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Basics of Linux

Modern web, cloud, high performance computing, and most data science applications are run on operating systems (OS) other than Microsoft Windows. To do data intensive science, you need a familiarity with Linux. We’ve scheduled several sections during Container Camp for working on Linux Systems using CyVerse’ Atmosphere Cloud, which runs Linux OS virtual machines.

The good news comes in two parts. First, whether you know it or not, you probably already use Linux or a platform based on Linux, on a daily basis. Do you have an Android or iOS phone? If you own a Mac OS X device, you already enjoy many of the benefits of a Linux-like OS, including access to a terminal. Second, the Linux experience has generally been described as satisfying, and many users report moving on from Windows OS to Linux comes without regret.

Over 87% of the personal computer market still relies on the popular Microsoft OS. However, the landscape changes completely for mobile apps (99% Linux or Linux-like [Android, iOS], <0.1% Windows), web (66% Linux, 32% Windows), and cloud or HPC (100% Linux). Microsoft is acutely aware of this disparity, and is actively working to integrate Linux into their OS, including their acquisition of GitHub (and how it has changed), and the release of Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2.

Common Linux Operating Systems

The most common operating systems you’ll see used for data science are:

  • Alpine - small and lightweight, useful in container applications

  • CentOS - stable, reliable, most commonly used on web and cloud servers

  • Debian - lightweight, utilitarian, stable

  • Ubuntu - utilitarian, user friendly, most popular distribution, based on Debian

Enterprise Distributions:

  • Red Hat - based on open source software, you pay for customer support

Installing Linux

Desktop-based Distributions

  • Ubuntu

  • Debian

  • Mint - “modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use.”

  • OpenSUSE - “The makers’ choice for sysadmins, developers and desktop users.”

Windows Subsystem for Linux

The so-called “WSL” is a complete linux subsystem that runs under Windows 10. Microsoft recently announced WSL 2.0.

Windows Linux Dual boot

Not ready to take the Linux plunge yet? Why not set up a Windows-Linux dual boot?

Package Managers

Linux uses package management services to install programs. If you’re a R user, this should seem familiar.

Packages can be installed on the command line, or in graphic UI.

Self Paced

Best Linux Distributions for Beginners

Beginners Guide to Linux

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