Linux is an operating system that resembles UNIX, it combines the power of UNIX and [ease of use??] and it's considered hackers playground. Linux is free, very powerful, and easy to install and maintain by an individuals. Linux is not such a beast like other UNIXes could be; It is small, fast, and flexible. And it is very close to a reliable and stable system.

 It's named after its creator Linus Torvalds (November 1991) at the University of Helsinki, Finland, (first version was 0.10). And continuously developed by hundreds of UNIX hackers across the Internet. But Linus still is [!] the man in charge in the Linux development since the Linux kernel is copyrighted to him.

 Just how to pronounce Linux?
According to Linus , it should be pronounced with a short ih sound, like print, minimal, etc. should rhyme with Minix, another Unix clone. It should not be pronounced like (American pronunciation of) the ``Peanuts'' character, Linus, but rather LIH-nucks. And the u is sharp as in rule, not soft as in ducks.

 Many people says Linux is not real UNIX since it's written from scratch and not derived from the one of main UNIX flavors [more]. Real UNIX for Intel machines are Solaris, SCO OpenServer, SCO UnixWare since they are derived from AT&T SysV [Not sure of that]. (also SVR4 from NCR, IBM, Sequent) But IMO you are using UNIX when u are using Linux, all *real* UNIXes has differences somehow [more]. (Officially, anybody can create a UNIX operating system, as long as it passes tests from X/Open. Since the tests haven't been created yet and are likely to cost money, Linux is currently not a ``real'' UNIX.)

 Linux has gained large popularity last few years because
  • It's more easy to use than most UNIX distributions/clones. but you still have to dig and read the docs to get things working (it's still UNIX after all)
  • It's a UNIX clone, and UNIX has been around since 1969, (was written "Unics" at first -- UNiplexed Information and Computing System) and its very known to its power, stability, large support base and distribution. UNIX is one of the most popular operating systems worldwide.
  • It's much more stable than various Windows versions.

 The number of Linux users is increasing dramatically. It's estimated by the Linux Counter Organization to be 40 millions (second quarter, 2000). The maintainer of the counter Harald Tveit has his reasons for that number.

 Linux is a free operating system, you can download it from the Internet free of charges, or you can buy it from many vendors for a small packaging fees. Some times they charge you for utilities they write or may be technical support. but any way you will find a great support for managing Linux. There are a *lot* of mailing lists, web sites, books, documentation, and people who want to share their knowledge. If you drop by any search engine and searched for the word Linux, you will encounter *huge* number of pages, even more than the number of pages that contain the word Windows!

 Linux is distributed under the General Public License, GPL, which permits distribution, copying, or changing of packages freely with their source code. without imposing any restrictions on further distribution.

 Linux has a graphical user interface that are pretty much customizable than any other operating system. You can mostly run any Desktop environment on the X Window System, like KDE, GNOME, Motif, CDE?. And many window managers that gives the look and feel of other operating system like Solaris, NeXTStep, OS/2, and Windows and more.

 Most UNIX programs, if it was not all of them, run under Linux, besides a large number of other programs. Including StarOffice (a package from Sun Microsystems that IMO is much more powerful and cleaner than MS office), GIMP which is a graphic manipulation program like Adobe Photoshop, dosemu which is an emulation system to run DOS programs, WINE to run Windows 16-bit application (IIRC), and many many more.

 Linux is mostly System V, mostly BSD compatible and mostly POSIX-1 (a document trying to standardize operating systems) compliant. Linux probably complies with much of POSIX-2, another document from the IEEE [what is it??] to standardize operating systems. It's a mix of all three standards: BSD, System V, and POSIX.

 Some technical specifications:
  • Full multitasking and 32-bit support.

  • TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) support.

  • The X Window System. The X Window System is the de facto industry-standard graphics system for UNIX machines.

  • Virtual memory and shared libraries. Linux can use a portion of your hard drive as virtual memory, expanding your total amount of available RAM. Linux also implements shared libraries, allowing programs that use standard subroutines to find the code for these subroutines in the libraries at runtime.

  • Linux supports (almost) all of the features of commercial versions of UNIX. In fact, some of the features found in Linux may not be available on other proprietary UNIX systems.

  • The Linux kernel uses no code from AT&T or any other proprietary source. a large number of utilities in Linux are developed by the GNU project at the Free Software Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  • Linux is compatible with the IEEE POSIX.1 standard.

  • Virtual memory support.

  • Built-in support for networking, multitasking, and other features. You'll see this touted as "New Technology" in systems such as Windows NT. In fact, UNIX (and now, Linux) has implemented this "new technology" for more than 15 years.

 There is a huge distinction between commercial versions of UNIX and Linux: Commercial versions of UNIX are designed for customers and will work out of the box, whereas Linux is not guaranteed to work at all on your system. You are indeed on your own.

 Before you get started with Linux
  • - Get organized.
  • - Educate yourself about Linux and UNIX.
  • - Be patient :-).

* UNIX is trade mark for X/Open Group.
* Linux is regiestered trade mark for Linus Torvalds.
* References:
  • Linux User's Guide 1993-94.
  • Red Hat Linux Unleashed.
  • Misc documents.

Links Bar
Kernel 2.4 Is out now
Wednesday, Jan 17, 2001


Tamer Embaby, Jun 2000
/docs /links /linux