There’s no denying that Linux is a popular operating system and is genuinely seen by many as a viable alternative to Microsoft’s market domination.
However, once having decided to go with Linux, the next question is which Linux distribution to use? Fans wax lyrical about their favourite “distro”. Understandably, this can cause further anxiety to newcomers keen to make the right choice.At heart, what we mean by “Linux” is two fundamental items: the kernel and the non-kernel parts. The kernel is the central component of most operating systems which manages resources and communications with hardware. It typically makes the lowest-level computer components available to software applications. This is the heart of any operating system. When people speak of Linux being created by Linus Torvalds, it is specifically the kernel that is meant; it was this which provided the basis and framework for all other applications.
The “non-kernel” therefore is everything else. This is software like the raft of networking tools for which Linux is well-known – web servers like Apache, programming language compilers and interpreters like Java, GNU C++, Perl and Python – and more.
The reason why Linux distributions are called “distributions” in the first place is because each distro is a collection of the kernel plus any of a number of software packages, distributed together. These packages are largely drawn from the GNU free software project. All distros provide facilities for managing the installation, removal and upgrading of discrete software packages.
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