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Linux Operating System

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Linux Operating System

On January 29, 2009, Posted by , In Linux, By ,, , With No Comments

Linux Operating System

Introduction

Open-source software is redefining the software market. The software is developed to help people use their computers freely. The open-source community has named open-source software “Freedom Software.” Freedom software comes in all styles of software from applications to operating systems. One of the most famous open-source software is the operating system suite called Linux. Linux has been tested and proven for many years. Being that Linux was developed by the open-source community, Linux has some advantages and disadvantages. Some advantages and disadvantages are minor and some are major; therefore, the following information will discus the positive and negative aspects of Linux and compare Linux to Microsoft Windows. In order to understand the advantages and disadvantages of Linux, one must first understand the basics of Linux.

What is Linux?

Linux is a secure operating system and according to kerneal.org (2008), “Linux is a clone of the operating system Unix, written from scratch by Linus Torvalds with assistance from a loosely-knit team of hackers across the Net.” The operating system called Linux is really made up of many operating systems (OSs) such as SuSe, RedHat, Fedora, Gentoo, and Slackware. All Linux operating systems are based off the Linux kernel. The kernel is the core of the operating system; therefore, if one is using a Linux kernel, he/she is using a Linux OS. Knowing that Linux operating systems are built from the same kernel means all Linux OSs have similar advantages and disadvantages. The open-source community is still developing code for many Linux operating systems; therefore, the operating systems are getting more advanced and high-tech .

Advantages of Linux

The Linux operating system has many advantages over other operating systems and some of these Linux Operating Systemadvantages are stability, security, installation of software, and old hardware compatibility. Already, one can clearly see that the advantages are significant.

One of Linux’ major advantages over other operating systems is the ability to stay running after a program crashes. According to Thoelen (2004), “Linux can crash also, but it is much harder to do. If an application crashes in Linux, it will usually not harm the kernel or other processes.” When an application crashes, one needs to make sure the application is completely dead and then start a new application. The ability for application to crash without harming the kernel gives the users a very stable operating system. Having a stable OS means a lot to most people and it means even more to a company that can not take the time to reboot. One of the main goals for information technology departments is to maintain a high level of network infrastructure uptime.This demand of uptime is driving the migration to the Linux operating system. It is evident from the information displayed that Linux is a very sound operating system.

Another advantage to Linux is the security that the OS brings to the world. Thus, one of the main design features of Linux is the security. When Linux was designed, the developers wanted a truly secure operating system. The Linux source code is in public domain, which makes for a rapid development and rapid debugging of any security bugs. The source code is what makes Linux so secure. People from around the world have an opportunity to submit changes to be implemented in the code. Being able to do this helps debug the code quickly—the more people, the more work get done. Linux is designed so users run their day-to-day operation with a minimum privilege level. The only time a user is an administrator of the system is when something is being modified in the system. Running with user privileges stops almost all viruses and the unwanted installation of ad-ware and spy-ware. Also, stopping all unwanted back-door installs increases security significantly. Another way Linux inhibits viruses is though the fact that not one Linux system is alike. Linux is so customizable that most Linux installs are uniquely designed, so writing a repeatable virus is almost impossible. The security of Linux is improving the information era WAN (wide area network) wide.

Another advantage to Linux is how software is installed. Most Linux OSs have a package repository. Therefore if an application is available, one can run the application install command; for example in Ubuntoo Linux, the command is “app-get” so if one wanted Firefox, he/she would type “app-get Firefox.” The command is different on each version of Linux; for example on SuSe, the command is “yum” or “yast2.” With such a command, one can install software in a matter of minutes. With this power, technicians can install and troubleshoot software and hardware in a very short time, which saves company time and money.Having an installation utility makes Linux a great asset to Information technology teams.

Last, but not least, the Linux OS runs on just about any device, thus one can easily find a version of Linux to run on whatever hardware is around the office. The operating system for mobile device made by Google is called Android and is a good example of a flavor of Linux. Being able to run on almost any hardware makes Linux very versatile. Because of this fact technicians from around the world use Linux as a tool to help troubleshoot hardware and software of all types. With the information above, one can deduce that Linux is a good operating system.

With advantages such as stability, security, installation, and hardware versatility Linux has great benefits over other operating systems.

Disadvantages of Linux

Every operating system has its Achilles’ heel and Linux is no exception to the rule. Linux is a great operating system, but it has a few disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages are software support, user knowledge, and hardware support.

Linux is not a perfect operating system; one of the biggest downfalls to Linux is that the software vendors are not quick to port software over to Linux, if they port the software at all. Therefore, Microsoft still has most of the software developed for Windows. More software vendors are starting to develop software for Linux, but it will take time for all vendors to start looking at multi-platform support. Most of the gaming market is still developing for Windows. Linux does have tools, such as Wine, which are designed to run windows application in Linux. These tools do not always do three dimensional video and most importantly these applications do not always work. This disadvantage can be troubling for some users. Most people don’t want to totally give up on Windows and all of its applications. Some solutions include dual-booting Linux and Windows or running a virtual machine inside of Linux. To implement any of the above solutions, an intense knowledge of computing is needed. The information presented shows how not having all of the Windows software can be a disadvantage to some users.

Another downfall is the knowledge it takes to run Linux. Linux is a great operating system, but it will take some time to understand how things in the operating system are working. The Linux base operating system is user friendly, but most people have not used or even seen Linux; therefore, using an unknown operating system is difficult at first. For example, people moving from Windows XP to Window Vista have a difficult time locating anything in the updated operating system. Moving to a totally new operating system all together will take some adapting, so becoming an expert in one day is not feasible. The knowledge it takes to administrate Linux is known throughout the world among information technology professionals. The extreme knowledge is what makes Linux the prime-learning platform.

The last downfall is that not all new hardware works for Linux when the hardware is first deployed. When new hardware is developed, it is normally designed to work with Windows and not Linux. In order to make new hardware work with Linux, developers need to wait until the new hardware is available to the public before developing the software updates. Software updates of this nature can take days, weeks, and sometimes they may not even be developed at all. Developing software after hardware has been released to the public is not the ideal way to develop software. Linux operating system has some disadvantages, but when deployed correctly Linux can be a great asset.

With disadvantages such as software support, user knowledge, and hardware support, one can clearly see how Linux can be challenging at times. If one is willing to learn how Linux operates and how to counter all the other disadvantages, then the true power of Linux will shine.

Linux Compared to Microsoft Windows

Some computer technicians say that Linux is better that Windows. When comparing the price, stability, and the rebooting factors one can make a clear decision.

Linux and Windows are both OSs; therefore, they can be compared rather easily. According to ComputerHope.com (2008), “The majority of Linux variants are available for free or at a much lower price than Microsoft Windows.” Microsoft software has been climbing in price over the last few years and most, if not all, Linux software is free under the General Public License (GPL) agreement. Also, most freedom software is licensed under the GPL license agreement. Most software for Windows costs around 40 US dollars. Companies have a lot of money invested in software, so moving to open-source software could be beneficial. A lot of companies have already jumped to Linux-based servers in their organization; therefore, a complete jump to Linux can save the company more money.

Another excellent comparison is the stability of between Linux operating systems and Windows operating systems. Windows crashes so often that the information technology community came up with a name for its crash: blue- screen-of-death. On the other side of the coin, Linux does not normally crash, unless setup incorrectly or if hardware issues arise. Some Linux servers have been running for years; for example, some servers on record that have been running for 882 days. If a Linux system shuts down or reboots, it is considered to be an issue because the only reason a system is rebooted is if hardware fails. In fact, the command “uptime” in Linux verifies the amount of time the system has be online. Being able to run for years gives Linux a major advantage in the server market because Google or any other search-engine does not want to reboot their servers every few days. It is very evident from the information above that a stable operating system is a major part of business.

The last comparison between Linux and Windows is the reboot factor. Windows is known for the “reboot fix.” One reason Windows needs to be rebooted is because some applications run in the Windows Kernel. With Linux, if an application stops responding, one needs to kill the process with the command “kill -9 application process ID” and restart the application; therefore, due to the dependable non-crashing capability of Linux, no rebooting is necessary. When installing applications and updating software, Linux does not need to reboot because the core of the operating system, the kernel, stays in tack and applications do not affect the kernel. The ability to stay running for a long period of time saves on the downtime in the office, thus saving money.The fact that Linux runs for years gives it a significant advantage over Windows.

By comparing the price, stability, and the rebooting factors one can clearly see that Linux has more advantages than Windows. However, both operating systems have a place in the world of computing.

Conclusion

To conclude, the operating system suite called Linux has come a long way and still has a long way to go. Linux is an outstanding operating system and anyone interested in computer science should look into it. With advantages such as strong security and low cost, it is clear that Linux has a firm standing in the operating system market. Operating systems will never be perfect because of the human interaction when programming, but with the right community operating systems can be secure.

References

Computer Hope (2008). Retrieved October 25, 2008, from

http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000575.htm

Disco Tech. (2008). Retrieved December 1, 2008, from

http://www.disco-tech.org/Linux%20tux-large.jpg

Express Computer online (2007). Retrieved October 25, 2008, from

http://www.expresscomputeronline.com/20020408/focus2.shtml

RTCubed Consulting, LLC. (2004). Retrieved October 25, 2008, from

http://www.rtcubed.com/

The Linux Kernal Archie. (2008). Retrieved December 1, 2008, from

http://www.kernel.org

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