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What is Linux?

Linux is, in simplest terms, an operating system. It is the software on a computer that enables applications and the computer operator to access the devices on the computer to perform desired functions. The operating system (OS) relays instructions from an application to, for instance, the computer's processor. The processor performs the instructed task, then sends the results back to the application via the operating system.

Explained in these terms, Linux is very similar to other operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh OS X.

But something sets Linux apart from these operating systems. Since its inception in 1991, Linux has grown to become a force in computing, powering everything from the New York Stock Exchange to mobile phones to supercomputers to consumer devices.

As an open operating system, Linux is developed collaboratively, meaning no one company is solely responsible for its development or ongoing support. Companies participating in the Linux economy share research and development costs with their partners and competitors. This spreading of development burden amongst individuals and companies has resulted in a large and efficient ecosystem and unheralded software innovation.

(Cited from the Linux Foundation)

Finally - Is Linux the same as GNU/Linux? Well, No and Yes

Help at RML

Points of contact are many for Linux but these are some with varying specialities:

  • Ian B., Arthur, Ryan, Matt C., Jeremy and Andrés at LBOS or at Little House on Tuesday Evening.
  • Paul G (M0TZO) also knowns some stuff about Raspbian/Debian and can be found on IRC or Telegram.

Installing Linux in Little House

There are multiple ways to install Linux or other freely available operating systems at Little House.

Network-boot (Fastest) WIP

We will have a network-bootable installation for many Linux flavours when our new broadband connection gets hooked up. This uses a combination of PXE booting (a way for Intel-based computer systems to find a bootable image via DHCP over the local network), TFTP, NFS/HTTP and some clever scripts that 'shim' a menu for the user to choose which OS they want. London Hackspace has a great system for this documented here.

We'll also have things like DBAN and memtest86+ which are handy utilities for refurbishing and disposing of donated systems.

Download Installer from Local Little House Repository

Currently we store several modern distributions of Linux on the server Novo at Little House. Are we missing something or needing an update? Let one of us know and we'll mirror it on there. You can take these images and burn them to CD, DVD, or USB stick. The USB stick will be the fastest and least permanent option for imaging systems. Note this link only works if you're connecting from within the Little House network.

Local link for downloading images to burn onto USB or DVD here and should feature installers for:

  • CentOS 7
  • Debian 8.3
  • FreeDOS
  • FreeBSD 10.3
  • OpenBSD 5.8
  • Plan9 Fourth Release
  • Trisquel 7.0
  • Ubuntu 15.10 and 16.04

Local Apt-Cacher-NG acceleration cache for Ubuntu/Debian/Rasbian/similar distros

Why install a cache-server? Many system packages and updates are shared across multiple systems. Why download the same data perpetually from the Internet when it can be cached and served locally?

Apt-Cacher-NG has been installed on local server Novo to accelerate operating system installation and updates. It has been tested on several Raspbian/Ubuntu/Debian systems in Little House with good success.

An example change in /etc/apt/sources.list:


 deb jessie main non-free contrib


 deb     http://apt-cacher:3142/ jessie main non-free contrib

or if you choose not to alter your sources.list file, you may add a proxy specification file in a file such as /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/02proxy:

 Acquire::http { proxy "http://apt-cacher:3142";};

Note - choose one or the other, but changing both the sources.list and adding a proxy file is overkill and might even mess up the apt-get process.