The penguin inside
We all know Linux is great ... it does infinite loops in 5 seconds.
-- attributed to Linus Torvalds
I'm sure that anyone even remotely interested in computers must have heard
of Linux by now. Some have wondered what it is, others have tried
installing it. Yet others play with it now and then. Some people bless it
and some curse it. Some are scared of the apparent need to learn arcane
commands. Others would rather type `find / -name mailto.pl -print' than
search through a GUI file browser.
But there are many who wonder -- Just what is Linux? Linus Torvalds, the
man behind Linux, says that it is not the cure for world hunger. It is an
operating system, somewhat similar to Unix. What most people call Linux is
actually a core (the Linux kernel, which is all that Linus really
developed) and a whole bunch of utilities, applications, TSR's, and
All these are packaged together as a distribution. There are many
The list is endless ( See http://www.ldl.cx).
These distributions typically have a version number that has nothing to do
with the kernel version. For example Red Hat 6.0 comes with kernel 2.2.5.
The kernel version is the actual Linux version and new releases typically
take place at intervals on the order of a week or two -- meaning quick
Linux's strong point is the open-source nature, which means that the
kernel source code (which just happens to be C) is open for all to view
and modify. According to proponents of the open source method, this is
good because the bugs are caught quickly, and anyone who can read C can
understand and create extension to the system.
Most of the applications and utilities are distributed under the GNU GPL
, which means that they are also open. This is why a
Linux system as a whole is often referred to as "GNU/Linux". Open Source
(yes, capitals) and Linux often go hand-in-hand, to the extent that
GNU/Linux is one of the first platforms for which any new Open Source
program is written.
Those who are daunted at the prospect of learning countless arcane
commands have a choice. Linux may be used via a CLUE (Command Line User