Tux, the adorable linux mascot.

What is Linux? Linux, (or more properly, GNU/Linux) is a free operating system for your computer. An operating system consists of the basic programs and utilities that make your computer run (other OSes include Windows and Mac). It is free in two senses: (1) it is available free of charge, (2) you are free to use it how you choose. This is very different from other operating systems such as Windows which frequently cost upwards of $200 and do not even give the user the right to give a copy to a friend.

How can it be free? Linux is based upon the principles of open source and free software. Open source is the idea that if programmers openly share the code that they use to write software, then these programmers will not be forced to "reinvent the wheel" when they write a complicated piece of software. Instead they can collect a foundation of existing code; then all that they is necessary to complete the program is to fill in the blanks. Free software - which is closely connected with open source - is software that anyone is free to modify and distribute. A fair question is "why would anyone bother to write this software?" It gets written because of the existence of people known as hackers (not the hacking-into-the-CIA-mainframe type of hackers who are correctly known as crackers). Simply put, a hacker is a person who enjoys writing code. Linux was founded on an elite hacker community in which every person wrote programs and therefore everyone got free programs to use in return.

Is it really any good? Yes. Certainly. Due to the open nature of the Linux development process, the Linux code has been closely analyzed by scores of individuals actively searching for flaws. If any are found, they are fixed almost immediately.

To be continued...

Linux (User) Applications I Use & Love