What is Linux?
Linux is an operating system, similar to that of Windows and Mac. However it differs from other options by how it’s made: instead of restricting programmers from being able to improve it, it is openly shared. As a result, companies are able to tweak it for their own needs, such as running the New York Stock Exchange, powering 98% of the supercomputer market, or being used in consumer electronics like smartphones (such as in the form of Android).
If It’s Free, Then Who Is Developing It “for Free”?
Unlike Windows, which monetizes from selling it’s operating system and software upfront, or Mac, which monetizes primarily from selling hardware, Linux is commercialized by selling support, which then funds development. Due to its free nature, you aren’t restricted to one company (e.g. Microsoft for Windows, or Apple for Mac) to get official support. If you don’t like the direction that a company is going, you can always switch to another vendor.
Other than being funded by selling support, it’s also contributed to by hardware companies to make their products more optimized under Linux than their competitors. As well as being a platform for quickly prototyping new technologies, such as USB 3, hotswappable processors, and more.
Don’t I Have To Be Tech-Savvy To Use It?
Linux originally started as a hobbyist operating system which required some technical knowledge to get installed and working. Later on, projects like Ubuntu began to evolve Linux into being usable as a user-friendly operating system for use on desktops and laptops. Due to starting out as a hobbyist project, some people may encounter old guides or documentation on how to do things in a more complicated way. Thus some people that may have tried it out on their own without asking others for help, may have grown the misconception that you have to be a sophisticated computer user to use it.
If It’s “So Great”, Then Why Hasn’t It Taken Over Already?
For the most part, it already has, but in hidden ways that you may not be able to notice at first, such as:
- Google uses Linux for their online services including Google, YouTube, Gmail, and more (Source). They even use it on their desktop computers internally. (Source)
- Android (which is built on Linux) controls 53% of the US smartphone market (Source)
- Hosting large websites like Facebook, Google, YouTube, and millions more rely on it to run, as well as a large majority of small personal websites.