What is Linux?
Linux is an operating system’s kernel. You might have heard of UNIX. Well, Linux is a UNIX clone. But it was actually created by Linus Torvalds from Scratch. Linux is free and open-source, that means that you can simply change anything in Linux and redistribute it in your own name! There are several Linux Distributions.
- Ubuntu Linux
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux
- Linux Mint
Linux is a tried-and-true, open-source operating system released in 1991 for computers, but its use has expanded to underpin systems for cars, phones, web servers and, more recently, networking gear.
Its longevity, maturity and security make it one of the most trusted OSes available today, meaning it is ideal for commercial network devices as well as enterprises that want to use it and its peripherals to customize their own network and data center infrastructure.
As noted, Linux’s code is open source — specifically, its code is released under the permissive GNU Public License. That means:
- The Linux operating system can be downloaded and installed for free.
- Administrators can study the OS and customize it.
- There are unlimited redistribution privileges of the original or modified versions of the operating system.
One of the clearest signals that Linux is a community-based project is that the kernel is maintained not in secrecy in a corporate lab but rather via a public email list, where all the proposed updates and debates on whether they should be adopted into the operating system are available for anyone to see. Anyone can join the Linux community by participating in and contributing to this mailing list.
Torvalds presides over the list as a not particularly benevolent dictator — he was notorious for letting loose obscene diatribes about code he found particularly problematic — but lately he’s been trying to mend his ways a bit.
The Linux community goes far beyond just the kernel, though. The open nature of Linux means that there’s a huge group of professionals and enthusiasts actively involved in finding new ways of using it. For instance, containers have largely evolved through community involvement.