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Linux is the kernel of a free Unix-like operating system, originally written by Linus Torvalds in 1991 and to which a large number of programmers have contributed over the Internet since. The origins of all Unix systems date back to the first version of an experimental operating system developed by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson in AT & T’s Bell Laboratories in 1969. This system was first developed by programmers, for programmers , and included a number of concepts that had previously been developed for the Multics operating system (short for “Multiplexed Information and Computing Service”), whose role was to provide centralized IT services to a large number of people (a much like the Minitel tried to do later). Multics never really saw the light of day, however, the initial Unix system spawned a large number of other more or less compatible systems. Recently, the various suppliers of Unix systems have agreed to define the set of functionalities that all Unix systems must support, in order to solve the problems caused by the incompatibilities existing between these different systems. The term Unix is therefore a generic term to represent all of these systems, of which Linux is a part. For the record, the name Unix comes from the contraction of “Unics” (abbreviation of “Uniplexed Information and Computing Service”), a term coined ironically to indicate that Unix was a stripped down version of what Multics should be.
Although compatible with the latest Unix specifications, Linux does not contain a line of source code from the original Unix system, making it what is known as a “clone”. That said, it really is a full-fledged Unix system. As such, it has the functionality provided by Unix systems: it is multitasking, multi-user and relatively network oriented. You will have, with Linux, a reliable, functional and efficient system.
As we said, Linux is just the kernel of an operating system. It is therefore only the basic component that takes care of all the hardware management. But what is this operating system? This is the GNU / Linux system, therefore comprising, in addition to the Linux kernel, several other software layers developed by the Free Software Foundation and other organizations. These layers support various functionalities, such as the use of the computer from the command line, the graphic display, and the complete management of the user environment in graphic mode. To speak of Linux as an operating system is therefore, once again, an abuse of language. That said, we will allow ourselves to do so in the rest of this document, for the sake of simplicity.
Contrary to popular belief, there are a large number of applications for Linux. Most of these applications can be installed with the GNU / Linux system, which means that in practice this system forms a complete set and is perfectly usable for most common tasks.
A correct installation of Linux will therefore allow you to perform the most classic operations, such as performing office work, browsing the Internet, acquiring, capturing and reprocessing images, making 3D animations or even programming. On the other hand, as much to warn you right away: many games are simply not available under Linux, although the main titles are regularly ported. Likewise, you will not necessarily find all the specialized software that exists under Windows, and some software will be satisfied with the basic functionalities. You will therefore not be able to achieve what you were doing with these Windows applications of which there is no equivalent yet under Linux. This is for example the case for management and payroll applications used by a number of independent professionals or by SMEs.
Linux systems generally come in the form of “distributions”, which can be purchased commercially or downloaded from the Internet (quite legally, as we will see in the next chapter). A distribution is nothing other than the grouping of all the programs that constitute the operating system and the most useful and best known software for Linux. A Linux distribution is therefore really much more than an operating system: it is a whole that will allow you to really use your computer completely, generally without even having to install additional software! From this point of view, Linux is much more functional than the other proprietary operating systems, which are delivered in practice
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