Linux 101

Here’s a primer on what Linux is and how it differs from Windows and Mac OS.

What is Linux?

1. It’s open source – the Linux Foundation takes care of the Linux kernel

2. Diverse distros – the great diversity of Linux distros mimic the natural world, and thus are less prone to Windows-type vulnerabilities. This diversity is an antidote to the risk of homogeneous population brought about by Microsoft’s monopoly. Remember that monopoly is one negative side effect of the free market economy. The idea that Microsoft is a national security threat is an exaggeration, although Microsoft security woes is in part a result of complexity, aggressive marketing and the proprietary nature of its source code

3. Free Software Foundation – like it or not, Linux is built on the philosophy championed by FSF. The resultant ecosystem is first and foremost a product of the freedom afforded to developers to read, write, modify and distribute the code as they see fit

What Desktop  Linux Ought to Do?

1. Business-driven – To compete in business, Linux must play the rules of business.

— clean up the drivers mess (printers, peripherals)

— usability, usability, usability

— marketing

2. Standards-driven

— clean up the package management system (RPM, DEB)

— beef up the desktop (GNOME, KDE)

3. Integration

Although there are multiple ways of doing the same thing, integration must be uniform at the GUI level (the look and feel), integration in plumbing, and integration in parts. The Big 3 (Red Hat, Novell and Canonical) must come up with a common way of attacking the usability champion that is Apple, and the marketing king that is Microsoft.

In the end, an operating system is just a piece of the platform. For desktop users, Linux is best for those who will give it a try, and the time to explore its nuances.

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