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An introduction to Linux and Open Source

Linux is an open source kernel. Coupled with the GNU software distribution, GNU/Linux is a powerful operating system that dominates the non-consumer computing market. Various distributions, or “distros”, of GNU/Linux are actively developed by both communities and for-profit companies.

Basic UNIX Concepts

GNU/Linux was originally designed to be an open source implementation of the proprietary UNIX operating system developed in 1970.

What most people think of “folders” are referred to as directories.

  • / represents the root directory. It contains important system files.

  • /home/ is where a user directories are located. A user’s folder contains their documents, downloads, pictures, videos… etc.

The software design of UNIX aims to be minimalist and modular. As defined by Wikipedia,

“Modular programming is a software design technique that emphasizes separating the functionality of a program into independent, interchangeable modules, such that each contains everything necessary to execute only one aspect of the desired functionality.”

Installing Linux

“Dual booting” refers to the strategy where multiple operating systems are installed across different partitions on the same machine.

Linux requires at least one partition to be mounted as / (root).

Additionally, a linux-swap partition can safegaurd against system crashes when too much RAM is being used. The swap partition also stores the user session when the computer is “suspended” (hibernating).

GRUB2 is the most common Linux bootloader. After system initialization, the GRUB menu presents the user with a list of operating systems to boot into.

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