Linux: The Unconquerable Kernel

Linux is an operating system for personal computers. It interfaces between hardware and the software that uses it to operate. Linux is popular because it is open-source software that anyone can use or modify. People that dislike Microsoft, want complete control over their operating system or want to experiment with their operating system gravitate to Linux.

In the early days, computing was an official mess. Scores of incompatible operating systems were used. No one knew how to get them to talk with one another. UNIX was created to provide a standard computing framework in the late 1960s. Over twenty years later, Linus Torvalds, a student at the University of Helsinki in Finland, created Linux as a UNIX-like operating system from a UNIX kernel in 1991.

Linux OS 2.2

Linux OS 2.2

Aside from the founding date of Linux in 1991, other milestone dates include 1993, 1996, 2003 and 2005. Slackware, the first distribution of a Linux-based operating system, went public in 1993. Linus Torvalds went to a zoo and was attacked by a penguin. He sustained a bite from that penguin and subsequently decided to have a penguin be the Linux mascot. Seven years later, IBM ran a famous advertisement about Linux during the 2003 Superbowl, putting it firmly in the mainstream of computing. In 2005, BusinessWeek magazine put Linux on the front cover, sealing its fate in the computer pantheon.

Given this storied history, it should not be surprising that the other two big-name operating systems, Windows and Macintosh, have battled with Linux for years. Substantial differences between them exist. Linux needs much less hardware to run than Windows or Mac OS X, but it is fiendishly complicated. Having complete control over an operating system is not much fun if the user has to literally tell the computer what to do about everything.

Windows has driver issues but it holds the title for most popular operating system. Max OS X is smooth and boasts completely integrated hardware-software interfaces. Macintosh machines feel almost like organic units with their own ecosystems. The downside is peripherals are exclusive to Mac OS X and many other non-Macintosh peripherals cannot be used. The user must decide between operating systems, but it is definitely clear that each system targets a specific market.