beanz Magazine

Linux Operating Systems

Beyond Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX there are many Linux operating systems used by programmers daily and built as open source.

For example, 8 out of 10 of the most reliable web hosting companies use Linux operating systems. While Windows and Mac OS X are most common on desktop and laptop computers, Linux is far more common on web servers and workstations, computers more powerful than desktop computers.

Linux is similar to Unix, an open source computer system standard created by Bell Labs at AT&T in the 1970s and developed since by universities, other companies, and communities of software developers. While Unix costs money to use, Linux is freely available as source code and packaged software.

Linux includes a kernel, the core software of the operating system, and a set of software tools needed to run a computer, for example, tools to manage files. Linus Torvalds released the first Linux kernel in 1991 which gave Linux its name: a mash up of Linus and Unix. You’ve also probably seen Tux, the Linux mascot, a chubby penguin.

Since 1991, Linux has been actively developed by communities of software developers, some supported by companies like Canonical and Red Hat, with software freely available to anyone.

Linux also has evolved into different versions, also called flavors or distros (for distributions). Debian, Gentoo, and Fedora are common Linux distros and each has many flavors, for example, ChromeOS (used in Chromebooks), Ubuntu, and CentOS. There also are flavors like Lubuntu, Puppy Linux, and ubermix designed to revive old computer hardware too weak to run modern Windows software.

The best way to think about Linux distros? Imagine a grocery store (the distro) from which different versions, or flavors, pull products off the shelves, and add a few items, to make a package people can download and run on their computers. For example, Ubuntu has a repository (grocery store) which pulls software from the Debian repository (grocery store) and synchronizes the Debian software with the Ubuntu created tools stored in the Ubuntu repository.

Here are common Linux distros and their differences.


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Also In The December 2015 Issue

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Beyond Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX there are many Linux operating systems used by programmers daily and built as open source.

Interesting stories about computer science, software programming, and technology found online since the last issue of the magazine.

Links from the bottom of all the December 2015 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.