What Is Linux?

Linux is a powerful, open-source operating system based on Unix and capable of running on a variety of hardware with heavy operating demands.

Written by Anthony Corbo
Published on Dec. 29, 2022
What Is Linux?
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Eric Kleppen | Aug 11, 2022

Linux-based operating systems make use of what is known as the Linux kernel to manage device hardware resources and the software packages that power the remainder of the operating system.

Linux offers a high degree of capability and has a wide range of applications developers can use. Due to its free, open-source nature, several varieties of Linux exist and are constantly being built upon to create new OS versions, or distributions, that offer specific capabilities to fulfill the immediate needs of the developer. Although many distributions require the user to interact with the Linux OS through the command line interface, there are plenty of distributions that come with a graphical user interface (GUI), more closely resembling a typical desktop for Windows PC or Mac. Some of the most popular Linux distributions include Ubuntu, Red Hat, Fedora, Oracle Linux, CentOS and Debian.

Related Reading From Built In ExpertsCreate a Linux Virtual Machine on Your Computer


What Is Linux Used For?

Linux is used to manage several services, including process scheduling, application scheduling, basic peripheral devices and file systems.

Linux-based products have made a major impact in the IT space and many have become essential to a large number of organizations’ tech stacks, with Kubernetes (a container cluster manager from Google), Docker (a software container program) and Open Daylight (used to accelerate the adoption of SDNs and Network Functions Virtualization) all seeing widespread use. Additionally, Linux-based OS are a favorite among cloud service providers because of their free and open-source nature.

Those examples are just the tip of the iceberg for Linux users, however, and the system’s versatility will only continue to grow as more developers build with it for years to come.

What Is Linux? | Video: Techquickie


What Are the Benefits of Linux?

Due to Linux’s open-source nature, Linux-based products and operating systems can be shaped to meet the demands of the developer.

One of the primary advantages of Linux is that it’s constantly being reshaped and developed to create new products that meet emerging needs. Developers can easily access the Linux source code for customization. Additionally, Linux offers a greater degree of security than many operating systems and requires no antivirus programs for protection. Linux also offers a high degree of stability, requires little disk space, has powerful networking capabilities and puts software updates in the hands of the user.

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How Can I Teach Myself Linux?

Linux can be installed on most computers through the use of a virtual machine.

A virtual machine is a method of hardware virtualization that allows a separate operating system from the machine’s primary operating system to be installed. This alternate operating system shares a computer’s resources to function but cannot be used simultaneously with the primary operating system. Virtual machines contain their own processors, RAM, disk and other crucial components, making them akin to a second device within an existing computer.

Despite the power that they provide, virtual machines are straightforward to install and easy to get started with. Many people choose to start by downloading Oracle VirtualBox, a free virtual machine with a community of users contributing resources and updates to enhance functionality. Once you’ve installed VirtualBox, you can then install a Linux operating system. Many choose to use Ubuntu, a free OS built on Linux and designed for desktops and servers. With these two free options in place, all that is left is to use VirtualBox to create a virtual machine on your computer that will run Ubuntu VM, select the proper storage settings, install Ubuntu onto the virtual machine and begin exploring the coding possibilities that Linux has to offer.

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