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    Questions About Linux

    This article responds to many common questions about Linux, including:

    What is Linux?
    Why would I want an operating system developed by one guy?
    But isn't Linux for large computers?
    Isn't Linux hard?
    Windows crashes, does Linux?
    But there is no support for Linux.
    But there are no big companies behind Linux.
    Don't I need to be a computer guru to use Linux?
    Why is Linux catching on so fast?
    But Linux doesn't have applications!
    Can I run Linux with Windows?
    Can I run my Windows Programs under Linux?
    What's with the penguin?
    I've got another question

    What is Linux?

    Linux is an operating system. In some ways Linux is very similar to Microsoft Windows or the Mac OS, and in some ways is very different. Linux has been called the "Next Generation" of UNIX. Linux is a UNIX-like OS that was designed to run on standard PC hardware, rather than high-end servers and mainframes. Linux is a true 32-bit operating system with excellent multi-tasking and multi-user capabilities that makes much better use of system resources than either the Mac OS or any of the Microsoft Windows variants. In many ways, Linux is a "Better UNIX than UNIX," that was the goal Bill Gates set for Windows NT and has thus far failed to reach.   (Return to table of contents)

    Why would I want an operating system developed by one guy?

    While the Linux kernel was first developed and is still overseen by Linus Torvalds, Linux isn't a one-man band. What is known as the Linux operating system was developed by tens of thousands of the best computer minds in the world and some parts of the operating system have been in development for decades! Millions of users alpha test, beta test and repoHxH<"#toc">(Return to table of contents)

    Why would I want an operating system developed by one guy?

    While the Linux kernel was first developed and is still overseen by Linus Torvalds, Linux isn't a one-man band. What is known as the Linux operating system was developed by tens of thousands of the best computer minds in the world and some parts of the operating system have been in development for decades! Millions of users alpha test, beta test and report problems to the developers directly.

    While Torvalds gets most of the credit and press attention for Linux, in reality no one could have done it alone. Torvalds chose to share a UNIX-like kernel that he had developed, and it caught on in a big way. Since uploading the 0.01 version of Linux to an ftp server in September of 1991, hundreds if not thousands of people have contributed to the kernel, and thousands more have contributed to the rest of the operating system known as Linux.

    Torvalds continues to be the leader of the kernel project, and the de-facto leader of the Linux movement, which now involves tens of thousands of developers, all cooperating in a way that results in every component of Linux being as good as it possibly can be. It might even be a new Internet-enabled kinder, gentler form of government [what?] that can extend outside Linux itself. It is truly a paradigm shift worth learning about. Eric S. Raymond's The Cathedral & the Bazaar discusses the Open Source model of development in great detail.   (Return to table of contents)

    But isn't Linux for large computers?

    Not exclusively, no. Linux does run on some large computers, but it will also run on Intel-compatible 386 and better processors, the PowerPC processor, and just about everything from the 3Com Palm Pilot to parallel supercomputers. The famous water scenes from Titanic were rendered using a massively parallel Linux supercomputer, made up of many Digital Alpha processor-based PCs because HxH<"#toc">(Return to table of contents)

    But isn't Linux for large computers?

    Not exclusively, no. Linux does run on some large computers, but it will also run on Intel-compatible 386 and better processors, the PowerPC processor, and just about everything from the 3Com Palm Pilot to parallel supercomputers. The famous water scenes from Titanic were rendered using a massively parallel Linux supercomputer, made up of many Digital Alpha processor-based PCs because no other operating system could handle the task within budgetary constraints. Ten of the commercials during the 1998 Superbowl (the first one the Broncos ever won) were rendered using Linux.

    Linux can serve as a personal computer OS, and also features multi-user scalability that delivers better bang for the buck than anything else available. Linux provides one consistent, capable and modular operating system that can run the smallest devices to the largest computing systems.   (Return to table of contents)

    Isn't using Linux hard?

    Linux isn't really hard, but Linux doesn't try to hide the computer from the user in the way that some legacy desktop operating systems do. The transition from Microsoft Windows or the Mac OS to Linux may take a little time to get used to, but we think that once you get the hang of Linux you'll never want to go back.   (Return to table of contents)(Return to table of contents)

    Isn't using Linux hard?

    Linux isn't really hard, but Linux doesn't try to hide the computer from the user in the way that some legacy desktop operating systems do. The transition from Microsoft Windows or the Mac OS to Linux may take a little time to get used to, but we think that once you get the hang of Linux you'll never want to go back.   
    (Return to table of contents)

    Windows crashes, does Linux?

    Like the Energizer bunny, it runs and runs and runs. It is a shame that Microsoft has taught people to accept crashing computers and loss of work. It is not the PC hardware doing this, but rather the Microsoft "technology". There are people that have reported even early versions of Linux running for more than 3 years now without ever stopping.   
    (Return to tHxH<"#toc">(Return to table of contents)

    Windows crashes, does Linux?

    Like the Energizer bunny, it runs and runs and runs. It is a shame that Microsoft has taught people to accept crashing computers and loss of work. It is not the PC hardware doing this, but rather the Microsoft "technology". There are people that have reported even early versions of Linux running for more than 3 years now without ever stopping.   
    (Return to table of contents)

    Is there support for Linux?

    Yes there is! Linux is actually one of the best supported operating systems. Not only can you buy support from companies that make their own distribution of Linux, you can buy support from third-party companies who make a living just supporting Linux. Not only that, the Linux community also provides plenty of free support as well! The
    Linux HxH<"#toc">(Return to table of contents)

    Is there support for Linux?

    Yes there is! Linux is actually one of the best supported operating systems. Not only can you buy support from companies that make their own distribution of Linux, you can buy support from third-party companies who make a living just supporting Linux. Not only that, the Linux community also provides plenty of free support as well! The
    Linux Documentation Project, Linux newsgroups and IRC channels as well as tons of Web pages devoted to Linux provide a wealth of information about Linux. In addition to online and paid support you can usually find friendly assistance at your local Linux User Group as well.   (Return to table of contents)

    Are there any big companies behind Linux?

    There are lots of major computing companies who have announced support and business strategies for Linux. In fact, these days there is only one conspicuous absentee from the major computing companies that are now supporting or making software for Linux. (We think you can guess who that is...) Intel, Compaq, Dell, SCO, Gateway, Corel, Apple, IBM, Lotus and many, manyHxH<"#toc">(Return to table of contents)

    Are there any big companies behind Linux?

    There are lots of major computing companies who have announced support and business strategies for Linux. In fact, these days there is only one conspicuous absentee from the major computing companies that are now supporting or making software for Linux. (We think you can guess who that is...) Intel, Compaq, Dell, SCO, Gateway, Corel, Apple, IBM, Lotus and many, many others.   
    (Return to table of contents)

    Don't I need to be a computer guru to use Linux?

    No. There are things you may want to learn, or ask a friend to help you with, just like Windows. Once it is set up it is as easy to use as any other operating system. And it does use a GUI (Graphical User Interface). You can even buy computers pre-loaded with Linux, so you do not have to set it up yourself, though that can be a lot of fun.   
    (Return to table of contents)

    Don't I need to be a computer guru to use Linux?

    No. There are things you may want to learn, or ask a friend to help you with, just like Windows. Once it is set up it is as easy to use as any other operating system. And it does use a GUI (Graphical User Interface). You can even buy computers pre-loaded with Linux, so you do not have to set it up yourself, though that can be a lot of fun.   
    (Return to table of contents)

    So why is Linux catching on so fast?

    Linux has a technical superiority that Microsoft just cannot match. All of Microsoft's money cannot buy them a development team as large or as capable as the team working on Linux. Linux is doing to Microsoft what Microsoft did to IBM about a decade or so ago, and for the same reasons. For more information on this, see the article
    (Return to table of contents)

    So why is Linux catching on so fast?

    Linux has a technical superiority that Microsoft just cannot match. All of Microsoft's money cannot buy them a development team as large or as capable as the team working on Linux. Linux is doing to Microsoft what Microsoft did to IBM about a decade or so ago, and for the same reasons. For more information on this, see the article
    "Why Linux is Significant" written in 1994. The predictions our CEO made in this article have been occurring right on schedule, and this article is as relevant now as it was then.   (Return to table of contents)

    Does Linux have any applications?

    Linux has an enormous number of applications, everything from office software to games, groupware applications to backup solutions and everything in between. LinuxMall.com has the most comprehensive collection of Linux software anywhere on the Web, and we carry hundreds of applications for Linux. There is also a wealth of software available for free in addition to the huge amount of HxH<"#toc">(Return to table of contents)

    Does Linux have any applications?

    Linux has an enormous number of applications, everything from office software to games, groupware applications to backup solutions and everything in between. LinuxMall.com has the most comprehensive collection of Linux software anywhere on the Web, and we carry hundreds of applications for Linux. There is also a wealth of software available for free in addition to the huge amount of commercial applications for Linux.   
    (Return to table of contents)

    Can I run Linux with Windows?

    Linux can co-exist with Windows 95/98/NT on the same computer, but doesn't run "under" Windows. Linux is an operating system, not application software, so it won't run "under" another OS. Linux will install onto a separate partition and happily co-exist with other operating systems. You can "dual-boot" x86 machines with Windows, BeOS, OS/2 Warp, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, MS-DOS, DHxH<"#toc">(Return to table of contents)

    Can I run Linux with Windows?

    Linux can co-exist with Windows 95/98/NT on the same computer, but doesn't run "under" Windows. Linux is an operating system, not application software, so it won't run "under" another OS. Linux will install onto a separate partition and happily co-exist with other operating systems. You can "dual-boot" x86 machines with Windows, BeOS, OS/2 Warp, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, MS-DOS, DR-DOS and quite a few other x86-compatible operating systems. Linux for the PPC will co-exist with the MacOS as well.

    Can I run my Windows programs under Linux?

    Linux and Windows binaries (programs) are not compatible with one another. The WINE project seeks to create a program that will allow Linux users to run programs written for Microsoft Windows under Linux. Unfortunately, Microsoft refuses to fully publish the Windows API (Application Programming Interface) making the task of creating software to run Windows applications very difficult. This is a shortcoming in the way that closed-source software works. Linux binaries run not only on Linux, but on FreeBSD, Solaris and other UNIX-variants. The x86Open Project selected the Linux binary format as the common binary format for Unices on Intel processors. If you're interested in the WINE Project, you can visit their site at http://www.winehq.com/.

    What's with the Penguin?

    The penguin is Tux, the Linux mascot. Tux has a rich history available in great detail on the Penguin Power site, located at PenguinPower.com.
      (Return to table of contents)

    I've got another question.

    We'd be happy to try to answer any non-technical questions about Linux you might have. Unfortunately, we cannot promise a personal response, nor is this address for technical assistance. If you've got a question you want to see here, send it to NewsTips@LinuxMall.com and we'll try to put an answer on this page. If you have general questions aboHxH<"#toc">(Return to table of contents)

    I've got another question.

    We'd be happy to try to answer any non-technical questions about Linux you might have. Unfortunately, we cannot promise a personal response, nor is this address for technical assistance. If you've got a question you want to see here, send it to NewsTips@LinuxMall.com and we'll try to put an answer on this page. If you have general questions about LinuxMall.com, please address these to Info@LinuxMall.com. If you have technical questions, you might want to check out the Linux Documentation Project, mirrored on LinuxMall.com.

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