Linux Operating System

Linux is basically an operating system similar to windows, MAC, etc. It is used for managing the hardware like CPU, and laptops with the resources present in the system directly. It is open-source and its source code is easily available. Anyone having programming knowledge can customise the operating system. One can contribute, modify, distribute, and enhance the code for any successful connection between the hardware as well as the software. In this article, we will be discussing how we can make use of Linux, Linux distributions, its structure, and architecture along with its advantages and disadvantages.

What is Linux

Linux is an operating system similar to android, windows, MAC, etc. It is a version of UNIX systems and is used for managing the hardware like CPU, and laptops with the resources present in the system directly. It also helps in making a successful connection between the hardware as well as the software. It is an open-source OS that provides its customers with the freedom to run any program, research how the program is running, freedom of dispensing duplicates of the modified versions as well as freedom of helping the neighbour. 

This operating system consists of the main component which is the GNU tools. This tool helps the user in managing the resources present in the kernel, installing additional software, configuring the performance as well as security issues, and a lot more. All these features help in making Linux a functional and successful operating system. There are combinations of some software that can vary between the Linux distributions as Linux is an open-source platform.

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How to use Linux as an operating system

Linux OS has majorly 3 components that need to be understood before starting to use Linux.

  • Kernel − Linux has a core part which we call a kernel. There can be no function inside the OS without a kernel. It is mainly responsible for every major activity happening inside the operating system. A kernel comprises several modules and helps in conducting the interaction with the hardware. The kernel helps in providing the needful abstraction for hiding low-level details of the hardware present in the application or the system.
  • System Library − These libraries are a form of special programs with the help of which the user can map the application programs with the Kernel's features. The system libraries help in implementing a lot of functionalities in the OS without requiring the kernel’s module access rights.
  • System Utility − A system utility program is responsible for specialized as well as individual levels of the tasks.

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Below are the different ways of using the Linux operating system:

1. Joining as a free shell

There are hundreds of people who run Linux OS with multiple Linux servers but they are not aware of it. Therefore, a user can put extra desktops for a good purpose as a lot of admins are open to sharing their spare boxes in exchange for free OS shell accounts. A free OS shell account is very simple and easy to use and cost-free too. The basic requirement for using this is the user needs to learn the Linux commands, scripting in the shell, python terminologies, and the basics of web development. For example, there is a shell called Blinkenshell founded in 2006, which provides a Linux shell for learning Unix, using IRC, hosting simple websites, as well as sharing files.

2. Using Linux on Windows using WSL2

It is possible to use Linux on windows in the year 2019, Microsoft started the shipment of Linux with Windows. It means a user can run Linux apps from Windows in the form of the second iteration of WSL 2 which is the Windows Subsystem for Linux. While this is majorly used by the developers, it is also available for windows users for having a familiar desktop without having any virtualization that may take up some extra resources. WSL is basically a Linux-running platform in the form of a process on the user’s Windows machine. It is possible that the user may encounter some bugs, but as he starts learning the Linux commands, he will get more comfortable. Whenever a developer is looking for a text-based environment, WSL 2 is the right choice to work with. 

3. Carrying Linux as a bootable drive

It is possible for a developer to carry everywhere the Linux that is installed on a USB thumb drive. He can boot any desktop that he encounters from the thumb drive. In this way, the user gets his own personalised Linux computer, not even worrying about the data present on the parent computer which it is booted from. This way the desktop is not touching the Linux Operating System, and the Linux OS isn't affecting the computer. This is ideal for the public desktops present for business-related hotels, schools, and libraries. This process doesn't need to be booted again and again and also provides its users with a complete computer having access to all the software including the data storage capacity. 

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Linux distributions

Linux distributions are economically backed distributions, like (red Hat) Fedora, Ubuntu, and SUSE. These are completely driven by the community distributions like  Gentoo, Slackware, Debian, and Arch Linux. Let us have a look at a few Linux distributions:

1. Ubuntu Linux: It is a very common Linux-based OS that is designed for desktops, CPUs, smartphones, as well as network servers. Ubuntu was developed by Canonical Ltd. which is a UK-based company. The principles for developing ubuntu software are mainly based on the principles of open source development. Its main features are :

  • It supports Firefox, VLC media player, chrome, and all the similar applications.
  • It supports LibreOffice which is an office-suite platform.
  • It has an in-built email exchange software which is called Thunderbird and is used for the email exchange process via Hotmail, Gmail, etc.
  • Ubuntu is backed up by a very huge commercial community and it is open source.

2. Arch Linux: This is a self-dependent Linux distribution that works in the terms of pragmatism, simplicity, modernity, user centrality, as well as versatility. This OS is completely lightweight, and minimalist and works on the idea of appealing to a major community of users that is possible. Arch Linux also promotes its users' ‘do it yourself’ attitude, therefore providing them with the freedom for tweaking the system with respect to their needs. 

3. Linux Mint: This Os is also a community-driven distribution and is also based on Ubuntu. Linux Mint is a modern, comfortable to use, and elegant  OS that is considered to be very powerful. It is basically designed for desktop users. It is currently the number one choice of millions of people. The main features of Linux mint are:

  • It ensures easy interactions 
  • It has a pre-installed suite that provides its user with the ability to search, download as well as install applications.
  • It has feedback sections that provide continuous improvement ensuring consistency.
  • It has the ability to provide Long term support for releases for a term of 5 years.

4. Deepin: It is known to be a famous Linux distribution, developed in China. It has a very attractive, simple-to-use, secure, as well as reliable OS, especially for users globally. The most common feature of Deepin that makes it different from other Linux OS is its friendly desktop environment which is known as Deepin Desktop Environment ( DDE). This is also famous for the most beautiful desktop available on the market. It has a very easy-to-use environment as functions such as setting the time zone, adjusting the keyboard, etc., are very simple. 

5. Fedora: This operating system is a very common platform and is open-source based on the Linux Operating System kernel architecture. There is a group of programmers who developed Fedora OS under the famous ‘Fedora Project’ which was sponsored by Red Hat. This is known to be a very secure OS for general-purpose use. It has various features such as media playback, threat protection, security from viruses, solution for office productivity problems, systems tools, etc. The Fedora project stated that Fedora will always be free to use, install, modify as well as distribute.

6. openSUSE: This Os is also a community-driven distribution platform basically an offshoot of the real SUSE distribution. It is available in two forms which are Leap and Tumbleweed. The tumbleweed is very similar to Arch Linux and has a lot of similar properties. However, we can also use it as WSL, mainly using Linux on windows which are also discussed earlier.

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Architecture of Linux

The architecture of Linux consist of a few layers which are described below:

  • Hardware layer − This layer comprises all peripheral devices such as CPU, RAM, HDD, etc.
  • Kernel − Linux has a core part which we call a kernel. There can be no function inside the OS without a kernel. It is mainly responsible for every major activity happening inside the operating system. A kernel comprises several modules and helps in conducting the interaction with the hardware. The kernel helps in providing the needful abstraction for hiding low-level details of the hardware present in the application or the system.
  • Shell − A shell is an interface to the kernel which hides the complexities of all the functions of the kernel from the developers. A user gives all the commands in the shell and then executes the functions of the kernel.
  • Utilities − Linux’s utility programs help in providing its users the most of the functionalities of the operating systems.

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Advantages of Linux

  • Open Source: Linux is an open-source platform, therefore it's easy for the users to have its source code. It is also easy for the developers to make customizations in the OS as it's possible to easily modify, contribute, enhance or even distribute the code for a specific purpose.
  • Security: Security in Linux is one of the most important features that make the developers use it. We cannot justify that Linux provides complete safety, but it is less prone to risks as compared to other OS. It doesn't need any external anti-virus as well.
  • Free to use: This is the most important advantage of Linux that it is free to use. It is easy to download and there is no licence buying for the same, however users pay a heavy amount for a lot of other operating systems.
  • Light-weight: Linux is a very lightweight platform as it has very few requirements as compared to other OS. The memory storage and disk space are very low in Linux; it requires only 128MB of RAM for the disk space.
  • Stability: Linux is a comparatively more stable platform than other OS. There is no requirement for rebooting the system to upgrade the performance levels and it does not hang up much.
  • Flexibility: Linux is a very flexible operating system as users can use it for computer applications, server applications, database applications, or embedded systems. It also allows the user to install only the required components on the system.
  • Privacy: Linux takes care of the user’s privacy so it does not ask for the user’s private data. 
  • Compatibility: Linux is a very compatible operating system as it is compatible with a lot of files supporting different formats. 

Disadvantages of Linux

  • No standard edition: Linux does not have a standard edition like MAC or Windows, whereas it works on community-based editions called distro which makes the platform a little confusing.
  • Learning Curve: The learning curve of Linux is hard as compared to other operating systems. The user needs to understand the terminal very well to work on it. 
  • Limited market share: This disadvantage is the worst one as the market share for Linux is facing a major difficulty. Developers are not willing to port to Linux leaving MAC or windows. 
  • Proprietary Share: A lot of developers do not want to publish their work on Linux as it has less market share. 
  • Troubleshooting Issues: It would be a task to troubleshoot the bugs in Linux if you are not a tech expert. There are not many answers available on the web also regarding the Linux problems. 

Linux components and terminology

  • Bootloader: The main purpose of the bootloader is to load the kernel and it is actually a special software. The functionality of the device is carried out to perform the required process. It can be located in the first section on the hard drive. 
  • Init system: there can be no process without ‘init’ as it is the master of all the Linux processes. It is actually the process when a computer starts and works with Linux until the computer shuts. The full form of ‘init’ is initialization hence it carries out all the processes.
  • Daemons: The daemons are designed to answer service requests. It is mainly considered as the background process only. 
  • Graphical server: This helps in rendering the images and shapes on the computer using a graphical system. 
  • Desktop environment: A desktop environment is a platform that helps in providing a graphical interface to the user such as providing a toolbar, desktop widgets, icons, etc. The main desktop components are panels, workspaces, menus, windows, etc. 
  • Applications: The most famous applications of Linux are firefox, LibreOffice, ThunderBird, Audacity, GIMP, etc.

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 Conclusion

In the above article, we have discussed Linux operating systems. Linux is an operating system similar to android, windows, MAC, etc. It is a version of UNIX systems and is used for managing the hardware like CPU, and laptops with the resources present in the system directly. It also helps in making a successful connection between the hardware as well as the software. We have also discussed the components of the architecture of Linux along with various Linux distributions. Then we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of Linux OS. 

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Saritha Reddy
Saritha Reddy
Research Analyst
A technical lead content writer in HKR Trainings with an expertise in delivering content on the market demanding technologies like Networking, Storage & Virtualization,Cyber Security & SIEM Tools, Server Administration, Operating System & Administration, IAM Tools, Cloud Computing, etc. She does a great job in creating wonderful content for the users and always keeps updated with the latest trends in the market. To know more information connect her on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.

FAQ’s

Linux is mainly used for web servers, email servers, database servers, and many other shared servers.

While Windows is a commercial platform, Linux is an easy open-source platform available for the users.

With the help of WSL 2, a user can use Linux on windows.

A few best Linux OS are fedora, Arch Linux, and Gentoo.

Linux is basically an operating system similar to android, windows, MAC, etc.