TSR – The Server Room – Shownotes – Episode 16

Saturdays Topic: Linux and Some of the Apps I use on it

  • What is Linux?
  • What is a distribution?
  • Window Managers and Desktop Environments
  • Which ones I personally use?
  • Fedora Linux
  • Software applications

What is Linux?

Linux is a family of open source Unix-like operating systems based on the Linux kernel,
an operating system kernel first released on September 17. 1991 by Linus Torvalds

Linux Operating System consist of:

  • Linux kernel: (Kernel Mode/Space)
  • Userland / Space: (Everything else..System Daemons, Windowing System (X11, Wayland) User Applications
Image result for linux userland kernel land

Linux is typically packaged in a Linux distribution.

What is a distribution?

A Distribution includes the Linux kernel and supporting system software and libraries content of which varies between different distributions ( like Debian or Fedora or Slackware) giving the difference and different flavours between Linux distributions. The distribution leaders can choose what software to include and which version which
package manager to use and the releated package format what display server to use (X11 or Wayland) and any other extra tools.

Many times one distribution likes to keep the linux kernel on the bleeding edge (latest) while other/s tend to keep it a few steps or a few big steps behind and
focuse on stability vs performace and/or latest and greatest.

Distributions which intended for servers normally omit graphics and de (desktop environment) altogether and include for example solution stacks / software packages
more intended for the use on servers like a LAMP stack ( Linux Apache MySQL PHP)

What is a Desktop Environment?

First we have to see what is a Desktop metaphore ….

Desktop metaphore threating the computer monitor as if it is the top of the user`s desk upon which objects such as documents
and folders of documents can be placed, a document can be opened into a window which represents the paper copy of the document placed on the desktop,,,small applications called desk accessories are also
available such as desk calculator or notepad , etc.)

The desktop metaphor itself has been extended and stretched with various implementations of desktop environments, since access to features and usability of the computer are usually more important than maintaining
the ‘purity’ of the metaphor. Hence we find trash cans on the desktop, as well as disks and network volumes (which can be thought of as filing cabinets—not something normally found on a desktop). Other features such as menu bars or taskbars have no counterpart on a real-world desktop.

Desktop Environment is an implementation of the desktop metaphor made of a bundle of programs running on top of a computer operating system which
share a common graphical user interface (GUI) sometimes refered to as a graphical shell.
Desktop GUIs help the user to easily access and edit files while they usually do not provide access to all of the features found in the underlying operating system
Instead the traditional command line interface is still used when full control over the operating system is required.

Desktop Environments Vs Window Managers

A Window Manager is a piece of software that manages windows, allowing the windows to be opened, closed, re-sized, and moved. It is also capable of presenting menus and options to the user.
It controls the look and feel of the user’s GUI. With Linux or BSD, you have choices.
You are free to select any number of window managers, ranging from lean-and-mean simple ones (low memory and CPU consumption), to feature-packed large ones

A Desktop Environment

A desktop environment (DE) usually rides on top of a Window Manager and adds many features, including panels, status bars, drag-and-drop capabilities, and a suite of integrated applications and tools. In fact, user opinions on operating systems are typically based on one thing:
the Desktop Environment. Of course, the DE is only a small part of an OS, and in Linux and Unix systems, the Window Manager and/or DE can be replaced or highly customized

Sometimes to differenciate in between one or another is not easy.Also as window managers can be used standalone and together with a Desktop environment
in my opinion is not always as easy to categorise WM and DE and to see where one ends and the other one begins…..

From the above explication I normally take this as below: ,, if it brings additional suite of integrated applications f.e Gnome and KDE as best examples” I consider those a Desktop Environment.

Again this is only my understanding and as always Your Milage May Vary

Where Linux is used?


Linux was originally developed for personal computers based on the Intel x86 architecture, but has since been ported to more platforms than any other operating system. Linux is the leading operating system on servers and other big iron systems such as mainframe computers, and the only OS used on TOP500 supercomputers (since November 2017, having gradually eliminated all competitors).It is used by around 2.3 percent of desktop computers.The Chromebook, which runs the Linux kernel-based Chrome OS, dominates the US K–12 education market and represents nearly 20 percent of sub-$300 notebook sales in the US.

Linux also runs on embedded systems, i.e. devices whose operating system is typically built into the firmware and is highly tailored to the system. This includes routers, automation controls, televisions, digital video recorders, video game consoles, and smartwatches. The Treadmills Technogym in my gym run linux core ( have a foto of its boot screen i paste it here) Many smartphones and tablet computers run Android and other Linux derivatives.Because of the dominance of Android on smartphones, Linux has the largest installed base of all general-purpose operating systems.

Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free and open-source software collaboration. The source code may be used, modified and distributed—commercially or non-commercially—by anyone under the terms of its respective licenses, such as the GNU General Public License

Which Ones I personally use?

I personally use Fedora linux distribution on my workstation and Centos Server or Fedora Server on my server class or production machines ( dedicated server or VM running on top in production)

Fedora Linux

Fedora Linux is a Linux distribution initially released developed by the community-supported Fedora Project which is sponsored primarily by Red Hat Inc. with minor support by other companies.

Fedora contains software distributed under various free and open-source licenses and aims to be on the leading edge of free technologies.
Fedora is the upstream source of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution.

Since the release of Fedora 30, five different editions are currently available: Workstation, focused on the personal computer, Server for servers, CoreOS, focused on cloud computing, Silverblue, focused on an immutable desktop specialized to container-based workflows and IoT, focused on IoT devices.

As of February 2016, Fedora has an estimated 1.2 million users,[16] including Linus Torvalds (as of 2015), creator of the Linux kernel.


Fedora has a reputation for focusing on innovation, integrating new technologies early on and working closely with upstream Linux communities.
Making changes upstream instead of specifically for Fedora ensures that the changes are available to all Linux distributions.

Fedora has a relatively short life cycle: each version is usually supported for at least 13 months, where version X is supported only until 1 month after version X+2 is released and with approximately 6 months between most versions.
Fedora users can upgrade from version to version without reinstalling.

The default desktop environment in Fedora is GNOME and the default user interface is the GNOME Shell. Other desktop environments, including KDE Plasma, Xfce, LXDE, MATE, Deepin and Cinnamon, are available and can be installed.

Package management

Most Fedora editions use the RPM package management system, using DNF as a tool to manage the RPM packages.
DNF uses libsolv, an external dependency resolver. Flatpak is also included by default, and support for Ubuntu’s snaps can be added. Fedora uses Delta RPM when updating installed packages to provide delta updates.
A Delta RPM contains the difference between an old and new version of a package. This means that only the changes between the installed package and the new one are downloaded, reducing network traffic and bandwidth consumption.

The Fedora CoreOS and Silverblue editions use rpm-ostree, a hybrid transactional image/package system to manage the host. Traditional DNF (or other systems) should be used in containers.


Fedora uses Security-Enhanced Linux by default, which implements a variety of security policies, including mandatory access controls, which Fedora adopted early on.
Fedora provides a hardening wrapper, and does hardening for all of its packages by using compiler features such as position-independent executable (PIE).


Fedora comes preinstalled with a wide range of software such as LibreOffice and Firefox. Additional software is available from the software repositories and can be installed using the DNF package manager or GNOME Software.

Additionally, extra repositories can be added to the system, so that software not available in Fedora can be installed easily.
Software that is not available via official Fedora repositories, either because it doesn’t meet Fedora’s definition of free software or because its distribution may violate US law,
can be installed using third-party repositories. Popular third-party repositories include RPM Fusion free and non-free repositories. Fedora also provides users with an easy-to-use build system for creating their own repositories called Copr.

Since the release of Fedora 25, the operating system defaults to the Wayland display server protocol, which replaced the X Window System.


Beginning with Fedora version 30, it is available in five editions:

Fedora Workstation – It targets users who want a reliable, user-friendly, and powerful operating system for their laptop or desktop computer. It comes with GNOME by default but other desktops can be installed or can be directly installed as Spins.

Fedora Server – Its target usage is for servers. It includes the latest data center technologies. This edition doesn’t come with a desktop environment, but one can be installed. From Fedora 28, Server Edition will deliver Fedora Modularity, adding support for alternative update streams for popular software such as Node.js and Golang.

Fedora CoreOS – It provides a minimal image of Fedora which includes just the bare essentials. It is meant for deployment in cloud computing. It provides Fedora CoreOS images which are optimized minimal images for deploying containers.

Fedora IoT – Images of Fedora tailored to running on Internet of Things devices.

Fedora Silverblue – It targets users who want an immutable desktop and developers who use container based workflows.

GNOME Software, Fedora’s default package manager front-end
A Live USB drive can be created using Fedora Media Writer or the dd command.
It allows users to try Fedora without making changes to the hard disk.

Recently I switched back to my Fujitsu R940 Workstation ( single cpu Xeon E5-2604 v4 32GB Ram) which runs linux in a form of Fedora Workstation 31 leaving my Mac Pro 2009 full equipped (cpu ram gpu on top i could do ) to be accessed remotely (VNC and its virtual machines its running via RDP) as secondary machine

Software Applications on Linux I use

First things First … there is no Vim Vs Emacs or similar nonsense… Everyone has its favourites and what he or she thinks best for his/her approach or needs…No reason to argue or convince one another.. We live in a Free World. 🙂

LIST OF SOME APPS to Mention …







IF I Have time to Share –> My dilemma with monitors and computers ( too many monitors and computers)

I have 4 monitors on my desk ( 2x them same size and model and 2x of them approx in screen size but different models) all with various video inputs (dvi-d, hdmi, some with vga or maybe displayport?). I have 2x main computers both with video cards which can drive 4 monitors at the same time no problem.

I would love to use both computers with these 4x monitors by being able to easily switch between which computers (computer A or computer B´s signals being sent to the 4 monitors at once ( not even going into scenarios like computer A signal to use 2 monitors out of 4 like Monitor 1-2 and Computer B signal for Monitors 3-4)

Problem is a 4 Port KVM Switch Quad Head/Monitor with Displayport in/outs ( while I d need to purchase converters for my Monitor inputs displayport to dvi-d or hdmi depending on the monitors.. is around and above the 1000 – 1500 euros range which is no way ever I could afford.

With all honesty all I would need is to be able to switch the video in/outs like an analog mixer in sound and I dont actually need the Keyboard and Mouse and USB sharing part of functionality a KVM Switch adds up on top of this.

I think what would be more affordable and suitable for my use case is a form of video matrix system of sort 4×4 which indeed exist below the mentioned 1000 euro range and practically switch video streams and sends them where You want them to.

If someone has more experience regarding this or indeed achieved something similar please let me know via email or coms on SDF




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Author: viktormadarasz

IT OnSite Analyst for a big multinational company