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What is Linux?

What is Linux?

Linux (Lih-nucks) is an operating system developed by Linus Torvalds when he was a student at the University of Helsinki. Torvalds was using a variation of the UNIX operating system called MINIX and felt he could develop a better version of Minix. He posted his first version of Linux on the Internet in 1991 and stated that anyone could work on the development of the program as long as they included their source code.

The term Linux is copywrited by Torvalds who remains the benevolent dictator of Linux. Because it has been used by developers and programmers around the world, the term Linux has come to mean different things to different people. Strictly speaking, Linux is a series of files that make up the core program or “kernel” of the operating system. Some companies bundle this kernel with a GUI (Graphical User Interface), utility programs, emulators, desktop managers, and even application programs as their own distribution of Linux.

Linux has achieved remarkable growth in the last few years. In an article published February 1, 2000, Jesse Berst, Editorial Director of ZDNet Anchordesk, provided the following statistics:

· 9% of corporate PCs will run Linux and other free operating systems within the next two years. That’s double their current market share. (
· 49% of IT professionals rate Linux as important or essential to their enterprise computing strategies. (MERIT Advisory Council)
· 26% of embedded application developers plan to use Linux as their host platform in 2000, up 10% from 1999. (Electronic Market Forecasters)

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Why is Linux becoming so popular? How did it grow so fast? For those answers you have to look back to the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation.