What is Linux? A beginners guide

Linux is actually the most used and diversified operating system in existence. Everything from your smart home appliances to the enormous world of the Internet, Linux is doing wonders. It’s reliable, secure and most importantly open-source. But what exactly is Linux? You might be wondering (and that’s why you are here). 
Linux is an open-source community maintained project developed by Linus Torvalds. Torvalds comes up with this idea after getting disappointed with the Unix operating system. He wanted a community-driven operating system open to new changes and suggestions. It has continued to gain popularity among developers and programmers since then. And it’s now getting more and more exposure from casual users as well. 

Linux is a Kernel

A kernel is something that sits on top of your system’s hardware and helps communicate between your software and hardware. Linux at its minimum is basically a kernel that bridges the gap between hardware and software and does all the actual talking for them. It’s important because there’s is no point in an operating system if it can’t utilize (or communicate with) the hardware.

explaining kernel
So, when something is said to be backed by Linux it is actually the kernel it’s referring to. The kernel is modified to work with different hardware like a smart TV in your home, your android smartphone, your smart watch and even on the smart refrigerator.

What’s a Linux Distribution?

A Linux Distribution at its very basic is an operating system having a Linux kernel at its core. It provides the needed functionality to properly operate the system and handle software applications to increase the functionality of itself. 
linux distributions

The distributions are developed by organizations like Canonical (Ubuntu), Red Hat (RHEL, CentOS), etc. Not to mention all the different components of a distribution produced by other different organizations. Having a huge variety of Linux distributions makes it different from any other operating system out there (It provides you the ability to choose). Some popular distributions you can consider are:
  • Ubuntu
  • Linux Mint
  • Debian
  • Fedora
  • CentOS
  • Arch
  • Manjaro
  • openSUSE
Like I said previously It is an open-source project you too can develop your own operating system utilizing the source codes of the project if you want to. Nothing is stopping you from contributing.

Why they all look different?

Having diversity in Linux distributions is fun but still, they all have similar functionality at their core. To actually make them look different is where the idea of Desktop Environments comes. A desktop environment provides the much needed graphical user interface to make it actually usable for a desktop user. A distribution combines with a desktop environment makes up a fully functional operating system for Desktop users.
Linux desktop environments
Just like the distributions there exists a ton of different desktop environments targeting different sets of users according to their needs and taste. You can compare them to bring out the best Linux desktop environment for you. Some of the popular desktop environments are:
  • Gnome
  • KDE
  • Xfce
  • Cinnamon
  • MATE
Although you can still use Linux Operating System without a desktop environment through a command-line interface. And most of its servers work without a desktop environment. You’ll have to know the terminal commands to operate the system in that case.

Other Usecases

Including the Desktop usage Linux is being used heavily in other sectors as well:
  • It makes up a huge stack of users from embedded operating systems like Android which has acquired 77% of smartphone users.
  • With the introduction of IoT (Internet of Things) devices, Linux has shown active support and development in this area too.
  • It is a perfect choice for servers which requires almost 100% uptime while maintaining the server costs since it is robust and efficient. 
  • Slackware the oldest Linux derivative still actively contributing to research fields. 
  • Distributions like Kali, Parrot OS are serving in pen-testing and system administrator jobs.
  • There are Distributions like Arch and Gentoo for advanced users who want complete control of every bit in their system. 


Linux has come a long way and completely deserves the praise and popularity it is gaining today. The community has put lots of effort into making it the most loved Operating System. As a result, Linux has evolved into the largest open-source project existed. It has now become the most adopted operating system because it is simpler than ever to install Linux on your system, great community support, and active development. 
Linux hardly has left any hardware sector either you can tell or not there’s always some part of it serving you. Even it’s one of the biggest rivals Microsoft has realized its power and joined hands to contribute to its potential. The future seems to be in the hand of it with the introduction of cloud-based services and the internet of things devices Linux will continue to expand.
Dig further into it with an in-depth explanation by Plesk.