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
A free, stable OS that will do the job of $1200 worth of Windows Server.
People who run Linux are doing the world a favour by giving Microsoft a reason to get their head out of their ass and actually write code.
by Joe Montmatre August 25, 2003
The Operating System that POWERS urbandictionary you assholes.

Go on to
Then look up "" on the web server search. I see SEVEN linux servers, and 2 netbsd/openbsd servers.

I was able to install Mandrake Linux on my computer without any help, BECAUSE I RTFM! Like when I first installed WINDOWS!!

All the people who said shit about linux either:
1) Heard about it from Microsoft
2) Heard about it from SCO
3) Heard about it from some anti-linux group.
4) Saw a friend use Slackware
5) Saw a friend use the terminal.
6) Tried using Slackware as their first distro.

Linux is a great computer for all uses except crashing on you.

Ubuntu, Suse, Mandrake, and MEPIS are great linux distros that offer excellent user friendliness WITH GRAPHICAL TOOLS. So you don't even HAVE TO USE THE FUCKING TERMINAL!!

Only thing you can't do is run Windows stuff, like WINDOWS AIM, and WINDOWS EXPLORER, so don't even try doing stupid ass stuff.
Dumbass:: Linux sucks because there's no aim client.
by tsphan December 02, 2004
This thread really needs to be fucking sorted out. Linux is an operating system that some people use as an alternative to Windows. When I was at university I used it and it never crashed on me, and it could perform operations that Windows heads could only wet dream of. That is, operations that you'd have to perform if you were using a computer on a "professional" level. It's good for the techie stuff but Windows is best for general things, IMHO. I run XP on my computer at home and it works good enough for me... the previous versions didn't though.

Both systems have their good and bad points so stop acting like five year olds with your dumb little one upmanship. You'll be saying "my dad could have your dad" next. Or maybe that was last week.

And the pronunciation is "lin-uhckz", not "linn-ix".
Linux is an operating system
by saucy August 17, 2003
A kernel (NOT an operating system in and of itself) used to power the GNU operating system components. This makes up a relatively stable, free operating system known as GNU-Linux.
Linux, free as in speech (and hopefully beer!)
by NoOneSpecial January 11, 2004
An extremely stable Operating system, and drives server/networks like a dream, due to hardly ever going down, or having to reboot, can stay up for years due to its rock solid code.

Also, the only thing which stands between Microsoft and World Domination.

Microsoft programmers also make their programs/OS's on Linux boxes....
Microsoft tried to dominate the world, but Linux jumped up and stabbed them in the face.
by Cloud July 20, 2004
(1) An operating system created and used by literate people with functioning brains.
(2) An operating system subject to bashing by people who dont fit in the above category.
Wow, Doom 3 Alpha runs even faster on my Linux box! What? You're rebooting your XP machine to install the game? Oh thats a shame...
by howey July 03, 2003
An OS that rarely crashes, runs on most hardware (yes, even that 486 you can get cheap from a blowout sale), and is the thing the Beast of Redmond (Microsoft) fears most. It's also the cheapest OS you'll ever buy.
Once switching to Linux, I never looked back.
by Derleth September 05, 2002

Free Daily Email

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

Emails are sent from We'll never spam you.