Linux: LSU Overview

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General Information

Linux is an operating system that freely releases its source code to anyone that wishes to use the Linux Kernal. When people say "Linux" they are usually talking about a specific Linux distribution. If you are talking about just the operating system the technical term is Linux kernel. A Linux distribution is considered to be the Linux kernel and a group of applications that have been put together in an easy installation package. There are a wide variety of Linux distributions, however, there are some common unifying elements. Linux tends to be lightweight, it is customizable, and Linux has a supportive user community because it is user-run.

All Linux Distributions Have
  • Standard Operating System
  • X Windows System (Graphical User Interface)
  • One or more Graphical Desktops (GNOME and KDE are the most common)
  • Collection of Applications

The collection of applications for Linux are program software ready to use. The applications also come with documentation and source code which allows the user to tell the computer what to do. The collection can be very large which means the distribution could come on multiple CDs or on a DVD.

Linux Distributions

Some of the distributions mentioned are Live CDs. A Live CD allows you to run the Linux kernel without installing it on the hard drive. These distributions are popular for users who want to try it out before installing it. Most Linux distributions are free for download. Some are commercial and can be sold for profit, however, these must still be in source code and can be copied and redistributed.

Debian GNU/Linux

Non-commercial, popular with volunteer developers contributing to the project, very large and takes a while to install, easy to install upgrades with apt-get installer.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux: LSU Overview

Red Hat Enterprise Linux, also known as REHL, is the officially supported Linux operating system at LSU. Commercial, features the GNOME interface, and uses Yum/ PackageKit as an update method.

Gentoo Linux

Non-commercial, source based, installer provides some binary code packages to get you started however it is meant for the user to compile all source packages, very time consuming because everything must be download and then complied.


Live CD, good recovery tool because it can be run from CD without installing it, CD stores software in compressed form and Knoppix decompresses it, uses Debian package management.


Commercial, follows Debian format, software downloads for a fee in Click-N-Run Web-based interface.

Mandriva Linux One

Uses Red Hat Package Manager for software, has Mandriva Flash a 4GB flash drive that will bring operating system up without installing it.


Live CD, Debian based, good hardware detection, comes with Java and multimedia software.

Slackware Linux

Uses compressed tar files, provides text based installer, limited automatic hardware detection, all software configuration done by editing text files.

SUSE Linux

Two types: SUSE Linux Open Source Software which is free and SUSE Linux which is based on open source, YaST installation and configuration tool which is a highly favored administration tool, uses RPM packages.

Ubuntu Linux

Non-commercial, Debian based, both install CD and Live CD, install basic desktop from CD then use apt-get for installing other packages and staying up to date.

Xandros Desktop OS

Debian based, targets first time users, installer repartitions hard drive, versatile Xandros File Manager, has proprietary components that stops redistribution.

8/14/2020 10:53:04 AM