Introduction to Linux
The operating system Linux recently went past its 29th anniversary. Its creator Linus Torvalds announced at the Comp.OS Minix Conference on August 25, 1991 that he was working on a prototype of a new OS called Linux. Later that year, the Linux kernel was released, with the compressed size of Linux 0.0.1 being 62kb, with 10,000 lines in its code base.
Many of the biggest tech companies, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, have their servers running on Linux based server software, including the world’s most powerful supercomputer. Linux is free and open source, which means you have complete access to its source code, which makes it possible for other developers to locate bugs, and find security vulnerabilities.
Why choose Linux?
Linux is known for being stable and reliable, there are many Linux servers on the internet which have been running for years without failures or even needing to be restarted. There are many factors as to why Linux is so stable. In Linux, it is possible to modify configuration files and have the changes put into effect without rebooting the server, which is not always possible with Windows. With its effective process management, if a process is not functioning properly, you can use commands such as kill, pkill, and killall, avoiding any implications on the overall system performance.
Linux is also very secure, it restricts influence from many external sources that could destabilise a server. Linux has a variety of security mechanisms to protect files and services from attacks. You can secure services using programs such as a firewall (such as iptables), TCP wrappers to allow and deny service access, and Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) which can limit the resources a service can access on a server.
What are the benefits?
Linux can also offer flexibility, you can choose to install a GUI, or operate the system using terminal only. It offers thousands of utilities and tools which can perform a variety of tasks, such as perform system start up and manage services, add users, manage networking and disks, install software, monitor performance, and general tools to secure and manage your server.
One of the most powerful programs is the Shell, which provides a consistent environment for running other programs in Linux, and also allows you to interact with the Kernel itself. It can provide programming constructs that allows for creating new functions and tools, and automate daily server administration tasks.
While Linux might not be overly popular in the desktop space, it certainly plays an important role in the server administration space, allowing for a secure and reliable operating system to run a server on.