Linux Works, the Rest Is Up To You to Explore
Linux® can transform a non-functioning piece of computer hardware, such as a personal computer, into a usable tool perfectly capable of accomplishing real tasks. What is there not to love about giving more life to your computers?
Much of the information already available on the Web about Linux is either wrong, grossly incomplete, misleading, or otherwise just a big colossal waste of time. Most of the stuff written by Linux zealots is far too often mindlessly repeating the same Linux mythology being widely circulated on the Web by people who do not know what they are talking about, most of the time. It is often full of incorrect information.
One of the most significant things about the Linux operating system (OS) is that it has a big reputation for being free. That is actually a misnomer. Linux is not about free software. It is more about the liberty, software freedom, or freedoms that can be obtained by people when they use Linux, than it is about free software.
What is Linux?
One of the problems with Linux is that it covers a lot of ground. In other words, when it comes to Linux not everybody on the Web is on the same page as you are. The term Linux covers Web servers, printer servers hooked up on a network, embedded hardware systems, mainframe computers, space exploration, and radically different computer architectures, such as the Raspberry Pi, mobile Android smartphones, and Chromebooks, in addition to using Linux as a desktop on a personal computer. In short, Linux is everywhere.
This Linux expose will only explore using it as a graphical desktop that is capable of surfing the Web, as well as for producing basic office documents. In other words, on this site use of the term Linux will be oriented toward desktop use or talking about the Linux Desktop Environment (DE), unless stated otherwise.
Rest assured, not everybody on the Internet is in favor of using Linux for various reasons. As a result, many criticisms of Linux can be easily found.
The Linux desktop is neither Microsoft Windows, nor Mac OS X. While Linux has some desktops and styling that resembles both of these operating systems Linux positively does things differently.
Anyone can figure out what makes Linux work, even if they are not a programmer, by taking a closer look at the computer architecture of the Linux DE.
A Linux DE distro basically consists of 4 parts: the Linux kernel, other very low level coding that is related to the operating system that essentially acclimates the kernel to the task of being a desktop, low level coding that produces the basic graphical user interface (GUI) of the DE, and finally Linux software, applications, or programs. The Linux OS is often one of the most prominently cited examples of open-source software.
Linus Torvalds should be the sole person given credit for having created the Linux kernel and, therefore, for all practical purposes the entire Linux operating system. Linux® is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. You will often see on the Web, however, a reference to gnu/Linux, which is nothing but a misguided political movement that is designed to deny Linus full credit for having given the world Linux., Linus Torvalds created a minimalist operating system, called Linux, which other groups and individuals have used as the starting point for their own Linux distributions. In other words, Torvalds created an operating system that should be viewed as a family of related operating systems called Linux.
Unfortunately, Linux is often seen as being more than just an open-source operating system. It has a lot of philosophical implications, and is incorrectly viewed as a way of life, or as a social movement, by many hopelessly confused Linux people. In other words, the world of the Linux desktop can be divided into three major camps. Each camp is divided up into different Linux distributions (distros), which in their own right are unique operating systems. Linux distros should be viewed as different organizations on the Web who actually do the work of developing Linux. Some Linux distros are mainly interested in the technology of Linux or in getting computer hardware to work, the opposing camp views Linux as a revolutionary philosophical movement that protects the software freedoms of its users, while yet other distros seem to be more interested in turning the desktop into eye-candy or as a work of art than they are in improving the technology of Linux. If you ever wondered why some things like multimedia do not work in so many Linux distros it is usually more due to the philosophical position of the organization in question rather than to any programming limitations. Once you realize this, you can save yourself a lot of time.
In order for an individual to benefit from Linux, they have to select a Linux distro and then install it on a target computer.
Furthermore, there are 3 major classes of users for each Linux DE distro: developers, programmers, and non-programmers. Linux developers are computer programmers who are mainly interested in developing, maintaining, and debugging a given Linux DE distro, or a Linux application. Programmers are interested in source code issues and with getting their installed distro to work for them by tweaking source code. Finally, non-programmers simply want to run Linux programs on their computers by fine tuning the options provided to them by the developers of their respective Linux DE distro. Which class of user you happen to fall into is very important, since each group is concerned primarily with different issues.
Linux is, also, a legal trademark whose legal use sometimes requires paying for a license. Copyrights, trademarks, and licensing do apply to Linux. Programmers interested in writing Linux code should pay more attention to the legal issues, than do the casual home user. Anybody who intends to make a lot of money off of Linux better pay close attention to the fine print. Proprietary versions of Linux that require the payment of money for legal use, which are often referred to as an enterprise version of Linux, do exist. Or, in other words a Linux distro that is targeted at businesses users who are willing to pay for support services.
Speaking of legalities, this write up on Linux is in fact footnoted with occasional references, shown at the extreme bottom of each page. Any ideas derived from personal experience over a few years of personal use, of course, need not be footnoted, as they are mostly inspiration based. Neither does generally known information about the Linux operating system demand a footnote as that information is widely available all over the Internet. Finally, more relevant sources will be provided on pages that develop related ideas in depth, as they are published. Furthermore, what this write up contributes to the Linux Community, which others do not, are the subtle twists, emphases and perspectives added that makes the information provided here more original in origin than encyclopedic in scope.
- GNU/Linux - Just a Political Statement
- Linux Zealots Adversely Affect the Success of Linux
- Technology Centric Open Source Software Development
Only correspondence that is extremely specific, detailed, and includes clickable links to credible sources of information on the Web will be taken seriously by this site. Crazed rants, either opposed to or in favor of Linux, need not reply at all.
- The Linux Information Project - Linus Torvalds: A Very Brief and Completely Unauthorized Biography, August 28, 2004.
- Wikipedia, GNU/Linux naming controversy, 3 March 2004.
- Sam Williams, Free as in Freedom - Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software, Chapter 10, March 2002.
- Linux Online (2008). "Linux Logos and Mascots". Archived from the original on August 15, 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
- PuppyLinux, Which Programming Language?, Jul 8, 2012.