What Does a Linux® Programmer Do?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
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  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2019
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A Linux® programmer creates unique software programs and applications that are native to this open-source operating system. They normally have a range of choices for programming languages that work well on Linux platforms. Many Linux® programers also add their own improvements and customizations to existing Linux® software because these programs' source code is free from standard proprietary restrictions. A Linux® programmer often creates programs for a specific company that uses a certain version of the Linux® operating system for day-to-day tasks. Many Linux® programmer jobs also require programmers to serve as troubleshooting technicians for the programs they create.

One of the foundations of a Linux® programmer career is a working knowledge of this operating system's structure, which is often known as the Linux® kernel. A programmer who is able to use the Linux® command line has a significant advantage for writing, compiling, and modifying code for this operating system. The command line gives the Linux® kernel specific instructions for tasks such as creating new text files and storing them in certain places on the computer's hard drive. Once a Linux® programmer masters the command line, the same text editors provide an easy platform for writing the code for new applications.


Many computer programmers create their lines of code with the help of a tool called an integrated development environment (IDE) that translates a high-level programming language to the machine language that the Linux® kernel can understand. The use of an IDE is usually optional in many versions of the Linux® operating system. Some Linux® programmers instead enter their code into the command line editing window.

Another main tool of a Linux® programmer is usually the C programming language, which is the most common choice for Linux® software programs. The standard C programming language is considered the most adaptable and portable for use on different Linux® platforms and operating system versions. Some programmers also create applications out of the C# language or the C++ language, depending on the kinds of tasks they want the finished software to accomplish.

Linux® programmers may work for an employer or may work as independent consultants. Since Linux® software programs are designated open source, programmers generally create them under the honor system of the open source movement. They are required to make their finished source code available for other Linux® programmers to examine and modify. Under this collective agreement, most Linux® programmers do not make profits from direct sales of their programs, but earn from providing technical support once they finish a new program either for a business client or for the general public to use.


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