The rise of the Linux operating system hasn’t taken many by surprise. The ability to design, configure, build and then deploy a completely customized general-purpose operating system has led to more than a few billion-dollar businesses, including one owned by a certain well-known search engine.
But what exactly does it mean to be able to distribute a custom operating system? How does that benefit your business or your ability to use technology to its fullest potential?
A Kernel of Truth
Simply put, a kernel is what allows the software on your computer or mobile device access to your hardware. If your word processor wants to save a file to your SSD, it is going to use the kernel to do it.
Linux started out as a kernel, and now, nearly thirty years later, it is capable of driving some of the world’s most advanced, low-cost and popular hardware. No matter what you are trying to build, chances are there are dozens and perhaps hundreds of reasons the Linux system and the GNU software built on it could be helpful to you.
A Source of Happiness
The Linux system’s benefits don’t stop at the kernel. Most software deployed on Linux systems comes with the source code included, which means you could get a gigantic head start on your particular project by utilizing software written by world-class programmers.
This can be of particular importance if you are doing something related to single board computers, for example. Many of the most dynamic and useful software projects are being deployed on ultra-low-cost commodity hardware and the results, without putting too fine a point on it, speak for themselves.
Compatible with Everything
As the Internet has ably demonstrated, the ability for computers to communicate with each other and exchange data across worldwide networks is a technology that can transform society. Linux lives at the very heart of this phenomenon. The Internet itself was built on the UNIX operating system and the software used to keep it running was developed by technologists with a deep regard for the philosophy behind the ancestors to Linux.
When you take advantage of this decades-long tradition, you will find your software can not only be powerful in its own right, but you will also find it is automatically compatible with nearly every other device known to man, from the venerable teletype all the way to the latest and most popular mobile phones.
The Internet itself would be considerably less useful if every photo, blog post and video had to be translated and re-translated before it could be communicated from author to reader. The commitment to compatibility and standard data formats helps us avoid this brand of nightmare. Maximizing compatibility means maximizing the power of what you create. Linux makes both possible.
Chances are, you have been using Linux your entire life and didn’t know it. Sixty percent of the web is running on Linux servers, and close to 90% of all mobile devices are using at least a few technologies that wouldn’t exist without Linux. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.