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Linux Based Operating Systems

The first version of Linux released in October 1991, developed by Linus Torvalds, was only originally designed only for Intel based x86 personal computer system. The design philosophy of the Linux operating system has been the free open source software model, which is used for both the distribution and development of software.

The core of the operating system is the Linux kernel, which was designed to make it easy to port it for use on a wide array of different hardware platforms including many different 64 bit processors. The most common use for Linux based operating systems is for server and large scale systems; such as mainframes and supercomputers. Despite only approximately 1.5% of desktops using Linux based operating systems, almost everyone makes use of Linux daily, particularly in embedded systems, such as mobile and tablet devices using Android OS as well as many other devices including routers, televisions and gaming consoles to name a few common examples.

File System Support in Linux

Linux has been designed as a modular system, allowing kernel modules to be developed to support a wide range of hardware and file systems. Initially the Extended File System was used as the native file system but was soon found to have many limitations, but used as the basis for later versions supporting allowing larger disks, volumes and files. The Extended File System versions currently supported are Ext2, Ext3 and Ext4 and for many years the default file system. Recently the default file system in many flavours of Linux is now XFS, which was initially developed for Solaris OS by SGI and later ported for Linux. It is the preferred file system for server and RAID systems as it is a fast, robust and highly scalable file system.

Due to the wide range of companies and individuals developing modules for Linux, there is a vast number of file systems supported, such as FAT variants, NTFS and HFS+. Another once popular file system used in some distributions of Linux was ReiserFS, although development has now ceased, partly due to not being added as a default component of the kernel source code.

Linux Server and RAID Storage

Server and RAID systems are perfectly suited for running Linux, as it supports a vast array of mass storage controllers. Support for network file systems (NFS) and Network Attached Storage (NAS) are built into Linux, allowing them to present storage space to any networked computer system, including Windows, Apple Mac, Unix systems and many others.

Volumes on disks and RAID arrays are defined using the Logical Volume Manager (LVM) which allows complex configurations to be created using multiple drives. Another important kernel module supports the iSCSI protocol, used in Storage Area Network (SAN) systems, allowing them to either present disk space to other computers or make use of a SAN. This is of great importance within datacentre environments.

Linux in the Future

With Linux now the dominant operating system used on server and RAID system, it looks set for a long future and will most likely increase its share of the market sector. Linux has proved extremely popular because it has a proven track record of reliability and robust security features at a low cost, without any lock-in clauses to a specific hardware vendor, as with many other server OSes. Linux has also proved very popular for web servers, due to rapid response to fixing any security issues which become apparent.

Unless video games can run natively, rather than via an emulator, Linux is unlikely to increase its share of the desktop market. Many Linux systems used at home or in a small office environment are used as a NAS system and do look set to increase, with RAID arrays also becoming more common outside the enterprise market. Data recovery from Linux systems is highly likely to increase mainly due to the increase number of home and small business server systems being used.

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