What is Linux?

Linux is a UNIX® clone OS based on MINIX, created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds from the University of Helsinki. Torvalds controls all changes and releases of the Linux kernel.

For close to three decades, Linux has been one of the most commonly used and most reliable OSs for servers in the market, no matter what paid third-party reports that are plaguing the internet indicate.

Most Linux distributions include a collection of programs that run on the Linux kernel like X, KDE, GNOME, Cinnamon or other desktop environments as well as LibreOffice and other office or home utilities. Under the Linux name, you can get RHEL (paid subscription, enterprise licensing), Fedora, CentOS, Ubuntu, Mint (currently my distribution of choice), Mandriva, Debian, Slackware and many others. When Linux became popular (c. 1995-99), you could buy disks for any distribution from the developers or third-party vendors. Nowadays you would most likely download the distribution of your choice as an .ISO and burn it to USB drive.

          dd if=linux_image.iso of=/dev/sdb1

Installing Linux:

Before trying to install Linux, get a full inventory of what your computer has. In the past, you might have had to help the installer recognize the hardware. Nowadays the installer takes care of most the configuration.

Boot from the USB drive and sit back. The only thing you would have to decide is if you want to format the whole drive or share it with another OS.

Depending on the distribution (distro), you might need to update your installation right away. If the distro is based on Debian and it has apt as in the case of Ubuntu and its derivatives like Linux Mint (what I currently use), you might want to run the following on the console as root (sudo -i).

          apt-get update &&
          apt-get upgrade -y &&
          apt-get autoclean -y &&
          apt-get autoremove -y &&
          apt-get purge -y &&
          reboot now

The latter runs multiple commands — one after another using the && (and) operator and then reboot without confirmation. Of course if you do not need to reboot exclude the last && operator and the reboot now command. I would recommend doing the latter on a daily basis to make sure your system has the most up-to-date packages.

You can also install packages using apt-get calling the correct package name.

          apt-get install [package_name]

Single-Board Computers:

Some vendors have started to offer single-board computer (SBC) units. For example, the Raspberry Pi Foundation released its Raspberry Pi 1 Model A in February of 2012. After several generations with a price tag under $50, several projects have used Raspberry Pi hardware.

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL):

Microsoft decided in 2016 to incorporate a subsystem based on Ubuntu in Windows. Part of this decision is the reason why Microsoft bought Github and even developed a copy of apt named winget, which searches for packages similarly to apt or rather apt-get as used by Ubuntu. Personally I prefer to use Chocolatey (choco) since winget does not get as many packages and also returns a list of applications to be upgraded (winget upgrade) when already done by Chocolatey.