Welcome to the Learning Linux series! Over the course of this series we're going to be exploring and learning the fundamentals of this hugely popular, powerful, open source technology.
This series is ideal for anyone just starting out on their Linux learning journey. We're going to try our best to break the series down into logical and understandable chunks, with a focus on readability, real world examples and explaining things in laymans terms!
We'll start by covering the basics, such as the structure of the filesystem, distributions, the Bash terminal, commands, language & scripting, then move on to some more advanced concepts.
If you're on the fence about learning Linux or unsure about the benefits, consider some of the option below!
A few good reasons to learn Linux!
From servers & smartphones to smart devices & games consoles, Linux claims a huge share of the global operating system market.
In the consumer market, smartphones running Android and laptops running Chrome OS (Both based on Linux) have proven to be a massive global success, with Android claiming a whopping 88% market share of mobile devices as of Q2 2018 and Chrome OS gaining in popularity; both with no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Although slowly gaining traction, we're yet to see the major adoption of Linux on the consumer desktop, however it's a different story when it comes to webservers, with Linux having a huge market share of the server market and propping up some of the worlds most powerful businesses, services and technologies.
This reason alone is a good enough reason to level up your Linux knowledge!
It's free and open source
Unlike Windows and MacOS, anyone can learn and get started with Linux for free and read the source code to understand what's going on under the hood.
The open source nature of Linux has lead to a vast amount of information and resources available to anyone who wants to learn! Did I mention that it's free too?
Check out the Linux Github repo at the link below and join the 70,000+ users who have starred it!
Open source and free software tends to be driven by communities of passionate and highly skilled individuals and Linux is probably the most popular of them all!
You'll rarely be short of an explanation or answer and you'll find thriving communities all across the web and in the flesh, ready and willing to share information and help you solve your problem or teach you something new.
Check out the link below to a list of great Linux communities.
Good career prospects
From web development & infosec to connected devices & dev ops, knowledge of Linux plays an important role in helping you land a job with a business that uses Linux in their technology stack (and looking at the numbers, it's a majority!)
Many companies are looking for individuals with at least a basic knowledge & understanding of Linux due to it playing such a crucial role in their products, services, infrastructure or a combination of all.
One of the major benefits of Linux is that it's so well integrated with not only the most stable and reliable technologies, but the latest and greatest too, such as Docker & Kubernetes.
Stablie and secure
Again, the open source nature, popularity and dependency on Linux means it has the eyes of thousands of talented developers and engineers working with it on a daily basis from every market, industry and corner of the globe!
This leads to an incredibly stable and secure platform as bugs tend to be spotted and fixed almost immidiately with security updates and vulnerabilities getting patched before they even become a problem.
Whilst we're not saying Linux is invulnerable and virus free, it does a considerably better job than its competitors.
Linux has been around for a long time and is widely accepted as one of the most secure and trusted platforms, a true testament to the developers, engineers and contributors to the project.
Ideal for software development
From simple, single file scripts to globally scalable applications, Linux is the ideal platform for software development and is widely used by developers from every segment of the market, from web applications & API's to machine learning, data science & internet of things.
This is mostly due to a combination of everything we're talking about in this article, along with most distributions of Linux shipping with the GNU toolchain; a powerful collection of free programming tools which help developers build reliable, sharable and repeatable software.
Want to work with containers? Linux is tightly integrated with containerization technologies such as Docker & Kubernetes, along with version control systems such as GIT (Created by Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux!)
If you're a developer or considering learning software development, Linux is your friend.
Check out the link below to learn more about the GNU toolchain.
You'll understand how computers work
Working with Linux gets you much closer to the lower levels of the system and bare metal of the machine, leading you to places you probably wouldn't venture on a Windows or Mac.
There will be times when you'll be pushed out of your comfort zone and have to do things that you've never done before, which is what makes Linux such a great platform for learning!
When the going gets tough and you're in a pinch, you can always rely on the amazing community for help, support and solutions, with popular websites, forums and videos such as StackOverflow and YouTube offering thousands of questions, answers and tutorials covering a wide range of Linux related content from high level concepts to ultra specific problems, errors and bugs.
Chances are, if you've got a question about Linux, someone's already got an answer!
Privacy & freedom
Unlike some (most) operating systems, most distributions of Linux aren't interested in collecting your personal data and sending it back to headquarters for further "analysis".
Even though most Linux based operating systems aren't snooping on your personal data, you still need to be vigilant and perform regular system updates and take general security & privacy measures on your machine such as only installing software from trusted sources.
Take back control of your information, media and personal data by running your own Linux server, using open source software such as Nextcloud (a replacement for Dropbox), Mail-In-A-Box (Self hosted email) or any of the other self hosted tools designed to replace many of the popular services offerered by the big companies, where your privacy is not always a first class citizen.
For the privacy oriented individuals who aren't satisfied with many of the popular Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian or Mint, you'll find special distributions designed around user privacy (See the FOSS link below)
If you're looking for an operating system that protects your privacy, Linux is your friend.
Some useful resources and interesting reads:
- Mail in a box
- Privacy Tools (Not just linux related)
- Linux privacy article
- Privacy focused Linux distributions
The Linux desktop
Whilst Windows still dominates the desktop operating system market with a whopping 87.5% market share and Apples Mac OS coming in second with a comparatively tiny 9.8%, the year of the Linux desktop is approacing fast!
You'll find many Linux desktop environments in the form of "distributions", combining a suite of software and tools to create a desktop environment very similar to the big boys, along with thousands of free and open source software & programs comparible or in some cases better than their rivals.
The Linux desktop has come a long way in the last few years, with many popular distributions now available as a viable choice for every day usage, from the casual user to the power user.
The good news is, you don't need to have a computer science degree or be a developer to get started with a Linux based desktop! Distributions such as Ubuntu or Mint offer quick and easy installation, dual booting (running both Windows/Mac alongside Linux) application browsers (Similar to Apples "App store") and much, much more.
If you're willing to roll up your sleeves and delve deeper into the Linux desktop, you'll quickly find that you're able to customize the environment to your exact specification, from custom icons, layout & fonts to building a fully fledged workstation, packed with powerful open source software and features that would make their rivals envious.
- Ubuntu Linux distribution
- Debian Linux distribution
- Linux Mint distribution
- Desktop operating system market share
Learning Linux is not only incredible useful, it's a whiole lot of fun!
Learning how to automate tasks, manage servers, deploy applications and work with Linux is not only a great way to advance yourself as a human being, it's extremely satisfying and rewarding! There's nothing like writing a small script to automate a boring task or developing a slick application used by millions of users every day (SomethingI'm still working on 😛)
How to get started
Getting started with Linux is easy and there's so many options to suit your needs, requirements and level of technical experience.
Windows/Mac - Virtualbox
By far, the easiest & fastest option is to run a Linux distrubution in a virtual machine.
Windows - Hyper-V
Windows subsystem for Linux
Another great option for Windows users is to use the Windows Subsystem for Linux.
Windows - Dual boot
If you want a fully operational desktop environment but you're not ready to completely ditch Windows or Mac, you can dual boot and have 2 operating systems on one machine (Slightly more advanced)
Install a Linux distro
If you want to setup a dedicated Linux machine, you can install a distribution of your choice. Here's a link to installing Ubuntu for example.
I hope this article has given you food for thought and a few good reasons to learn Linux.
Follow along with the articles in this series, where we'll be trying to cover the important aspects of learning Linux in a clear and understandable way.
Let us know your comments and feedback below!