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As mentioned earlier in the chapter, when Linus Torvalds first developed Linux he made the operating system open source. This meant that the Linux kernel (the actual source code of the operating system) could be built upon to develop a unique flavor or distribution of Linux.
A number of Linux distributions exist, each with its own take on the Linux source code. For example, there is Novell's SUSE Linux, RedHat Linux, and Mandrake Linux among others. Each of these operating systems is Linux, but each is also a unique operating system platform, having been developed by different programmers with different purposes in mind for the operating system.
Linux distributions have been built for the most part so that they can serve as a full-blown server environment or as the operating system for a desktop computer. This duality of Linux distributions often makes end-users shy away from Linux because many distributions weren't necessarily developed specifically for the desktop user. NLD has been developed with the sole purpose of serving as an end-user environment.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention some facts related to Linux distributions and NLD directly in terms of dealing with viruses and other software pests such as adware. When you begin to explore the applications and applets provided by NLD, you will find that no antivirus software package is preinstalled. This shouldn't make you nervous; to date, fewer than 20 viruses can affect Linux systems, and they require that the user allow them to execute. They also can only be executed when a user is logged in as the root account. (The root account is synonymous with administrative account and is used only when software updates or important system settings need to be configured.) So, the bottom line is that NLD is essentially worry-free in terms of virus attacks.
Applet A software tool that requires minimal system resources and is designed to be launched from within another application. Applets typically do not provide access to the computer's hard drive. NLD provides a number of applets, such as the Volume Control applet and the Resolution Switcher.
Root The root account is the administrative account for a Linux system. It has many more rights and capabilities when compared to the typical user account in NLD.
In terms of adware and spyware, you will find that the Mozilla Firefox web browser, installed with NLD, provides a great deal of protection. It was designed as an answer to some of the problems other web browsers pose for end-users and the deluge of adware and spyware that we all have to deal with on the Web. We will discuss Firefox in more detail in Chapter 8, "Browsing the World Wide Web with Mozilla Firefox."
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