Linux was originally developed as a free operating system for personal computers based on the Intel x86 architecture, but has since been ported to more computer hardware platforms than any other operating system. Thanks to its dominance on smartphones, Android, which is built on top of the Linux kernel, has the largest installed base of all general-purpose operating systems. Linux, in its original form, is also the leading operating system on servers and other big iron systems such as mainframe computers and virtually all fastest supercomputers, but is used on only around 1.6% of desktop computers with Linux-based Chrome OS taking about 5% of the overall and nearly 20% of the sub-$300 notebook sales. Linux also runs on embedded systems, which are devices whose operating system is typically built into the firmware and is highly tailored to the system; this includes smartphones and tablet computers running Android and other Linux derivatives, TiVo and similar DVR devices, network routers, facility automation controls, televisions, video game consoles, and smartwatches.
Hack your home!
Smart homes, smart TVs, smart watches, smart phones, smart fridges: is there anything that isn’t smart these days? Smart humans, might be a useful start. The startling thing is that behind that huge list of smart things is Linux (and perhaps a bit of BSD). The open source nature of Linux; its lightweight footprint and robust security (though nothing is foolproof) makes it perfect for use in tiny, deployable, internet-connected smart things.
Linux has enabled an entire generation of new gadgets, but alongside the software you do need hardware. That’s where the Raspberry Pi plays its part. We now all have access to the software smarts and handy hardware to build our own tiny internet-connected devices that can transform a home, school or office into an automated paradise.
This issue we’re looking at how you can hack your home with Linux and the Pi. We’re basing a lot of these projects on the Pi, but you could adapt them to any tiny PC or even Arduino boards. It’s the ubiquity of the Pi that makes it our go-to [no gotos! – Ed] device of choice for home hacks. We hope you find it inspiring, as what you can do is only limited by your imagination!
With no Pi User section this issue, we’ve bolstered our features and tutorials for those more interested in using Linux on their PCs. Importantly we’re finally covering the thing called KDE Plasma 5, though that’s KDE Plasma and KDE Framework. It’s a stunning desktop, community project and interface ecosystem that’s worth your attention. We also delve into getting a Linux laptop, it’s no easy task, you’ll have to get your hands dirty but it’s possible and worth it.
With tutorials covering encryption, partitioning, network enhancement and drive encryption, plus coding chess in Python and the cool new Perl 6 there’s surely something for everyone? Enjoy your hacking.