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Linux - An Introduction

What is Linux?

Linux, like Windows, iOS, and Mac OS, is an operating system. It’s the power behind one of the most popular platforms on the planet, Android. An operating system is software that manages all hardware resources associated with your desktop or laptop. Simply put, the operating system facilitates communication between your software and hardware. Without the operating system (OS), the software wouldn’t function.

The Linux operating system includes several components:

  1. Bootloader – This software manages your computer’s boot process. For most users, it’s a splash screen that appears and eventually disappears to boot into the operating system.
  2. Kernel – This is the core of the system, hence the only part actually referred to as ‘Linux’. It manages the CPU, memory, and peripheral devices. The kernel operates at the lowest level of the OS.
  3. Init system – This sub-system initiates the user space and controls daemons. One of the most widely used init systems is systemd, also one of the most controversial. It manages the boot process once the bootloader (such as GRUB or GRand Unified Bootloader) hands it over.
  4. Daemons – These are background services (like printing, sound, scheduling, etc.) that start up either during boot or after you log into the desktop.
  5. Graphical server – This sub-system displays the graphics on your monitor. It’s commonly referred to as the X server or just X.
  6. Desktop environment – This is the component that users actually interact with. There are many desktop environments to choose from (like GNOME, Cinnamon, Mate, Pantheon, Enlightenment, KDE, Xfce, etc.). Each one includes built-in applications (such as file managers, configuration tools, web browsers, and games).
  7. Applications – Desktop environments don’t offer the full array of apps. Similar to Windows and macOS, Linux offers thousands of high-quality software titles that can be easily found and installed. Most modern Linux distributions include App Store-like tools that centralize and simplify application installation. For instance, Ubuntu Linux has the Ubuntu Software Center (a rebrand of GNOME Software) which allows you to quickly search among thousands of apps and install them from one centralized location.

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