What is Linux Operating System? Linux Overview

Linux Overview: What is Linux Operating System?

Before we get to know the what is Linux operating system, we must go back in time a little to find out the reason that led to its emergence, specifically to the sixties of the last century!

At the time, the prevailing culture among programmers, developers, and hobbyists was that software belonged to whoever used it (free to modify and share it with no strings attached and no non-disclosure agreements (“there were no secrets”), and Air Control Program (ACP) produced by IBM was one of the first software that followed this culture.

As its source code was completely open to any programmer who wanted to modify it or fix its errors, and then send those fixes to the parent company to include them in the original program and redistribute them again, and this continued until the end of the seventies.

Linux Operating System

Share Software Theft

In the mid-seventies, the founders of Microsoft (Bill Gates and Paul Allen) decided to program an interpreter for the BASIC language and called it Altair BASIC.

ho was working on a computer (Altair 8800), and due to their lack of experience in the field, they used the services of a specialized programmer. Programming (Altair Basic) took about two months, and at a cost of more than $40,000 ( currently equivalent to $191,335.32 ).

Gates says that the community’s response to the new language was good and positive (especially after the Altair 8800 appeared on the cover of Popular Electronics magazine in 1975), but they noticed a drop in the percentage of people who bought the Altair Basic. And when they searched for the reason, they found that the amateurs copied the new program and did not buy it!


And then Bill Gates sent his famous message to the amateur community:

This message came as an expression of the changes taking place in the technical community, where several technology companies have turned to provide commercial (closed) software while protecting it with “killer” agreements for user freedom.

The beginning of change

One of the victims of this shift: Unix users. After their preferred system was distributed free of charge and its source was made available to the public, universities were unable to obtain it until they signed complex commercial agreements and licenses.

All these changes would not have surprised those who were imbued with the culture of sharing software, led by Richard Stallman. He is a programmer, computer scientist, and American revolutionary in the field of software freedom. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and worked in the institute’s laboratories after his graduation on artificial intelligence techniques and programming difficult systems.

The straw that broke the camel’s back – and prompted Stallman to launch his own project – occurred in 1980 AD, when he and his co-workers were denied access to the source code for defining the new printer, as Stallman had reverted to modifying the definition of printers to add some features that make it easier for them to print tasks (such as: Adding an electronic alert feature when the printer finishes a print job, in addition to alerting all users when it malfunctions). This incident left a great impression on him, prompting him to launch The GNU Project in 1983.

His goal for the project was to create a completely free and open-source Unix- compatible operating system. Richard Stallman and his team started the project by recreating famous Unix commands. By 1990, all major components of the operating system had been completed except for the most important: the kernel. There were attempts to write it down, but they were not crowned with success.


Linus’ entry online

Meanwhile, in 1991, the development of another nucleus began as a hobby of a Finnish student named “Linus Torvalds” while studying at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Linus wanted to have an operating system similar to the famous Unix system on his personal computer, but the MINIX system he was using (a simplified version of a Unix-like operating system), prompted him to search for an alternative with high potential. When he couldn’t find him, he volunteered to work with Stallman on his new project.

The combination of the kernel developed by Linus Torvalds and the GNU command-line tools resulted in a Unix-like operating system called Linux.


What is Linux?

Linux is a free and open source operating system, based on the concept of distributions (which includes the kernel of the system with a wide range of different programs included). More than 1,000 developers in more than 100 different companies share the costs of research and development with their partners and competitors. Thus, the distribution of the Linux development burden between companies and individuals contributed positively to the creation of a large and effective development environment and a lot of unannounced software innovations.

Today, we find the Linux operating system on most of the devices. From watches, televisions, mobile phones, servers, and desktop computers to vending machines.


System license:

The code that makes up the Linux kernel comes under a number of licenses, but all code must have a GPLv2-compliant license that covers the distribution of the kernel in general. And ownership rights are not required for any code that enters into the formation of the Linux kernel, all the code that merged to form the Linux system belongs to its original owners and therefore the kernel is now owned by thousands of people.

The power of the Package Management System

One of the things that sets Linux apart from other operating systems is the way programs are installed and managed.

By default, when you want to install a program on Windows, you have to search for it, download it, and finally install it. These are the steps that the user has to follow one by one.

To install a program on the Linux operating system, all you have to do is use the package manager that comes with the distribution, by searching for the program and installing it from the operating system itself.

The package manager is not only about applications, but you can also manage the operating system itself through it. The package manager can upgrade the system – and all installed applications – to their latest versions.

Linux distributions are classified according to the types of software packages and applications that come with them into 3 main types: Debian, RedHat, and other distributions.


Debian distributions

The deb package first appeared in 1993 for the Debian Linux distribution. It is one of the oldest Linux distributions and one of the most popular. Common distributions that use .deb packages include:

  • Debian
  • Ubuntu
  • Linux Mint

Here is a simple definition of each:


In 1993, Ian Murdock announced a new Linux distribution that would be developed openly while maintaining the GNU philosophy. Ian gave the new distribution the name Debian, a combination of his girlfriend’s name, Debra, and his own. Although it started as a small project, today Debian is one of the largest open source projects.


Ubuntu first appeared in 2004, and today it is the most widely used and popular Linux distribution. The distribution is easy to install, which makes it suitable for new Linux users.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. But it is distinguished from it by the presence of pre-installed multimedia codecs and several drivers. It is also suitable for new Linux users.


RedHat Distributions

It is a popular commercial distribution especially for Linux servers. Common distributions that use .rpm packages include :

  • Fedora
  • OpenSuse
  • Mageia


Fedora is the main source for the Red Hat commercial distribution. What makes Fedora special is that it uses the latest technologies and packages in the open source world.


The distro started as a German translation of Slackware Linux, but eventually evolved into a standalone distro. OpenSUSE was the first distribution to use the KDE desktop, a free software project aimed at making a user-friendly desktop environment .



A fairly modern distribution, which is easy to install and use.

Other Linux distributions

Arch Linux _

Linux Arche does not come with a graphical installer, so it must be installed via a terminal/external terminal. New Linux users may be concerned about this.

Slackware Linux

Slackware, founded by Patrick Volkerding in 1992, is the oldest Linux distribution in use today.

It does not contain a package manager, rather programs are designed by system administrators or regular users of the system. In other words: a Slackware distribution is the source code. If you really want to know a lot about Linux, use Slackware.

Gentoo Linux

Gentoo is based on its own package management system. The distro can be difficult to install, and may take up to two days to complete the entire installation process! Like Slackware, the distribution is the source code.

If you like the idea of ​​Gentoo, but are looking for something beginner-friendly, try Sabayon.

Distributions support graphical user environments

When choosing a Linux distribution, it can be confusing as there are a variety of options for desktop administrators. While Windows users only have one desktop manager, Linux users can choose the desktop environment that suits them best. The desktop environment or graphical user interface (GUI) is what is displayed on the screen. Popular desktop managers include KDE, Gnome, Xfce, and Cinnamon.



KDE came out in 1996 and is probably the most advanced desktop manager on the market.

It includes many applications that every user needs for a complete desktop environment. It also has some features that are not available in other desktop managers. Popular distributions that use KDE include:

  • OpenSuse
  • Slackware
  • Linux Mint
  • Kubuntu
  • Mageia


GNOME is a desktop manager built by/for the developer community. And it’s a great example of how the open source community works. Gnome can easily be extended using plug-ins. It does not require a lot of resources and can be a great choice for older and slow devices. Common distributions that use Gnome include:

  • Debian
  • OpenSuse
  • Fedora
  • CentOS


Xfce is an excellent choice for older computers. Lightness and speed are the biggest advantages of Xfce. System requirements are a 300MHz processor (CPU) and 192MB of memory (RAM). Popular distributions that use Xfce include:

  • Debian
  • Xubuntu
  • Fedora
  • OpenSuse.


Cinnamon is part of the GNOME desktop developed by the Linux Mint community. It is an attempt to show Gnome 2 with a modern touch. The minimum system requirements for Cinnamon are the same as for GNOME.

Which distributions are right for me?

We’ve covered packages, distributions, and desktop managers, but we still have one last thing to talk about: how to choose the right Linux distribution! Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Simply put, to find the right distro, you will have to invest some time in downloading and trying different distros.