What Is Linux? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Is Linux a kernel? Operating System?


If you’re a netizen who likes to explore the depths of everything tech and non-tech, you may have heard about Linux. We saw a lot of tech trends in the year 2021, but Linux was the one topping the charts throughout the year. So, what exactly is Linux? Who uses it and why? Read ahead to clear out all the confusion.

Linux: What is it?

Most people think Linux is an operating system, but no, it’s not. It’s a kernel, and it’s used in more than 80% of smart devices today. You’re probably reading this on a device that the Linux Kernel powers. It also fuels servers and every supercomputer in the world today.

Android, the most popular OS globally, is based on the Linux kernel. Likewise, Linux on desktop (Linux distributions) has gained popularity thanks to popular GNU/Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, Manjaro, Linux Mint, etc.

Linux is open-source, meaning anyone worldwide can contribute to the project. Linux distributions, their desktop environments, and software are also open-source.

What is Kernel?

But what exactly is a kernel? For starters, think of the kernel as the middleman and the brains of an operating system. It can allocate system resources by directly talking to the CPU, Memory, Storage, and other components. If you’re launching an app, the request first goes to the kernel, and from there, it talks to the CPU and allocates the memory required to run that app.

Linus Torvalds developed Linux in the early 1990s when he was a student at the University of Helsinki. Now, almost 30 years later Torvalds still foresees the development of the Linux kernel that receives updates quite frequently.

The Finnish software engineer wanted to create something similar to a UNIX operating system called MINIX. Some say that he created Linux because he didn’t have enough money to buy a UNIX system.

Others say that he had MINIX (A Unix look-a-like), but he wanted to develop a modem to talk to a remote computer; hence, he started with a terminal program. While Linus kept working on it, adding features, it grew soon, and he soon realized that this could be an OS! If you want to know more about Linus Torvalds, check out our “10 facts about Linus Torvalds” article.

If you have further doubts, we extensively cover Linux on the website, so check out our Linux articles. Also, let us know if you’ve ever used a Linux distribution before.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Abubakar Mohammed

Abubakar Mohammed

Abubakar is a Linux and Tech Writer. Hailing from a Computer Science background, the start of his love for Tech dates back to 2011, when he was gifted a Dell Inspiron 5100. When he's not covering Tech, you'll find him binge-watching anime and Tech content on YouTube or hunting heads in competitive FPS games. You can also find his work on Android Police and How-To Geek.
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