What is Linux? Definition, Components, Popular Distros, and More


Linux is among the most popular operating systems among developers and technical people. It is usually preferred to accomplish many tasks. Some of the most popular uses of the operating system are as a server OS, for networking, and for coding.

Nonetheless, it comes in many flavors to meet different requirements, ranging from personal desktop computing to dedicated containerization.

What is Linux?

Along with Windows and macOS, Linux is one of the most popular operating systems. It is a Unix-like OS for PCs, servers, mainframes, mobile devices, and embedded devices that is open-source and maintained by the community.

The main difference between Linux and Windows is that while the former is free, the latter is a paid and proprietary product. Anyways, Linux is one of the most extensively supported operating systems, as it is supported on practically every major computer platform, including x86, ARM, and SPARC.

What is an Operating System?

An operating system is a piece of software that controls all of your computer’s hardware. Simply put, the operating system is in charge of software-hardware communication.

An OS acts as the medium between user and system hardware. It is a type of software that is responsible for providing control of the hardware to the user using system software and applications. Moreover, without the operating system, a machine cannot run the software.

Components of the Linux Operating System

Every operating system has some components, and Linux is no exception. The following list enumerates and explains the various components of the Linux operating system:

1) Kernel

It is that part of the OS that is “closest” to the computer’s hardware because it controls the CPU, memory access, and any peripheral devices. It’s your operating system’s “lowest” degree of functionality.

2) Shell

The purpose of the shell is for you to be able to tell the operating system what to do. It’s also known as the command line, and it’s a feature that allows you to give commands to the popular operating system.

However, command-line programming is unfamiliar to many people nowadays, and it used to be a deterrent to using the OS. This has changed since a modern Linux distribution will employ a desktop shell similar to that of Windows.

3) Bootloader

Your computer must go through a startup process known as booting. This boot process requires instructions, and your operating system is the program in charge of it. The bootloader for your OS kickstarts the process when you turn on your computer.

4) Background Services

These little apps, known as “daemons,” serve as slaves in the background, ensuring that critical tasks such as scheduling, printing, and multimedia work properly. They begin to load after you have logged into your computer or after you have booted up.

5) Graphics Server

This creates a graphical subsystem that displays images and shapes on your computer screen. The “X” or “X-server” graphical server is used by Linux.

6) Desktop Environment

The graphical server cannot be directly interacted with. Rather, you’ll require server-control software. In Linux, this is referred to as a desktop environment, and there are numerous options available, such as KDE, Unity, and Cinnamon. A desktop environment typically includes a variety of programs, such as a file manager, web browsers, as well as a few games.

7) Applications

Obviously, the desktop environment that comes with your Linux OS or that you choose to install will not be able to meet all of your application requirements; there are far too many.

Individual applications, on the other hand, can be installed, and there are hundreds for this operating system, just as there are thousands for Windows and macOS. Most Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, offer app shops that can help you find and install the software.

Linux Distributions

A Linux distribution (Linux distro) is a collection of Linux packages. It is an operating system consisting of a collection of software based on the Linux kernel, or a distribution that includes the kernel as well as supporting libraries and software.

Owing to the popularity enjoyed by the OS for its high portability and customizability, Linux distros come in many flavors. Different Linux distributions are apt for different user needs. Some of the leading distributions of the OS are:

  • Debian – It is the popular Linux distribution upon which Ubuntu is built. It emphasizes the use of free and open-source software.
  • Fedora – It is a distribution of the OS developed by Red Hat and numerous sponsors. Fedora aims to be a complete and convenient OS for developers and makers.
  • Linux Mint – This is a distribution that aims to be a desktop OS suitable for both home users and companies for free. Mint focuses on efficiency, elegance, and ease of use.
  • Manjaro – It is an Arch-Linux-based distro that focuses on accessibility and user-friendliness.
  • Solus – This Linux distribution is designed for home computing.
  • Ubuntu – It is one of the most popular distributions of the operating system that usually made into the top 10 best Linux distributions. The modern distro comes in three variants, namely Desktop, Server, and Core. The latter is ideal for IoT and AI.

Almost any Linux distribution can be downloaded for free, burned to disc (or installed on a USB thumb drive), and used (on as many machines as you like).

On the desktop, each distribution has its own approach. Some come with more modern user interfaces while others feature a more conventional desktop environment.

Advantages of Linux

  • Since the OS is open-source, it is freely available for download so, even if any updates are there then also no extra cost has to be paid for updation or registration.
  • The operating system is adaptable, in the sense that it can be put on any hardware; if a user is unsure what OS can be installed on her machine, she can use Linux.
  • It has a Unix-based security mechanism that is extremely safe against internet threats and other assaults.
  • Linux is designed to operate continuously without restarting, and many applications can be scheduled during quiet hours as a result of this capability.
  • Because the OS is open-source, it may be adapted to meet specific needs, and issue fixes can be found quickly.
  • Linux commands are simple to start with but can be powerful.

Disadvantages of Linux

  • It is not particularly user-friendly, and it might be perplexing to newcomers.
  • The GNU Public License (GPL) stipulates that anybody can modify and distribute a modified version of Linux. As a result, it’s a little difficult to find a version that meets our requirements.

Why Use Linux?

We rarely wonder why we need to change operating systems because the majority of us use desktop operating systems that come prepackaged with our computers and laptops. Only a few people are interested in learning a new operating system, and they rarely inquire about Linux since they believe their current operating system is adequate.

However, it is not always clear how much time is wasted battling basic OS issues such as unwanted software such as viruses, as well as frequent OS crashes and the resulting expensive repairs. Remember that most operating systems include a license price as well.

It’s possible that your current operating system isn’t up to the task. If you’re sick of paying for an operating system and dreading the expensive upkeep that comes with it, consider Linux as it might be a better, free option. There is no cost to try the OS, and many people (especially developers and technical people) consider it to be the most stable desktop operating system.

Also, it is a more secure operating system than most other operating systems. Linux and Unix-based operating systems have fewer security vulnerabilities since the code is regularly checked by a large number of developers. Moreover, the scope of customization is huge as Its source code is also available to anyone.


In this blog, we have covered what a Linux operating system is and its components. We further have gone through why one should use the operating system, and its advantages and disadvantages.

This operating system comes with multiple versions and each of them has a different approach to computing. Hence, which version is suitable for beginners and which is for seasoned developers depends completely on your needs.

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