Frequently asked questions(FAQ)

It is one of the most fundamental questions as many people tend to confuse it a bit. Linux by itself is not an operating system, instead, it is the central and most important part of an OS called the Kernel. The kernel is the program inside the OS that has complete control over everything in the system and as such, it is the first program that loads up when the OS boots.

As I’ve said earlier, Linux is just the Kernel and a Linux Distribution is the complete OS that contains Linux as their Kernel with added programs and other software based on what the OS is targeted towards. Distributions, in short, are referred to as Distros. 

It’s a very interesting question and I was fascinated when I researched it. Linux is the most popular OS out there. It runs most of the Supercomputers on the planet, most of the servers that power the internet run on Linux and so on. Even Android, which currently dominates the smartphone industry, and ChromeOS run on the Linux kernel. Sadly the desktop segment is where Linux falls short as it’s third behind Windows and Mac OS X.   

Fear not, there are plenty of places to find help in Linux. Here at LinuxAndUbuntu, you’ll find excellent articles related to Linux like Installation Guides, Software Reviews, etc. Also, there are lots of forums and wikis that’ll help you out a lot when you have any queries or run into some problem. Popular distros even contain an IRC channel where you can directly ask someone when you face a problem. 

Linux is one of the most secure Operating Systems out there if not completely secure. Forget about paying for antivirus software that you had to install in Windows. Although viruses for Linux do exist but they’re too few in number to matter. Most viruses written for windows can’t even run in Linux. One of the reasons for this is because most viruses are targeted for Windows as it runs on the majority of desktops.

Although there are tens of thousands of packages in official repositories of distros like Debian and Ubuntu, it’s still way less than what you get in Windows. Softwares like Adobe Photoshop and iTunes are simply not available for Linux. You can search for Linux alternatives for such software or install windows software in Linux using emulators like Wine but they won’t run perfectly as they’re supposed to in Windows.  

Linux is freely available, and no one is required to register with any central authority, so it is difficult to know. Several businesses survive solely on selling and supporting Linux. Linux newsgroups are some of the most heavily read on Usenet. Accurate numbers are hard to come by, but the number is almost certainly in the millions. However, people can register as Linux users at the Linux Counter project, which has been in existence since 1993. In May of 2003 the project counted more than 134,000 users, but that is certainly only a small fraction of all users. The operator of the Linux Counter estimated 18 million users, as of May 2003.

It’s useful to shorten a frequently-used name, but not if the abbreviation is misleading. Almost everyone in developed countries really does know that the “Windows” system is made by Microsoft, so shortening “Microsoft Windows” to “Windows” does not mislead anyone as to that system’s nature and origin. Shortening “GNU/Linux” to “Linux” does give the wrong idea of where the system comes from. The question is itself misleading because GNU and Microsoft are not the same kind of thing. Microsoft is a company; GNU is an operating system.

There is no such thing as the “feel of Linux” because Linux has no user interfaces. Like any modern kernel, Linux is a base for running programs; user interfaces belong elsewhere in the system. Human interaction with GNU/Linux always goes through other programs, and the “feel” comes from them.

Calling the system “Linux” is a confusion that has spread faster than the corrective information.

The people who combined Linux with the GNU system were not aware that that’s what their activity amounted to. They focused their attention on the piece that was Linux and did not realize that more of the combination was GNU. They started calling it “Linux” even though that name did not fit what they had. It took a few years for us to realize what a problem this was and ask people to correct the practice. By that time, the confusion had a big head start.

Most of the people who call the system “Linux” have never heard why that’s not the right thing. They saw others using that name and assume it must be right. The name “Linux” also spreads a false picture of the system’s origin, because people tend to suppose that the system’s history was such as to fit that name. For instance, they often believe its development was started by Linus Torvalds in 1991. This false picture tends to reinforce the idea that the system should be called “Linux.”

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