Linux is an operating system that is largely ported. Initially, this was designed for Intel 86/64 microprocessors. Later, it could run on a large range of computer architectures other than it’s original system. It could be used on hand-held ARM-based iPAQ to the mainframe IBM System z9 or from supercomputers to mobile phones. For less developed mainstream architectures, there were specialized distributions. The ELKS kernel fork was meant for the Intel 8086 or Intel 80286 16-bit microprocessors. The µClinux kernel could run in the absence of a memory management unit. The kernel could also run on architectures like Macintosh computers, video game consoles, mobile phones, Macintosh computers and portable music players that were created for a manufacturer-created operating system.

Desktop use

Free software titles like Pidgin, Openoffice.org, Mozilla Firefox and GIMP are famous with Windows. These can be used with Linux as well. Proprietary desktop software like Acrobat reader, Adobe flash player, Nero burning ROM, Matlab, RealPlayer, Opera and Skype are supported by Linux. High end software like AutoDesk Maya, Apple Shake and Softimage XSI in the area of animation and visual effects can be run on Linux. Also, CrossOver is a commercial solution having its base as the open source Wine project. The open nature of Linux provides the ability for distributed teams to localize Linux distributions for general use. Performing this process for proprietary system would not be economical. For example, the Knoppix distribution had a Sinhalese language version before the translating the Microsoft Windows XP to Sinhalese. The Lanka Linux User Group developed a local system by collecting the knowledge of linguists, university professors and local developers.

Servers and supercomputers

Linux is basically a server operating system. As per Netcraft, 8 out of 10 very reliable internet hosting companies have Linux on the web servers. The reason is that it is relatively stable and a desktop software with which a GUI is not required. Enterprise and non-enterprise Linux distributions could be located on servers. Linux is the cornerstone of the combination of Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python. This is a common platform for website hosting and is very popular. Linux is a usual operating system for supercomputers. In June 2007, 389 systems out of 500 use Linux.

Embedded devices

An embedded Linux is frequently seen in embedded systems. This is cheap and can be easily modified. The system has become a tremendous competitor to the proprietary Symbian OS (this is used in mobile phones). In 2006, 16.7% smartphones throughout the globe ran on the operation system of Linux. This also became the substitute to the potent Windows CE and Palm OS operating systems that were run on handheld devices. The well known TiVo digital video recorder works on a customized version of Linux. Many network firewall and router standalone products, like those from Linksys, have a version of Linux installed on them. This has an advanced firewall and routing capabilities. The Yamaha Motif XS music workstations and Korg OASYS also have the Linux system on them. The Yamaha Motif is a series of music workstations released by Yamaha Corporation in 2001.

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