What Exactly is Linux?

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Linux is not Ubuntu or Fedora or Suse
Linux is not Ubuntu or Fedora or Suse

Most people look at Distros like Ubuntu and Fedora and Slackware and call them “Linux”. When these distros boot up and get into a GUI environment, people call the GUI linux as well. So, what exactly is Linux?

But…That is not true!

Linux is actually just the kernel. The Linux kernel talks to the hardware in your computer and gets it to perform tasks based on your instructions, which are passed to the kernel via the command interpreter, also known as the “shell” or via applications that talk directly to the kernel. The kernel handles things like memory allocations, I/O operations, device management, file management and process management. It is in essence, the heart of the operating system.

So now that we have established that linux actually refers to the kernel, what are all the other things on your Distro? what handles the GUI? where are the panels and menus from? what gives you the cool desktop effects? The answer is that they are all seperate programs and on most linux distributions, these programs are all free and open-source meaning that everybody who understands programming can simply download the programming code and modify the program to suit their needs. So when you boot up your distro and look at the user interface, it is actually a piece of free software that has been worked on and improved by volunteers worldwide.

Now, because all the pieces used to build a linux distribution are all seperate programs and not hard coded into the kernel, this means that you can swap them around as you see fit. Getting tired of your usual graphical environment? you can remove it and add a different one, like KDE or fluxbox. You can even have 2 or 3 graphical environments installed and choose which one to use when you log in.

This modularity is what makes linux so flexible. You have ultimate control as to what sofware you want on your computer, and that is one of the many reasons why I love it πŸ˜€

In my next post I will explain about the linux file system, stay tuned.

6 thoughts on “What Exactly is Linux?

  • September 21, 2010 at 4:00 am
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    “these programs are all free and open-source” well I think we can call it “GNU/Linux Distribution” πŸ™‚ GUI is not the most important thing GNU is.
    Linux is GNU, GUI is GNU and almost all the software composing GNU/Linux Distributions are GNU.
    It’s just because some users doesn’t know about GNU that they call it just Linux or that they may be a little bit lazy like me to forget to mention it or just skip it :p well that may be unfair so I’ll do more effort to mention that a little bit more πŸ™‚
    Nice article πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • October 2, 2009 at 5:25 am
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    huh I always thought Ubuntu was linux I guess I was wrong lol I cannot wait for your future articles:)

    Reply
  • July 27, 2009 at 7:00 am
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    Hey,

    Thats quite an information I did’nt know… Thanks for the article buddy..

    Go on…

    Reply
  • July 8, 2009 at 3:26 pm
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    cool…this article gives me a new view about the differences of Linux and the distros…i think i’ll stay tune here to read more articles from this site…hhe..

    Reply
  • July 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm
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    Thanks. I’m quite interested on Linux. But I have a less knowledge. So keep it going..!

    Reply
  • July 3, 2009 at 4:52 pm
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    Thanks. I’m quite interested on Linux. But I have a lesson knowledge. So keep it going..!

    Reply

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