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Linux OS Family

Initially developed for Intel based x86 PCs, Linux was developed by Linus Torvalds, releasing the first version in October 1991. All versions of the Linux operating system have been designed to use the free open source model for developing and distributing software.

Linux uses a kernel which acts as the core of the operating system, including the driver support. This simplifies the process of porting the operating system for use on other hardware platforms including those using 64 bit processors. For many years Linux has been the dominant operating system used on servers and other large scale computers, such as mainframe systems and supercomputers. Within the desktop market however, Linux only accounts for approximately 1.5% of systems. Linux is extremely common for embedded systems, such as the Android OS used on mobile and tablet devices, internet routers, TVs, gaming consoles and a vast range of other devices.

File System Support in Linux

The ability to support a wide range of file systems and different hardware has been an extremely important feature of Linux. The first native file system used in Linux was the Extended File System, which was soon obsolete due to many limitations. In order to support higher capacity hard disks and the larger volumes, the next iteration of replaced it, Ext2 becoming the default file system for many years. Further iterations have been released in the form of Ext3 and Ext4, which have added extra features, such as journaling and improved allocation handling. Many flavour of Unix have now moved to using XFS as the default choice of file system. Silicon Graphic developed XFS for use with their Solaris OS, before it was ported for use in Linux. The important features of XFS are its robustness, speed and scalability, making it ideal for server systems.

Linux also supports an extremely wide range of other file systems some available as part of the kernel and other which can be added as modules should they be required. The most important of the supported file systems are all variants of FAT, include exFAT, NTFS and HFS+. Another file system which was popular for a while was ReiserFS, but has lacked any recent development and never added as a kernel component of the kernel and therefore faces an uncertain future.

Mass Storage on Linux

Linux includes support for an extremely wide range of mass storage controllers, including SCSI, SAS and RAID controllers, making it ideal for a server system. The sharing of Network file systems and Network Attach Storage (NAS) are very common on Linux servers providing support for any networked computer system, such as Windows, Apple iMac, Unix systems and many others.

For large scale storage systems, the Logical Volume Manager (LVM) is a fundamental component which is used to define all data storage configurations. It can be used to define logical volumes on a disk, or to create a RAID array across multiple drives. The iSCSI protocol has been supported for many years which is often used for attaching segments from a Storage Area Network (SAN) system, mainly used in datacentres.

Future Linux Developments

Linux looks set to remain the dominant operating system with the server sector of the market, most likely increasing the market share. Due to the low cost of Linux, its stability, rock solid security features, with no hardware vendor lock-in clauses, its popularity continues to increase. Due to its open source background, any security problems are usually fixed faster than most other operating systems, increasing its popularity for webservers.

Unless Linux is able to provide native support for video games without the use of an emulator, it is unlikely to make further in-roads into the desktop market. Linux is becoming increasingly popular among home users and small businesses who require a server system. The result is, that the demand for data recovery from Linux based systems is likely to increase, especially among small businesses and home users.

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