What is Linux Operating System?

May 12, 2023 - (Free)

Introduction to Linux

Linus Torvalds published the Linux kernel on September 17, 1991, and it is an open-source Unix-like operating system-based family. Typically, Linux is packaged as a distribution that includes the supporting libraries, system software, and kernel, all of which are provided by the GNU Project. Several Linux distributions use the name “Linux” in the title, however the Free Software Foundation uses the phrase “GNU/Linux” to emphasize the importance of GNU software, which has caused some controversy.

Ubuntu, Fedora Linux, and Debian are well-known Linux distributions; the latter is made up of various other modifications and versions, including Xubuntu and Lubuntu. SUSE Linux Enterprise and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are commercial distributions. Windowing technologies such as Wayland and X11, as well as desktop environments such as KDE Plasma and GNOME, are examples of Linux desktop distributions.

  • Originally created for Intel x86 architecture-based personal computers, Linux has since been ported to a wider range of environments than other operating systems.
  • Because of the hegemony of the Linux-based Android over smartphones as of May 2022, Linux has the largest installed base of any general-purpose operating system, including Android.
  • However, as of November 2022, Linux is only utilized by only 2.6% of desktop computers.
  • Furthermore, Linux runs on many embedded systems, which are devices whose operating system is often built into the firmware and is highly tuned to the system.
  • Spacecraft (the Perseverance rover, the Dragon crew capsule, and the Falcon 9 rocket), automobiles (Toyota, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Tesla), televisions (LG and Samsung Smart TVs), video gaming consoles, smart home devices, automation controls, and routers are all part of it.

Linux is a standout example of open-source and free software collaboration. Under the terms of its individual licenses, such as the GNU GPL (General Public License), the source code may be distributed, updated, and used commercially or noncommercially by anybody. The Linux kernel, for example, is licensed under the GPLv2.

History of Linux OS

  • Precursors: Joe Ossanna, Douglas Mcllroy, Dennis Ritchie, and Ken Thompson created the Unix-based operating system in 1969 at AT&T’s Bell labs in the United States. Unix was released in 1971 and was entirely written in assembly language, as was the standard approach at the time. Dennis Ritchie was a significant pioneer in updating it in the C language in 1973. The existence of a Unix high-level language implementation facilitated porting to several computer platforms.
  • Creation: Torvalds enrolled in a Unix course during a fall visit to the University of Helsinki in the 1990s. The course used a MicroVAX minicomputer running Ultrix, and one of the required readings was Andrews S. Tanenbaum’s Operating Systems: Design and Implementation. Tanenbaum’s MINIX operating system was included in the textbook. Torvalds first became interested in Unix as part of this course. In 1991, he started interested in operating systems. Frustrated by MINIX licensing, which confined it to just educational use at the time, he began working on his operating system kernel, which eventually became the Linux Kernel.
  • Torvalds began developing the Linux kernel on MINIX, and software built for MINIX was also utilized on Linux. Later, Linux was developed, and the Linux kernel first appeared on Linux systems. likewise, because it was advantageous to utilize free code from the GNU Project with the new OS, GNU programs replaced every MINIX component; code licensed under the GNU GPL can be re-applied in other computer functions as long as they are likewise published under a compatible or the same license.
  • Torvalds began the transition from his original license, which prohibited commercial distribution, to the GNU GPL. Developers worked together to create GNU parts with the Linux Kernel, resulting in a free and fully functional operating system.
  • Current Development: Greg Kroah-Hartman is the Linux Kernel’s chief maintainer, guiding its development. William John Sullivan is the executive director of the Free Software Foundation, which backed the GNU components. Finally, corporations and people create non-GNU third-party components.
  • Third-party components are a diverse corpus of work that may include both user libraries and apps as well as kernel modules. In the style of Linux distributions, the Linux community and manufacturers distribute and mix the kernel, non-GNU components, and GNU components with additional package management tools.
  • Popular and Commercial Uptake: In production environments, Linux adoption began to take off in the mid-1990s in the supercomputing community, where organizations like NASA began to increasingly replace their expensive machines with inexpensive commodity computer clusters running Linux, rather than being used only by hobbyists. Commercial use began when IBM and Dell, followed by Hewlett-Packard, began providing Linux support in order to break Microsoft’s stranglehold in the desktop OS market.
  • Linux systems are widely utilized in computing today, from embedded computers to practically every supercomputer, and have established a place in server deployments such as the well-known LAMP application stack. Linux distributions are increasingly being used in enterprise and home desktop environments.
  • Furthermore, Linux distributions have gained popularity in the netbook industry, with some devices shipping with pre-installed customized Linux versions and Google publishing their ChromeOS for netbooks.

Installing Linux on Your Systems

To install Linux, Follow these General Steps:

  • Choose a Linux Desktop Distribution: There are several older, well-known Linux distributions to pick from, including the popular Ubuntu distribution, Fedora-based distributions, Debian-based distributions, and many other beginner-friendly versions. Each server distribution has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Combinations of software can differ amongst Linux distributions, so choose the one that best meets the needs of the user community.
  • Download the Installation Media: After selecting a server-specific distribution, you must obtain the installation media. This is usually an ISO file that will be required to burn a DVD or USB device. You may be asked to install third-party software as well.
  • Boot From the Installation Media: Restart your computer after inserting the installation disc. Most PCs will boot from the installation disc automatically, but you may need to adjust the boot order in your BIOS settings.
  • Follow the Installation Wizard: The installation wizard will walk you through the process. You’ll be prompted to select a programming language, keyboard layout, and time zone. In the user setup, you will also need to partition your hard drive and choose where to install Linux.
  • Install Linux: The installer will begin the installation procedure once you have made all of the necessary selections. This could take some time depending on the speed of your machine and the size of the server-only distribution.
  • Reboot: After the installation is finished, you must restart your computer. Boot into your fresh Linux installation after removing the installation DVD.
  • Customize Your Installation: After installing Linux, you can personalize it to your desire. You may add software, desktop tools, and programming tools, as well as adjust your desktop environment and settings.

Design of Linux OS

Several open-source engineers admit that the Linux kernel was not created, but rather evolved through natural selection. A Linux-based system is a compatible Unix-like operating system that derives much of its common design from Unix principles developed in the 1970s and 1980s. The Linux kernel, a monolithic kernel that manages file systems, peripheral access, networking, and process control, is used in such a system. Device drivers are either embedded directly into the kernel or loaded as modules while the device is active.

Design of Linux OS

Installed Linux System Components Include the Below:

  • Bootloader: Systemd-boot, SYSLINUX, LILO, and GNU GRUB are a few examples. It is a program that can load the Linux kernel into the computer’s main memory when the firmware login is completed and the computer is turned on.
  • Init Program: such as sysvinit and the newer Upstart, OpenRC, and systemd. It is the root of the process tree and the first process announced by the Linux kernel. In other words, every operation begins with init. It starts operations such as login prompts and system services (in terminal or graphical mode).
  • Software Libraries: which comprise code that can be applied by running processes. On Linux systems with ELF-format executable files, the dynamic linker that handles the use of dynamic libraries is known as Id-linux.so. If the system is set up for the user to gather software, header files will be added to specify the interface of the installed libraries. Furthermore, the GNU C Library (glibc) is the most extensively used software library on Linux computers. Mesa and SDL are two examples of liabilities.
  • To run C applications on a machine, a standard library such as the GNU C library is required. Alternatives include uClibc (created for uClinux), EGLIBC (a glibc clone that was briefly used by Debian), and musl. However, the first two are no longer maintained. Android makes use of its C library, known as Bionic.
  • User Interface :The user interface is also referred to as a shell. It is either a Graphical User Interface (GUI), a Command-Line Interface (CLI), or controls coupled to the associated hardware, as is typical for embedded systems. For desktop systems, the default user interface is graphical. The CLI, on the other hand, is accessible via terminal emulator windows or an isolated virtual console.
  • CLI shells are text-based user interfaces that use text for both output and input. The bash (Bourne-Again Shell) used in Linux was initially built for the GNU project. The CLI is used entirely by almost every low-level component of Linux, including some userland components. The CLI, in particular, is compatible with delayed or repetitive job automation and provides relatively simple inter-process communication.
  • Though a variety of user interfaces are available, GUI shells are the most well-known on desktop systems, packed with broad desktop environments such as Xfce, Pantheon, LXDE, Cinnamon, MATE, GNOME, and KDE Plasma.
  • The most well-known user interfaces use the X Window System idea, abbreviated “X.”
  • It provides network transparency and allows a graphical application running on one system to be displayed on another, where a user can interact with the application.
  • Certain X Window System extensions, however, are not network-capable.
  • With the X.Org Server, many X display servers are available, the most well-known being the standard implementation.
  • Video Input Infrastructure: Currently, Linux includes two kernel-userspace APIs for dealing with video input devices: the DVB API for TV reception and the V4L2 API for radio and video streams.
  • Due to the diversity and complexity of different devices, as well as the large number of standards and formats maintained by those APIs, this infrastructure must adapt to better match with other devices. A improved userspace device library is also essential for having userspace apps that can work with any format supported by devices.

The Architecture of Linux

The Linux architecture is modular and versatile, allowing a wide range of users to configure and optimize their systems for specific application installation and hardware settings. It also offers a high level of security and reliability, making it an appealing choice for enterprise and mission-critical applications. The Linux operating system’s architecture is separated into five major components:

  • Kernel: The kernel is the foundation of Linux and is in charge of controlling system resources such as CPU, memory, I/O devices, and network interfaces. It acts as an intermediary between hardware and software options, allowing applications to access system resources in a consistent and secure manner.
  • System Libraries: System libraries are collections of pre-written code that provide applications with common functionality. They allow programs to communicate with the kernel and other system resources such file systems, network protocols, and graphical interfaces.
  • System Utilities: System utilities are a collection of programs that provide a variety of services to the user, such as file management, network configuration, software installation, and system administration. File managers, text editors, network managers, and package managers are examples of system utilities.
  • Desktop Environment: It’s a graphical user interface (GUI) that lets people interact with the operating system. It offers a collection of tools, apps, and settings to assist users in managing their files, applications, and system preferences. For Linux, there are multiple desktop environments, each with its own set of functionality and design philosophy. GNOME software, Enlightenment, KDE, and Xfce are some of the most popular desktop environments. It comes with pre-installed apps including file managers, setup tools, web browsers, and games.
  • Applications: Applications are programs or types of software that operate on top of the operating system and offer the user with specialized capabilities. Web browsers, media players, office suites, and development tools are examples of apps.

Uses of Linux OS

Several quantitative studies of open-source/free software focus on subjects such as dependability and market share, with several studies focusing primarily on Linux. The Linux market is growing, and the Linux OS market is expected to grow by 19.2% by 2027, reaching 15.64 billion dollars, up from 3.89 billion in 2019. Proponents and observers credit the success of associative Linux to its freedom, low cost, dependability, and lack of vendor lock-in.

Uses of Linux OS

  • Web Servers: As of May 2015, W3Cook released statistics based on the top 1,000,000 Alexa domains, estimating that 96.55% of web servers use Linux, 1.73% use Windows, and 1.72% use FreeBSD.
  • Laptops and Desktops: According to web server statistics, the anticipated Linux market share on desktop computers in May 2022 is roughly 2.5%. Microsoft Windows has a market share of roughly 75.5%, whereas macOS has a market share of approximately 14.9%.
  • Mobile Devices: Android has emerged as the most popular Linux-based smartphone operating system. In July 2022, Android was used by 71.9% of smartphones worldwide. Furthermore, Android is a well-known tablet operating system, accounting for more than 60% of table sales in 2013.
  • Film Production: For many years, Linux has been the dominant platform in the film industry. Titanic was the first major picture to be distributed on a Linux server in 1997. Since then, major studios such as Industrial Light & Magic, Weta Digital, Pixar, and DreamWorks Animation have made the switch to Linux.
  • Government Use: Linux distributions have also gained appeal in a number of national and municipal administrations. Kerala has gone so far as to require that all state high schools run Linux on their computers. China uses Linux exclusively as the operating system for its Loongson processor series in order to achieve technological independence.
  • In Spain, a few regions have merged their Linux distribution, which is widely utilized in government and educational organizations. Germany and France have also made moves toward Linux adoption. North Korea’s Red Star OS is based on a Fedora Linux version that has been under development since 2002.

Features of Linux

The following are some of the important characteristics of the Linux operating system:

  • Open Source: Linux is an open-source operating system, which means that its source code is freely available for hard-core users to change and redistribute as needed.
  • Multi-User: Linux is built to accommodate several users at the same time, each with their own user account, password, and superuser capabilities.
  • Multi-Tasking: Linux can execute several processes and programs at the same time, allowing single users to perform multiple activities at once.
  • Command-Line Interface: The operating system includes a sophisticated command-line interface (CLI) that enables users to execute instructions and complete operations using text commands rather than graphical user interfaces (GUIs).
  • File System: Linux employs a hierarchical file system, similar to UNIX, that allows users to organize files and directories logically.
  • Security: It’s well-known for its security features, which include user and file permissions, a secure architecture, and regular security updates.
  • Compatibility: Linux is a versatile operating system that supports a wide range of hardware architectures, including x86, ARM, and PowerPC.
  • Networking: Linux has strong networking features, including TCP/IP, FTP, SSH, and other network protocols.
  • Package Management: A package management system is often included with Linux distribution families, making it simple for users to install, update, and uninstall software packages. The desktop distribution system offers a variety of distributions, making it simple to implement current user interfaces and user space.
  • Customization: It is extremely flexible, letting users to tailor their desktop environments, software setups, and other system settings to their individual requirements.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Linux


  • Linux is offered for free and includes source code, allowing users to alter and distribute it as needed.
  • Because of its stability and dependability, Linux is a popular choice for servers and mission-critical systems.
  • Linux is a flexible and versatile operating system because it supports a wide range of hardware and software.
  • Because of its strict user and file permissions, secure architecture, and upgrades offered by the open-source community, Linux is regarded more secure than other operating systems.


  • Linux has a longer learning curve than other basic operating systems, particularly for people who are used to Windows or macOS.
  • Users may need to rely on forums or community support to troubleshoot issues if Linux does not offer the same level of support as other operating systems.
  • While Linux supports a wide range of hardware, some gear may not function with Linux out of the box, necessitating the installation of drivers or the development of workarounds.
  • There are numerous Linux distributions available, each with its own set of features and configurations, making it difficult for users to select the best one for their needs.
  • Some proprietary third-party software products may be unavailable for Linux, however there are numerous open-source alternatives.


Linux is a free and open-source operating system that has grown in popularity due to its stability, security, and flexibility. It is utilized by many different people and organizations, including developers, corporations, and governments. Linux, with its diverse set of software applications and customization options, provides users with a robust and dependable computer platform that can be adjusted to their unique requirements. As more people learn about the advantages of Linux, it is evident that this operating system will continue to play an important part in the world of computing for many years to come.