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What is Linux?

Sandra Prior
Jun 17, 2008
Linux - the operating system for a GNU (pronounced Gnew) generation. It has been dubbed the alternative to Microsoft, the solution to all life's problems and many other things that may or may not be true. But what is Linux, and should you care?

To answer the first question, it's a free operating system that looks and acts very much like Unix. You can download it off the Net for free, or you can copy it legally from a friend - although this might take all the fun out of using that CD-Writer you've got and never use for anything, except to brag about it to your friends.

Alternatively, you can buy it nicely packaged from an Internet store and get it delivered with a book about Linux, (Linux Unleashed).

Distributors charge not for the operating system itself, but for their time in packaging and presenting it. Two popular flavors of Linux are Free BSD and Ubuntu. These offer the same basic systems with a few slight differences that can lead to long and entertaining godly wars between supporters of each.

If you're getting into Linux for the first time, Ubuntu is a good bet. You can either go for Ubuntu Desktop which comes with a GUI, or you can opt for Ubuntu Server if you planning to host websites of your own. The server edition has no GUI, but you can install KDE or Gnome to make your life easier. Most of your configuration will be done via the Terminal and you will have to learn a lot of Linux commands.

Linux is more complicated, and it depends on the kind of person you are. If you're the type of computer user who wants every application to run straight out of the box and your system to just do what it's told and run your games, then stick with Windows. But if you're a pioneering soul who wants to find out more about your system and tweak it to perform to the max, then Linux is definitely worth a try.

If you want rock-solid Internet access, if you want to support the development of free software and more efficient solutions, or if you're just the type of person who needs control over every aspect of your life including how your machine performs, then you're definitely a Linux candidate. Linux is perfectly suited to students, developers and just about anyone who wants to try something other than the norm. Newcomers will find support straight off the Internet from thousands of kindred spirits.

It's worth a try - maybe you'll discover a Whole New World of fun and adventure. Or maybe you'll just take it straight off your machine and go back to Windows. However, if you planning to try it out, then load it on that old machine that's just lying around in the basement. You don't need powerful processors and hardware - the most important component is memory. If you have 512mb and a 20gig hard drive then you should be OK. You should be able to run all your applications including your websites with ease. Remember, you will need a permanent connection to the Internet if you going to host your own websites. The best part is that you don't need any antivirus and antispyware software if you're running Linux. Every would-be-virus-writer out there has only one target in mind - Microsoft Windows.

Whether you stick with Linux or not, you'll have come out of your safety zone and taken a trip to the cutting edge of computer technology.
About the Author
Subscribe to Sandra Prior's Online Newsletter and get up to date Computer Technology News delivered right to your email box for free.
See website for details http://usacomputers.rr.nu and http://sacomputers.rr.nu.
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