Learning Linux networking

In today’s fast-paced, ever-evolving technological landscape, data centers must be agile, scalable and modular enough to keep up with the times. They need an operating system that is with no limitations. That’s where Linux steps in to save the day. Linux is an operating system that enables you to build an open network and gives you choices when it comes to customizing your hardware, applications and more. For an in-depth introduction to the language of the data center, download your copy of the Linux 101 ebook.

What is Linux?

Linux is an open source operating system developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991. It can be installed on a variety of different types of hardware to enable you to develop software, run applications and more. Linux was developed in C and assembly language to run on i386 personal computers, but it has since been ported to more hardware than just about any other operating system in history. Today, Linux is the most installed operating system globally. From Android phones to Amazon Kindles to drones, Linux can be found on all sorts of devices.

So, Linux is popular on a variety of devices — but what about its place in the data center? As an operating system for servers and switches, Linux completely unifies the stack and provides interoperability. Plus, Linux’s package management system enables you to download all kinds of cloud applications, such as Red Hat and OpenStack, to better customize and optimize your data center. Linux has many uses in the enterprise data center, including but not limited to automation, server virtualization and containerization.

Are you interested in finding out more about the basics of Linux? Download this handy Linux 101 guide for a comprehensive look at the history of Linux, Linux administration and more. If you’re ready to jump right into Linux networking and get hands-on experience, sign up for one of our Cumulus Linux boot camps for instructor-led courses that will teach you everything you need to know.

What are the differences between traditional vs. Linux networking?


Since Linux is an open solution, your network is far more customizable when Linux is your operating system. Choose the hardware, ASIC and applications that you want and build a custom network that best fits your unique needs.


As opposed to traditional solutions, Linux is maintained, monitored and improved by the Linux community. Rather than being reliant on a vendor to come to the rescue every time there’s a problem with your network, the open nature of Linux enables members of the community to take matters into their own hands. 


With Linux as the common language throughout the data center, you have complete interoperability and reduce complexities. The ability to use the same tools enables rapid availability of applications to the end user — making deployment and management simple and easy.

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What are the benefits of open networking?


With less downtime and more switches per operator, open networking saves you both CapEx and OpEx. In fact, customers can save up to 60% on TCO by switching to open solutions. Check out our TCO report for more information about how much traditional networking is costing you.


Closed solutions force you to rely entirely on the vendor. So, when something goes wrong with the network, you’re dependent on the vendor’s ability to fix the problem. Open networking, with its active community, enables you to research the problem and find the solution.


Once you get the hang of Linux, configurations become much easier and intuitive. If you would like to see for yourself the differences between traditional and Linux networking in action, head over to our web-scale networking how-to videos and watch our series on Juniper and Cisco versus Cumulus Linux.


As you build out your data center, you’ll need a network that can grow with the changes you make. Open networking allows you to build to the scale of your company, whether you’re a small startup or a cloud giant.


With fast and easy deployment, open networking gives you a much quicker time to market. In fact, switching to open networking can increase operational efficiency and reduce time to deployment by 95%.


Automation eliminates the need to engage in repetitive tasks and decreases the margin of human error. It saves time and energy, and increases the ratio of switches to operator.

How can I get involved in the Linux community?

With over 6 million lines of code and more than 1,000 active contributors, the Linux kernel is a community-based effort to keep Linux fresh and evolving. Becoming involved with the Linux kernel and writing code is a great way to contribute to the community. In fact, Cumulus Networks has contributed to the kernel with the addition of VRF and ifupdown2. If you’re interested in being a part of this extensive community, check out linux.org for forums, Linux tutorials and more to help you start.

What technology does Cumulus Networks offer for Linux networking?


Cumulus Linux is an open network operating system for bare metal switches.


NetQ is a telemetry-based fabric validation system that ensures your network is behaving as intended and brings fabric-wide visibility and connectivity to the host.


Cumulus in the Cloud is a pre-built virtual data center that allows you to build and test different environments at absolutely no cost. Try out all three Cumulus Networks products in the context that matters to you.


Cumulus VX is a free virtual appliance that enables you to preview Cumulus Linux on your computer.

Interested in how Cumulus Networks can help your business? Talk to an open source IT expert today.