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FEATURE

Multicore Processing, Part 2

Learning about Linux

Issue: 14.1 (January/February 2016)
Author: Markus Winter
Author Bio: Markus is a Molecular Biologist who taught himself REALbasic programming in 2003 to let the computer deal with some exceedingly tedious lab tasks. Some call it lazy, he thinks it smart. He still thinks of himself as an advanced beginner at best.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 14,967
Starting Page Number: 39
Article Number: 14107
Related Link(s): None

Excerpt of article text...

Back in 2001 Apple brought out the first version of Mac OS X, and I knew they had a winner on their hands. I knew it because all the computer geeks from our IT department suddenly started running around with Apple Powerbooks. Those geeks made their money administering Windows, but they hated it. They loved Linux and seemed to spend all their free time with it, and they never ever looked at Macs as they regarded them as toys. That changed dramatically back in 2001 as Macs were now running UNIX underneath. I wanted to buy some Apple shares back then, but sadly my government insisted that I pay back my student loan instead. If I could have invested in Apple shares then they would now be worth over six million US dollars... oh well. So instead of me sipping Pina Coladas at some beach somewhere, let's get on with the article and look at Linux!

Linux

It is probably fair (though completely wrong) to say that Linux is the most widely used operating system in the World. Correct would be to say instead that Linux is the most widely used operating system kernel in the World.

So what's the difference?

A kernel is the part of the operating system that mediates access to system resources. It's responsible for enabling multiple applications to effectively share the hardware by controlling access to CPU, memory, disk I/O, and networking.

An operating system is the kernel plus applications that enable users to get something done. The most prominent of those applications is one that most users don't even think of as application: the user interface. Originally text-based (like DOS or CPM), later graphics-based (like Atari's GEM, Amiga's Workbench, the Mac's Finder, Windows Explorer, or one of the many Linux Desktops) it is usually mouse-driven and provides useful tools like the terminal, console, system preferences, etc.

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