What is Linux?

What is Linux used for?

Application Servers

Database Servers


X Terminal Clients

Unix Development

Network Servers

Internet Servers

Cluster Computing

Embedded systems

University systems

Vertical Solutions such as


Medical offices,

Reservation systems,

Legal offices,

Petroleum companies,









Trader Workstations,

Corporate Developers,

and more...

Linux is an Operating System, which acts as a communication service between the hardware (or physical equipment of a computer) and the software (or applications which use the hardware) of a computer system.

The Linux Kernel (the core, much like a popcorn kernel) contains all of the features that you would expect in any Operating System. Some of the features included are:

  • Multitasking (a technique for sharing a single processor between several independent jobs)
  • Virtual Memory (allows repetitive, extended use of the computer's RAM for performance enhancement)
  • Fast TCP/IP Drivers (for speedy communication)
  • Shared Libraries (enable applications to share common code)
  • Multi-user Capability (this means hundreds of people can use the computer at the same time, either over a network, the Internet, or on laptops/computers or terminals connected to the serial ports of those computers).
  • Protected Mode (allows programs to access physical memory, and protects stability of the system)

What is a Linux Distribution?
Linux is distributed by a number of commercial and non-commercial organizations who add to, or enhance the basic functions (or kernel) of the operating system. SuSE Linux, for example, is a distribution of Linux with features of the core Linux Kernel and enhancements, which are specific to that distribution. Linux distributions come completely pre-configured to specifications set by that organization, and include configuration utilities and installers.

Can I run GUI Programs on Linux?
Linux has a free X Windows Graphical User Interface (GUI), similar to Microsoft Windows which allows most X Based programs to run under Linux without any modification. Windows programs can run inside of X-Windows with the help of an emulator called WINE. Usually, Windows programs can run up to 10 times faster, due to Linux' buffering capabilities!

Will Linux mess up my network?
Networking support in Linux is advanced and superior to most other Operating Systems. Since the people developing Linux collaborated and used the Internet for their development efforts, networking support came early in Linux development. As an Internet server, Linux is a very good choice, often outperforming Windows NT, Novell and most UNIX systems on the same hardware (even multiprocessor boxes). Linux is frequently chosen by leading businesses for superior server and network performance.

Linux supports all of the most common Internet protocols, including Electronic Mail, Usenet News, Gopher, Telnet, Web, FTP, Talk, POP, NTP, IRC, NFS, DNS, NIS, SNMP, Kerberos, WAIS and many more. Linux can operate as a client or as a server for all of the above and has already been widely used and tested.

Linux also fits easily and tightly into Local Area Networks (LANs), regardless of system combinations, providing full and seamless support for Macintosh, DOS, Windows, Windows NT, Windows 95, Novell, OS/2, using their own native communication protocols. Linux can do all of this with low memory requirements.

Will Linux run on my Mac?
Linux continues to develop quickly, with distributions for PowerPC, Macintosh, Amiga and some Atari's.

What if Linus Torvalds stops working on Linux?
Linux is written and maintained by Linus Torvalds and programmers worldwide using the Internet as a communication tool. Linux aims towards POSIX compliance (a set of standards that show what a UNIX should be). If Linus Torvalds ever decided to abandon the project, since we have the full source code available, somebody else could take his place. The Linux kernel development will still continue no matter what happens to Linus.

What are the license restrictions?
The Linux Kernel is Copyright (c) Linus B. Torvalds under the terms of the General Public License (GPL). The GPL states that the source code must be freely distributed and that anyone is allowed to make copies for their own use, or to sell or give to other people (with a few restrictions). While most Linux software is GPL'd, this does not mean that all software developed or ported to Linux has to be. Many other licenses exist, with some commercial software packages having more restrictive licenses, such as the common copying restrictions faced by Windows users.

Are there any applications that run on Linux?
There are thousands of applications running on Linux worldwide. See "What is Linux Used For?" for a small sampling of the many ways Linux is used today.

Why is there a Penguin on Linux stuff?
Tux is the Linux mascot, chosen by Linus Torvalds, who said, "I was looking for something fun and sympathetic to associate with Linux. A slightly fat penguin that sits down after having had a great meal fits the bill perfectly.... Don't take the penguin too seriously. It's supposed to be kind of goofy and fun, that's the whole point. Linux is supposed to be goofy and fun (it's also the best operating system out there, but it's goofy and fun at the same time!)." [quote borrowed from http://www.nd.edu/~ljordan/linux/tuxhistory.html]

The text and images on this page are courtesy
Linux International


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