What is Linux?
Linux is an operating system that has initially created as a hobby by a young student, Linux Torvalds, at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Linus had an interest in Minix, a small UNIX system, and decided to develop a system that exceeded the Minix standards. He began his work in 1991 when he released version 0.02 and worked steadily until 1994 when version 1.0 of the Linux kernel was released. The kernel , at the heart of all Linux systems, is developed and released under the GNU General Public License and its source code is freely available to everyone. It is this kernel that forms the base around which a Linux operating system is developed. There are now literally hundreds of companies and organizations and an equal number of individuals that have released their own versions of operating systems based on the Linux kernel.
Apart from the fact that it’s freely distributed, Linux’s functionality, adaptability and robustness, has made it the main alternative for proprietary Unix and Microsoft operating system. IBM, Hewlett-Packard and other giants of the computing world have embraced Linux and support its ongoing development.
Can I have both Windows and Linux on my computer?
Yes, you can install both operating systems on your computer. This is known as dual-booting. It’s important to point out that only one operating systems boots at a time, so when you turn your computer, you make the choice of running Linux or Windows during the session.
If you’re going to have this kind of a system, it’s important that you install the Windows operating system first in the first partition of your hard disk. You can then install Linux and along with it a program known as a boot loader (now a days, the most popular are LILO and GRUB) which allows you to choose your operating system. The Linux installation process, in most circumstances, leaves your windows partition alone during the install. Installing Windows however, will destroy the information left by boot loaders and so should never be installed second. Due to Microsoft’s monopoly on operating systems, most computers have Windows on them before anyone contemplates installing Linux, so you may have to re-partition your hard disk-that is, divide what may be hard disk with only one large partition (known as C: in the Windows world) into two or more different partitions so that Linux can be installed and kept separate from Windows. Third party tools such as partition magic generally work well for this purpose. After the re-partitioning, you’re free to install Linux.
Where can I find a driver for my hardware?
As Linux grows in popularity, it also gains support for a wider range of hardware. The Linux kernel now supports and enormous amount of hardware and most major Linux distribution incorporate this support into their products. You can also get hardware support by downloading, compiling and installing the latest version of the Linux kernel. In some cases, hardware manufacturers want to provide Linux support without incorporating their drivers into the kernel, so they provide separate drivers. If you’re looking for these it’s best to consult the manufacturer’s website or send them an inquiry by email. Then there are some hardware manufacturers who don’t support Linux, so no drivers are available. If you are already running Linux, it’s best to check to see if new hardware you want to purchase is supported.