A Linux distribution is a complete operating system that includes the Linux kernel and a set of libraries and programs developed by various people and companies. The Linux kernel and core system libraries are not developed by the same group. Instead, the Linux kernel provides a stable ABI that allows anyone to develop a standard library for a programming language to run on top of it.
Open source licenses come with different conditions, but they all allow anyone to use the software for any purpose and distribute its copies, and that’s what makes the existence of Linux distributions possible.
Different distributions use different approaches to package management and configuration, but experienced users can learn how to use a new distribution fairly quickly if they know the fundamentals. These days, Linux can be found everywhere, from mobile phones to the most powerful supercomputers.
In the next chapter, we will learn about the various shells available on Linux systems, as well as basic commands.