What is Linux?

Linux is an operating system, like Windows or Mac. It is free software and is used worldwide by individuals, schools, companies and governments. It can be installed on any laptop or desktop computer.

You use Linux every day without even realising it

Do you use Facebook, Google, Amazon, Wikipedia or Twitter? These Internet giants run their websites using Linux and other free software, not Windows. The same can probably be said for most of the Internet. Over 92% of the world's top supercomputers are also running Linux. Even Microsoft uses Linux to power their Skype service due to the shortcomings of Windows.

Ever watched a Hollywood film? One of the first feature films produced using Linux was Titanic in 1997. Fast-forward a few years and now Linux is the platform of choice for special effects and animation. Pixar use Linux for animating films like Toy Story 3. The stunning scenes in The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, and The Avengers were built using Linux by the digital visual effects company Weta Digital.

Do you own a smartphone? Over 75% of smartphones are running Android, which is based on Linux. Linux powers everything from ATM machines, televisions and wireless routers, to the Japanese high-speed rail, air traffic control systems, and the New York Stock Exchange.

Heard of the US Government? The US Navy nuclear submarines run on Linux. The White House, the US Department of Defense, the US Army, and many other governments and educational institutions around the world have chosen to use Linux instead of Windows or Mac.

How can I try Linux?

Linux is easy to install on any laptop or computer and is completely free. It's very fast even on old computers. Linux is generally regarded as more secure than Windows or Mac and getting a virus is extremely rare. You might also find that your computer doesn't crash quite so often. Linux will work with documents, photos, music, videos and other files you currently use. You can connect printers, scanners, cameras and smartphones, as well as most other common devices.

You don't have to remove Windows to install Linux as they can be installed side-by-side. You can even run Linux directly from a CD-ROM without installing it at all, which allows you to have a look at what it has to offer before making any decisions.

There are many different types of Linux available. If you're not sure where to start then take a look at Fedora, which your author uses. You can download the latest release and view the installation instructions on the download page.