Showing posts with label Arch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arch. Show all posts

Monday, October 26, 2020

What is a Linux Distribution (aka. Distro)?

New Linux users often encounter the expression "Distribution" (or distro). Learn what that means.
Photo by Derek Oyen on Unsplash

When getting started with Linux you'll often hear the term distribution (aka distro). But what does it means and how a Linux distro is made? First off, let's review how Wikipedia defines it:

A Linux distribution is an operating system made from a software collection that is based upon the Linux kernel and, often, a package management system. Linux users usually obtain their operating system by downloading one of the Linux distributions, which are available for a wide variety of systems ranging from embedded devices and personal computers to powerful supercomputers.

What's included in a Linux distribution

A Linux distribution (or distro) is composed of thousands of software packages which are usually built by the community or by the company maintaining that distribution, packaged and assembled in a live-CD (or iso) so it can be deployed somewhere (usually VMs or bare-metals).
 
Today, most distros (desktop or server) are composed of:
  • an installer: the tool you'll use to install the distro.
  • a boot loader: the tool that will initialize your system via its kernel.
  • the Linux kernel: the kernel is software that's responsible for interacting with and managing your hardware resources.
  • kernel modules: also known as drivers.  for common hardware: 
  • an init system: also known as PID 1, it's the first (and only) program executed by the kernel when loading your system. Today, systemd is the most widely used init system.
  • a daemon service: a service to manage background processes. systemd can also be used to be managed daemons (services).
  • a package management system: tooling to manage software (add/remove/search/etc). The most common package managers are Apt (Ubuntu/Debian/Mint), Yum/DNF (Fedora, CentOS, RHEL, SUSE) and pacman (Arch/Manjaro) are the most popular
  • general tools: general tools to interact with your system (ex. ls to list files, mkdir to create directories, ps to list the running processes, etc)
  • libraries: libraries (software extensions) that can be used and shared by multiple programs
  • documentation: software in Linux usually comes with its own documentation that can be consulted without access to the internet.
  • development tools (optional): depending on the vendor, development tools can be pre-installed with the system.
  • a graphical user interface (optional): if you're running a desktop install, most likely your system will be running GNOME or KDE. Servers frequently run GUI-less to reduce their attack surface.

Sustainability Model

It obviously requires money, time a lots of resources to built everything and to guarantee that everything will work on the users and companies' machines. So how do the distributions sustain themselves?

There are essentially three sustainability models for distributions today.

Community-based distributions

Community-based distributions are entities that survive off of donations and often require help from volunteers. The most popular ones these days are:

Commercially-sponsored distributions

Commercially-sponsored distributions are those distributions that receive grants from commercial companies to support the development and maintenance of those systems. Note that there's nothing wrong with this category since most of the distributions tend to run completely independently from their commercial institution. The most popular distributions today are:

Commercial/Enterprise distributions

The last category is the commercial/enterprise Linux distributions. Those are distributions that require a financial commitment from the user or organization that plans to use them. The advantage is bulletproof software and usually a dedicated support to help troubleshooting production issues. The most popular today are:

    Conclusion

    On this post we reviewed what's usually called a Linux distribution, also know as a distro. We also reviewed which components are included in a distribution and the most popular options on the market today. Is your favorite distribution on that list? Let us know!

    See Also

    Monday, October 12, 2020

    Why is Linux free?

    Linux is secure, fast, reliable and.. free? If that seems too good to be true you need to know more about Linux.
    Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

    On previous posts, we discussed why use Linux and one of our most compelling arguments to use Linux is that Linux is free. But since Linux is so secure, fast, reliable, how can it be free? Let's understand what that means and how it happens.

    A little history

    Avoiding jumping too much back in history, it's important to understand the contribution model in which Linux was built. Once upon a time, there was a developer named Linus Torvalds who wanted to build a kernel to run a free Unix clone at home. He named the project Linux (Linux + Unix) and sent a message to the world looking for volunteers.

    That project attracted so much attention that soon, hundreds of other developers joined that cause forming a big network of contributors. Linux, the kernel was the missing piece to produce a completely free operating system as most of the tools were already built on the GNU operating system.

    The first distributions

    With all the pieces to build a free and open-source operating system available, developers started creating the first Linux distributions. Some of them you may have heard of: Debian, Red Hat and Slackware, the most popular ones.

    What about now?

    The fact that Linux runs everywhere and that thousands of successful products are built on top of it, is the biggest motivator to use it. It's estimated that today the Linux kernel be worth $5 billion dollars. Given its licensing model, companies building new products today (for example, Tesla, Google or even Microsoft) can leverage Linux and more quickly reach the market saving them literally millions of dollars.

    Today, Linux's development is supervised by Linus and sponsored by the Linux Foundation which employs Linus, Greg Kroah-Hartman (and others) to coordinate and foster the development of Linux around the world.

    But this model does not only apply to Linux itself. The GNU project and thousands of other larger and smaller projects are being developed every single day by anonymous contributors worldwide following the same methodology.

    But why is Linux is free?

    Because the Linux kernel, the GNU operating system and all other tools needed to create a free operating system are available as open-source software respecting the premises of the free-software movement fostered by the GNU foundation, it's guaranteed that, as long as there are volunteers to build the distributions, you'll have a free/open-source operating system to run wherever you want.

    And this is exactly what happens.

    Linux Distributions

    Today we have two different lines of Linux distributions being built and available for free: community-based distributions and enterprise-sponsored distributions. Let's review them.

    Community-based distributions

    Community-based distributions are Linux systems built by volunteers and living of donations. The most popular these days are:

    Commercially-sponsored distributions

    For brevity, let's define as commercially-sponsored, those distributions that receive grants from commercial companies to support the development and maintenance of those systems. Note that there's nothing wrong with this category since most of the distributions run completely independently from their commercial institution. The most popular are:

    But one could charge for it, couldn't they?

    The short answer is a definitely yes! And indeed some companies charge for it one way or another. And how do they make money? Well, read the next section to understand.

    How companies make money with Linux

    Differently from this blog, Linux is not all about charity. There's lots of money being made on it today. Essentially, companies can use Linux in virtually any line of business. Just to illustrate some:

    • support
    • training
    • certification
    • licenses
    • building products around it
    • cloud services
    • storage solutions
    • networking solutions
    • ads
    • social networks
    • cars
    • TVs
    • Watches
    • and more, much more! 😊

    Conclusion

    On this post we reviewed briefly how Linux was created and how it's license model guarantees that it will remain free for future generations. We also touched briefly on how companies leverage Linux to get faster to the market and to make money. Regardless of who builds your favorite distro, all of us benefit from this massive chain of anonymous contributions.

    Hope it helps!

    See Also

    Wednesday, September 9, 2020

    Hello World

    Hello world, hello from Linux4Us.
    Photo by Ian Parker on Unsplash

    Writing a simple Hello World program is the traditional way to learn a new programming language. It consists essentially in writing as little code as possible to print the "Hello World" sentence on the screen. In its simplicity lies its beauty: teaching a new programmer how to get the minimum in place to start interacting with the computer.

    Because this is a website, we'll skip the traditional C-based hello world program this time and use JavaScript, the programming language of the web. A typical hello world written in JavaScript is as simple as:

    console.log("Hello World")

    As strange as a hello world for a new website may seem, the core principle is the same: show (well, tell in our case) to the world that we're here, alive and ready for the challenge of teaching Linux for an even wider audience!

    About this site

    Our team has been discussing for some time how to approach building yet another website about Linux. Since we finally managed to gather the necessary resources (ant time!) to build this website and have lots of ideas for awesome and compelling posts, we decided to go forward and build yet another website about Linux (yawal). Yay!

    Why YAWAL?

    But why YAWAL (yet another website about Linux)? Despite growth, we think Linux could and should reach even wider audiences. Due to its open nature, diversity, inclusiveness, security, cost and affordability, we want it to be accessible from everyone's digital device.

    Plus, we love Linux so much so why not!? 😊

    Who are us?

    Our team is a community of dedicated open-source volunteers who use, write about and ❤ Linux. We plan to cover the most diverse topics ranging from very simple tutorials to as complex as it may be necessary to teach users how to use, learn and build awesome tools on/with Linux.

    What are we planning for this site?

    As previously stated, we're planning to share, foster, teach and reach as many people as possible. We'd like to help Linux (and its derivative operating systems such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch Linux, Mint, Manjaro, Elementary OS, etc), its ecosystem and related communities to reach even newer audiences.

    How will we achieve this?

    First, let's be honest: we don't can't know if we'll ever achieve this! Our success will be directly related to how much engagement we get from the public. The good news is that we don't have any grand ambitions. And since we love contributing to Linux, open-source and education in general, we believe there are big reasons to try!

    Our Commitment to Open-Source

    We also want to make public our commitment to open-source: we will donate half of our profits to serious open source communities around the world to help and support the growth of Linux. Read more on the about us page to learn more.

    How can you help

    Interested in helping? Check the how anyone can help. We'll resort from the help of the community (sharing posts, giving feedback, sponsorship this site, etc) so we can grow and reach even wider audiences.

    Final Thoughts

    Thanks for reading thus far! We'll do our best to foster, divulge and teach about Linux because we love it as much as you do and we want it to be available to everyone out that who has a digital device in their hands.

    All the best,
    The Linux4us team

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