Using Linux

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(This post is a modified version of a Multiply blog post I wrote on February 10th, 2008.)

During the 2008 winter term, I was taking up a Unix/Linux course (COMP 1156) at George Brown College – Casa Loma campus. Here’s a little knowledge I’d like to share about what I learned in my first class.

A little history about Linux:Linux

  • Linux is a modern, free operating system based on UNIX standards.
  • First developed as a small but self-contained kernel in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, with the major design goal of UNIX compatibility.
  • Its history has been one of collaboration by many users from all around the world, corresponding almost exclusively over the internet.
  • It has been designed to run efficiently and reliably on common PC hardware, but also runs on a variety of other platforms.
  • The core Linux operating system kernel is entirely original, but it can run much existing free UNIX software, resulting in an entire UNIX-compatible operating system free from proprietary code.

Using Linux as your operating system actually has many advantages:

  • Risk reduction
  • Meeting business needs
  • Stability and security
  • Different hardware platforms
  • Ease of customization
  • Ease of obtaining support
  • Cost reduction

Risk reduction means that using open source software (OSS) products offer you the opportunity to change and maintain the source code. Even if the market and consumer needs would change frequently, you don’t really have to worry much about changing software. This would surely result in reduced costs in administration and upgrades. If you used closed source software, on the other hand, then you would be gaining some burden in the financial aspect.

Red Hat Linux
Red Hat Linux

Linux is a system that meets a lot of business needs because it has different software available for different uses. It is also more stable and secure compared to closed source OS like Windows, since bugs and security loopholes can be identified and fixed more quickly. Fact is there’s actually lesser viruses in Linux compared to Windows.

There are also quite a number of different hardware platforms on which Linux can run, e.g. Intel, Macintosh, Itanium, Mainframe, Cirrus Logic, SPARC, and others. Linux is also easily customizable wherein you can compile the kernel needed to support only what is needed.

Linux documentation, newsgroups, and user groups contribute to the ease of obtaining support, whenever you would have a problem. Here are some helpful sites:

The Linux Documentation Project

Red Hat Linux Manuals – This site seems to have disappeared already now though.

I like programming and scripting but haven’t had the chance to do so lately. Sometimes I wish I took Computer Engineering instead of Electronics & Communications Engineering, but we’ll save that as another story for another day.