Linux® is an open source operating system (OS). An operating system is the software that directly manages a system’s hardware and resources, like CPU, memory, and storage. The OS sits between applications and hardware and makes the connections between all of your software and the physical resources that do the work.
Think about an OS like a car engine. An engine can run on its own, but it becomes a functional car when it’s connected with a transmission, axles, and wheels. Without the engine running properly, the rest of the car won’t work.
Linux was designed to be similar to UNIX, but has evolved to run on a wide variety of hardware from phones to supercomputers. Every Linux-based OS involves the Linux kernel—which manages hardware resources—and a set of software packages that make up the rest of the operating system.
The OS includes some common core components, like the GNU tools, among others. These tools give the user a way to manage the resources provided by the kernel, install additional software, configure performance and security settings, and more. All of these tools bundled together make up the functional operating system. Because Linux is an open source OS, combinations of software can vary between Linux distributions.
The command line is your direct access to a computer. It's where you ask software to perform hardware actions that point-and-click graphical user interfaces (GUIs) simply can't ask.
Command lines are available on many operating systems—proprietary or open source. But it’s usually associated with Linux, because both command lines and open source software, together, give users unrestricted access to their computer.
Our latest release of Red Hat® Enterprise Linux comes with even more built-in command line capabilities than ever before and includes consoles that bundle those capabilities in easy-to-use modules that exist off of the command line.
The base component of the OS. Without it, the OS doesn’t work. The kernel manages the system’s resources and communicates with the hardware. It’s responsible for memory, process, and file management.
System user space
The administrative layer for system-level tasks like configuration and software install. This includes the shell, or command line, daemons, processes that run in the background, and the desktop environment.
A type of software that lets you perform a task. Apps include everything from desktop tools and programming languages to multiuser business suites. Most Linux distributions offer a central database to search for and download additional apps.
Linux is a free, open source operating system, released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Anyone can run, study, modify, and redistribute the source code, or even sell copies of their modified code, as long as they do so under the same license.
Linux has become the largest open sources software project in the world. Professional and hobbyist programmers and developers from around the world contribute to the Linux kernel, adding features, finding and fixing bugs and security flaws, live patching, and providing new ideas—all while sharing their contributions back to the community.
Linux is the foundation for the modern IT stack, and Red Hat is one of the leading contributors to the Linux kernel and associated technologies in open source communities. Red Hat engineers help improve features, reliability, and security to make sure your infrastructure performs and remains stable—no matter your use case and workload.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides a standard operating environment for everything your enterprise does in every environment—powering the apps that run your business across bare-metal, virtual, containerized, and private and public clouds. Plus, customers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux gain economic advantages of more than US$1 trillion each year, just because of the OS.