Please Wait....
Your Experience is being rendered.
Click the [Live] button if the Experience does not load in few moments.









Tux the penguin, the mascot of Linux
Tux the penguin, the mascot of the Linux kernel
OS family: Unix-like
Latest stable release: 2.6.21 (Linux kernel) / April 26, 2007
Kernel type: Modular monolithic kernel
License: GNU General Public License
Working state: Current
Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system family. Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free software and of open source development; its underlying source code is available for anyone to use, modify, and redistribute freely

 History

Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel.
Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel.

In 1991, Linus Torvalds began to work on the Linux kernel while he was attending the University of Helsinki.Torvalds originally intended Linux to be a non-commercial replacement for Minix, an educational operating system developed by Andrew S. Tanenbaum.Linux was dependent on the Minix userspace at first.

Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project for a free operating system.
Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project for a free operating system.

The GNU Project, with the goal of creating a UNIX-like, POSIX-compatible operating system composed entirely of free software, had begun development in 1984, and a year later Richard Stallman had created the Free Software Foundation and wrote the first draft of the GNU General Public License (GPLv1). By the early 1990s, the project had produced or collected many necessary operating system components, including libraries, compilers, text editors, and a Unix shell, and the upper level could be supplied by the X Window System, but development of the lower level, which consisted of a kernel, device drivers and daemons had stalled and was incomplete.

The GPL allowed GNU code to be used in other projects, so long as they too were released under the GPL. In order to allow GNU code to be integrated with Linux, Torvalds changed his original license (which prohibited commercial redistribution) to the GPLv2. Linux and GNU developers worked to integrate GNU components with Linux. Thus Linux became a complete, fully functional free operating system.

In 2004, Ken Brown, president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, published Samizdat, a highly controversial book which, among other criticism of open source, denied Torvalds' authorship of Linux (attributing it to Tanenbaum, instead). This was rebutted by Tanenbaum himself.

Portability

Linux is a portable operating system. While the Linux kernel was originally designed only for Intel 80386 microprocessors, it now runs on a more diverse range of computer architectures than any other operating system—[49] from the hand-held ARM-based iPAQ to the mainframe IBM System z9, in devices ranging from supercomputers to mobile phones. Specialized distributions exist for less mainstream architectures. The ELKS kernel fork can run on Intel 8086 or Intel 80286 16-bit microprocessors, while the µClinux kernel may run on systems without a memory management unit including the Apple iPod. The kernel also runs on architectures that were only ever intended to use a manufacturer-created operating system, such as the iMac and PowerBook, Palm PDAs, GameCube, Xbox and even the Playstation Portable.

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/logos/raytraced/linux-ball.gif

 Philosophy

The copyleft logo. Modification and redistribution of copylefted works is permitted provided derivative works are also copylefted.
The copyleft logo. Modification and redistribution of copylefted works is permitted provided derivative works are also copylefted.

The primary difference between Linux and other contemporary operating systems is that the Linux kernel and other components are open source software. Linux is not the only such operating system, although it is the most well-known and widely used one. Some open source licenses are based on the principle of copyleft, a kind of reciprocity: any work derived from a copyleft piece of software must also be copyleft itself. The most common free software license is used for the Linux kernel itself: the GNU GPL written by Richard Stallman.