Linux Programming Made Easy – A Complete Guide With Resources For Beginners - Digital.com (2022)

Linux is an operating system, platform, ecosystem, and culture. While the continued dominance of Windows and Mac OS for desktop computing causes the uninitiated consumer to assume that Linux is a sort of fringe option for extreme geeks and those who don’t want to pay for an operating system, the truth of the matter is that Linux is the most used and most important operating system on the planet. It powers the web, it powers our infrastructure, it powers the largest supercomputers in the world.

Developing for Linux can be a bit of a challenge, but it can also be extremely rewarding. This short guide will provide you with an introduction to the information and resources you need to get started with Linux programming. It covers four areas of Linux development: contributing to the kernel, building new modules, developing applications for Linux, and Shell scripting.

Linux kernel development

The Linux kernel is, perhaps, the most ambitious software development project on the planet. New stable releases come out approximately every three months, and each release involves thousands of developers working in dozens of countries.

Getting involved with kernel development is, paradoxically, both easier than it seems like it should be, and also ridiculously difficult. It is easier than it seems like it should be, because there is no hiring process, no interview, no bureaucracy. Anyone who knows what they are doing is welcome to develop for the core, and submit patches. On the other hand, it is also extremely difficult because the kernel is extremely complicated. Moreover, the kernel development community, while quite welcoming in some ways, does not tolerate amateur shenanigans very well. While it helps to have thick skin, nothing really substitutes for actually knowing what you are doing. Developing the core is pretty serious business, involving pretty serious computer science. If you are just getting started with operating system development, this is not really the place to start.

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What You Need to Know

Development Skills

Programming of the Linux kernel is done in C. Not C++, not Objective-C, not C#. So the first thing that you need to do is learn the C programming language extremely well.

You also need to have a deep understanding of operating system theory, particularly as it relates to the Linux system. More on that in the next section.

Understanding Linux

Naturally, you need to understand Linux both as a user and as a developer. This includes having a fairly deep understanding of how the Linux kernel is structured, and how the various sub projects fit together.

Process and Culture

Finally, you need to understand how the Linux development process actually works. This includes getting a feel for the community as a whole, for its culture, and how the various members of the development community relate to each other. Also, it means understanding distributed version control, and the development release cycle.

Developing Kernel Modules

Before jumping into core development on the Linux kernel, a good way to increase your knowledge and expertise with Linux programming is to work on a kernel module. These are independently developed pieces of software that work with the kernel in order to function as a complete operating system. Kernel modules include things like device drivers for various hardware peripheries, as well as file managers and other low level operating system features.

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The barriers to entry for working on a kernel module are, generally speaking, much lower than they are for working on the Linux kernel. There are hundreds of modules, developed by many different teams and individuals, so there is not one set of gatekeepers setting the tone for development. Moreover, the stakes are a bit lower with module development.

What You Need to Know

Kernel modules, like the kernel itself, are usually written in C. (There is some fringe debate about developing kernel modules in C++, and there are some off-the-wall ways of accomplishing this, but it is certainly not the normal way nor is it recommended.)

Obviously, if you are writing a device driver for a piece of hardware, you will need to know quite a bit about the type of hardware, and the firmware embedded on it. You also need a decent understanding of the Linux-based kernel, and the way that it interacts with kernel modules. Finally, if you are contributing to an existing kernel module, you will need to learn about their procedures and development cycle.

Also see the list of resources above in the Kernel Development section.

Developing Applications For the Linux Operating System

Once we get up out of the weeds of operating system development, and start talking about developing actual applications for the Linux operating system, the job gets a little easier and we have a lot more options about how to proceed. Compilers and interpreters for just about every programming language are available for the Linux platform, often more than one for a particular language.

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What You Need to Know

If you are used to developing for Windows or Mac OS, the biggest shock when developing for Linux is probably the wide variety of Linux environments. There are dozens of Linux distros, and every Linux user has the ability to change quite a lot about how their particular environment works. This means, among other things, that you have to pay attention to dependency management a lot more than you might otherwise need to.

Another difference, particularly as compared to a Windows system is that many Linux users prefer to compile their applications from source code. This happens on Mac OS as well but with less frequency. In the Linux world, a large number of users will always prefer to compile applications from source, rather than using an installer package. This might affect how you think about development and distribution of your software.

Most Linux-centric development takes place in C, C++, Perl, or Python. Learning those languages well, and diving into the resources mentioned above (Kernel and Modules) and below (scripting) will help a lot.

Scripting in Linux

Perhaps the “lowest-level” of programming in Linux is shell scripting. However, this is no less “programming” than anything else. Shell scripting in Linux is a great way to automate routine tasks and accomplish more work in less time. Additionally, digging into advanced shell scripting will give you a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Linux operating system. Shell scripting is really what separates novice Linux consumers from advanced Linux users.

What You Need to Know

While there are other options, the most common scripting language is Bash. Even if you plan to move on to more advanced scripting languages, getting a handle on Bash will start you off on the right foot for all types of operating system scripting. Most people who really get into scripting as a way to boost productivity, use either Python or Perl for most of their work. Once you have hit a wall with what you can easily accomplish in Bash, you will probably want to move onto one of those languages.

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Bash Resources

Python Resources

Perl Resources

General Linux Resources

The Linux Foundation

Linux.org: a central forum for all things Linux.

The Linux Documentation Project: a giant library of Linux guides on all of the subjects above, plus a bunch of other things. This is one of the most important places to go for in-depth Linux information.

Summary

That was a wild ride! From Linux kernel programming all the way down to shell scripting. There are endless ways to program the Linux operating system. With this guide, you should be well on your way.

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FAQs

Is Linux hard to learn? ›

Is Linux Hard to Learn? Linux is not hard to learn. The more experience you have using modern technology, the easier you'll find it to master the basics of Linux. You can learn the basic Linux commands in a few days but it will likely take a few weeks to become more familiar with these commands.

What coding language is Linux? ›

Linux. Linux is also written mostly in C, with some parts in assembly. About 97 percent of the world's 500 most powerful supercomputers run the Linux kernel. It is also used in many personal computers.

How can I learn Linux programming? ›

10 Best and FREE Online Training Courses to Learn Linux
  1. Linux Mastery: Master the Linux Command Line in 11.5 Hours. ...
  2. Learn The Linux Command Line: Basic Commands (FREE Course) ...
  3. Linux Command Line Basics. ...
  4. Linux Tutorials and Projects (Free Udemy Course) ...
  5. Vim Masterclass. ...
  6. Bash for Programmers.

Is Linux free to use? ›

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.

How many days IT will take to learn Linux? ›

For the basic use of the Linux operating system, you could learn its command line and system architecture in a week, but if you are looking to have more advanced knowledge like managing the operations such as maintaining the system, creating different users, more advanced command line than it may take two years of ...

Is Linux a good career? ›

The short answer is yes! The 9th Annual Open Source Jobs Report from Linux Foundation Research and edX found Linux skills were the second most in demand, preceded only by cloud skills.

Which Linux is best for beginners? ›

The 5 best Linux distros for beginners: You can do this
  • Linux Mint. Best Linux distro for beginners. View now.
  • Chrome OS. Easy-to-use, affordable computing without Windows headaches. View now.
  • Ubuntu. Simple to use. View now.
  • Zorin OS. Easier jump from Windows. View now.
  • MX Linux. Easy-to-learn and lightweight. View now.
26 May 2022

Which is the best website to learn Linux? ›

6 Best Websites and Online Platforms to learn Linux commands for FREE
  1. Udemy. Udemy is my go-to place to learn anything, including Linux. ...
  2. Coursera [Free Linux Courses from Universities and Companies] ...
  3. Educative [Text based, Practice Online, Free Trial] ...
  4. Learn Linux @ Codecademy. ...
  5. Webminal. ...
  6. Pluralsight [Free Trial]

Why Linux is used? ›

Linux is used in the following ways: Server OS for web servers, database servers, file servers, email servers and any other type of shared server. Designed to support high-volume and multithreading applications, Linux is well-suited for all types of server applications. Desktop OS for personal productivity computing.

What devices use Linux? ›

Ebook Readers, Tablets, and Phones

Ebook readers, tablets, and mobile phones are usually embedded with Linux-based operating systems. Android-powered mobile device operating systems are also developed based on Linux Kernel. Tablets are often embedded with Linux.

What is the best Linux? ›

1. Ubuntu - Best overall Linux distro for laptops. Ubuntu is one of the most versatile Linux distributions with an active community and long-term supports. It is a favorite among newbies and intermediate users, especially due to the large number of software utilities available.

Does Linux require coding? ›

No, you do not. Linux distributions now have a very complete user interface that makes them indistinguishable from other OS like Windows and Macs. But what you have to keep in mind is that Linux was developed for a fully capable programmer.

Is Linux or Windows better? ›

The main differences between Linux and Windows are that Linux is more secure, private, and reliable. Windows is more intuitive and has support for more apps and hardware.

Does Linux use Python? ›

2.1.

Python comes preinstalled on most Linux distributions, and is available as a package on all others. However there are certain features you might want to use that are not available on your distro's package. You can easily compile the latest version of Python from source.

How can I learn Linux at home? ›

Where to Learn Linux
  1. Linux Foundation. One of the most popular options is the Linux Foundation. ...
  2. Courses. Another way of learning Linux online is going through different Linux courses. ...
  3. Linux Websites/Blogs. ...
  4. Linux Communities. ...
  5. YouTube, DTube and odysee. ...
  6. Books. ...
  7. Install a Linux distro and learn as you go.
8 Sept 2022

What is a job in Linux? ›

In Linux, a job is a process that the shell is managing and hasn't finished running. Every job has a unique ID that you can use to control it regardless of whether it is in the background or foreground of your terminal session. By using the jobs utility, you can retrieve a list of all currently running jobs.

How can I learn Linux like a pro? ›

However, when learning Linux, there are a few things you should commit to memory if you want to feel like a pro.
  1. Take advantage of ELS services. ...
  2. Use tab to autocomplete. ...
  3. Get familiar with the history command. ...
  4. Know how to use the grep and find tools. ...
  5. Never stop learning. ...
  6. Find and use your past commands. ...
  7. Wrapping Up.
4 Jun 2022

Can a non IT person learn Linux? ›

A: No. For ordinary tasks such as word processing, surfing the web and sending e-mail, even persons with no computer background can start to become productive in as little as just a few hours. But to become a system administrator or a true Linux guru can take years of study and experience.

What job can I get by learning Linux? ›

We have listed down the top 15 jobs for you which you can expect after you come out with Linux expertise.
  • DevOps Engineer.
  • Java Developer.
  • Software Engineer.
  • Systems Administrator.
  • Systems Engineer.
  • Senior Software Engineer.
  • Python Developer.
  • Network Engineer.

Is Linux a valuable skill? ›

In 2016, only 34 percent of hiring managers said that they considered Linux skills essential. In 2017, that number was 47 percent. Today, it's 80 percent. If you have Linux certifications and familiarity with the OS, the time to capitalize on your worth is now.

Which Linux is best for normal user? ›

The 7 best linux distributions for beginners
  • Ubuntu. Ubuntu tops our list because it's the most popular distribution among both beginners and advanced Linux users. ...
  • Linux Mint. ...
  • Zorin OS. ...
  • Elementary OS. ...
  • Manjaro. ...
  • Pop!_OS. ...
  • Solus.

Which Linux is easy to install? ›

MX Linux

Thanks to its easy installation process and familiar looks, the new users find themselves at home while using MX Linux. With a pretty good hardware recognition and automatic configuration for an out-of-the-box experience, this Debian GNU/Linux-based is also stable for dependable performance.

What type of Linux do I have? ›

The command “uname -r” shows the version of the Linux kernel that you're currently using. You'll now see which Linux kernel you're using. In the above example, the Linux kernel is 5.4. 0-26.

Where can I learn Linux for free? ›

Free Training Courses

The Linux Foundation had partnered with edX.org to provide free online-learning courses on a range of open source topics from Linux to blockchain, networking to cloud, and everything in between.

How do I master Linux? ›

Here's how to get the skills you need to get jobs like that.
  1. Use Linux. It's that simple, and Linux doesn't cost you a penny. ...
  2. Take Linux classes, get Linux certifications. ...
  3. Read the best books on Linux. ...
  4. Bookmark and follow the essential Linux websites.
14 Dec 2021

Can you learn Linux Online? ›

If you're interested in learning about Linux, Coursera Plus is a great option. You'll be able to take any of the Linux courses, as well as courses on related topics like system administration and network security. Plus, you'll have access to all of the other resources that Coursera offers.

Do hackers use Linux? ›

Linux is the most popular choice for hackers due to its flexibility, open source platform, portability and command line interface and compatibility with popular hacking tools.

How many types of Linux are there? ›

There are over 600 Linux distros and about 500 in active development.

What is a symbol in Linux? ›

Common Bash/Linux Command Line Symbols
SymbolExplanation
*A symbol which stands for "everything". Let's say you want to remove all the .jpg files from your Downloads folder which have their name starting with the "E" character, then you can use this symbol to represent all the other letters except E. See the example.
11 more rows

Can a non IT person learn Linux? ›

A: No. For ordinary tasks such as word processing, surfing the web and sending e-mail, even persons with no computer background can start to become productive in as little as just a few hours. But to become a system administrator or a true Linux guru can take years of study and experience.

Is Linux worth learning in 2021? ›

Linux is most certainly worth learning since it isn't exclusively working framework, yet in addition acquired way of thinking and plan thoughts. Assuming you are an engineer, without a doubt. Regardless of whether you compose IOS applications or games, Linux can in any case be exceptionally useful.

Is Linux harder to use than Windows? ›

Linux has a reputation for being fast and smooth while Windows 10 is known to become slow and slow over time. Linux runs faster than Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 along with a modern desktop environment and qualities of the operating system while Windows is slow on older hardware.

How complicated is Linux? ›

Linux Has A Shallow Learning Curve

You don't need to be a rocket scientist; neither do you need to graduate in Computer science to use Linux. All you need is a USB drive and a little curiosity to learn new things. It is not hard to use, as most people claim it to be, without even trying.

Who Needs Linux? ›

Scenario 1 : You're an average consumer comfortable with Windows or macOS
  • Watch YouTube.
  • Surf the web.
  • Netflix / Hulu etc. etc.
  • Music.
  • Write documents with Word.
  • Office tasks like spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations.
  • Email.
  • Download torrents (if your country laws allow that)
25 Feb 2019

Why do you need Linux? ›

Linux is used in the following ways: Server OS for web servers, database servers, file servers, email servers and any other type of shared server. Designed to support high-volume and multithreading applications, Linux is well-suited for all types of server applications. Desktop OS for personal productivity computing.

Why Linux is important? ›

Linux provides many advantages over other operating systems: Open-source software available for everyone to contribute, modify, and enhance the source code. It is also available for users to download and use for free. Linux is less vulnerable and more secure than Windows operating systems.

Can I get a job after learning Linux? ›

The demand for Linux professionals is never-ending, especially if you have a certification in Linux.

Is learning Linux worth IT in 2022? ›

TechRepublic contributing writer Jack Wallen predicts that in 2022 a major company will adopt Linux as its desktop of choice, setting up a watershed moment for other companies to do the same as they realize how much more productive and cost-effective Linux can be.

Is Linux a valuable skill? ›

In 2016, only 34 percent of hiring managers said that they considered Linux skills essential. In 2017, that number was 47 percent. Today, it's 80 percent. If you have Linux certifications and familiarity with the OS, the time to capitalize on your worth is now.

What are the disadvantages of using Linux? ›

Disadvantages of Linux Operating System
  • Adaptation. For people who are less expertise in computers it can be hard to understand Linux. ...
  • Software Compatibility. Popular applications which are made for Windows and Mac are not available for Linux. ...
  • Gaming. ...
  • Hardware Compatibility. ...
  • Technical Support.
15 May 2022

Who owns Linux? ›

Who “owns” Linux? By virtue of its open source licensing, Linux is freely available to anyone. However, the trademark on the name “Linux” rests with its creator, Linus Torvalds. The source code for Linux is under copyright by its many individual authors, and licensed under the GPLv2 license.

What is the best Linux? ›

1. Ubuntu - Best overall Linux distro for laptops. Ubuntu is one of the most versatile Linux distributions with an active community and long-term supports. It is a favorite among newbies and intermediate users, especially due to the large number of software utilities available.

Is Linux or Windows better? ›

The main differences between Linux and Windows are that Linux is more secure, private, and reliable. Windows is more intuitive and has support for more apps and hardware.

Is Linux easy to use? ›

The more full-featured Linux desktop distributions are as easy to use in 2021 as Windows or macOS. Yes, you can get a lot more from Linux if you know how to do shell programming and the like. But that's also true of Windows and PowerShell.

Do I have to learn Linux? ›

You don't need to, but if you don't learn it you really miss something. Learning Linux and terminal takes time, you will not be fluent in a few days. At first you may think everything is over-complicated. But you will become much more productive.

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