What is GNU + Linux? Why should you care?
Am going to talk about one of my favourite things in the world, what lead me to where I am today, Linux, the open-source operating system created by the community!
What is linux?
You use Linux everyday, without even noticing, you are using linux right now!! since this webpage is hosted on github, and github is hosted on azure that is the cloud computing service that microsoft offers, that their servers are based on linux, you see the connection? Linux is everywhere! and you can’t escape it, linux is on your cars, roku devices, servers, super computers, android phones, smart devices, and we can go like this for hours, but answering the real question
Linux is a operating system just like Windows and Mac OS
But is a bit different…
Linux itself ins’t a operating system, is a kernel, and what is a kernel you may ask, a kernel is the core of the operating system, the kernel function is to manage the hardware (CPU, RAM, physical devices, etc…) to make it interact with your software, so for example: google chrome needs 2 GB of ram for all your tabs, so it interacts with the kernel so the kernel gives google your ram.
The kernel is the lowest level of the OS, meaning that is the most attached to hardware.
So, if linux is a kernel, how is an operating system? And that’s a great question, Linux was made by Linus Torvalds, who started linux as a “personal project” and made the source code open to the public so they can opine about it, but what it really made was that people wanted to work with him! and he said “it’s a personal project, nothing big like GNU” (we will cover the GNU part later) and people wanted to contribute to his project with code! and a big group of people around the world that liked the project contributed with code, currently 5,000+ persons are contributing code to linux and the linux kernel has already 1,000.000 commits! and finally the linux kernel was created, here is where GNU comes into place.
What is GNU?
GNU is a Unix-like operating system. That means it is a collection of many programs: applications, libraries, developer tools, even games. The development of GNU, started in January 1984, is known as the GNU Project. Many of the programs in GNU are released under the auspices of the GNU Project; those we call GNU packages.
From the official GNU’s webpage
But the summary is that GNU (GNU not Unix) is a Unix-like operating system (Mac OS like, since Mac OS is based on Unix) created by Richard M. Stallman (a brilliant person) and it offers a big collection of tools that are free software but that is another story, and this takes a big role, that’s why is called GNU/Linux, because the kernel is Linux and the operating system is GNU.
What is GNU + Linux?
GNU/Linux is a complete operating system that is free and open-source software, meaning that the code is available for everyone to see on the internet, so if anything spooky like spyware be in there it just would be forked (cloned) with that feature removed, so that means that is a secure, fast, and privacy-respecting operating system, is lighting fast since it doesn’t have background process that you don’t need, and because everyone can code for the GNU/Linux operating systems, known as distros, that is the short word of distributions, and distros are different OSes based on GNU/Linux, there is a wide amount of configuration available thanks to the project being open-source, so if you have a low-end machine there is a desktop lightweight enough for your computer to run smooth as butter! or you can just go crazy and create your own desktop if you want to!
They are a lot of distros out there, but the one you choose should depend on these factors:
- How skilled you are with computers?
- Server or desktop?
- Low-end or high-end computer?
With that type of factors in mind you can choose your perfect linux distro!
You can take this image from Anthony Young from Linus Tech Tips!
Now with that technical introduction, we can go to the important question…
Why should I care?
Because linux could be the answer to you! If you have old or low-end hardware, or just windows giving you a lot of blue screens, or you are concerned about your security and privacy, Windows is not going to be the best option, why?
Because windows is bloated and difficult to mantain, bloated meaning with full of software you don’t want to (like candy crush) and difficult to mantain because the way of installing applications is tedious and that leads to malicious software being downloaded without you even noticing, and that could be answer why of your blue screens of dead, or crashes, or lots of anti-virus that are really spyware, or slowness being of software that steals your computing resources to mine cryptocurrencies for example…
While linux being really different to windows, is much easier, secure, faster, and reliable, you can’t get viruses on linux unless you know what you are doing, so for anyone who does office work (documents, presentations, spreadsheets), web browsing, mails here and there, and that’s it, you will be better of with Linux! Just have a little patience for the first days and then you will be good to go!
But that doesn’t mean that linux is only for that type of users, high-end computers and tech-savy users are more than welcomed since here you have the freedom to use your computer completly and the best way possible, your way, is perfect for heavy tasks, like gaming, video editing, virtualization, coding, etc…
Really linux is for everyone, for programmers, to grandmas, or office work, really for everyone, and for the gamers too! the gaming world we are a little left behind, because Easy Anti cheat support for linux was just announced today! So we have to wait for easy-anti-cheat games are developed for linux, but these holidays we are going to get the biggest news ever being that the steam deck is released! being the steam deck OS “SteamOS” based on Arch Linux!.
Should I switch to GNU + Linux?
The answer is totally!
Your will have a privacy-respecting, a secure and fast computer that manages to get your work done! and you can customize it however you want, and tedious tasks will be easier than ever and the best thing is that is free and open-source software, so no spyware or piracy for that office license that you don’t want to pay, here is free, free as in freedom, and free as in gratis, free as in free beer!
Soon in a new blogpost I will talk about more deeply in distros and how to install Linux on your machine!