For most of us, when we think of PCs, we think of Windows. But Microsoft’s popular and well-known operating system isn’t the only option.

Many users choose to live without Windows and run different operating systems like Linux instead.

Surprisingly Microsoft has just joined the Linux Foundation. Technology website Ars Technica quotes Linux executive director Jim Zemlin: "Microsoft is better able to collaborate with the open source community to deliver transformative mobile and cloud experiences to more people."

If you’re discovering Linux for the first time, find out all about it below.

History of Linux

Linux was first released on September 17, 1991 and created by Linus Torvalds.

Back in the 90s, Torvalds wrote about Linux on a news group, saying: “Im doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386 (486) AT clones.” Little did he know his creation would change computing history.

Linux was made for what’s known as the Unix-like computer operating system kernel, doing what all operating systems set out to do: manage the hardware on your desktop and control how it communicates with software.

Ubuntu

How does Linux work?

The Linux kernel is the core of the system, and works with the central processing unit (CPU) to carry out the instructions of a computer program. What you see on your computer screen is powered by a Linux distribution – and there are almost 600 around.

Among them are Elementary Os, Arch Linux and Ubuntu. They all look slightly different, but applications look and run pretty much the same.

Linux’s biggest selling point is that it is free and open source, giving developers the chance to study the code and work on the operating system with a view to improving it.

Why would you change to Linux?

One of the questions the Linux Foundation – the body that looks after the development and distribution of the OS - regularly hears is ‘Why would you bother changing operating system?’, especially when you’re given one with your PC when you buy it.

Linux claims it is one of the most reliable computer ecosystems around, so much so that it takes away the fear of losing data.

Is Linux easy to install?

These days you can load Linux onto a CD/DVD or USB flash drive yourself, making it really simple to install.

Are you using Linux? Tell us what you think of in the Comments section below.