Linux is an open source framework that allows for the creation of complex operating systems. Using Linux, users can create their own custom operating systems suited to their needs. Many common electronic devices utilize specialized forms of Linux. Being open source, anybody can access Linux's code, allowing them to create a new version of Linux, also called a Distribution.
Step 1: Distributions
The incredible customization nature of Linux means that hundreds of Distributions, or pre-made versions of Linux, are available to suit the diverse needs of users. Some distributions, such as Ubuntu, Fedora, or Debian are designed to be as simple to use and user-friendly as possible, and are very similar to popular operating systems like Windows and OSX. Others, such as CentOS and Arch Linux are designed to allow advanced users to perform complex tasks without the restrictions imposed by traditional operating systems.
Step 2: Getting Linux
Thanks to Linux's open source nature, acquiring and installing a distribution is easy! By going to the distribution's website, you can download a precompiled version of Linux as a .img or .iso file. This file contains the basic installers, drivers, and programs needed to install the operating system. Simply by burning it to a DVD or flash drive, you can easily install and run your own portable version of Linux. For a more permanent installation, Linux distributions can also be installed to their own section of your hard drive called a Partition.
Step 3: The Command Line Terminal
The most important difference between using Linux and OSX or Windows is the Terminal. It allows Linux users to perform basic commands such as deleting, moving, or creating files, or the execution of more complicated scripts (typically written in Python). Although both OSX and Windows have a terminal and command line interface, Linux users must learn to use it much more regularly, as it is required for many tasks.
Step 4: Ubuntu
Ubuntu is one of the most popular distributions of Linux available. It offers an intuitive, user-friendly interface and a simple installation project. If you're new to Linux, Ubuntu is a great choice to learn the basics.
Step 5: Debian
Debian, like Ubuntu, is an easy-to-use operating system. Its main draw is its ability to function on a higher variety of computers than other distributions and its access to over 51000 pre-made, easy-to-install software packages.
Step 6: Fedora
Fedora is a streamlined operating system designed to allow for quick setup and a streamlined work environment. It is one of the most user-friendly distributions, with extensive documentation available for new users.
Step 7: Arch Linux
Arch Linux is a more complex version of Linux that caters to power users. It has very few restrictions on the abilities of the user, and is therefore useful for experienced Computer Scientists.
Step 8: CentOS
CentOS is a versatile Linux distribution which is designed as an open source platform for coders. Anyone can create and distribute their own version of CentOS, making it one of the most flexible versions of Linux available.
Step 9: What Next?
Linux is one of the most diverse areas of computing, and every user is bound to have personal preferences. Experiment and try to find the distribution that fits you best!
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