What is Linux?

Generally, Linux refers to a group of open-source operating system distributions built around the Linux kernel. In the strictest sense, Linux refers only to the presence of the kernel itself. Linus Torvalds first released the Linux operating system kernel in 1991 as an alternative to Unix, a proprietary operating system which also served as the foundation of the macOS operating system. To build out a full operating system, Linux distributions often include tooling and libraries from the GNU project and other sources.

Today, software developers use Linux to build and run mobile applications. Linux has also played a key role in the development of affordable devices such as Chromebooks, which run operating systems on the kernel. Within cloud computing and server environments in general, Linux is a popular choice due to its flexibility, community-driven maintenance and support, low resource requirements, high compatibility, and commitment to free and open-source software and its ecosystem.

Popular Linux distributions include Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu. Commercial distributions include Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

You can dive deeper into Linux with the following resources:

  • A Brief History of Linux
  • Linux Basics tag
  • Making Servers Work: A Practical Guide to Linux System Administration free eBook

If you are looking to learn more about cloud computing, follow along with our self-guided course, Introduction to the Cloud.