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Ch apter – 1

An Introduction to Linux

At the end of this module, you would have gained fair

knowledge on

•Linux Distributions
•Linux Kernel
•Features of Linux
•Linux GUI System
History of Linux
UNIX is one of the most popular operating
systems worldwide because of its large support base and
distribution. It was originally developed at AT&T as a
multitasking operating system for minicomputers and mainframes
in the 1970's, but has since grown to become one of the most
widely used operating systems.

Linux is a free version of UNIX developed by Linus

Torvalds at the University of Helsinki in Finland, with the help
of many UNIX programmers and wizards across the Internet.
Anyone with enough knowledge can develop and change the
operating system.
About Linux
inus Torvalds originally developed Linux as a hobby project

inix, a small UNIX system developed by Andy Tanenbaum,

inspired it

The Linux kernel uses no code from AT&T or any other

proprietary source

Software available for Linux was developed by the GNU

project of the Free Software Foundation in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Programmers from all over the world have contributed to the

growing pool of Linux software

The very early development of Linux mostly dealt with the

Linux Distributions
Linux kernel along with a collection of software programs is
properly known as Linux distributions. Some of the famous
Linux distributions are given below.
Famous Linux Distributions

•Red Hat Linux

•SuSe Linux
•Caldera Linux
•Mandrake Linux
•Open Linux
•Aryabhat Linux
GNU Project – Free
Software Foundation
Most of the programs and applications contained in a
Linux distribution is covered under special Licensing Scheme called
GNU General Public License – GNU GPL.

GNU Project was first started in 1984. What is the main

aim of this project is to create free Unix-clone. This project is
managed by an organization called Free Software Foundation (FSF)
promoted by well-known Unix Guru Richard Stallman.

The term “free software” is having some special

meaning. The term does not refer the commercial value of the
software, but the end user has the freedom to modify and change the
program. In GNU official documentation describe it as follows:
“Free software” is a matter of liberty not price. “Free software
refers to the users freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and
improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kind of freedom, for
the users of the software.

Freedom 0 : The freedom to run the program

Freedom 1 : The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to
your needs.
Access to source code is a precondition for this.

Freedom 2 : The freedom to redistribute copies so that you can help your

Freedom 3 : The freedom to improve the program, and release your

improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. Access
to the source code is a precondition for this.
Why Linux?
Linux is a full-fledged operating system. It provides multi-tasking
capabilities in a multi-user environment. Linux offers high quality software at a cost
far lower than other commercial versions of UNIX. Primary benefits of using Linux
OS are the availability of the complete source code and its distributable GNU
General Public License. Some of the benefits of using Linux include:

•Linux is a UNIX like OS

•Multi-user, Multi-tasking and Multi Processor Support
•There are no royalty or license fees
•Software Development support
•Linux runs on nearly any CPU
•Linux works very well as a personal computer UNIX for
the desktop
•Linux works well for server operations
•X-Window System
Supported Platforms
Red Hat Linux is available for the computers based on
Intel x86 processors, Digital Alpha processors and Intel Itanium

Hardware Requirement
Minimum: Pentium-class
Recommended: 200 Megahertz Pentium-class or better
Hard Disk Space*:
Minimum: 650MB
Recommended: 2.5GB
Full Installation: 4.5GB

*Additional space will be required for file storage.

Minimum for text-mode: 64MB
Minimum for graphical: 128MB
Recommended for graphical: 192MB
Linux GUI Environment

The X Windows System is the foundation of the GUI

environment used in most Linux and UNIX distributions. Even
though the X is the foundation of GUI, the appearance may
vary from version to version because of the high configurability
of the X Windows System.


GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) and

KDE (K Desktop Environment) are two famous Window
Managers used in Red Hat Linux. Window managers are the
desktop environments, which will communicate with the X
server and display the windows and menus on your desktop.