In our podcast, you hear us talk about our "Going Linux community" and the "Open Source community" and the "Linux community". But what IS a community in this context, and why is it important? In brief, anyone who helps others to enjoy, use, and support a common cause could be considered a community. In this article we’ll focus on Linux and Open Source communities.
The term "Linux" is used to describe Open Source software, consisting of an operating system kernel, a graphical user environment, software configuration, utilities and applications that make a computer usable. There are many different versions of Linux available. These versions are referred to as "distributions."
What Linux distributions, desktop environments and most Linux applications all have in common is: They are Open Source. The Linux community is a type of Open Source community focused on the Linux operating system and its applications, and using, improving and supporting them.
Using open source software like Linux, and Linux applications provides you with the freedom to run a complete, full-featured operating system, pre-configured with most, if not all, of the applications you will need for your daily computing - or to change anything about the way it looks, the way it works, or the applications it runs to suit your taste. Although you will find some distributions of Linux for purchase, the vast majority are provided free of charge. Open Source software is licensed in a way that allows anyone to give it away for free, no strings attached.
For example, the licence gives any member of the user community the freedom to use Linux for any purpose, to distribute, modify, redistribute, or even sell the operating system. If you do modify and then redistribute Linux with your modifications, you are required by the licence to submit your modifications for possible inclusion into future versions. There is no guarantee that this will ever happen, but if you have made it better, then your changes just might be included in the next release of your distribution of Linux.
Many users of Linux are corporations that use the operating system to run their businesses, or include it within their products. Google’s ChromeOS and Android have roots in Linux. Many of the corporations that make use of Linux provide fixes and new features for Linux as they use the software for their businesses. These improvements are given back to the Linux community and Linux improves as a result. These efforts on the part of the developer community is how we can continually improve and grow without having to charge our users money.
Whether you are a home user of Linux, a Linux software or application developer, or an employee of an organization that uses the operating system, you are a member of the Linux and Open Source communities and you benefit from the efforts of the developers who contribute to Linux. Members of the Linux community can -- and do -- run Linux on almost any hardware, from the prettiest Macbook to the cheapest netbook, from the newest Chromebook to some very old machines designed for Windows, and from the most powerful Internet servers to the smallest smart thermostat.
Having "an inspiring, engaging, and enjoyable community" (Preface: The Art of Community, 2nd Edition) is the lifeblood of any open source software project. The community provides product and feature ideas, user support, developer talent, documentation, financial support, visionary direction, and cultural norms -- for the benefit of anyone who uses, contributes to, or otherwise supports the project. Although many projects, applications and even companies have their own communities, the inspirational engagement of the Linux community is one of the key things that makes Linux one of the top 3 operating systems in the world.
Community is a "Linux advantage".
Theme music for the Going Linux podcast is generously provided by Mark Blasco. http://www.podcastthemes.com
Going Linux Podcast by Larry Bushey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.