What is Linux?

Community Submission - Author: Anonymous

Linux is a popular open-source, highly customizable operating system (OS). It facilitates communication between software and hardware, powering much of today's world - from computers to cars.

Created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, Linux is open-source software that is now part of a large variety of systems. As open-source, Linux is freely available for both commercial and non-commercial use. Anyone can use, modify, and distribute the source code under the terms of its licenses.

Owing to its flexibility, Linux is present in a wide range of applications, including desktop computers, laptops, web servers, supercomputers, smartphones, televisions, routers, digital cameras, musical instruments, and vehicles.

Technically speaking, Linux is a kernel: a computer program that is the core element of an operating system. Simply put, the kernel is what translates computer code into binary data that the hardware can understand. 

Using the Linux kernel alone doesn't look anything like the computer experience most people are used to. So developers around the world have added additional components and applications to make it more user-friendly. Thus, Linux is usually distributed as packages (collections of software tools). These modified versions of Linux are called distros (short for Linux Distributions).

What are the types of Linux distributions?

Over time, communities and companies have worked with Linux to create systems that suit their preferences or needs. There is a long list of different Linux distros, from all around the globe. While some are entirely community-based (such as Debian or Arch Linux), others have corporate support (like Fedora or openSUSE). Different distros aim to do different things. For instance, they may be focused on privacy (TAILS), usability (Ubuntu), or customization (Arch).

Why would someone want to use Linux?

Overall, Linux is a versatile, efficient, and secure system. It can be customized based on the preferences of the user. Its lightweight infrastructure allows for faster computer speeds, and can even be used to revitalize an old machine. The many Linux distros enable users to choose a system that caters to their needs - whether it be simplicity, security, privacy, or advanced personalization.

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