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Intro to Linux - Chapter 1

linux intro

Chapter 1 - Why should I care?

Author: Skovati, Date: 2020-12-24

If I had to condense why I care about free and open source (FOSS) operating systems like Linux into one word, it would be freedom. Almost everyone values having choice in their daily lives—imagine if there was only one type of car that everyone had to use, or you could only buy one style of house. Hell, the US launched a whole revolution because we wanted freedom of religion, so why don’t people care about freedom in software? The way it currently works with popular proprietary operating systems is the designers at Microsoft or Apple decide what’s best for the general population, and then you—even as a poweruser—are stuck with those decisions unless you really want to get hacky with some unsupported third-party software.

So how is Linux different? Essentially everything is third-party software, so it’s treated as a first-class citizen. Your text editor might be written by a completely different organization than your web browser or terminal or file manager. So, instead of Microsoft shoving Edge or Internet Explorer or Cortana down your throat, you’re free to choose whatever program fits your needs best, all the way down to which kernel, window manager, or distro you want to run.

Besides freedom, there are countless other reasons to run Linux. Firstly, it’s free—both in the freedom sense and in the monetary sense. This means you don’t have to worry about losing your windows activation key or buying another key when you purchase a new computer. Linux always has been and always will be free.

Linux is also open source, meaning you can view the source code yourself. Because of this transparent source code, you can be sure that programs you use aren’t doing anything nefarious, like constantly recording your microphone *cough* Cortana or selling your personal information and habits to advertisers for profit *cough* Google. Like Moxie Marlinspike, co-founder of the Signal Foundation always says, “Bad business models create bad technology.” Since Linux and other FOSS projects are driven by volunteers and donations, they don’t have to sell information or get you to pay a subscription fee to pay for the development, which is a much more sustainable business model in my view.

Also, Linux is a perfect development environment. The vast majority of servers in the world run some sort of Linux, so being comfortable with the command line and Linux filesystems is of paramount importance. Developing in a similar environment to the one used in production just makes sense, and Linux is that environment.

Finally, I think Linux is just an interesting operating system. Windows and macOS don’t want you to know how the inner-workings work, but Linux does want you to understand. That means there is so much educational value in learning the ins and outs of Linux—you’ll learn everything from bash scripting to filesystems to disk partitioning to compiling code manually to basics of networking and so much more. I’m passionate about Linux, you don’t hear many people saying that about Windows or macOS because there just isn’t much to be passionate about. Sure computers are just tools to get more work done, but Linux is a tool that will improve yourself as well.

Chapter 2 - What is a ‘Linux’ anyways?

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