So What is Linux, Anyway?

Free   May 24, 2016   Comments Off on So What is Linux, Anyway?


Really it is Unix modified by a guy named Linus, but people tend not to find that explanation helpful, even if it is both true and explains the L in the name. So I try to explain what the Linux kernel is. Most people have had experience with either the android operating system or Chromebooks, so they’re actually familiar with Linux and don’t even know it. Google used Linux as a base and then adapted it to work on touchscreens. Thanks, google, for being too lazy to start a program from scratch! But that, my friends, is open source programming. You can take it and tweak it and make it do other stuff. Google knew they had something good with Linux and were able to take that glorious, already fully operational, kernel (the basis for operating systems) and do whatever they wanted with it. And what they wanted was to make a mobile operating system and cheap netbooks. Smart and possibly lazy programmers right there.

Anyway, I’m lost in a tangent. Sorry.  Once people understand that Linux is an operating system without all the logos, although they do have Tux the penguin as a mascot (way better than a partially eaten apple or what’s basically a square), they start to see where I’m going. Once you’ve stripped away all of the proprietary coating on, say, your phone because you’ve rooted it, you’re left with the operating system guts—the kernel. In other words, that’s when you get into Lunix (or at least what Google left of it.)

Lunix is actually underneath most things, you just don’t know it. Supercomputers? Yup. Servers? Probably. We’ve already discussed how it is possibly running your phone and likely your netbook. It’s fast and it’s free and it is easy to work with once you know what you’re doing. The great thing about open source software is that you don’t get any of the nonsense, you just get the program. As long as you consent to the license agreement (do you even read those?), Linux gives you the right, as the user, to change the programming as you see fit to make it run the way that you want to. It gives you a lot more freedom as far as everything is concerned. For example, if you download Microsoft Office, you’re not supposed to go in and change how the program works and then put your hacked version on the internet so other people can download it and then run your hacked version, or better yet, they hack your hack and release that version. That’s not really what Microsoft wants you to do.

However…with open source software, the guts of the program are readily accessible. So if you find a program that you like but isn’t quite right, you can open it up, perform some surgery, and close it back up when it’s running the way you want it to. It’s like renovating where you live. Microsoft looks at you like a renter and they don’t want you tearing down walls to make a more open floorplan. On the other hand, with Linux, you own the house. The bank’s not going to tell you that you can’t update your bathroom. You can do just about anything you want as long as you have the proper permits or whatever.