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Exploring Linux Systems

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Running head: Linux Systems

Exploring Linux Operating Systems
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Exploring Linux Operating Systems
Much like Windows OS and the OS X for the Mac, Linux is an operating system that was created by Linus Torvalds in 1991. Linux is traditionally a command line system as opposed to the GUI that many home computer users are more accustomed to. Linux uses a prompt where various commands and arguments are used to navigate the system and directories. One cannot point and click an icon in order to execute a program, in Linux the command line is like typing out the directions for your computer so it knows exactly where to look.
Linux is being utilized in many different applications from business databases, cell phones, and even the New York stock exchange. Linux, however, is hardly considered a “personal computer” OS because of its limitations in personal computing. Although a Linux GUI desktop does exist, the command line interface is considered an advanced program and not for the faint of heart. Linux however holds many advantages in database software, server maintenance, code development and computer programming. The Linux “language” is close to coding language and the kernel is more secure than, say, the Windows Kernel. This advantage is encouraging to businesses and anyone else looking to keep or store sensitive data. Linux is a solid OS to use when handling such information when confidentiality is key. Like the other OS there are different means for file editing. File editors in Linux run a bit differently from a standard text editor or e-mail. Take for instance, VI. VI is a common text editor that comes with most distributions as a part of the standard package. VI is a more powerful tool than a standard notepad as the different modes allow you to type in the capacity of, such as, a .bat file with little to no conversion, but as the raw filr. The VIM, or VI improved, is an enhanced version of the original VI editor. It is much like VI with many additional features to make it easier in editing program source code. EMAC is debatably the most powerful editor. While being able to do the same things that VI and VIM are capable of, it comes with many other features that the others cannot provide such as searching, replacing and detecting patterns in a text file, a media player, creating and sending e-mails , and a capacity to serve as a File Manager. Linux has many advantages over a GUI based system through the command line interface. One being that the command line can be used to initiate multiple tasks at once and even running lines semi-automatically by initiating in the order the commands were typed. The Kernel of mainstream Linux distributions are famously more secure than that of windows systems. A Linux foundation for servers, databases and the longevity that the OS can run without restarts or cool down periods is far longer than others while maintaining its efficiency.
Linux is however not without weaknesses. One big disadvantage is the learning curve. Linux requires a large degree of patience not dissimilar to learning a new language. Also to the common PC user it can be daunting in which distribution of Linux would be best suited for their uses. Then once the software is installed and the system boots up the user is presented with a black screen and a flashing placeholder. It is more common for users to use the GUI and therefore a conversion to the command line is more difficult and frustrating not being able to simply see the icons on a desktop. The Linux command line is a powerful tool to set up and automate simple tasks. Also with the tools provided it can be used to create new code. That can be powerful or dangerous depending on your experience. Windows and the OS X try to protect the user from corrupting their software where Linux is left open to be built upon further. This Open Source aspect allows the user to take full control of the OS and the command line is a better suited tool to take advantage of that control. By acting as ROOT one can even modify the source code of certain distributions of Linux to change how the software behaves. While it isn’t a beginner’s territory, it is just one aspect of how powerful the command line is and how valuable it can be to an experienced user. The directory services are used to organize files into a structure as prescribed by the user. The Directory is navigated by a series of commands and arguments to identify specifically files as well as identifying all resources on a network, making them visible and usable by users and applications. “Directory services are a standard feature of any medium to large corporate network.” (Alastair Cousins, 2003) The primary role of the directory service is to make it easier to navigate around a large scale network or as needed. Linux can set up many directory services at the same time through the command line. The permission as well can be managed to ensure the right people are looking at the right things while keeping the wrong people out. There are three things that most users quickly compare amongst the different OS. First there is the user interface. Mac and Windows use the GUI for easy accessibility to appeal to the mainstream computer user. Linux, although more known for its black screen, white text command line user interface, some distributions do use the GUI. For Linux there are multiple desktop environments, GNOME and KDE are the most common for GUI Linux users. The Linux GUI distributions are independently developed and therefore take on a likeness to UNIX based systems. They are primarily used to fit in rather than revolutionize the GUI. Another question that may be asked by those unfamiliar with Linux is device management. Like Windows, there are Linux distributions with plug and play capabilities (UDev), and a device and driver manager. While the GUI presents these features traditionally, in the command line you must ask for the list of devices by using the command “lsmod.” Then as the devices are added they can be removed by using the command “rmmod” and the name of the device. In networking Linux uses SaMBa which is similar to the Windows SMB protocol. Through certain software a Linux box can communicate with a windows box. (ie. Linux server communicating with Windows clients.) These protocols allow for the sharing of files, printers and remote desktop access. “The basic functions of the Samba suite are: sharing Linux drives with Windows machines, accessing SMB shares from Linux machines, sharing Linux printers with Windows machines and sharing Windows printers with Linux machines.” (Machtelt Garrels, n.d.) This is vital to an interconnected network that is taking advantage of the secure Linux Kernel while needing Windows for the Office Suite for example. Linux provides many services that the other OS offer and perhaps not as gracefully in certain respects, however Linux comes to the top for completing multiple tasks in true multi-tasking. A Linux also is much smaller and can be still run on older boxes that cannot run the newer Windows or Mac OS. “If you have an older computer (especially Pentium III or later) laying around, you can install Linux and in essence have a new computer. In many cases Linux will run faster and you can do all of the basics such as browse the Internet, email, play games, and create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations” (Charles E. Craig, Jr., 2013) It is an affordable piece of software that often comes free for personal use. It can be trusted because the Kernel is a secure brick when compared to other OS Kernels. While it may take some practice and a road map to get use to navigating using the command line, the skill becomes invaluable for coding, programming or maintaining databases.

References
Cousins, Alastair (2003, October 3) Directory services for Linux. Retrieved from http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/39696/directory_services_linux/

Craig, Charles E., Jr. (2013, May 10) Advantages and Disadvantages of Linux. Retrieved from

http://www.renewablepcs.com/about-linux/advantages-of-using-linux

Garrels, Machtelt (n.d.) Introduction to Linux. Retrieved from http://linux.about.com/od/itl_guide/a/gdeitl74t00.htm…...

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