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LPI Linux Essentials

1.1 – Linux Evolution

By January 4, 2021No Comments

The Evolution of Linux

Since 1991 the Linux Evolution has become immense. Let’s talk about what Linux is and what a Linux Distribution is. The term Linux itself refers to the core code in a Linux distribution; Linux is the kernel and is Open Source Software made freely available. For this reason Linux can be deployed as an Operating System without licensing costs associated with some other systems. Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student developed this software initially in 1991 and in 1992 released the code as Open Source. If Linux is the kernel, the core of the Operating System then it is the Linux Distribution that make the kernel usable. A Linux distribution is the collection of software applications and drivers that make Linux usable on your hardware. Common Linux distributions in 2021 include:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, free to use but support agreements are chargeable
  • CentOS 8, Red Hat rebuild with only community support and scheduled to be discontinued at the end of 2021
  • Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, the current Long Term Support, (5 years) version from Canonical
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15
  • openSUSE 15.2, community edition of the SUSE Enterprise product
  • Kali, Linux distribution with tools developed by Offensive Security
  • Raspbian, Debian based Linux distribution used on Raspberry Pi credit card sized computer
  • Android, Phone based Linux distribution

You may visit the website of an organization to download and obtain copy of the Operating System you wish to use. Another great resource is http://distrowatch.com listing available distributions. You will also learn that Linux is used in many devices as an embedded Operating System including TiVo boxes, Sat-Navs and may other household and business appliances. Using a Free OS makes good sense as well as keeping the cost of the product down not having to license an OS from a commercial supplier.

Linux and the Cloud

You may come across Linux when running it within the Cloud. Many Cloud providers will use Linux as their own platform to deliver virtual systems to you. This includes suppliers like Rackspace and AWS who use Linux as a free and Open Source system to deliver their services to you. Of course, the virtual machines they deliver to you may also be Linux based reducing the need for you to pay for licenses to run the target OS.

Linux Distributions

If you have access to the command line of Linux then by using the command uname you will show your kernel version.

$ uname -r
4.15.0-128-generic

Using the command hostnamectl on more recent Linux distributions, we will also be able to print out the Linux Distribution:

$ hostnamectl
Static hostname: bionic
Icon name: computer-vm
Chassis: vm
Machine ID: e8e53f6c806547e0b703e7cd6b4f7b5b
Boot ID: 3a6d1af03491466389b864fd8ff2cb39
Virtualization: oracle
Operating System: Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS
Kernel: Linux 4.15.0-128-generic
Architecture: x86-64

When choosing a Linux Distribution for the Enterprise, be it for Servers or Desktops, you have to consider the support that is provided long term; by support, we also include the notion of updates to the OS. However, when choosing a Linux Distribution for the home it is often ease of use and hardware support that are most important.

  • Red Hat: Provide paid support and is often a safe choice for the enterprise.
  • Ubuntu LTS: Long Term Support versions are released every two years and supported for five years. The current version is 20.04 and that will be supported until 2025. Optional paid support is available from Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu.
  • CentOS: Is a Red Hat rebuild and provide long term updates and community support. They are currently owned by Red Hat/IBM and it is planned to discontinue CentOS Linux at the end of 2021.
  • Debian: Is a respected Enterprise version with community Support. The Raspberry Pi OS, Raspbian, is based on Debian.