Linux range of use

Linux was originally written as a kernel for computers with a 386 processor. With the growing success of the program ( system ) the application have been enhanced by countless free programs have been added. This article gives an overview of the technical capabilities of Linux. Both individuals and businesses and public institutions to use Linux.

  • 3.1 Market shares
  • 3.2 Examples of use
  • 3.3 Hardware
  • 7.1 Computer Cluster
  • 7.2 Supercomputing
  • 9.1 documents
  • 9.2 Literature
  • 9.3 External links


A sophisticated computer installation, the PC as a desktop device. The user should be able to work with him without having to be aware of the technical background of the system must be aware of. A typical installation of a Linux distribution contains an X11 display server and a working environment and the user-level programs. These include both Office programs such as, as well as programs for image processing (often GIMP ), browser and e- mail programs. Installations for companies and offices have other programs such as are added to the corporate planning. For developers, there are developer tools such as Eclipse or KDevelop.

Market shares

In practice, Linux is used rather hesitant in the desktop segment. The distribution can be difficult to assess because of the free and decentralized availability. 2002 ran Linux on 2.8% of all computers sold this year ( estimated). In 2011, the figure was about 1% in the range, the source uses to determine the market share of the "user agent information" of the web browser. The netbook operating systems, originally a Linux-only domain, the share of sales has pre-installed with Linux operating system are available with the decreases of Windows XP as an option until 2009 to below 10%. From summer 2011 until the beginning of 2012, a strong increase (about 40 %), the access numbers listed on websites by Linux desktop systems. Thus, the market share in December 2011 amounted to 1.4%. Whether the increase with the Chromebooks or the 20 -year anniversary of Linux is related is unclear.

The reasons for the low penetration are discussed controversially. Thus, the de facto monopoly of the Windows operating system and therefore the necessary familiarization of the user is called to a new system often. The reason is often mentioned that installing software from third-party sources is often more difficult to handle than, for example under Windows .. However, this criticism on a variety of use cases not at all, as the common distributions for desktop application needed all this software already included.

Graphical interfaces

Not force but the usual graphical user interfaces are used on one of the available window systems. Here Wayland seems to replace the somewhat dated X Window System. The great success of Android, for which a separate window system has been written, could be repeated on the desktop.

Nowadays many common functions of the system with intuitive user interfaces are accessible. Furthermore, more and more emphasis is placed on a user and beginner-friendly design in the development of direct interface with the user, the working environment.

The two largest working environments for Linux, Gnome and KDE have it created guidelines that should be adhered to by every program and every function to provide the user with a consistent look and operating concept ( look & feel ).

Since the guidelines of both desktops differ, programs one environment appear inconsistent in the other environment. This problem should be addressed by standardization and collaboration of projects. Best known here is the initiative. The Linux Standard Base, has launched a special project group in the late 1990s, the LSB Workgroup to life. The goal is the creation of reliable standards for developers of application programs, and Linux distributions, in order to achieve a wider compatibility between them, a goal that has not been reached. Other projects also deal with individual areas, this includes, for example, the Tango! Project, which tries to achieve a uniform appearance by design guidelines and the use of standard icons (buttons ).

Xgl or AIGLX such projects were experimental attempts to expand X11 to get with the help of Composition managers hardware accelerated 3D effects to your desktop.

To advance the development and the use of Linux on the desktop, has been in the Linux Foundation to The Desktop Linux Working Group will be formed to combine and coordinate all the forces that deal with the topic.


The multimedia support is valued according to user needs and behavior differently. Dealing with popular music formats is not a problem. However, some distributions offer for licensing reasons innately no way to play multimedia formats such as MP3. The corresponding decoding methods have to be installed separately by the end user. To play are a powerful set of player programs such as Amarok or Rhythmbox ready.

However, the support of current, widely used on desktop computers video techniques is still patchy. These gaps are filled by fee-based, proprietary software like LinDVD, PowerDVD (at least on Ubuntu) and the Fluendo DVD player, all of which offer legal support for encrypted DVDs. LinDVD can only be purchased through retailers (resellers), while PowerDVD has made a special agreement with Canonical. Only the Fluendo DVD Player is available for purchase directly by end users.

Problems with encrypted DVDs can be easily circumvented by the use of libdvdcss. However, this is in some states either prohibited or the legal situation (as in Germany ) unclear. Likewise, there is no Linux version of the widely used multimedia, QuickTime Player, and Windows Media Player. On the other hand, there are also of popular programs such as RealPlayer, and VideoLAN player versions of Linux. There are also some primarily programmed for Linux software projects which close the gaps. These are, above all, the programs MPlayer and Xine, which also make it possible to play videos in formats like such as WMV, ASF and are what some Windows program libraries used.

The playback of DRM - protected audio and video files on Linux with most formats often possible only in exceptional cases.

A significantly different situation is reflected in the field of professional multimedia editing. With the JACK Audio Connection Kit is a special Linux Sound Architecture available that offers very low latency. It is used by programs such as Ardour. In the film industry, Linux enjoys particular popularity: the special effects in many movies were rendered with the help of Linux computer networks. For example, a commonly used under Linux CinePaint program has helped in the creation of movies like the Harry Potter films.

Between these different situations, but the transition is smooth. With the increasing development of proprietary solutions for Linux is likely, however, that the existing gaps in the near future be closed. An example is the area of video editing, in which there are both proprietary solutions such as the MainActor program of the company MainConcept, as well as solutions of the free software movement, such as the software cinema or Cinelerra, which is designed for a professional hardware.

Computer Games

As a programming interface for hardware accelerated OpenGL rendering is available and suitable. Although the main focus in the development of more OpenGL CAD applications were as computer games. Because of this prioritization was and OpenGL applies in some circles as the latest versions of Direct3D not quite equal. The proprietary Linux drivers of the manufacturers implement the latest version and are equivalent in their performance with their Windows counterparts comparable. The available free implementations of both device drivers and the OpenGL and other APIs are developed in the Mesa 3D project and limp, with some exceptions, both in terms of performance and in terms of Supported API versions partly strong afterwards. It lacks OpenGL similar APIs for output of sound as well as an API for input devices, similar to XAudio2, as well as available software implementations of it. The Linux kernel is very Powerful, as its ubiquitous use on supercomputers, servers, or mobile devices impressively confirmed, and the fact that it is freely available, in principle, be regarded as an advantage. The limited distribution of Linux on home computers as well as the described problems, which could be all solved, especially from affluent game market, are to be mentioned as the main reason for the step-motherly treatment by the gaming industry. Despite all are quite commercial games available for Linux and it also gives a number of free games, see List of open source computer games.

Some supporters of Linux as a gaming platform are of the view classic games such as Quake III Arena or Unreal Tournament would be only the beginning of re-thinking the game manufacturer. Games like DOOM ³, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and there are others from the beginning as a Linux version, as well as the advertising game America's Army of the U.S. Army. Announcements of various manufacturers offer hope to many more ports. Some developers of the Gentoo Linux distribution have been particularly specialized in the games sector and established a company that offers the portability of computer games. OpenGL - based games such as Half-Life, using the Windows Runtime Environment Wine are often run under Linux. Games that are based on the current versions of DirectX, often do not run, because DirectX on Linux is not available. The company TransGaming has addressed the problem and with his Wine -fork Cedega (formerly winex ), set the goal of producing maximum compatibility also to the latest version of DirectX, which can already play many new games on Linux. A major disadvantage is that the program is not completely open source, the CVS version is always much older than the closed-source variant and does not include support for the copy of the game installer and not the Installation Manager " Point2Play ".

Lately also sets Valve with its Steam distribution platform to Linux. Since February 2013 Steam is officially available for the Linux distribution Ubuntu, and also runs on many other distributions. In this context, not only several independent games have become available for Linux, but there are blockbuster games ( such as Left4Dead 2) ported from Valve on Linux. Valve has also causes the development of SDL to version 2 and also the change of license from LGPL to the zlib license. Furthermore, the commitment of Valve also includes a collaboration with device driver developers of nVidia and Intel for their Linux graphics drivers for rich 3D games optimized. Valve is also planning their own games based hardware handesüblicher i686 components to bring in collaboration with various hardware manufacturers on the market. The operating system for this " Steam boxes" should preferably Ubuntu Linux.

Valve has in September 2013 SteamOS, a Linux -based operating system for games, announced.

With Linux Game Publishing, there are still at least one active company that ported games to Linux.

Existing resources for computer games

  • Like its wide range of applications underpinned the Linux kernel works efficiently and provides powerful mechanisms for interprocess communication available
  • A central collection of APIs, including Software Development Kit as DirectX is not available for Linux, but there are quite software for computer games development, such as the OpenGL API and its implementation in the Mesa 3D and some libraries:
  • Allegro library
  • ClanLib
  • Grapple ( network layer )
  • Simple and Fast Multimedia Library
  • Simple DirectMedia Layer, including sound API for full-screen games
  • wxWidgets
  • The CMCs Cafu Engine, Crystal Space, and many more.

Desktop Migration

Carried out worldwide within numerous governments and organizations to migrate from Microsoft Windows to the Linux operating system. This means it is one of the many Linux distributions including the window system and the working environment or a separate fork for use. Other administrations and companies are considering switching their workstation to the Linux operating system.

Two of the more well-known successful examples of a fork, the city administration of Munich, many of their workplace computer to LiMux project, as well as the national gendarmerie, who have converted 72,000 Arbeistplätze on GendBuntu.

An example from the industrial area is the car manufacturer Citroën, which has converted 2007 20.000 desktops to Linux earlier this year.

Known problems are due to inadequate coordination and communication, and often lead to a delay in acceptance of the new and strange work surface by either less technically inclined or unwilling employees. The almost limitless potential adaptation of the whole operating system and in particular the work surface to the wishes of the employees may be so unnecessarily protracted, unnecessary costs and even lead to failure of migration. This is particularly the case, if not only the operating system but also to the software used is changed. The software is usually changed for the same reason, it will change from which the operating system, ie mainly the reduction of licensing costs and End of Support for the old version. However, it may also be that the old software is not ported to Linux by the manufacturer, and one is thus forced to change with the operating system and the software.

Thus, the technical migration of software components are expensive, on the other hand, many users also need to get used to the new working environment, which possibly could be time -consuming and costly. A rewarding time for a change of corporate desktops, therefore, if in any case need to be changed to a new operating system with all its innovations in the flow logic, since the manufacturer its old version or the support has been terminated for it. The transition, an agent from Windows XP to Windows 8 is comparable with the familiarization of Windows XP on the KDE or Gnome desktop on Linux.

As an upgrade to a current version of Windows very often becomes necessary to purchase new hardware, put many institutions strengthened to a thin-client solution with Linux, in which the computation-intensive tasks are performed not by the job, but from central servers. In this way, it will save you large portions of an otherwise mature hardware upgrades. If the existing network infrastructure, it also allows to carry out the installation over the network, this fact reduces the staffing requirements for the installation of Linux on all work computers significantly.

If large parts of the software are anyway already provided via a web interface, ie, the interaction takes place through a web browser, such as, with the employment agencies, the barriers to migration are particularly low.

Schools and learning

There are many distributions that have been developed specifically for use in schools and to support learning. The spectrum of applications from typical administrative tasks on school learning software contained extends to age-appropriate Internet filters. The filters are designed to allow children access to the Internet without exposing their content harmful to minors. A focus of many developers considered the ease of use. Distributions with a focus on school and learning are eg Open School Server, Arcturus - school server, kmLinux, skolelinux, paedML and Seminarix.

Support for Windows applications

Since Linux in the operating system architecture is very different from Microsoft Windows, it is not directly possible to run Windows programs on Linux. In these cases, different alternatives are:

  • Many programs from the free software scene are available for more than one platform. There are, for example, of the popular programs, Mozilla Firefox or GIMP versions for both Linux and Windows.
  • A number of proprietary programs under Linux. Especially in the field of scientific software, there are many programs for this platform. Examples include programs such as MATLAB, Mathematica or Maple.
  • Existing Windows applications can be ported to the Linux platform. This is usually only a small programming effort, since only peculiarities of the operating system must be adapted. Nevertheless, this solution is often very expensive, and the possibility of porting also depends on the company policy of the relevant software manufacturer. A port is especially useful when it is designed specifically for the corporate or administrative purpose software, or if there are other companies that are interested in porting. Meanwhile, there are already tools of the Wine project, which allows for automated software porting without much programming, so you get also get the benefit of a native solution for Linux.
  • Wine is a translated version of Linux on Windows API. This can be run directly under Linux some programs. Although these variants not emulate entire Windows system, this solution is sometimes slower ( but sometimes faster) and less promising as a port. Using commercial software packages that build on Wine, can be used almost without any problems from the Windows world known programs. It offers CrossOver support for numerous office software such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop, while Cedega has specialized in Windows games.
  • Another possibility is the use of a virtual machine such as VMware, Bochs or QEMU emulates a complete PC and makes it possible to install Microsoft Windows in it. In this case, however, the speed suffers significantly. It is also one of the key benefits of migrating, the producers independence undermined so again.
  • Linux and Windows can be installed in parallel on a computer. About a boot manager such as Grub or Lilo, a user can decide at system startup or reboot, which system he wants to start.
  • It is also possible to launch Windows applications on a Windows server and let spend their graphical output with the help of remote desktop software such as NX or rdesktop ( for RDP) on Linux clients. This method requires an always-on network connection between two computers, but also allows for the continued use of elderly hardware as thin clients.
  • With the help of. NET implementation mono, it is possible, programs that were developed with Microsoft's latest program. NET platform without starting porter working directly under Linux.
  • Build the programs still on the DOS level, so can operate many dosemu with the program. For DOS games is also of-fers DOSBox. Also for other game consoles and operating systems, Linux has emulators.
  • For many functions, Linux has its own programs. Thus, if a program is not available on Linux, the function in another program but is usually available. Examples include programs such as Kontact, Novell Evolution, and Konqueror.
  • At least theoretically, it is possible to write itself as a programmer a program that contains the required functions. Since many surface free libraries are available that can be used without a license fee, and in most Linux distributions, many software development tools are attached to a programmer has programmed a very friendly environment. Most of the solutions listed here have been created or initiated in this way.

Support for OSX applications

Apple Mac OS X, GNU / Linux is very similar in many respects. Both have large parts of the system adopted by BSD or BSD based directly on source code. Both systems are largely POSIX - compatible, which is why they use to a large extent the same system tools, and system services. These include: rsync, NFS, Samba, bash, vi, grep, CUPS, syslog or cron. Since native OS X applications use a specially designed by Apple for OS X programming, many OS X applications are not directly compilable for Linux. The GNUstep project is developing a compatible to Apple's Cocoa programming interface. Thus, it is possible to perform OS X applications on Linux.

Support applications of other operating systems

The OS2Linux project provides libraries available to OS/2- or eComStation applications easy to migrate to Linux.

Support for people with disabilities

To ensure accessibility under Linux, several projects are working on the issue. While the two major desktops, Gnome and KDE have their own project groups that deal with the topic, there are also working groups within the distributors or groups, project and corporate Cross work. Best known here is the FSG Accessibility Workgroup.

The work of these projects makes it possible, among other things, to use under Linux Braille, to read aloud from many programs, documents and Written or navigate on the screen with only mouse or only with special keys.

Linux as a gaming platform

Linux kernel based operating systems are suitable as a platform for computer games. Either a typical Linux be so extended to the desktop through the use of entpsrechender software is that it additionally suitable for developing and playing video games, or else, it can also own their own platform to be designed that specifically serves this purpose. Examples are the operating system SteamOS or the operating systems of handheld consoles Pandora ( console), GP2X, Nintendo 3DS and Neo Geo X. On the Nvidia Shield runs Android.

Server systems

Because of the relationship of Linux with UNIX Linux has established itself very quickly in the server market. Since early much commonly used and needed for Linux server software such as web servers, database servers and groupware fully free standing and widely available, the market share grew steadily there.

Since Linux is to maintain stable, safe and easy, it also meets the special conditions that are placed on a server operating system. The modular design of the Linux system also enables the operation of a compact, dedicated server. In addition, the port of Linux has led to a variety of hardware components to the fact that Linux supports all known server architectures.

Market shares

In terms of sales, the market share of Linux in 2005 when sold with operating system servers was estimated according to the study, and Counting at about 12%. The annual growth rate amounted to about 35%. In terms of units measured, growth was 20.5%.

This growth was partly at the expense of traditional UNIX systems that are being replaced by Linux. The companies that have previously developed and sold its own UNIX, increasingly sell computers with Linux and women are increasingly on the development of Linux. The biggest competitor for Linux in the server market is Microsoft Windows, which, according to studies in 2005 had a share of about one third of the total market.

The counts of the studies, however, are only partially representative, as many Linux distributions can be installed on any number of devices without the need for royalties must be paid. This creates an unknown quantity of Linux servers that are not covered by the studies.

In October 2012, at least 32% of all websites on a Linux server were hosted. Since not all Linux servers identify themselves as such, the actual share by up to 24 % could be higher. This is an actual market share of up to 55 % would not be excluded.

Examples of use

Another common area of ​​application of Linux is the use of Samba, often in conjunction with an LDAP directory service. While the directory service enables central registration of Windows and Linux clients, the skills of Samba enable file sharing between computers running the Linux operating systems and computers with Windows operating systems. To allow Samba to use a Linux machine as a central file and print server in mixed networks. All important files are stored at a central point, and transfer it to multiple users simultaneously. Since Samba is just like Linux praised by its users for its stability, performance and scalability, the combination is very well suited for central and important nodes of large networks where there is a heterogeneous environment.

As an example, the project can apply Migos the German Bundestag. Here, a total of 100 servers from Windows NT were switched to Linux. The approximately 5000 workstations ( Windows ) of the deputies and administrative staff were involved via Samba and OpenLDAP.

In addition to these widespread use areas, there are a number of other server software that also runs on Linux. Thus, the software PBX Asterisk is often used as the central interface in corporate networks. Also, many elementary networks for services on Linux machines are operated. This includes both DNS server and mail server and database server.

Many servers of online games, so-called game server will run under Linux, even if the actual game is not available on Linux.


The hardware on which Linux can be run as a server, is diverse. Because Linux has been ported to a variety of platforms, a Linux server can also be operated on standard i686 hardware as well as on traditional server architectures such as Alpha or SPARC.

An example of the Linux support the latest server hardware is the IBM eServer p5. This family of 64 -bit servers based on IBM Power CPUs, and is one of the heavyweights of the available server hardware. On this hardware up to 256 Linux installations can be operated in parallel.

Linux for Embedded Systems

The term embedded Linux refers to the use of Linux in small devices for the mass market, such as in mobile phones, tablet computers or PDAs. Advantage is that each manufacturer Linux can change on the one hand according to their needs, on the other hand, however, prevails also has a very active developer community, their resources (such as extensive developer programs, existing code as the user interface, experience, etc.), the manufacturer may use it.

Most manufacturers have joined forces for development in different groups or projects, usually defined by the hardware used or intended use of the systems. So there is in the market for mobile systems largely developed by Google Android Linux distribution, which recorded the best selling devices in the 2010 Christmas season. In the same market also promoted by Intel and Nokia MeeGo system is positioned, designed alongside ARM systems and Intel- typical hardware.

These devices are Technically usually equipped with specialized low-power processors and flash memory. There, a customized and compact Linux is operated. Examples of hardware on which nowadays Linux is used, the Motorola mobile phones A728, A760, A768, A780, A910, E680, E895, the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet and the Sharp Zaurus PDA, in the area of ​​SOHO some Linksys routers and Wi-Fi devices like the 4G Access Cube. In many hard -disk recorders, satellite receivers and DVD playback and recording devices is frequently a customized version of Linux.


The term embedded system is very extensive and includes many types of very different devices. In addition to the use of Linux in common communication devices, it is also used in electronic controls and devices for measurement and control technology and in the area of ​​mu.C (microcontroller ).

In contrast to the embedded Linux system is used in this case for special technical applications. This eliminates on one side of the mass market, on the other hand, there is, for example, but also less need for a user-friendly and easily maintained surface.

Smartphone and Tablet System

For smartphones and tablets have been optimized Linux distributions. They offer in addition to the voice and SMS functions, various PIM, navigation and multimedia features. The operation typically takes place mostly on multi-touch or with a stylus. Linux - based smartphone systems are usually developed by a consortium of firms or a single firm and sometimes differ very much from the otherwise classic desktop, embedded and server distributions. Unlike in the embedded space Linux - based smartphone systems but are not limited to a specific device, but they serve as an operating system for devices of very different model ranges and are often used across manufacturers.

Edging smartphone or tablet Linux distributions are in addition to the very far vebreiten Android Firefox OS, Ubuntu for phones, Maemo, Tizen, Mer, Sailfish OS, MeeGo undWebOS

Mobile Linux distributions have taken the lead in the fast- growing smartphone market since the end of 2010. They exhibited in July 2011 at a market share of at least 45 %. Mostly Android Devices Apple iOS, Windows Phone and Symbian OS have successfully pushed back.

Security areas

Linux is within networks as extremely safe and can be adapted to the respective conditions. Therefore, it is often used in safety-related areas. Examples are the use of Linux as a gateway, router, or firewall. Above all, the use as a firewall has spread at an early stage and resulted in a variety of Linux distributions have been designed specifically for firewall use, which are used for example for the protection of bastion host systems.


With the free availability of source code and the resulting ability to customize certain purposes, the system, Linux has also spread in the application areas of data centers. How does Linux on mainframes, which are optimized for reliability and high data throughput and often in banks, insurance companies and large companies can be found that there formerly often installed special versions of UNIX increasingly competitive.

Computer cluster

Another application can be found in the field of computer cluster in which Linux, often working in conjunction with grid computing on individual computers, which are then combined to form large networks. But besides custom-built Linux distributions are also special file systems such as the Global File System. Often a Linux cluster is used in order to ensure the high availability of mission-critical network infrastructures.


The most prestigious is the use of Linux. Supercomputers These computers represent the peak current high-performance computers, and learn from this, most attention of the press. Currently (June 2012) run 92% of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers in Linux. This dominance has consistently by 70 % (June 2006) developed more than 85 % ( November 2007).

One of the world's 500 fastest ( Linux ) supercomputer is the Mare Nostrum, which is used among others in the climate and genetic research.

Secondary operating system

Resourceful tinkerers always succeeds, even for electronic devices adapt Linux, the feature of home via a proprietary firmware. Examples include Linux on the d-box 2 ( digital TV receiver), iPod Linux ( MP3 player) and Xbox - Linux ( Game Console). The motivation is often their opinion existing deficiencies or unnecessary restrictions of the original software.