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Information about LinuxLinux) is a generic term referring to Unix-like computer operating systems based on the Linux kernel. Their development is one of the most prominent examples of free and open source software collaboration; typically all the underlying source code can be used, freely modified, and redistributed, both commercially and non-commercially, by anyone under the terms of the GNU GPL and other free software licences.
Linux is predominantly known for its use in servers, although can be installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from embedded devices , mobile phones and even some watches to supercomputers. Linux distributions, installed on both desktop and laptop computers, have become increasingly commonplace in recent years, partly owing to the popular Ubuntu (17 walls) distribution and the emergence of netbooks.
The name "Linux" comes from the Linux kernel, originally written in 1991 (26 years ago) by Linus Torvalds.The rest of the system usually comprises components such as the Apache HTTP Server, the X Window System, the GNOME and KDE desktop environments, and utilities and libraries from the GNU Project (announced in 1983 (34 years ago) by Richard Stallman). Commonly-used applications with desktop Linux systems include the Mozilla Firefox (4 walls) web-browser and the OpenOffice.org office application suite. The GNU contribution is the basis for the Free Software Foundation's preferred name GNU/Linux.
UNIXThe Unix operating system was conceived and implemented in 1969 (48 years ago) at AT&T's Bell Laboratories in America by Ken Thomson, Dennis Ritchie, Douglas McIlroy, and Joe Ossanna, and first released in 1971 (46 years ago), it was written in assembly language and later re-written in C in 1973 (44 years ago) by Dennis Ritchie. Its wide availability and portability due to being written in C meant that it was widely adopted, copied and modified by academic institutions and businesses, with its design being influential on authors of other systems.
GNUThe GNU Project, started in 1983 (34 years ago) by Richard Stallman, had the goal of creating a "complete Unix-compatible software system" composed entirely of free software. Work began in 1984 (33 years ago). Later, in 1985 (32 years ago), Stallman created the Free Software Foundation and wrote the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) in 1989 (28 years ago). By the early 1990s, many of the programs required in an operating system (such as libraries, compilers, text editors, a Unix shell, and a windowing system) were completed, although low-level elements such as device drivers, daemons, and the kernel were stalled and incomplete. Linus Torvalds has said that if the GNU kernel had been available at the time (1991, 26 years ago), he would not have decided to write his own.
MINIXMINIX was a cheap minimal unix-like operating system, designed for education in computer science, written by Andrew S. Tanenbaum (now Minix is free and redesigned also for “serious” use).
In 1991 (26 years ago) while attending the University of Helsinki, Torvalds began to work on a non-commercial replacement for MINIX, which would eventually become the Linux kernel.
Torvalds began the development of Linux on Minix and applications written for Minix were also used under Linux. Later Linux matured and it became possible for Linux to be developed under itself. Also GNU applications replaced all Minix ones because, with code from the GNU system freely available, it was advantageous if this could be used with the fledgling OS. Code licensed under the GNU GPL can be used in other projects, so long as they also are released under the same or a compatible license. In order to make the Linux kernel compatible with the components from the GNU Project, Torvalds initiated a switch from his original license (which prohibited commercial redistribution) to the GNU GPL. Developers worked to integrate GNU components with Linux to make a fully functional and free operating system.
DevelopmentThe primary difference between Linux and many other popular contemporary operating systems is that the Linux kernel and other components are free and open source software. Linux is not the only such operating system, although it is by far the most widely used. Some free and open source software 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, the GNU GPL, is a form of copyleft, and is used for the Linux kernel and many of the components from the GNU project.
Linux based distributions are intended by developers for interoperability with other operating systems and established computing standards. Linux systems adhere to POSIX, SUS, ISO and ANSI standards where possible, although to date only one Linux distribution has been POSIX.1 certified, Linux-FT.
Free software projects, although developed in a collaborative fashion, are often produced independently of each other. The fact that the software licenses explicitly permit redistribution, however, provides a basis for larger scale projects that collect the software produced by stand-alone projects and make it available all at once in the form of a Linux distribution.
A Linux distribution, commonly called a "distro", is a project that manages a remote collection of system software and application software packages available for download and installation through a network connection. This allows the user to adapt the operating system to his/her specific needs. Distributions are maintained by individuals, loose-knit teams, volunteer organizations, and commercial entities. A distribution can be installed using a CD that contains distribution-specific software for initial system installation and configuration. A package manager such as Synaptic or YAST allows later package upgrades and installations. A distribution is responsible for the default configuration of the installed Linux kernel, general system security, and more generally integration of the different software packages into a coherent whole.
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