Linux Networking

In today’s fast-paced, ever-evolving technological landscape, data centers must be agile, scalable, and modular to keep up with the times. They need an operating system with no limitations. That’s where Linux comes in. 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 the e-book Linux Networking 101.

What is Linux?

Linux is an open-source operating system developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991. It can be installed on a variety of hardware 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 a diverse range 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 e-book Linux Networking101 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 NVIDIA® Cumulus Linux™ boot camps for instructor-led courses that will teach you everything you need to know.

The Differences Between Traditional and Linux Networking


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

Community Oriented

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.

Complete Standardization

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

The Benefits of Open Networking

Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

With less downtime and more switches per operator, open networking saves you substantially on operating expenses. In fact, according to our own study, customers can save up to 60 percent on TCO by switching to open solutions.

Faster Troubleshooting

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.

Simplified Configuration

Once you get the hang of Linux, configurations become much easier and intuitive. If you'd like to see for the differences between traditional and Linux networking in action, head over to our web-scale networking how-to videos


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.

Faster Time to Market

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.

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, NVIDIA has contributed to the kernel with the addition of virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) and the network interface manager ifupdown2. If you’re interested in being a part of this extensive community, check out for forums, Linux tutorials and more.

What Technology Does NVIDIA Offer for Linux Networking?

NVIDIA Cumulus Linux

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

NVIDIA Cumulus NetQ

NVIDIA Cumulus 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.

NVIDIA Cumulus in the Cloud

NVIDIA 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 NVIDIA Cumulus® products in the context that matters to you.


NVIDIA 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.