Download Linux For Free
I see Linux mentioned in online forums, and people talking about dumping Microsoft Windows. I understand Linux is free, but I'm not clear on exactly what it is! Can I really replace Windows with Linux, and still have the web, email, word processing and all the other programs I currently use?
What is Linux?
Yes, Virginia, there is a free operating system. Linux is a complete operating system (software that controls the basic functions of the personal computer) and it runs on ordinary personal computers. The added fact that it's freely available and "open source" makes it all the more attractive.
And yes, you really can use Linux as a free alternative to Windows. From a user perspective, Linux does everything that Windows does. It has a slick graphical interface, web browsing, email, and tons of free application software for business, productivity, graphics and gaming.
Linux is also perfect for people who want to operate their own low-cost Internet servers, and it's robust enough to satisfy the needs of many Internet service providers. Linux is a multiuser and multitasking environment, and it can access huge amounts of memory (gigabytes) and huge amounts of disk storage space (terabytes). Linux offers virtually everything that Windows has been promising for years and may not deliver in a truly stable form for some time to come.
Linux is also being taken very seriously by the computer industry, with new Linux-compatible versions of popular Windows software being announced all the time. The Apache Web server software running on Linux platforms powers about half of all Web sites today. Even more telling, Microsoft considers Linux a major threat to its Windows empire.
Some Linux History
In the early 90s, a geek named Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki in Finland thought it would be fun to write a Unix kernel from scratch. He called it Linux, and it was cool but pretty much useless without all the utility programs needed to make it a complete operating system. At the same time, Richard Stallman and his pals at the Free Software Foundation were writing a bunch of freeware Unix utilities collectively known as the GNU Project. It was cool but pretty much useless without a kernel to make it a complete operating system. Fortunately, the two parties came together like peanut butter and chocolate.
Note: GNU is one of those recursive acronyms that computer scientists love; it stands for GNU's Not Unix. The GNU Project is an effort sponsored by the Free Software Foundation to provide freely available Unix software.
News of Linux spread quickly over the Internet, and many other Unix programmers joined the effort to enhance it. What we now know as Linux is a combination of Torvald's Linux kernel, the GNU Project software, and some other nifty software bit and pieces developed by programmers from all around the world.
Linux was written totally from scratch without using any of the original AT&T UNIX code. Because of that, and thanks to the larger open-source software community, Linux is free. You can obtain the source code, modify, sell or give away the software so long as you provide full source code and don't impose any restrictions on what others do with it.
If you want to try Linux, you need to understand that there are many variants called "distributions" that you can download and install. Popular Linux distributions include Ubuntu, Debian, Slackware, Fedora and many more. I recommend that you start with Ubuntu if you're new to Linux. Wubi will install Ubuntu Linux on your Windows PC without affecting your existing Windows setup. If you decide it's not for you, you can remove Ubuntu with a few clicks.
Do you have a favorite Linux website to recommend? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 29 Apr 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Download Linux For Free (Posted: 29 Apr 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved