What Is Linux?

Although Windows might be the most commercially popular operating system in the world, there’s a lot to be said for Linux when it comes to web hosting.

You may not know much about operating systems, and certainly today’s systems make sure you don’t have to be an expert. Their easily-navigated graphical user interfaces (GUIs) make running applications, creating files and surfing the internet a breeze. So why is it that Linux, an operating system which is monitored and run primarily from the command line, is one of the most widely used operating systems on the planet?

That’s because of web hosting.

When running a dedicated server you take the reins entirely. You have the freedom to launch, manage and reboot your server at will as the command line is yours to play with. When you’re running a shared hosting package, all of this freedom remains with your hosting company (that’s us!) for the sake of easy management of all the shared resources on the server, but once your hosting package expands the responsibility is passed over to you.

So what is Linux?

In the simplest terms, Linux is an operating system just like Windows and Mac’s OS X; it’s the software that works as the middleman between the hardware on your server and any applications you wish to run. As such, Linux will send instructions from an app to your server’s central processing unit (CPU) which will relay the answering results back to the originating app.

Where did it all begin?

Linux’s history stretches back to the early ‘90s. Finnish student Linus Torvalds created the original Linux kernel to create a free and completely open source operating system. Torvalds created the system specifically to work with the hardware he was using, and seemingly didn’t see much of a future for it. He published a post to the newsgroup “comp.os.minux” asking for feedback on his creation, explicitly stating “I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu).”.

His hobby took off.

How does Linux work with your dedicated server?

Linux is used to manage your applications via its command line, something that sets it apart from the more commercially ‘user friendly’ operating systems in existence. It’s the command line and the freedom it gives you that makes Linux such a popular operating system; the absence of a flashy graphical user interface is celebrated by the Linux community.

A real positive of Linux is that it is open source, and as such it is completely free to use. Following its inception in 1991, Linux has evolved existentially. Hundreds of distros – or versions of the system – are now in existence as the software has been modified and redeveloped beyond recognition in some cases. Popular Linux distributions include:

Just to complicate things a bit further and highlight the sheer gravity of the Linux movement, each distribution has a variety of ‘flavours’ (as they are referred to by the Linux community) so there’s plenty of chance for you to find a distro suited to your needs.

Launch your dedicated server today with the help of UK2! We’ll be posting a series of helpful server configuration guides for your convenience to help you get to grips with using Linux to manage your server, so keep an eye on the UK2 Blog.