Introduction to Linux
You may have heard of the Linux operating system before, and maybe think it’s only for programmers, or people familiar with writing code. Not true. There are many versions of Linux that are based upon a GUI, or a graphical user interface similar to the Windows © operating system you are probably familiar with. The nice part about Linux is that it is presently open source, free, and at the same time a very stable and secure operating system. On the downside, it is not as popular of an operating system, so it doesn’t have as many programs written for it. Linux is suited more towards basic tasks, such as document creation, media playback, and web browsing.
Open source refers to the capability of anyone to access the underlying code within the operating system, and modify it to their liking, or make it more user friendly or secure. Most versions of Linux are currently free, and can be downloaded from web servers all over the world for no charge. Since Linux is also open source, anyone can examine the code, and find any security holes quickly and patch them, meaning the Linux platform is also highly secure. There are also less viruses made for Linux, just based on the simple fact that less people use it than Windows ©, therefore it is more profitable to write malicious code for other more widely used operating systems. There are still malicious programs in Linux, however quite less than Windows©.
Linux has its roots in the creation of UNIX. The UNIX operating system was developed by AT&T Bell Labs in the early 70′s. Initially, UNIX was free and the source code was available from the beginning. UNIX was easily modifiable to create a custom platform.
Many people may have never heard of either of these type operating systems, It is only natural to be intimidated by the unknown, however Linux is just like any other operating system, and is actually quite similar to the Android OS.
If nothing else, operating systems like Linux raise the bar across all operating systems. The mere existence of Linux mandates that software companies like Microsoft© and Apple© continue to produce quality software. The moment they don’t, they risk losing market share to the free alternative. Linux forces software companies stay on the cutting edge, and fix problems quickly.
Any computer system is susceptible to viruses. The ability to be exploited by a virus is woven into the nature of computers. Computers simply follow the instructions of any program you authorize, and it is always possible for someone to create a “bad” program that performs undesirable functions.
Linux is less susceptible to computer viruses because it has a smaller user base, and also because it is open source. Having a smaller user base makes writing programs of all types, malicious and genuine less profitable. Open source can help prevent security holes from being exploited as they normally would be. The average Linux user is also slightly more knowledgeable about computers than your average user. Therefore, it is statistically lower probability that you will encounter a virus while using Linux.
There is also quite a bit of free software available for Linux. Programs like Open Office are available for both Windows© and Linux, however there are a large number of programs similar to Open Office that are only available on Linux.
Some examples of other open source software programs you might have used before are; Mozilla Firefox, Apache HTTP Server, and osCommerce. Each of these programs is completely free, and used by millions of people every day. Any user is free to improve upon the original source code, and to modify the existing program for their needs.
Linux is easy to download and free to use so give it a shot sometime. Who knows- you might just like it. Nowadays Linux can be easily downloaded onto a USB drive, or burned to a cd, and booted directly from that device. This means you can try out Linux for free without uninstalling your current operating system, or risking any of your files. If you don’t like it and want to revert to your normal operating system you can simply restart. If you decide you like it you can then keep it as your main operating system, or uninstall your old operating system. People switch over to Linux every day; you might just be next!