What is linux? What can you use linux for?

You’ve probably seen at least one of them: a special person on the Internet proudly saying, “I use Linux”. But what does using Linux mean? What is Linux and what does Linux do? Today we’ll find out, and we’ll leave the jargon and technical gossip at the door.

What is linux?

When someone says “I am using Linux” what they mean is that they are using the GNU / Linux operating system in one of its many forms. Over the years, various developers have taken GNU / Linux code, designed a unique operating system, and distributed it over the Internet, usually for free. They can do this through the permissive license that comes with Linux.

Ubuntu Desktop 20.10

Since the license allows developers to redistribute their code, Linux operating systems are commonly referred to as distributions or distributions to shorten it. Similar to the different editions of Windows 10 that exist, different Linux distributions exist for different purposes and for different people.

For example, Ubuntu and Linux Mint are accessible and easy to use for everyday computing, similar to the Windows Home edition. Alpine Linux, like Windows Pro, offers absolute security that a business user may want. A thin and light distro like Lubuntu could be compared to Windows S, and openSUSE serves the same purposes as Windows Server.

Related: Linux vs Windows: Key Differences You Need To Know Before Switching

One difference from Windows editions, however, is how most Linux distributions will vary in appearance and organization, depending on the distribution. office environment. They go by names like GNOME, Cinnamon, or Xfce, and each will give you a different user experience or “feel”. Some will feel familiar to longtime Windows or macOS users, while others will feel more cutting edge and forward thinking.

No matter what form Linux comes in, you’ll always get these things: a highly customizable desktop, a dedicated community of users and developers offering their support, and the freedom of big tech companies like Apple and Microsoft.

What is Linux used for?

GNOME 40 Application Launcher in Fedora 34

So you know what Linux is, but you might be wondering now, “What can I do with Linux?”

From simple calculators to advanced graph editing tools, Linux can actually run all kinds of software that you’re used to running on Windows or macOS.

Surf the Web

An essential utility on any modern PC, Linux desktops always come with at least one web browser. Most will have Firefox or Chromium installed by default, but you can also get Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or standard Brave.

Send by e-mail

Beyond using webmail in a browser, you can manage your inbox with your choice of multiple mail clients for Linux. Some popular choices include Thunderbird and Evolution. They often give you an experience like Microsoft Outlook, but more streamlined and streamlined.

Related: Top Windows Apps Running Linux

Work desk

Linux usually comes with a full office suite, such as LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice, or Calligra Suite. Microsoft Office will not work natively on Linux (although for the dedicated user we have a few workarounds).

For most users, however, one of these substitutes will cover their office needs. Most of them will open, edit, export and save DOC, DOCX, XLSX, PDF and other extensions without any problem. Some even have advanced capabilities, such as macros and track changes.


Yes, contrary to popular belief, you can play on Linux. How is it possible? More and more thanks to a Linux application called Wine, or PlayOnLinux, which runs Windows programs on Linux. While it is true that many popular games do not have a native Linux version, Wine allows you to work around this problem.

One of the best implementations of Wine is that of Valve Proton tool on Steam. Proton configures Wine on your chosen Windows and keeps it in the background. This means that you don’t have to do anything other than install Proton and run the game.

ProtonDB website with game ratings

Sounds too good to be true? Check ProtonDB, a database of Windows games with ratings and reviews on their performance under Linux using Proton. Valve is actively developing Proton, so the odds tend to only increase over time. Go ahead, search for your favorite games and see how easy it would be to start playing Linux.

Media streaming and playback

Linux is fully capable of playing your favorite music, videos, and podcasts just like any other operating system. Spotify has a native desktop app for Linux, and several other Linux apps will play local music or stream from other locations. VLC Player and Celluloid can do the same for video.

You can also view and manage your photo collection on Linux with the file manager and image viewer included in your distro.

Graphic and audio editing

Most distributions come with at least one graphics editing application. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to install Adobe Creative Suite on Linux without using the aforementioned Wine utility. However, there are plenty of often free alternatives to choose from, like GIMP or Inkscape.

Audacity is easy to install on Linux, as well as more advanced audio editors and mixers like Cecilia and Mixxx. You also have plenty of free and open source video editors at your disposal. More serious creators can even find Linux environments designed for creators.

What else is Linux used for?

Bodhi Linux 6 with terminal and launcher menu

Linux has many more uses beyond desktop computers. Developers often use it for testing, and it’s useful for web hosting as well.

In fact, the developer reported in 2017 that 90% of the public cloud was running Linux. The majority of web servers run on Linux, and almost all supercomputers use Linux as their operating system. Other devices also use the Linux kernel, such as smart home products, network equipment, and even cars.

So Linux is so common that if you drive a car or use the Internet, you could say with almost certainty, “I am using Linux”.

The Linux operating system: explained!

Now that you know what Linux is and what Linux can do, it’s time to decide if a Linux operating system is right for you. Linux will appeal to you the most if you like the idea of ​​doing most of the things you already do on Windows or macOS, but outside of the grasp of Microsoft and Apple.

Interested? Getting started with Linux is easy and without obligation. You can usually get Linux for free and try it out on your current PC without erasing or modifying anything.

Linux penguin on a rainbow background

How to start using Linux

Want to use Linux but don’t know where to start? Learn how to use Linux, from choosing a distro to installing applications.

Read more

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