10+ Common Linux Terms

Linux is a complex operating system that seems like it was made for computer experts. The problem with this is that most people are not computer experts and have a very difficult time learning how to use Linux. This glossary provides you with definitions of common terms and their functions so that you can get the most out of your Linux experience!

For details of each linux distro, please visit its respective glossary post to check.

  • Executable: an executable file such as a program or script to be executed by Linux operating systems like Ubuntu.
  • Kernel: the core of any operating system. It is responsible for managing hardware and software resources, as well as making sure that all running programs interact with each other in a smooth manner.
  • Package manager: A utility used to install and update packages containing executables from third party developers on your computer’s hard drive. Popular examples are APT (Advanced Package Tool) which comes preinstalled on most Debian based distributions including Ubuntu; RPM (Red Hat Package Manager), which comes installed on RedHat Enterprise Linux distributions; DPKG (Debian package management tools); yum (Yellowdog Updater Modified), which comes preinstalled on Enterprise Linux distributions such as Fedora; and Zypper, a package manager for openSUSE distribution.
  • Root: the user who has full privileges to all files on the computer.
  • Sudo: a command that allows you to execute other commands as root using your own permissions rather than giving over absolute control of your machine. For example, if I want to install an application and have it run with my permission instead of root’s (which would give me god-like power) then I will use sudo.
  • Terminal: A program for entering text commands in Linux. The modern Linux terminal is a powerful and sophisticated tool that can be used in many ways. It’s often compared to the DOS command prompt, but it has more features than just text inputting as well as graphical interfaces for executing commands.
  • Repositories: Locations where software packages are stored so that they can be accessed via package managers such as APT, RPM, DPKG, yum, Zypper etc… repositories come preinstalled on most Linux distributions and can also be manually installed by the end user.
  • Synaptic: is a graphical package management tool which allows you to install, upgrade or remove software packages on your computer running Ubuntu, Debian etc…
  • Mount:  the process of bringing a filesystem onto the system so that it can be read from or written to. This usually happens automatically when you plug in an external hard drive but mounting can also take place through programs such as Nautilus and GParted.
  • Wine: Provides a Windows API compatible environment for Linux operating systems like Ubuntu (which does not run any Microsoft products) allowing applications designed for Windows to execute seamlessly within its walls without having access to native libraries outside Wine’s own virtual file system. Programs that are created for Linux should also run without any problems in Wine.

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