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Find out about Linux.

Just like Windows, iOS, and Mac OS, Linux is an operating system. In fact, one of the most popular platforms on the planet, Android, is powered by the Linux operating system. An operating system is software that manages all of the hardware resources associated with your desktop or laptop. To put it simply, the operating system manages the communication between your software and your hardware. Without the operating system (OS), the software wouldn’t function.

Linux has been around since the mid-1990s and has since reached a user-base that spans the globe. Linux is actually everywhere: It’s in your phones, your thermostats, in your cars, refrigerators, and televisions. It also runs most of the Internet, all of the world’s top supercomputers, and the world’s stock exchanges.

But besides being the platform of choice to run desktops, servers, and embedded systems across the globe, Linux is one of the most reliable, secure and worry-free operating systems available.

This is the one question that most people ask. Why bother learning a completely different computing environment, when the operating system that ships with most desktops, laptops, and servers works just fine?

To answer that question, I would pose another question. Does that operating system you’re currently using really work just fine?? Or, do you find yourself battling obstacles like viruses, malware, slow downs, crashes, costly repairs, and licensing fees?
If you struggle with the above, Linux might be the perfect platform for you. Linux has evolved into one of the most reliable computer ecosystems on the planet. Combine that reliability with zero cost of entry and you have the perfect solution for a desktop platform.

That’s right, zero cost of entry… as in free. You can install Linux on as many computers as you like without paying a cent for software or server licensing.

Let’s take a look at the cost of a Linux server in comparison to Windows Server 2016. The price of the Windows Server 2016 Standard edition is over £1000.00 (purchased directly from Microsoft). That doesn’t include Client Access License (CALs) and licenses for other software you may need to run (such as a database, a web server, mail server, etc.). For example, a single user CAL, for Windows Server 2016, costs £38.00. If you need to add 10 users, for example, that’s £88.00 more pounds for server software licensing. With the Linux server, it’s all free and easy to install. In fact, installing a full-blown web server (that includes a database server), is just a few clicks or commands.

If zero cost isn’t enough to win you over? what about having an operating system that will work, trouble free, for as long as you use it? I’ve used Linux for nearly 20 years (as both a desktop and server platform) and have not had any issues with ransomware, malware, or viruses. Linux is generally far less vulnerable to such attacks. As for server reboots, they’re only necessary if the kernel is updated. It is not out of the ordinary for a Linux server to go years without being rebooted. If you follow the regular recommended updates, stability and dependability are practically assured.

Linux is also distributed under an open source license. Open source follows these key tenants:
  • * The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
  • * The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
  • * The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour.
  • * The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.
These points are crucial to understanding the community that works together to create the Linux platform. Without a doubt, Linux is an operating system that is by the people, for the people. These tenants are also a main factor in why many people choose Linux. It’s about freedom and freedom of use and freedom of choice.

Linux has a number of different versions to suit any type of user. From new users to hard-core users, you’ll find a "flavour" of Linux to match your needs. These versions are called distributions (or, in the short form, "distros"). Nearly every distribution of Linux can be downloaded for free, burned onto disk (or USB thumb drive), and installed (on as many machines as you like).

Popular Linux distributions include:
  • * DEBIAN
  • * UBUNTU
  • * FEDORA
Each distribution has a different take on the desktop. Some opt for very modern user interfaces (such as GNOME and Elementary OS’s Pantheon), whereas others stick with a more traditional desktop environment (openSUSE uses KDE).

You can check out the top 100 distributions on the Distrowatch.

And don’t think the server has been left behind. For this arena, you can turn to:
  • * Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • * Ubuntu Server
  • * Centos
  • * SUSE Enterprise Linux
Some of the above server distributions are free (such as Ubuntu Server and CentOS) and some have an associated price (such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Enterprise Linux). Those with an associated price also include support.

Which distribution you use will depend on the answer to three simple questions:
  • * How skilled of a computer user are you?
  • * Do you prefer a modern or a standard desktop interface?
  • * Server or desktop?

If your computer skills are fairly basic, you’ll want to stick with a newbie-friendly distribution such as Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Elementary OS or Deepin. If your skill set extends into the above-average range, you could go with a distribution like Debian or Fedora. If, however, you’ve pretty much mastered the craft of computer and system administration, use a distribution like Gentoo. If you really want a challenge, you can build your very own Linux distribution, with the help of Linux From Scratch.

If you’re looking for a server-only distribution, you will also want to decide if you need a desktop interface, or if you want to do this via command-line only. The Ubuntu Server does not install a GUI interface. This means two things your server won’t be bogged down loading graphics and you’ll need to have a solid understanding of the Linux command line. However, you can install a GUI package on top of the Ubuntu Server with a single command like sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop. System administrators will also want to view a distribution with regards to features. Do you want a server-specific distribution that will offer you, out of the box, everything you need for your server? If so, CentOS might be the best choice. Or, do you want to take a desktop distribution and add the pieces as you need them? If so, Debian or Ubuntu Linux might serve you well.

If you’re looking for one of the most reliable, secure, and dependable platforms for both the desktop and the server, look no further than one of the many Linux distributions. With Linux you can assure your desktops will be free of trouble, your servers up, and your support requests minimal.

For more information to help guide you through your lifetime with Linux, check out the following resources: