Linux is a free (as in libre, not always as in gratis) kernel that, together with tools from the GNU project, forms a stable, high-performance, multi-user operating system.

Its advantages over Windows are mainly ideological; it's free, usually in both of the above senses of the word, and the license, the GNU GPL, prevents proprietary implementations from screwing you over (Linux "companies" sell support, not Linux itself, for this reason).

It's also much more stable than Windows, owing to its stricter memory management, access controls, and hardware abstraction policy, and its networking performance is better since it's really meant more for servers than for desktop usage. Linux has finer-grained access control at the user and device level, though to be fair, Windows has had Unix-style file permissions since NT. Reboot times for Linux, however, are measured in months, and the only reason you should ever need to reboot Linux is if you installed a new kernel.

The disadvantages of Linux compared to Windows are mainly issues of ease of use. Linux is hard compared to Windows, mostly because it tends not to detect certain devices. This is a circular problem, because the drivers tend to be written only for Windows to begin with. It also, despite what the makers claim, *does* require some work at the terminal in most cases, and this will scare away most Windows users who never worked with Dos and the 9x series. It shouldn't, because the terminal is much more powerful and easier to use than Dos ever was, but it does.

The other main issue is that, while there are a few hundred different flavors, referred to as "distros," most of them suck. There are a few big, well-supported distros, and many are based on them: RedHat, which is popular in the corporate world, Debian, which is minimalistic and tough by itself but forms the base for the popular Ubuntu, and Slackware, which is the oldest maintained distro and is closest to the "original" Linux philosophy. There are also a few oddballs like Gentoo, which is for experts only (forces you to compile *everything* but does the annoying work for you and gives you incredible performance), and Arch, which is a minimalist hybrid of Gentoo and Slackware.

Save yourself headaches: newbies should use Ubuntu, experts should use Gentoo or Slackware, purists should use Debian, and no one should use RedHat or any RedHat based distro unless you're corporate and need it, in which case you want CentOS (RedHat for free with no tech support). Just be prepared to get your hands a little dirty, and to search the web and your distro's forums for help. There is always, always an issue that pops up that will never be in the manual or installation docs.

Most of all, remember that Linux won't insult your intelligence, but it won't hold your hand either. You can't always breeze through a Linux install like you can with Windows (though Ubuntu and friends are changing that), but you will get a solid, stable, and working system. Linux rewards effort and inquisitiveness, and punishes laziness.
Linux is about choice. That means you're free to use it, or not to use it, but it will always be here for you.
by Hazuki April 22, 2007
An operating system-whoops, I meant KERNEL-mainly used by teenagers who think it makes them edgy and alternative (just like listening to the Arctic Monkeys). Funnily enough, they only ever install it on a hard drive partition. So when it inevitably fucks up they can fall back on Windows (which will also fuck up eventually).

Also worthy of note is that its supporters make use of the "m$" abbreviation every chance they get, hoping they'll appear to be "fighting the machine." But contrary to popular belief, having Linux does not make you a 1337 h@x0r, and being a 1337 h@x0r does not mean you use Linux.
*downloads and attempts to install a Linux distribution*
WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?!
by SomethingWitty June 11, 2008
The best way to spam urbandictionary.com with propaganda and idiotic bullshit
Linus Torvalds is our god, long live Linux, windoze is for losers that don't know how to use a computer.
by discostewpid January 15, 2012
Incredibly brilliant and stable OS designed for people who know how computers work if your too stupid then fine stick with windows XP don't complain after you can't compile the kernel source code that you accidently downloaded instead of the pre-compiled version. I'm running a version of linux as I type this (Knoppix)
knoppix runs from CD so you put it in knoppix loads take it out re-boot and then windows is back simple.
having said that though as most programs run only on windows keep it but only if it's XP.
Knoppix, Red Hat, Debian etc.
by Forcemaster August 09, 2004
Linux is one of the most powerful contraceptives ever. The more one learns about Linux, the more powerful its fertility-stealing powers become.

Typical Linux users are a sensitive lot. This is because their entire self-esteem is tied up in knowing obscure piping and scripting techniques that nobody in the real world gives a fuck about. Supposedly, this makes them smarter. If a Linux user feels threatened about the coming obsolescence of his beloved OS, untold havoc will be unleashed. This will eventually produce lulz. For this reason, we reveal here the easiest ways to troll a Linux message board or IRC channel.

*If the subject of distros comes up, reply, "Yes, but what can <insert distro name> do that Ubuntu can't do?

*Claim that the Windows kernel design is better than Linux.

*Warn everyone that Mactel will destroy Desktop Linux

*Ask "But can it run BSD?"

*If the subject of CLI comes up, reply, "But you could do that with DOS twenty years ago!"

*Predict that Solaris will eventually destroy Linux

*Make completly baseless claims that you are the CEO of a major corportion (don't specify which one!) and say you see no future in Linux.

*Tell everyone that Linux isn't ready for grandma

*Quote Theo de Raadt

*Remind all Linux users that they are still virgins

*Point out that the BSD License is infinitely superior to the GPL

*Incessantly ask every user about what parts of the code in their kernel were stolen from SCO.

*Let it be known that you appreciate Clippy

*Ask if Wine can run <insert program here> yet.

*Use the phrase "total cost of ownership."

*Ask for advise on finding quality Linux games.

*Say that Linux is inferior for development because it doesn't have Visual Basic .NET

*Make it known that $699 (the fee you legally owe SCO if you use Linux) is $300 more than the price Windows Server 2003 Web Edition, which has more features, greater stability, and has been shown time and time again to have a higher ROI.
Fun things you can do with Linux:

*Update your drivers.

*Brag about your kernals.

*Say you use Linux (which will get your ass kicked)

*Eat KFC chicken around the clock.

*Manually edit config files

*Keep your virginity

*Uhh, well thats pretty much it.
by 1A1EC1E730C2 April 06, 2008
1. An operating system kernel that was developed in 1991 in Helsinki, Poland by a programmer by the name of Linux Torvalds. Torvalds made an interesting choice as to making the kernel open-source, meaning that anyone was allowed to look at the kernel's code, use it, modify it, and/or redistribute it. Over the years, the kernel was patched, modified, and redistributed so many times that it's more stable and secure than Microsoft's Windows NT kernel, which has been doing nothing but collecting dust over the last 20 years.

2. A series of UNIX-like operating systems made using the Linux kernel. Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, openSuSE, Slackware, Mandriva, Gentoo, these are all popular Linux distributions. Some are made for power-users, others are made for the average user, looking for a better computing experience. Linux has a horrible reputation about not being user friendly, and that's partially true. But more recent versions of Linux such as Debian, Ubuntu, Mandriva, etc. are very user friendly, and have graphical tools so that you wouldn't have to use the command line utility most of the time.
Linux was and always will be the pioneer of the open-source world. The kernel's currently up to release 2.6.39.

Nearly everything we use today, be that calculators, ATMs, or even your own smartphone is powered using Linux. 10 of the world's fastest supercomputers use Linux as its kernel.

GNU/GPL software make up the rest of the operating system and apps. "GNU/Linux" is the way lawyers say it in court.
by teh5abiking July 22, 2011
Crappy computer software that isn't compatible with anything.
Jenny: facebook does not agree with my computer
Hovan: y?
Jenny: it's a linux
Jenny: nothing agrees with my computer
Hovan: boo
by divegrl6 August 18, 2009
If Operating Systems Ran The Airlines...


Mac Airlines

All the stewards, captains, baggage handlers, and ticket agents look and act exactly the same. Every time you ask questions about details, you are gently but firmly told that you don't need to know, don't want to know, and everything will be done for you without your ever having to know, so just shut up.


Windows XP Air
You turn up at the airport, the staff help you to your seat. When in the airplane, you experience a little turbulence. You had to pay extra for a plane to fly next to you to protect you from viruses, but it's worth the danger to be in a plane with such a comfortable seat.

Linux Air

Disgruntled employees of all the other OS airlines decide to start their own airline. They build the planes, ticket counters, and pave the runways themselves. Don't even think of coming on this plane unless you have a degree in physics, engineering and metalworking. You have to assemble your seat out of ill-fitting parts that take hours to find. Your chiropracter gave you a special cushion you have to use during flight, but the staff gently remind you that you need to spend hours looking for a compatibility layer to use it with. You nearly have your seat set up, bar one piece. So you ask the person next to you if he knows where any other pieces are, and he replies with "STFU No0B!! U R A LAMER!!!" You wish you flew with Windows XP.
Linux is useless for everyday programs. For servers, why not, but not every person's XP crashes. In fact, I haven't had a crash in Windows since 98. My Linux is so screwed up though, I can't even copy and paste.
by dRyx. July 22, 2008

Free Daily Email

Type your email address below to get our free Urban Word of the Day every morning!

Emails are sent from daily@urbandictionary.com. We'll never spam you.

×