Linux: The Open Source Miracle in Operating Systems

If you are a tech nerd like me, you have probably used Linux at some point. If not, you should read on to find out what you are missing!

What Is Linux?

Linux is an open-source operating system built on the Linux kernel. The code of the operating system is available online for free. Moreover, anyone can modify the to according to their choice and redistribute the software. particular. Since its release, Linux has become the most used operating systems in web servers and supercomputers.

History of Linux

Linux running on a supercomputer

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Before Linux and Windows came into the picture it was Unix that ruled the world of operating systems. However, AT&T who developed Unix sold it as a proprietary product making it closed source. Richard Stallman, a pioneer in the field of operating systems, decided to counter Unix by developing an operating system that was compatible with it and making it available freely. Stallman wrote the GNU General Public License(GNU GPU) which made any software developed under the license freely available for modification and redistribution.

Linus Torvalds followed Stallman’s footsteps and started developing the Linux kernel under the GNU license. Initially, Torvalds developed the kernel to work with MINIX (a version of Unix restricted to be used for educational purposes only). Later, the Linux kernel matured and developed along with tools and libraries developed under the GNU license giving rise to a full-fledged open source OS.

Famous Linux distributions

Linux distributions abbreviated as “distro” are operating systems based on the Linux kernel. The distro comprises the libraries, windowing system, kernel, tools, and desktop environment required to support an OS.

Here are some of the most famous distributions available in the market:

Ubuntu

Ubuntu- one of the most popular Linux distributions for PC

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Ubuntu is one of the most popular Distros for running on personal computers. The OS runs on a multitude of hardware that includes Intel, ARM-based machines, and AMD. Apart from its compatibility with PCs the OS also has a special version named Ubuntu Touch which works flawlessly on tablets and smartphones.

The OS comes pre-installed with drivers required to configure with particular hardware. Therefore, the user saves time in searching for drivers. Ubuntu comes loaded with LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, and Transmission software. The software help user open documents, browse the web and download material from the internet. Furthermore, the OS offers a vast repository of software installation at the touch of a button.

The security aspect is what makes Ubuntu one of the unique OS available in the market. Every program runs with low privileges which means that a malware within the program cannot harm or corrupt the system. It is because of this reason there is no need to install antiviruses on systems that run Ubuntu.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint also known as Mint is one of the most modernized Linux distribution

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The most modern Linux distribution till date is the Linux Mint OS. The OS also known as Mint is based on Ubuntu and Debian structures and tries to offer the flexibility of an open-source software with a terrific user interface. The OS comes loaded with apps proprietary software along with a variety of free and open-source software.

The Ubuntu version of Mint dubbed the Ubuntu Mint uses package repositories from Ubuntu with its very own codebase. Based on the Debian architecture, the other version of Mint that is available for users is the Linux Mint Debian Edition(LMDE). What makes Mint unique is that the OS system allows installation of certain proprietary software. The OS enables installation of codecs and plug-ins for Adobe Flash, MP3 and other popular DVD and playback software. These allow the users to experience multimedia at its best.

The OS offers unique tools to make it easier for the user to navigate through repositories and installing them. Additionally, Mint comes established with tools that help the user save images to USB, apply parental control, and configure the desktop environment.

Fedora

Fedora is another Linux distribution available in the market and is popular because of its open-sourced nature

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Sponsored by Red Hat Enterprises, The OS launched in 2003. However, Red Hat plays only a part of the role in the development of the OS which is dictated by the Fedora community worldwide. The Fedora community comprises volunteers from around the world who collaborate to release newer versions of the software.

Unlike Ubuntu and Mint, Fedora does not support codecs and plug-ins for proprietary software. The user can install these codecs and services through third party sources, but Fedora does not support installation making it an utterly open-source distribution. The OS makes up for the lost proprietary software by implementing the GNOME desktop environment. Fedora implements the GNOME shell version 3.0 that is capable of handling most desktop functions by using free software.

The GNOME environment community ensures every functionality offered by the OS is user-friendly. Moreover, Fedora is the fastest changing OS that adapts to newer technology more rapid than other Linux distributions.

Arch Linux

Arch Linux is another famous Linux distribution

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One of the most famous distributions Arch Linux comes with the capability of letting the users configure the OS as per their specific needs. With that said, the installation of the OS is more complicated than the other distros. Users have the choice to pick specific drivers for WiFi, sound server, and desktop environment.

Arch Linux gives the user complete control of the system. The OS allows the user to control what application runs in the foreground as well as the background. The feature helps preserve and save resources. The OS enables downloading apps from the Arch User Repository (AUR). AUR is a community that offers software that Arch does not provide for itself making it the OS with the largest software repository.

The OS does not force users to switch to an entirely new version to install updates. Therefore, Arch can be upgraded anytime without switching to a new model with its rolling release model. The OS offers easy and user-friendly installation through its Manjaro and Antergos versions.

Installing Ubuntu

Ubuntu- Installing Ubuntu on your PC

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Ubuntu which is one of the most famous Linux distributions for personal computers. Moreover, installing Ubuntu is easier than most of its other Linux counterparts.

Here are the steps to download and install Ubuntu

Download Ubuntu

Download Ubuntu from the site

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To begin with, the user needs to download the latest version of Ubuntu from the site. The user needs to ensure that the file downloaded is the desktop version of the OS. The file will be an image(.ISO) of the OS. Enabling the PC to boot from a USB drive.

Enabling boot in BIOS to allow USB booting for Ubuntu

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The most complicated step in installing Ubuntu is configuring the user’s machine to boot from a USB drive rather than the hard drive that is installed within. The steps to make or verify these changes are different for every model and user can access the steps on the manufacturer’s site. The user can check if the machine is already enabled to boot from the USB by plugging it in and letting the computer take over.

Make the BIOS changes

Unebootin to make a bootable Ubuntu USB

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In case the machine does not boot from the USB drive automatically, BIOS changes are required to enable it. In order to make the machine boot from the USB the user needs the machine to configure and a bootable USB drive.

The image filed downloaded from the site needs to be converted to a bootable form which is copied to the USB drive. The next step is to enable the machine to boot from USB drive by making changes in the UEFI boot order. This will enable the user to view the option of booting from USB drive when entering the BIOS. On entering the BIOS, the boot from USB option must be put on top of the list ahead of the default option of OS Boot Manager.

In case the machine comes pre-installed with Windows, it requires the user to disable the secure boot option in order to allow booting from the USB. The bootable USB created in the step above will run the OS just like the standard OS. This allows the user to try the OS before installing it.

Install Ubuntu

Installing Ubuntu

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The USB flash drive becomes the bootable device instead of the hard drive allowing the user to try Ubuntu before installation. On choosing the install option, the inbuilt settings in the OS will guide the user through a series of simple steps to complete the installation.

The image file downloaded earlier is run directly as a virtual machine in software like VMWare. KVM, and VirtualBox. In order to do this, the virtual machine allocates some memory on the host machine allowing it to run a completely different OS independently. The image file works like a bootable USB or CD enabling the use of the OS. Every action that the user carries out on the virtual machine gets appended to the image which is capable of being used on a different machine or software without the need of reconfiguring it.

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