Linux is an open source, multi-platform, and free software operating system based on the Linux kernel; an operating system kernel originally developed by Linus Torvalds for the UNIX operating system. Linux is usually packaged with a variety of additional software packages. Some of these software packages are designed to run various types of software applications, while others are developed purely as components of the Linux operating system.
Linux can be seen as being the offspring of the Unix platform. Unix, a variant of the Windows OS, was developed by a group of computer scientists at the University of California, Davis, for the purpose of developing a “general purpose” operating system. The Unix code was “open source” (free to use), so that any user who wished to could study it and put in their own modifications. In contrast, the Linux operating system is developed under a commercial license. This licensing policy makes it possible for anyone to compile and install their own software applications to run on top of the Linux operating system.
Unlike many other open source operating systems, Linux has a wide community of developers that are continually at work making new and improved software applications. This has resulted in a tremendous range of software applications, many of which are developed by corporations such as Microsoft. Many top Linux distributions are also regularly upgraded by their users. These developments are mostly done through the Linux updater or the Linux build service. The latest releases of Linux can also be obtained through download.
While Linux does have its disadvantages, some of the more prominent ones include: limited compatibility with Windows operating systems; not being able to run Microsoft programs due to the fact that the Windows operating system is licensed for use with Microsoft products only; unable to execute scripts found in scripts and programs meant for Microsoft products; using up-to-date technology that goes beyond the developers’ current scope. However, many developers argue that these are all just minor drawbacks. For example, the android development team states “Why must we wait for Microsoft to develop their own operating system when we can do it ourselves!”
On the other hand, many people remain unconvinced by the perceived advantages and capabilities of a Linux environment. There are a number of reasons for this, including: the thought that Linux could never be secure because of the way it has been developed; the difficulty of using it; the possibility of losing control of your computer through viruses; and the difficulty finding and installing the latest security updates and malware definitions. In addition, while Linux was used by large corporations and governments earlier, it is now mainly used by individuals and small businesses. The cost involved with purchasing, compiling, and maintaining a Linux system can often outweigh the benefits. Also, the dependence on Microsoft’s technologies could be problematic if Microsoft ever loses control of the platform.
However, despite its negative image, Linux does have some advantages over its rival. Among them are the ability to run almost any application on any operating system, which means that the same programs will work on Linux and on a Microsoft Windows based computer, if they were designed to run on one or both of those operating systems. Linux also has the ability to run almost any program at real time, as opposed to Microsoft’s reality of having their software available only during specific operating hours, which could also be a problem for some businesses. Finally, Linux’s popularity has significantly increased in recent years. There are now millions of people worldwide who use Linux, and this number is growing each day. This means that Linux now has a strong user base and is well positioned to continue innovating and growing into new areas in the future.