most popular distributions include:
- Ubuntu: A Debian-based distribution that focuses on ease of use and stability.
- Fedora: A Red Hat-sponsored distribution that focuses on the inclusion of the latest open source technologies.
- Arch Linux: A lightweight and highly customizable distribution that targets more advanced users.
Advantages of Linux
Some of the advantages of using Linux include:
- Open source: Linux is open source, which means anyone can view, modify, and contribute to its source code.
- Security: Linux is known for being a very secure operating system, with fewer vulnerabilities than other operating systems.
- Customizable: Linux is highly customizable, allowing each user to tailor the system to their specific needs.
Disadvantages of Linux
Despite its many advantages, Linux also has some disadvantages:
- Learning curve: Although modern Linux distributions are quite user-friendly, Linux can be difficult to learn for those who are used to other operating systems.
- Software compatibility: Some popular programs, especially games, are not available for Linux or may be difficult to install and configure.
Linux kernel features
The Linux kernel, also known simply as Linux, is the fundamental part of the operating system. It is the code that controls the interaction between system hardware and software. Some notable features of the Linux kernel include:
- Cross-platform: The Linux kernel is capable of running on different types of hardware, from personal computers and servers to embedded systems and supercomputers.
- Multitasking: The Linux kernel is capable of handling multiple processes at the same time, allowing multiple applications to run simultaneously without interfering with each other.
- Security: The Linux kernel includes robust security features, such as process isolation and role-based access control.
Using Linux in different industries
Linux is used in a wide variety of contexts, from personal computing to critical infrastructure. Below are some examples of how Linux is used:
- Servers: Linux is extremely popular in the server arena, where its stability, security, and lack of license cost are especially valuable. Many of the world's largest websites run on Linux servers.
- Embedded computing: Linux is also widely used in embedded systems, such as routers, smart TVs, and industrial control systems. A specialized version of Linux, called embedded Linux, is often used in these contexts.
- Supercomputers: Linux is the dominant operating system in the supercomputer world, thanks to its scalability and performance.
- Mobile devices: Android, the most popular operating system for smartphones, is based on the Linux kernel.