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Linux is a complete operating system that is similar but not identical to UNIX. It runs on a wide variety of hardware, ranging from 386's/486's/Pentiums/Pentium II's to more exotic hardware such as Digital Alpha computers, PowerPCs, and Silicon Graphics workstations. Probably the most unique characterisitc of Linux is that it is freely distributable. Freely distributable means that the source code for the kernel and most software cannot be withheld. It does not mean that companies cannot charge for it.
Originally the term Linux referred strictly to the kernel (the core of the operating system), but the phrase itself refers nowadays to a collection of configured software that runs on top of the Linux kernel. These 'collections of software' are known as distributions. Although these distributions often have their own unique (together with some proprietary software) flavour they are essentially the same. Just a few years ago there were only two popular distributions, Slackware and SLS. However, nowadays there is a wide choice from such companies as Red Hat, Caldera, S.U.S.E, Stampede. These companies do not just compile and configure the software. Caldera, Red Hat and others have added their own proprietary software to their distribution, which help to make such tasks as installation no harder than say Windows 95.

The easiest way to obtain a Linux distribution is to purchase a CD-ROM containing the software. Unless you have a very fast connection to the Internet a CD-ROM represents the most convenient method. One thing they can't offer is technical support. If you think you will need some help in installing Linux I would recommend you purchase from one of the distribution companies; for example Red Hat offer 30 days free technical support in installing their distribution.

If I had to recommend one distribution to a newcomer it would be Red Hat 9.0. Why, you ask? This is an up-to-date distribution which has some excellent utilities for configuring Linux, it has arguably the best package manager (for easy installation and de-installation of software), and has wide support among the Linux community.

Most UNIX software runs on Linux and there are many commercial applications that have been ported over to Linux, such as the excellent graphics package Corel DRAW, wordprocessors such as WordPerfect, and spreadsheets such as NeXS. Additionally the commercial WABI program
allows you to run many 16-bit Windows applications under Linux, if you so wish.

Why to Use LINUX:-
 
Most people reading this article will probably be using Windows 95/8/NT. If you are such a reader and just use your computer for basic word-processing and spreadsheets I would recommend that you stick with Windows; for all its faults Windows is easy to use, fairly quick to learn and has some great software.

For everyone else, please read on.

Here are 10 reasons why Linux could be the best operating system for you:

  • A Linux Distribution has thousands of dollars worth of software for no cost (or a couple of dollars if purchased on CD)
  • Linux is a complete operating system that is:
  • stable - the crash of an application is much less likely to bring down the operating system under Linux
  • reliable - Linux servers are often up for hundreds of days compared with the regular reboots required with a Windows system
  • extremely powerful
  • Comes with a complete development environment, including C, C++, Fortran compilers, toolkits such as Qt and scripting languages such as Perl, Awk and sed. A C compiler for Windows alone would set you back hundreds of dollars.
  • Excellent networking facilities: allowing you to share CPUs, share modems etc; all of which are not included or available with Windows 95.
  • The ideal environment to run servers such as a web server (e.g. Apache), or an FTP server.
  • A wide variety of commercial software is available if your needs aren't satisifed by the free software.
  • An operating system that is easily upgradeable. After any length of time a typical installation of Windows and software gets into a complete mess. Often the only way to clear out all the debris is to reformat the hard disk and start again. Linux, however, is much better for maintaining the system.
  • Supports multiple processors as standard.
  • True multi-tasking; the ability to run more than one program at the same time.
  • An excellent window system called X; the equivalent of Windows but much more flexible.

Of course there are many other reasons to use Linux such as the full source code is provided and can be modified but 'regular' application users will unlikely need the source code.

It is possible to set up your system to have more than one operating system on your computer. If you are contemplating using Linux this can be very handy; it lets you still keep Windows 95/NT (e.g. if work commitments require that you use certain software) and use Linux. This will require creating partitions on your Hard Disk. Documentation that accompanies most Linux distributions will explain how to create a 'multi-boot' system.

Linux Projects:-

Linux Information Projects:-
 

Hardware Port Projects:-
 

Software Projects:-
 

Scientific projects:-
 
  • Name: Beowulf Project
    Website: http://www.beowulf.org/
    Contact: merk@cesdis.gsfc.nasa.gov
    Description: Beowulf is a project to produce the software for off-the-shelf clustered workstations based on commodity PC-class hardware, a high-bandwidth internal network, and the Linux operating system.

     

  • Name: Center for Wave Phenomena Linux Cluster Project
    Website: http://www.cwp.mines.edu/
    Contact: cwp@dix.mines.edu
    Description: CWP now has around 20 Pentiums running Linux/XFree86. The newer 200 Mhz chips crank out around 40 Mflops under gcc, with no pentium optimization and we compute on them in parallel with PVM and MPI.

     

  • Name: KLAT2
    Website: http://aggregate.org/KLAT2/
    Contact: Dr. Hank Deitz
    KLAT2 -- the Kentucky Linux Athalon Testbed, a project at the University of Kentucky, is a 64+2 700MHz Athlon cluster using a variety of system hardware and software performance tricks, including a 264-NIC + 9 switch implementation of the new Flat Neighborhood network topology.

     

  • Name: LAMDI Project
    Website: http://gasnet.med.yale.edu/lamdi/
    Contact: harms@mbnet.mb.ca
    Description: LAMDI is a proposed platform to provide an interface for software applications that can capture and store hospital patient data, do realtime model ing of data, control drug infusions, and have a customizeable user interface.

     

  • Name: Linux-Equipped Astronauts Project (LEAP)
    Website: http://www.cantrip.org/leap.html
    Contact: ncm@nospam.cantrip.org
    Description: Seeks to provide ports to Linux of all the tools used by the Space Shuttle and International Space Station astronauts.

     

  • Name: Linux Super Page
    Website: http://shimizu-lab.dt.u-tokai.ac.jp/lsp.html
    Contact: nshimizu_AT_keyaki.cc.u-tokai.ac.jp
    Description: This is a project to make Linux to use super-page feature of some processors. The matrix transpose benchmark runs 4 to 5 times faster than the normal kernel on an Alpha 21264A-667MHz machine. 18 percent higher performance is achieved on SPEC fp2K with this patch.

     

  • Name: Parallel Processing Using Linux
    Website: http://yara.ecn.purdue.edu/~pplinux
    Contact: pplinux@ecn.purdue.edu
    Four types of parallel processing are under development: (1) SMP Pentium systems in which multiple processors share a single memory and bus interface within a single computer, (2) a group of machines interconnected by a network to form a parallel-processing cluster, (3) a Linux system as a "host" for a specialized attached parallel processor, and (4) SIMD parallelism within a register, which is facilitated by the MMX (MultiMedia eXtensions).

     

  • Name: SETI@Home
    Website: http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/
    Description: SETI@home is a scientific experiment that harnesses the power of millions of Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. There's a small but captivating possibility that your computer will detect the faint murmur of a civilization beyond Earth.

     

  • Name: The SHRIMP Project
    Website: http://www.cs.princeton.edu/shrimp/
    Contact: skumar@cs.princeton.edu
    Description: SHRIMP (Scalable, High-Performance, Really Inexpensive Multi-Processor) is a parallel machine being designed and built in the Computer Science Department at Princeton University. Shrimp is built from highly-integrated, commodity parts. The computing nodes of SHRIMP are Pentium PCs, and the routing network is the same one used in the Intel Paragon. A network interface card is being designed to connects the PCs to the routing network, and software is also being designed to make SHRIMP a fully usable multicomputer.
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