By Sean Toru | last updated 28th December 2020



What is Linux

Linux is a computer operating system, just like Windows or MacOS. You can install it on a computer and click through files and folders just like you would on a Mac or a PC.

But unlike Windows and MacOS, Linux is Open Source. This means you don’t have to pay for a license, and you can make changes to it without asking for anybody’s permission. Linux being free is fundamental to the modern internet. It enables organisations to set up vast arrays of web servers (aka the cloud) without incurring crippling licensing fees from companies like Microsoft and IBM. Linux was born at roughly the same time companies like Google and Facebook, and it’s difficult to see how these platforms could have gotten off the ground without it.

Linux is the poster child of the Open Source community. This community is part idealistic, part academic, part hobby and part commercial. People who would otherwise never have meet and who have no professional relationships with each other collaborated to create one of the most complex software systems imaginable - a stable, secure operating system. The project was lead by (and named after) Linus Torvalds, who also created the GIT version control tool. There are many versions of it today, each with their own thriving development communities and specialisations.

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