What is Linux?
Linux is a Unix-type operating system which has been developed from scratch to be a free, open source operating system. It has evolved into a fully fledged desktop OS with windows, menus and icons just like any other modern operating system. Whilst Linux is commonly associated with servers (it is used for many of the world's web and file servers), you can use it just as easily as an application-focused system. Indeed, it is quite practical to run both server facilities and desktop at the same time. Linux is considered to be very stable, and employs a well-developed multi-threaded approach so that it can run many applications at once, across multiple processors/cores.
Linux is available in many flavours, known as Distributions. These take the core Linux OS and add different options, software bundles and visual themes to create more distinct environments. We are able to offer a selection of including the popular Ubuntu, SUSE and Fedora distributions.
Software has improved significantly in recent years. For example, the same office suite employed on our Windows machines (OpenOffice) comes as standard with almost all Linux distributions. This means that Linux has comprehensive Microsoft file compatibility, and a broad range of features. Similarly, for web browsing, the FireFox web browser which is our preferred browser on our Windows/RISC OS machines is the default on Linux too.
For more information about Linux itself, please visit the Linux Wikipedia entry by clicking here (opens new window).
Looking to explore Linux?
We are now able to offer a variety of possibilities for Linux on our RISCube and SpaceCube range, to suit almost everyone! Most of our users tend to be dipping their toes in the water for the first time, so it is possible to have a nice inobtrusive installation to try on occasion. Alternatively, some users have Linux only, or have two drives configured to allow complete Windows/RISC OS or Linux. Options include:
- Linux can now be installed on the same drive as Windows, so that the drive doesn't need to be partitioned up. This means that Linux can be quickly uninstalled if you ever want to free up disc space, or try a different version. This is ideal for first-time users because if you don't get on with it, your full hard drive space is available to you.
- Some RISCubes can have multiple hard drives. In this case, you could have Windows (and RISC OS) on one drive, and Linux on the other. You'll choose which to use when you power on. This gives the most complete solution for both systems, and allows both to operate independently.
- If you only have a single drive, it can be partitioned for Windows/RISC OS and Linux. However, the downside of this approach is that you have to figure out ahead of time just how much space to allocate, and that's always very difficult to gauge. It is also more difficult to "uninstall" the Linux partition (or Windows partition!) if it isn't needed unless you are quite skilled.
- Linux only - this is clearly the easiest option - one drive, one OS! With this setup you'll only be able to run Linux applications, so RISC OS won't be an option. It is, however, quite cheap, and ideal for servers or "family" machines which only need to run office applications, browse the web and so on.
Taking the Next Step
If you'd like to take up any of these Linux options, all you need to do is telephone us and discuss it. It is best that we know before we start building your machine, of course, especially if you want your hard drive partitioned, or extra drive(s)! The Linux choice can mildly affect our recommended hardware, too, so if you can let us know when you order, we can give the best advice. In many cases there will be no extra charge for having Linux on your machine, although in some cases we may have to charge a small amount for the time involved in setting it all up.