We have already met its creator and got to know part of his personal history: now let's narrow the focus by making an overview on its creation. So here is Linux, much more than an operating system : a philosophy.
Linux is very popular and is the most used compared to operating systems. It is now found on portable devices, workstations and desktop computers, thanks to the development, over the years, of a better and friendlier graphic interface. Among its main applications there are certainly web servers and clusters of powerful computers. Determining the reasons for its success, despite not being the first and only free system, is not easy. The triumph of this system depended on various factors, including excellent functioning, good stability and speed.
Added to this is the availability of its source code. The code of the individual Linux distributions, in fact, is available to anyone thanks to the now consolidated GNU-Linux project-distribution . But what makes Linux really special is that it was developed by one person, at least in the beginning. Initially considered a system for experts only, over time it has also improved and simplified the graphical interface, becoming more user-friendly.
Linux operating system: kernel and structure
We can imagine the structure of an operating system, in this case Linux, as an onion structure : many overlapping layers. The lower level, the lowest one, is made up of what we call the kernel. But what is the kernel and what does it do?
Simplifying a lot, we can imagine the Kernel as that first software layer that does the real work , taking care of the management of the hardware. For example, the kernel loads programs into memory and starts running them. It allows multitasking, and realizes the right association between software drivers and hardware and allows communication between processes.
Linux is a category of environments. You can choose and configure different environments for different graphical interfaces, and others to control mice, monitors or other devices. In a nutshell Linux is very flexible, it can be modeled and shaped according to our needs and tastes, giving us greater control than other operating systems. Among the main reasons for using Linux we find:
- Effectiveness : Unlike other systems, Linux can turn old hardware into a powerful machine . Grab an old PC, install Linux on it, and you'll find yourself an efficient multitasking machine. All this derives from its development philosophy, a simple and very efficient code inspired by the UNIX model;
- price: Linux is free . It is developed and maintained voluntarily by professional and non-professional computer scientists. Anyone can contribute to its improvement;
- development : Linux offers many of the most comprehensive programming tools, combined with the GNU development suite. Linux is practically every programmer's El Dorado;
- sources : if we don't like a detail of the way Linux works we can modify it and recompile it.
When we talk about Linux we are referring only to the kernel, the core of the operating system which is then included in the various distributions . These are then marketed or distributed free of charge with additional applications and utilities. The main advantage of a purchased version lies in technical support. Many software houses that sell Linux distributions offer their technical assistance for system installation and maintenance. Alternatively for the freely distributed versions, assistance can be found on the net between newsgroups or blogs.
Linux: operating system “under” Android
Android is an open-source platform for mobile devices developed by Google based on a kernel. Android cannot be considered a variant of Linux or its distribution: we cannot add a person as a new Linux user or use the windows manager X11 or use standard C libraries. The mobile operating system, however, adds other features, such as virtual elements that allow the management of electricity consumption in battery-powered mobile devices.
The article Linux, much more than an operating system: a philosophy was written on: Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .