• Multiuser — Not only can you have many user accounts available on a Linux system, you can also have multiple users logged in and working on the system at the same time. Users can have their own environments arranged the way they want: their own home directory for storing files and their own desktop interface (with icons, menus, and applications arranged to suit them). User accounts can be password-protected, so that users can control who has access to their applications and data.
• Multitasking — In Linux, it is possible to have many programs running at the same time, which means that not only can you have many programs going at once, but that the Linux operating system can itself have programs running in the background. Many of these system processes make it possible for Linux to work as a server, with these background processes listening to the network for requests to log in to your system, view a Web page, print a document, or copy a file. These background processes are referred to as daemons.
• Hardware support — You can configure support for almost every type of hardware that can be connected to a computer. There is support for floppy disk drives, CDs, removable disks (such as DVDs and USB flash drives), sound cards, tape devices, video cards, and most anything else you can think of. As device interfaces, such as USB and FireWire, have been added to computers, support for those devices has been added to Linux as well.
For Linux to support a hardware device, Linux needs a driver, a piece of software that interfaces between the Linux kernel and the device. Drivers are available in the Linux kernel to support hundreds of computer hardware components that can be added or removed as needed.
• Networking connectivity — To connect your Linux system to a network, Linux offers support for a variety of local area network (LAN) network interface cards (NICs), modems, and serial devices. In addition to LAN protocols, such as Ethernet (both wired and wireless), all the most popular upper-level networking protocols can be built-in. The most popular of these protocols is TCP/IP (used to connect to the Internet). Other protocols, such as IPX (for Novell networks) and X.25 (a packet-switching network type that is popular in Europe), are also available.
• Network servers — Providing networking services to the client computers on the LAN or to the entire Internet is what Linux does best. A variety of software packages are available that enable you to use Linux as a print server, file server, FTP server, mail server, Web server, news server, or workgroup (DHCP or NIS) server.
To make a Linux distribution useful, components need to be added on top of the Linux kernel. For humans to access a Linux system, they can enter commands to a shell or use graphical interfaces to open menus, windows, and icons. Then you need actual applications to run. In particular, a useful Linux desktop system includes the following:
• Graphical user interface (X Window System) — The powerful framework for working with graphical applications in Linux is referred to as the X Window System (or simply X). X handles the functions of opening X-based graphical user interface (GUI) applications and displaying them on an X server process (the process that manages your screen, mouse, and keyboard).
On top of X, you use an X-based desktop environment to provide a desktop metaphor and window manager to provide the look-and-feel of your GUI (icons, window frames, menus, and colors, or a combination of those items called themes). There are a few desktop environments and and even more window managers to choose from. (Fedora focuses on the GNOME and KDE desktop environments, but also has several other desktop environments, such as Xfce, and window managers, such as Blackbox and AfterStep, available. )
• Application support — Because of compatibility with POSIX and several different application programming interfaces (APIs), a wide range of free and open source software is available for Linux systems. Compatibility with the GNU C libraries is a major reason for the wide-ranging application support. Often, making an open source application available to a particular version of Linux can be done by simply recompiling the source code to run on that Linux version.
Source of Information : Wiley - Adobe Fedora Bible 2010 Edition Featuring Fedora Linux