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Linux ( or ) is a family of
open-source Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product. The open-source model is a decentralized sof ...
Unix-like A Unix-like (sometimes referred to as UN*X or *nix) operating system is one that behaves in a manner similar to a Unix system, although not necessarily conforming to or being certified to any version of the Single UNIX Specification. A Unix- ...
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, software resources, and provides common daemon (computing), services for computer programs. Time-sharing operating systems scheduler (computing), schedule tasks for ef ...
s based on the
Linux kernel The Linux kernel is a Free and open-source software, free and open-source, Monolithic kernel, monolithic, Modular programming, modular, Computer multitasking, multitasking, Unix-like operating system kernel (operating system), kernel. It was ori ...
, an operating system kernel first released on September 17, 1991, by
Linus Torvalds Linus Benedict Torvalds ( , ; born 28 December 1969) is a Finnish software engineer who is the creator and, historically, the lead developer of the Linux kernel, used by Linux distributions and other operating systems such as Android (operating ...
. Linux is typically packaged as a
Linux distribution A Linux distribution (often abbreviated as distro) is an operating system made from a software collection that includes the Linux kernel and, often, a package management system. Linux users usually obtain their operating system by downloading one ...
, which includes the kernel and supporting
system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android and Microsoft Windows, computational science software, game engines, search engin ...
and
libraries A library is a collection of Document, materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or electronic media, digital access (soft copies) materials, and may be a ...
, many of which are provided by the
GNU Project The GNU Project () is a free software, mass collaboration project announced by Richard Stallman on September 27, 1983. Its goal is to give computer users freedom and control in their use of their computers and Computer hardware, computing devi ...
. Many Linux distributions use the word "Linux" in their name, but the
Free Software Foundation The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)#501(c)(3), 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Richard Stallman on October 4, 1985, to support the free software movement, with the organization's preference for software being distributed ...
uses the name "GNU/Linux" to emphasize the importance of GNU software, causing some controversy. Popular Linux distributions include
Debian Debian (), also known as Debian GNU/Linux, is a Linux distribution composed of free and open-source software, developed by the community-supported Debian Project, which was established by Ian Murdock on August 16, 1993. The first version of Deb ...
,
Fedora Linux Fedora Linux is a Linux distribution developed by the Fedora Project. Fedora contains software distributed under various free and open-source licenses and aims to be on the leading edge of open-source technologies. Fedora is the upstream (softwa ...
, and
Ubuntu Ubuntu ( ) is a Linux distribution based on Debian and composed mostly of free and open-source software. Ubuntu is officially released in three editions: ''Desktop computer, Desktop'', ''Server (computing), Server'', and ''Core'' for Internet ...
, the latter of which itself consists of many different distributions and modifications, including
Lubuntu Lubuntu ( ) is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Ubuntu and uses the LXQt desktop environment in place of Ubuntu's GNOME desktop. Lubuntu was originally touted as being "lighter, less resource hungry and more energy-efficient", but now ...
and Xubuntu. Commercial distributions include
Red Hat Enterprise Linux Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is a Commercial software, commercial Open-source software, open-source Linux distribution developed by Red Hat for the commerce, commercial market. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is released in server versions for x86-6 ...
and SUSE Linux Enterprise. Desktop Linux distributions include a
windowing system In computing, a windowing system (or window system) is software that manages separately different parts of Electronic visual display, display screens. It is a type of graphical user interface (GUI) which implements the WIMP (computing), WIMP (Wi ...
such as X11 or Wayland, and a
desktop environment In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardwa ...
such as
GNOME A gnome is a mythological creature and diminutive spirit in Renaissance magic and alchemy, first introduced by Paracelsus in the 16th century and later adopted by more recent authors including those of modern fantasy literature. Its character ...
or KDE Plasma. Distributions intended for servers may omit
graphics Graphics () are visual perception, visual images or designs on some surface, such as a wall, canvas, screen, paper, or stone, to inform, illustration, illustrate, or entertain. In contemporary usage, it includes a pictorial representation of dat ...
altogether, or include a
solution stack In computing, a solution stack or software stack is a set of software subsystems or components needed to create a complete Computing platform, platform such that no additional software is needed to support applications. Applications are said to " ...
such as
LAMP Lamp, Lamps or LAMP may refer to: Lighting * Oil lamp An oil lamp is a lamp used to produce light continuously for a period of time using an oil-based fuel source. The use of oil lamps began thousands of years ago and continues to this da ...
. Because Linux is freely redistributable, anyone may create a distribution for any purpose. Linux was originally developed for
personal computer A personal computer (PC) is a multi-purpose microcomputer whose size, capabilities, and price make it feasible for individual use. Personal computers are intended to be operated directly by an end user, rather than by a computer expert or techn ...
s based on the
Intel x86 x86 (also known as 80x86 or the 8086 family) is a family of complex instruction set computer (CISC) instruction set architecture In computer science, an instruction set architecture (ISA), also called computer architecture, is an abst ...
architecture, but has since been ported to more platforms than any other operating system. Because of the dominance of the Linux-based Android on
smartphone A smartphone is a Mobile device, portable computer device that combines Mobile phone, mobile telephone and Mobile computing, computing functions into one unit. They are distinguished from feature phones by their stronger hardware capabilities ...
s, Linux, including Android, has the largest
installed base Installed base (also install base, install duser base or just user base) is a measure of the number of units of a product or service that are actually in use, as opposed to market share, which only reflects sales over a particular period. Alth ...
of all
general-purpose operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, software resources, and provides common daemon (computing), services for computer programs. Time-sharing operating systems scheduler (computing), schedule tasks for ef ...
s, . Although Linux is, , used by only around 2.6 percent of
desktop computer A desktop computer (often abbreviated desktop) is a personal computer designed for regular use at a single location on or near a desk due to its size and power requirements. The most common configuration has a computer case, case that houses th ...
s, the
Chromebook A Chromebook (sometimes stylized in lowercase as chromebook) is a laptop or tablet running the Linux-based ChromeOS as its operating system. Initially designed to heavily rely on web applications for tasks using the Google Chrome browser, Chromeb ...
, which runs the Linux kernel-based
ChromeOS ChromeOS, sometimes stylized as chromeOS and formerly styled as Chrome OS, is a Linux-based operating system designed by Google. It is derived from the open-source ChromiumOS and uses the Google Chrome web browser as its principal user interfac ...
, dominates the US
K–12 K–12, from kindergarten to 12th grade, is an American English American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States ...
education market and represents nearly 20 percent of sub-$300
notebook A notebook (also known as a notepad, writing pad, drawing pad, or legal pad) is a book or stack of paper pages that are often Ruled paper, ruled and used for purposes such as note-taking, diary, journaling or other writing, drawing, or scrapbook ...
sales in the US. Linux is the leading operating system on servers (over 96.4% of the top 1 million web servers' operating systems are Linux), leads other big iron systems such as
mainframe computer A mainframe computer, informally called a mainframe or big iron, is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations (computation) automatically. Modern digital ele ...
s, and is used on all of the world's 500 fastest supercompters (since November 2017, having gradually displaced all competitors). Linux also runs on
embedded system An embedded system is a computer system—a combination of a computer processor, computer memory, and input/output peripheral devices—that has a dedicated function within a larger mechanical or Electronics, electronic system. It is '' ...
s, i.e. devices whose operating system is typically built into the
firmware In computing, firmware is a specific class of computer software that provides the High- and low-level, low-level control for a device's specific Computer hardware, hardware. Firmware, such as the BIOS of a personal computer, may contain basic fun ...
and is highly tailored to the system. This includes routers,
automation Automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes, namely by predetermining decision criteria, subprocess relationships, and related actions, as well as embodying those predeterminations in machines ...
controls, smart home devices,
video game console A video game console is an electronic device that Input/output, outputs a video signal or image to display a video game that can be played with a game controller. These may be home video game console, home consoles, which are generally placed i ...
s,
television Television, sometimes shortened to TV, is a telecommunication medium for transmitting moving images and sound. The term can refer to a television set, or the medium of Transmission (telecommunications), television transmission. Television ...
s (Samsung and LG
Smart TV A smart TV, also known as a connected TV (CTV), is a traditional television set with integrated Internet and interactive Web 2.0 features, which allows users to stream music and videos, browse the internet, and view photos. Smart TVs are a techno ...
s),
automobiles A car or automobile is a motor vehicle with Wheel, wheels. Most definitions of ''cars'' say that they run primarily on roads, Car seat, seat one to eight people, have four wheels, and mainly transport private transport#Personal transport, pe ...
(Tesla, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Toyota), and
spacecraft A spacecraft is a vehicle or machine designed to spaceflight, fly in outer space. A type of artificial satellite, spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including Telecommunications, communications, Earth observation satellite, Earth ...
(
Falcon 9 Falcon 9 is a partially Reusable launch vehicle, reusable medium lift launch vehicle that can carry cargo and crew into Earth orbit, produced by American aerospace manufacturer, aerospace company SpaceX. The rocket has two-stage-to-orbit, two ...
rocket,
Dragon A dragon is a reptile, reptilian legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but European dragon, dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages hav ...
crew capsule and the ''Perseverance'' rover). Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free and open-source
software Software is a set of computer programs and associated software documentation, documentation and data (computing), data. This is in contrast to Computer hardware, hardware, from which the system is built and which actually performs the work. ...
collaboration. The
source code In computing, source code, or simply code, is any collection of code, with or without comment (computer programming), comments, written using a human-readable programming language, usually as plain text. The source code of a Computer program, p ...
may be used, modified and distributed commercially or non-commercially by anyone under the terms of its respective licenses, such as the
GNU General Public License The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software licenses that guarantee end users the Four Freedoms (Free software), four freedoms to run, study, share, and modify the software. The license was th ...
(GPL). The Linux kernel, for example, is licensed under the GPLv2.


History


Precursors

The
Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of Computer multitasking, multitasking, multiuser computer operating systems that derive from the original AT&T Corporation, AT&T Unix, whose development started in 1969 at the Bell Labs research center ...
operating system was conceived and implemented in 1969, at
AT&T AT&T Inc. is an American multinational corporation, multinational telecommunications holding company headquartered at Whitacre Tower in Downtown Dallas, Texas. It is the world's List of largest companies by revenue, largest telecommunications ...
's
Bell Labs Nokia Bell Labs, originally named Bell Telephone Laboratories (1925–1984), then AT&T Bell Laboratories (1984–1996) and Bell Labs Innovations (1996–2007), is an American industrial research and scientific development company A com ...
, in the United States by
Ken Thompson Kenneth Lane Thompson (born February 4, 1943) is an American pioneer of computer science. Thompson worked at Bell Labs for most of his career where he designed and implemented the original Unix operating system. He also invented the B (programmi ...
,
Dennis Ritchie Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie (September 9, 1941 – October 12, 2011) was an American computer scientist. He is most well-known for creating the C (programming language), C programming language and, with long-time colleague Ken Thompson, the Unix ...
,
Douglas McIlroy Malcolm Douglas McIlroy (born 1932) is a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in their work, typically to solve mathematical problems. Mathematicians are concerned with numbers, data, quanti ...
, and
Joe Ossanna Joseph Frank Ossanna, Jr. (December 10, 1928 – November 28, 1977) was an electrical engineer and computer programmer who worked as a member of the technical staff at the Bell Labs, Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. He be ...
. First released in 1971, Unix was written entirely in
assembly language In computer programming, assembly language (or assembler language, or symbolic machine code), often referred to simply as Assembly and commonly abbreviated as ASM or asm, is any low-level programming language with a very strong correspondence be ...
, as was common practice at the time. In 1973, in a key pioneering approach, it was rewritten in the C programming language by Dennis Ritchie (with the exception of some hardware and I/O routines). The availability of a high-level language implementation of Unix made its
porting In software engineering, porting is the process of adapting software Software is a set of computer programs and associated software documentation, documentation and data (computing), data. This is in contrast to Computer hardware, hardware ...
to different computer platforms easier. Due to an earlier antitrust case forbidding it from entering the computer business, AT&T licensed the operating system's source code as a trade secret to anyone who asked. As a result, Unix grew quickly and became widely adopted by academic institutions and businesses. In 1984, AT&T divested itself of its regional operating companies, and was released from its obligation not to enter the computer business; freed of that obligation, Bell Labs began selling Unix as a proprietary product, where users were not legally allowed to modify it.
Onyx Systems Onyx primarily refers to the parallel banded variety of chalcedony, a Silicate minerals, silicate mineral. Agate and onyx are both varieties of layered chalcedony that differ only in the form of the bands: agate has curved bands and onyx has pa ...
began selling early microcomputer-based Unix workstations in 1980. Later,
Sun Microsystems Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Sun for short) was an American technology company that sold computers, computer components, software, and information technology services and created the Java (programming language), Java programming language, the Solari ...
, founded as a spin-off of a student project at
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a Private university, private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students. S ...
, also began selling Unix-based desktop workstations in 1982. While Sun workstations didn't utilize commodity PC hardware like Linux was later developed for, it represented the first successful commercial attempt at distributing a primarily single-user microcomputer that ran a Unix operating system. With Unix increasingly "locked in" as a proprietary product, the
GNU Project The GNU Project () is a free software, mass collaboration project announced by Richard Stallman on September 27, 1983. Its goal is to give computer users freedom and control in their use of their computers and Computer hardware, computing devi ...
, started in 1983 by
Richard Stallman Richard Matthew Stallman (; born March 16, 1953), also known by his initials, rms, is an American free software movement activist and programmer. He campaigns for software to be distributed in such a manner that its users have the freedom to u ...
, had the goal of creating a "complete Unix-compatible software system" composed entirely of
free software Free software or libre software is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty, no ...
. Work began in 1984. Later, in 1985, Stallman started the
Free Software Foundation The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)#501(c)(3), 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Richard Stallman on October 4, 1985, to support the free software movement, with the organization's preference for software being distributed ...
and wrote the
GNU General Public License The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software licenses that guarantee end users the Four Freedoms (Free software), four freedoms to run, study, share, and modify the software. The license was th ...
(GNU GPL) in 1989. By the early 1990s, many of the programs required in an operating system (such as libraries,
compiler In computing, a compiler is a computer program that Translator (computing), translates computer code written in one programming language (the ''source'' language) into another language (the ''target'' language). The name "compiler" is primarily ...
s,
text editor A text editor is a type of computer program A computer program is a sequence or set of instructions in a programming language for a computer to Execution (computing), execute. Computer programs are one component of software, which also inclu ...
s, a command-line shell, and a
windowing system In computing, a windowing system (or window system) is software that manages separately different parts of Electronic visual display, display screens. It is a type of graphical user interface (GUI) which implements the WIMP (computing), WIMP (Wi ...
) were completed, although low-level elements such as
device driver In computing, a device driver is a computer program that operates or controls a particular type of Peripheral, device that is attached to a computer or automaton. A driver provides a software Interface (computing), interface to Computer hardware, ...
s, daemons, and the
kernel Kernel may refer to: Computing * Kernel (operating system), the central component of most operating systems * Kernel (image processing), a matrix used for image convolution * Compute kernel, in GPGPU programming * Kernel method, in machine learnin ...
, called
GNU Hurd GNU Hurd is a collection of microkernel servers written as part of GNU, for the GNU Mach microkernel. It has been under development since 1990 by the GNU Project of the Free Software Foundation, designed as a replacement for the Unix kernel, and ...
, were stalled and incomplete. MINIX was created by Andrew S. Tanenbaum, a
computer science Computer science is the study of computation, automation, and information. Computer science spans theoretical disciplines (such as algorithms, theory of computation, information theory, and automation) to Applied science, practical discipli ...
professor, and released in 1987 as a minimal
Unix-like A Unix-like (sometimes referred to as UN*X or *nix) operating system is one that behaves in a manner similar to a Unix system, although not necessarily conforming to or being certified to any version of the Single UNIX Specification. A Unix- ...
operating system targeted at students and others who wanted to learn operating system principles. Although the complete source code of MINIX was freely available, the licensing terms prevented it from being
free software Free software or libre software is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty, no ...
until the licensing changed in April 2000. Although not released until 1992, due to legal complications, development of
386BSD 386BSD (also known as "Jolix") is a discontinued Unix operating system based on the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). It was released in 1992 and ran on IBM PC compatible, PC-compatible computer systems based on the 32-bit Intel 80386 micropr ...
, from which
NetBSD NetBSD is a free and open-source Unix operating system based on the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). It was the first open-source BSD descendant officially released after 386BSD was fork (software development), forked. It continues to be ac ...
,
OpenBSD OpenBSD is a security-focused operating system, security-focused, free and open-source, Unix-like operating system based on the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). Theo de Raadt created OpenBSD in 1995 by fork (software development), forking N ...
and
FreeBSD FreeBSD is a free and open-source Unix-like operating system descended from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), which was based on Research Unix. The first version of FreeBSD was released in 1993. In 2005, FreeBSD was the most popular ope ...
descended, predated that of Linux. Linus Torvalds has stated on separate occasions that if the GNU kernel or 386BSD had been available at the time (1991), he probably would not have created Linux.


Creation

While attending the
University of Helsinki The University of Helsinki ( fi, Helsingin yliopisto, sv, Helsingfors universitet, abbreviated UH) is a public university, public Research university, research university located in Helsinki, Finland since 1829, but founded in the city of Turk ...
in the fall of 1990, Torvalds enrolled in a Unix course. The course utilized a
MicroVAX The MicroVAX is a discontinued family of low-cost minicomputer A minicomputer, or colloquially mini, is a class of smaller general purpose computers that developed in the mid-1960s and sold at a much lower price than Mainframe computer, mainfr ...
minicomputer running
Ultrix Ultrix (officially all-caps ULTRIX) is the brand name of Digital Equipment Corporation's (DEC) discontinued native Unix operating systems for the PDP-11, VAX, MicroVAX and DECstations. History The initial development of Unix occurred on DEC equip ...
, and one of the required texts was '' Operating Systems: Design and Implementation'' by Andrew S. Tanenbaum. This textbook included a copy of Tanenbaum's MINIX operating system. It was with this course that Torvalds first became exposed to Unix. In 1991, he became curious about operating systems. Frustrated by the licensing of MINIX, which at the time limited it to educational use only, he began to work on his own operating system kernel, which eventually became the
Linux kernel The Linux kernel is a Free and open-source software, free and open-source, Monolithic kernel, monolithic, Modular programming, modular, Computer multitasking, multitasking, Unix-like operating system kernel (operating system), kernel. It was ori ...
. Torvalds began the development of the Linux kernel on MINIX and applications written for MINIX were also used on Linux. Later, Linux matured and further Linux kernel development took place on Linux systems. GNU applications also replaced all MINIX components, because it was advantageous to use the freely available code from the GNU Project with the fledgling operating system; code licensed under the GNU GPL can be reused in other computer programs as long as they also are released under the same or a compatible license. Torvalds initiated a switch from his original license, which prohibited commercial redistribution, to the GNU GPL. Developers worked to integrate GNU components with the Linux kernel, creating a fully functional and free operating system.


Naming

Linus Torvalds had wanted to call his invention "Freax", a
portmanteau A portmanteau word, or portmanteau (, ) is a Blend word, blend of wordsmakefiles included the name "Freax" for about half a year. Initially, Torvalds considered the name "Linux" but dismissed it as too egotistical.Torvalds, Linus and Diamond, David, ''Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary'', 2001, To facilitate development, the files were uploaded to the FTP server (ftp.funet.fi) of
FUNET FUNET is the Finnish University and Research Network, a backbone network providing Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to commu ...
in September 1991. Ari Lemmke, Torvalds' coworker at the
Helsinki University of Technology Helsinki University of Technology (TKK; fi, Teknillinen korkeakoulu; sv, Tekniska högskolan) was a technical university in Finland. It was located in Otaniemi, Espoo in the metropolitan area of Greater Helsinki. The university was founded in ...
(HUT) who was one of the volunteer administrators for the FTP server at the time, did not think that "Freax" was a good name, so he named the project "Linux" on the server without consulting Torvalds. Later, however, Torvalds consented to "Linux". According to a newsgroup post by Torvalds, the word "Linux" should be pronounced ( ) with a short 'i' as in 'print' and 'u' as in 'put'. To further demonstrate how the word "Linux" should be pronounced, he included an audio guide () with the kernel source code. However, in this recording, he pronounces 'Linux' ( ) with a short but close front unrounded vowel.


Commercial and popular uptake

Adoption of Linux in production environments, rather than being used only by hobbyists, started to take off first in the mid-1990s in the supercomputing community, where organizations such as
NASA The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA ) is an independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the US federal government responsible for the civil List of government space agencies, space program ...
started to replace their increasingly expensive machines with clusters of inexpensive commodity computers running Linux. Commercial use began when
Dell Dell is an American based technology company. It develops, sells, repairs, and supports computers and related products and services. Dell is owned by its parent company, Dell Technologies. Dell sells personal computers (PCs), Server (computin ...
and IBM, followed by
Hewlett-Packard The Hewlett-Packard Company, commonly shortened to Hewlett-Packard ( ) or HP, was an American multinational information technology company headquartered in Palo Alto, California. HP developed and provided a wide variety of hardware components ...
, started offering Linux support to escape
Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation, multinational technology company, technology corporation producing Software, computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services headquartered at th ...
's monopoly in the desktop operating system market. Today, Linux systems are used throughout computing, from
embedded system An embedded system is a computer system—a combination of a computer processor, computer memory, and input/output peripheral devices—that has a dedicated function within a larger mechanical or Electronics, electronic system. It is '' ...
s to virtually all
supercomputer A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer. The performance of a supercomputer is commonly measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions p ...
s, and have secured a place in server installations such as the popular
LAMP Lamp, Lamps or LAMP may refer to: Lighting * Oil lamp An oil lamp is a lamp used to produce light continuously for a period of time using an oil-based fuel source. The use of oil lamps began thousands of years ago and continues to this da ...
application stack. Use of Linux distributions in home and enterprise desktops has been growing. Linux distributions have also become popular in the
netbook Netbook was a commonly used term that identified a product class of small and inexpensive laptop computer, laptops which were sold from 2007 to around 2013. These machines were designed primarily as cost-effective tools for consumers to ...
market, with many devices shipping with customized Linux distributions installed, and Google releasing their own
ChromeOS ChromeOS, sometimes stylized as chromeOS and formerly styled as Chrome OS, is a Linux-based operating system designed by Google. It is derived from the open-source ChromiumOS and uses the Google Chrome web browser as its principal user interfac ...
designed for netbooks. Linux's greatest success in the consumer market is perhaps the mobile device market, with Android being the dominant operating system on
smartphone A smartphone is a Mobile device, portable computer device that combines Mobile phone, mobile telephone and Mobile computing, computing functions into one unit. They are distinguished from feature phones by their stronger hardware capabilities ...
s and very popular on tablets and, more recently, on wearables. Linux gaming is also on the rise with
Valve A valve is a device or Heart valve, natural object that regulates, directs or controls the flow of a fluid (gases, liquids, fluidized solids, or slurries) by opening, closing, or partially obstructing various passageways. Valves are technical ...
showing its support for Linux and rolling out
SteamOS SteamOS is a Linux distribution developed by Valve Corporation, Valve. It is open source with some closed source components and is the primary operating system for Steam Machine (computer), Steam Machines and the Steam Deck. The initial versio ...
, its own gaming-oriented Linux distribution, and later the
Steam Deck The Steam Deck is a Handheld PC, handheld gaming computer developed by Valve Corporation. Released on February 25, 2022, the Steam Deck can be played as a handheld or connected to a monitor in the same manner as the Nintendo Switch. It is an x8 ...
platform. Linux distributions have also gained popularity with various local and national governments, such as the federal government of
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
.


Current development

Greg Kroah-Hartman Greg Kroah-Hartman (GKH) is a major Linux kernel developer. he is the Linux kernel maintainer for the branch, the staging subsystem, Universal Serial Bus, USB, driver core, debugfs (Linux kernel), debugfs, kref, kobject, and the sysfs kernel su ...
is the lead maintainer for the Linux kernel and guides its development. William John Sullivan is the executive director of the Free Software Foundation, which in turn supports the GNU components. Finally, individuals and corporations develop third-party non-GNU components. These third-party components comprise a vast body of work and may include both kernel modules and user applications and libraries. Linux vendors and communities combine and distribute the kernel, GNU components, and non-GNU components, with additional package management software in the form of
Linux distribution A Linux distribution (often abbreviated as distro) is an operating system made from a software collection that includes the Linux kernel and, often, a package management system. Linux users usually obtain their operating system by downloading one ...
s.


Design

Many
open source Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product. The open-source model is a decentralized sof ...
developers agree that the Linux kernel was not designed but rather
evolved Evolution is change in the heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the Gene expression, expressions of genes, which are passed on from parent to ...
through
natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the Heredity, heritable Phenotypic trait, traits characteristic of a populati ...
. Torvalds considers that although the design of Unix served as a scaffolding, "Linux grew with a lot of mutations – and because the mutations were less than random, they were faster and more directed than alpha-particles in DNA." Eric S. Raymond considers Linux's revolutionary aspects to be social, not technical: before Linux, complex software was designed carefully by small groups, but "Linux evolved in a completely different way. From nearly the beginning, it was rather casually hacked on by huge numbers of volunteers coordinating only through the Internet. Quality was maintained not by rigid standards or autocracy but by the naively simple strategy of releasing every week and getting feedback from hundreds of users within days, creating a sort of rapid Darwinian selection on the mutations introduced by developers." Bryan Cantrill, an engineer of a competing OS, agrees that "Linux wasn't designed, it evolved", but considers this to be a limitation, proposing that some features, especially those related to security, cannot be evolved into, "this is not a biological system at the end of the day, it's a software system." A Linux-based system is a modular
Unix-like A Unix-like (sometimes referred to as UN*X or *nix) operating system is one that behaves in a manner similar to a Unix system, although not necessarily conforming to or being certified to any version of the Single UNIX Specification. A Unix- ...
operating system, deriving much of its basic design from principles established in Unix during the 1970s and 1980s. Such a system uses a
monolithic kernel A monolithic kernel is an operating system architecture where the entire operating system is working in kernel space. The monolithic model differs from other operating system architectures (such as the microkernel architecture) in that it alone d ...
, the
Linux kernel The Linux kernel is a Free and open-source software, free and open-source, Monolithic kernel, monolithic, Modular programming, modular, Computer multitasking, multitasking, Unix-like operating system kernel (operating system), kernel. It was ori ...
, which handles process control, networking, access to the
peripheral A peripheral or peripheral device is an auxiliary device used to put information into and get information out of a computer. The term ''peripheral device'' refers to all hardware components that are attached to a computer and are controlled by the ...
s, and
file system In computing, file system or filesystem (often abbreviated to fs) is a method and data structure that the operating system uses to control how data is Computer data storage, stored and retrieved. Without a file system, data placed in a storage me ...
s.
Device drivers In computing, a device driver is a computer program that operates or controls a particular type of Peripheral, device that is attached to a computer or automaton. A driver provides a software Interface (computing), interface to Computer hardware, ...
are either integrated directly with the kernel, or added as modules that are loaded while the system is running. The GNU userland is a key part of most systems based on the Linux kernel, with Android being the notable exception. The Project's
implementation Implementation is the realization of an application, or execution of a plan, idea, scientific modelling, model, design, specification, Standardization, standard, algorithm, or policy. Industry-specific definitions Computer science In computer ...
of the
C library The C standard library or libc is the standard library for the C (programming language), C programming language, as specified in the ISO C standard.International Organization for Standardization, ISO/International Electrotechnical Commission, IEC ...
works as a wrapper for the
system call In computing, a system call (commonly abbreviated to syscall) is the programmatic way in which a computer program requests a service from the operating system on which it is executed. This may include hardware-related services (for example, acc ...
s of the Linux kernel necessary to the kernel-userspace interface, the
toolchain In software, a toolchain is a set of programming tools that is used to perform a complex software development task or to create a software product, which is typically another computer program or a set of related programs. In general, the tools form ...
is a broad collection of programming tools vital to Linux development (including the
compilers In computing, a compiler is a computer program that Translator (computing), translates computer code written in one programming language (the ''source'' language) into another language (the ''target'' language). The name "compiler" is primarily ...
used to build the Linux kernel itself), and the coreutils implement many basic Unix tools. The project also develops Bash, a popular CLI
shell Shell may refer to: Architecture and design * Shell (structure), a thin structure ** Concrete shell, a thin shell of concrete, usually with no interior columns or exterior buttresses ** Thin-shell structure Science Biology * Seashell, a hard out ...
. The
graphical user interface The GUI ( "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ), graphical user interface, is a form of user interface that allows User (computing), users to Human–computer interaction, interact with electronic devices through graphical icon (comp ...
(or GUI) used by most Linux systems is built on top of an implementation of the
X Window System The X Window System (X11, or simply X) is a windowing system for bitmap displays, common on Unix-like operating systems. X provides the basic framework for a GUI environment: drawing and moving windows on the display device and interacting wit ...
. More recently, the Linux community seeks to advance to Wayland as the new display server protocol in place of X11. Many other open-source software projects contribute to Linux systems. Installed components of a Linux system include the following: * A
bootloader A bootloader, also spelled as boot loader or called boot manager and bootstrap loader, is a computer program that is responsible for booting a computer. When a computer is turned off, its softwareincluding operating systems, application code, an ...
, for example
GNU GRUB GNU GRUB (short for GNU GRand Unified Bootloader, commonly referred to as GRUB) is a boot loader package from the GNU Project The GNU Project () is a free software, mass collaboration project announced by Richard Stallman on September 2 ...
, LILO, SYSLINUX or systemd-boot. This is a program that loads the Linux kernel into the computer's
main memory Computer data storage is a technology consisting of computer components and Data storage, recording media that are used to retain digital data (computing), data. It is a core function and fundamental component of computers. The central pro ...
, by being executed by the computer when it is turned on and after the
firmware In computing, firmware is a specific class of computer software that provides the High- and low-level, low-level control for a device's specific Computer hardware, hardware. Firmware, such as the BIOS of a personal computer, may contain basic fun ...
initialization is performed. * An
init In Unix-based computer operating systems, init (short for ''initialization'') is the first process (computer science), process started during booting of the computer system. Init is a daemon (computing), daemon process that continues running ...
program, such as the traditional
sysvinit In Unix-based computer operating systems, init (short for ''initialization'') is the first process (computer science), process started during booting of the computer system. Init is a daemon (computing), daemon process that continues running ...
and the newer
systemd systemd is a software suite that provides an array of system components for Linux operating systems. Its main aim is to unify service configuration and behavior across Linux distributions; Its primary component is a "system and service manager ...
,
OpenRC OpenRC is a dependency-based init system for Unix-like computer operating systems. It was created by Roy Marples, a NetBSD developer who was also active in the Gentoo Linux, Gentoo project. It became more broadly adopted as an init system outsid ...
and Upstart. This is the first process launched by the Linux kernel, and is at the root of the process tree: in other terms, all processes are launched through init. It starts processes such as system services and login prompts (whether graphical or in terminal mode). * Software libraries, which contain code that can be used by running processes. On Linux systems using
ELF An elf () is a type of humanoid supernatural being in Germanic mythology and folklore. Elves appear especially in Norse mythology, North Germanic mythology. They are subsequently mentioned in Snorri Sturluson's Icelandic Prose Edda. He dis ...
-format executable files, the
dynamic linker In computing, a dynamic linker is the part of an operating system that Loader (computing), loads and Linker (computing), links the shared libraries needed by an executable when it is executed (at "Run time (program lifecycle phase), run time"), by ...
that manages the use of dynamic libraries is known as ld-linux.so. If the system is set up for the user to compile software themselves,
header file Many programming languages and other computer files have a Directive (programming), directive, often called include (sometimes copy or import), that causes the contents of the specified file to be inserted into the original file. These included fil ...
s will also be included to describe the
interface Interface or interfacing may refer to: Academic journals * ''Interface'' (journal), by the Electrochemical Society * '' Interface, Journal of Applied Linguistics'', now merged with ''ITL International Journal of Applied Linguistics'' * '' Int ...
of installed libraries. Besides the most commonly used software library on Linux systems, the
GNU C Library The GNU C Library, commonly known as glibc, is the GNU Project's implementation of the C standard library. Despite its name, it now also directly supports C++ (and, indirectly, other programming languages). It was started in the 1980s by t ...
(glibc), there are numerous other libraries, such as SDL and
Mesa A mesa is an isolated, flat-topped elevation, ridge or hill, which is bounded from all sides by steep escarpments and stands distinctly above a surrounding plain. Mesas characteristically consist of flat-lying soft sedimentary rocks capped by a ...
. **
C standard library The C standard library or libc is the standard library for the C (programming language), C programming language, as specified in the ISO C standard.International Organization for Standardization, ISO/International Electrotechnical Commission, IEC ...
is the library needed to run C programs on a computer system, with the GNU C Library being the standard. For embedded systems, alternatives such as the
musl musl is a C standard library intended for operating systems based on the Linux kernel, released under the MIT License. It was developed by Rich Felker with the goal to write a clean, efficient and standards-conformant libc implementation. Ove ...
, EGLIBC (a glibc fork once used by Debian) and
uClibc __NOTOC__ In computing, uClibc (sometimes written µClibc) is a small C standard library intended for Linux kernel-based operating systems for Linux for embedded systems, embedded systems and Linux for mobile devices, mobile devices. uClibc wa ...
(which was designed for uClinux) have been developed, although the last two are no longer maintained. Android uses its own C library, Bionic. * Basic Unix commands, with GNU coreutils being the standard implementation. Alternatives exist for embedded systems, such as the copyleft
BusyBox BusyBox is a software suite that provides several List of Unix commands, Unix utilities in a single executable file. It runs in a variety of POSIX environments such as Linux, Android (operating system), Android, and FreeBSD, although many of the ...
, and the BSD-licensed
Toybox Toybox is a free and open-source software implementation of over 200 List of Unix commands, Unix command line utilities such as ''ls'', ''cp (Unix), cp'', and ''mv (Unix), mv''. The Toybox project was started in 2006, and became a BSD licenses, 0 ...
. *
Widget toolkit A widget toolkit, widget library, GUI toolkit, or UX library is a library (computing), library or a collection of libraries containing a set of graphical control elements (called ''widgets'') used to construct the graphical user interface (GUI) of ...
s are the libraries used to build
graphical user interface The GUI ( "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ), graphical user interface, is a form of user interface that allows User (computing), users to Human–computer interaction, interact with electronic devices through graphical icon (comp ...
s (GUIs) for software applications. Numerous widget toolkits are available, including
GTK GTK (formerly GIMP ToolKit and GTK+) is a free and open-source cross-platform widget toolkit for creating graphical user interfaces (GUIs). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License, allowing both Free software, fre ...
and Clutter developed by the
GNOME project GNOME Project is a community behind the GNOME desktop environment and the software platform upon which it is based. It consists of all the software developers, artists, writers, translators, other contributors, and active users of GNOME. It is no ...
, Qt developed by the Qt Project and led by The Qt Company, and Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) developed primarily by the Enlightenment team. * A
package management system A package manager or package-management system is a collection of software tools that automates the process of installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing computer programs for a computer A computer is a machine that can be programme ...
, such as dpkg and RPM. Alternatively packages can be compiled from binary or source tarballs. * User interface programs such as command shells or windowing environments.


User interface

The
user interface In the industrial design field of human–computer interaction, a user interface (UI) is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur. The goal of this interaction is to allow effective operation and control of the machine fr ...
, also known as the
shell Shell may refer to: Architecture and design * Shell (structure), a thin structure ** Concrete shell, a thin shell of concrete, usually with no interior columns or exterior buttresses ** Thin-shell structure Science Biology * Seashell, a hard out ...
, is either a
command-line interface A command-line interpreter or command-line processor uses a command-line interface (CLI) to receive command (computing), commands from a user in the form of lines of text. This provides a means of setting parameters for the environment, invokin ...
(CLI), a
graphical user interface The GUI ( "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ), graphical user interface, is a form of user interface that allows User (computing), users to Human–computer interaction, interact with electronic devices through graphical icon (comp ...
(GUI), or controls attached to the associated hardware, which is common for
embedded systems An embedded system is a computer system—a combination of a computer processor, computer memory, and input/output peripheral devices—that has a dedicated function within a larger mechanical or Electronics, electronic system. It is '' ...
. For desktop systems, the default user interface is usually graphical, although the CLI is commonly available through
terminal emulator A terminal emulator, or terminal application, is a Application software, computer program that Emulator, emulates a video Computer terminal#Dumb terminals, terminal within some other display architecture. Though typically synonymous with a Comma ...
windows or on a separate
virtual console A virtual console (VC) – also known as a virtual terminal (VT) – is a conceptual combination of the keyboard and display for a computer user interface In the industrial design field of human–computer interaction, a user interface ...
. CLI shells are text-based user interfaces, which use text for both input and output. The dominant shell used in Linux is the Bourne-Again Shell (bash), originally developed for the
GNU project The GNU Project () is a free software, mass collaboration project announced by Richard Stallman on September 27, 1983. Its goal is to give computer users freedom and control in their use of their computers and Computer hardware, computing devi ...
. Most low-level Linux components, including various parts of the userland, use the CLI exclusively. The CLI is particularly suited for automation of repetitive or delayed tasks and provides very simple
inter-process communication In computer science Computer science is the study of computation, automation, and information. Computer science spans theoretical disciplines (such as algorithms, theory of computation, information theory, and automation) to Applied sc ...
. On desktop systems, the most popular user interfaces are the GUI shells, packaged together with extensive
desktop environment In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardwa ...
s, such as KDE Plasma,
GNOME A gnome is a mythological creature and diminutive spirit in Renaissance magic and alchemy, first introduced by Paracelsus in the 16th century and later adopted by more recent authors including those of modern fantasy literature. Its character ...
, MATE,
Cinnamon Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus ''Cinnamomum''. Cinnamon is used mainly as an aromatic condiment and flavouring additive in a wide variety of cuisines, sweet and savoury dishes, breakfast ...
,
LXDE LXDE (abbreviation for Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment) is a Free and open-source software, free desktop environment with comparatively low resource requirements. This makes it especially suitable for use on older or resource-constrained pe ...
, Pantheon and Xfce, though a variety of additional user interfaces exist. Most popular user interfaces are based on the
X Window System The X Window System (X11, or simply X) is a windowing system for bitmap displays, common on Unix-like operating systems. X provides the basic framework for a GUI environment: drawing and moving windows on the display device and interacting wit ...
, often simply called "X". It provides
network transparency Network transparency, in its most general sense, refers to the ability of a protocol to transmit data over the network in a manner which is not observable (“ transparent” as in invisible) to those using the applications that are using the pro ...
and permits a graphical application running on one system to be displayed on another where a user may interact with the application; however, certain extensions of the X Window System are not capable of working over the network. Several X display servers exist, with the reference implementation, X.Org Server, being the most popular. Server distributions might provide a command-line interface for developers and administrators, but provide a custom interface towards end-users, designed for the use-case of the system. This custom interface is accessed through a client that resides on another system, not necessarily Linux based. Several types of
window manager A window manager is system software that controls the placement and appearance of window (computing), windows within a windowing system in a graphical user interface. Most window managers are designed to help provide a desktop environment. They ...
s exist for X11, including
tiling Tiling may refer to: *The physical act of laying tile Tiles are usually thin, square or rectangular coverings manufactured from hard-wearing material such as ceramic, Rock (geology), stone, metal, baked clay, or even glass. They are generall ...
,
dynamic Dynamics (from Greek language, Greek δυναμικός ''dynamikos'' "powerful", from δύναμις ''dynamis'' "power (disambiguation), power") or dynamic may refer to: Physics and engineering * Dynamics (mechanics) ** Aerodynamics, the study ...
, stacking and
compositing Compositing is the process or technique of combining visual elements from separate sources into single images, often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene. Live-action shooting for compositing is variously c ...
. Window managers provide means to control the placement and appearance of individual application windows, and interact with the X Window System. Simpler
X window manager An X window manager is a window manager A window manager is system software that controls the placement and appearance of window (computing), windows within a windowing system in a graphical user interface. Most window managers are designe ...
s such as dwm, ratpoison, i3wm, or herbstluftwm provide a
minimalist In visual arts, Minimal music, music and other media, minimalism is an art movement that began in post–World War II in Western art, most strongly with American visual arts in the 1960s and early 1970s. Prominent artists associated with minimal ...
functionality, while more elaborate window managers such as
FVWM The F Virtual Window Manager is a virtual window manager for the X Window System. Originally a twm derivative, FVWM has evolved into a powerful and highly configurable environment for Unix-like systems. History In 1993, during his work analyzin ...
, Enlightenment or Window Maker provide more features such as a built-in
taskbar A taskbar is an element of a graphical user interface The GUI ( "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ), graphical user interface, is a form of user interface that allows User (computing), users to Human–computer interaction, inter ...
and themes, but are still lightweight when compared to desktop environments. Desktop environments include window managers as part of their standard installations, such as Mutter (GNOME),
KWin KWin is a window manager for the X Window System and a Wayland (display server protocol)#Wayland compositors, Wayland compositor. It is released as a part of KDE Plasma 5, for which it is the default window manager. KWin can also be used on its ...
(KDE) or Xfwm (xfce), although users may choose to use a different window manager if preferred. Wayland is a display server protocol intended as a replacement for the X11 protocol; , it has received relatively wide adoption. Unlike X11, Wayland does not need an external window manager and compositing manager. Therefore, a Wayland compositor takes the role of the display server, window manager and compositing manager. Weston is the reference implementation of Wayland, while GNOME's Mutter and KDE's KWin are being ported to Wayland as standalone display servers. Enlightenment has already been successfully ported since version 19.


Video input infrastructure

Linux currently has two modern kernel-userspace APIs for handling video input devices: V4L2 API for video streams and radio, and DVB API for digital TV reception. Due to the complexity and diversity of different devices, and due to the large number of formats and standards handled by those APIs, this infrastructure needs to evolve to better fit other devices. Also, a good userspace device library is the key of the success for having userspace applications to be able to work with all formats supported by those devices.


Development

The primary difference between Linux and many other popular contemporary operating systems is that the
Linux kernel The Linux kernel is a Free and open-source software, free and open-source, Monolithic kernel, monolithic, Modular programming, modular, Computer multitasking, multitasking, Unix-like operating system kernel (operating system), kernel. It was ori ...
and other components are
free Free may refer to: Concept * Freedom, having the ability to do something, without having to obey anyone/anything * Freethought, a position that beliefs should be formed only on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism * Emancipate, to procure ...
and
open-source software Open-source software (OSS) is Software, computer software that is released under a Open-source license, license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change, and Software distribution, distribute the software an ...
. Linux is not the only such operating system, although it is by far the most widely used. Some
free Free may refer to: Concept * Freedom, having the ability to do something, without having to obey anyone/anything * Freethought, a position that beliefs should be formed only on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism * Emancipate, to procure ...
and open-source software licenses are based on the principle of
copyleft Copyleft is the legal technique of granting certain freedoms over copies of copyrighted works with the requirement that the same rights be preserved in derivative works. In this sense, ''freedoms'' refers to the use of the work for any purpose ...
, 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 General Public License The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software licenses that guarantee end users the Four Freedoms (Free software), four freedoms to run, study, share, and modify the software. The license was th ...
(GPL), is a form of copyleft, and is used for the Linux kernel and many of the components from the
GNU Project The GNU Project () is a free software, mass collaboration project announced by Richard Stallman on September 27, 1983. Its goal is to give computer users freedom and control in their use of their computers and Computer hardware, computing devi ...
. Linux-based distributions are intended by developers for
interoperability Interoperability is a characteristic of a product or system to work with other products or systems. While the term was initially defined for information technology Information technology (IT) is the use of computers to create, process, ...
with other operating systems and established computing standards. Linux systems adhere to
POSIX The Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) is a family of standardization, standards specified by the IEEE Computer Society for maintaining compatibility between operating systems. POSIX defines both the system- and user-level application p ...
, SUS, LSB, ISO, and
ANSI The American National Standards Institute (ANSI ) is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of Standardization, voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United S ...
standards where possible, although to date only one Linux distribution has been POSIX.1 certified, Linux-FT. Free software projects, although developed through
collaboration Collaboration (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) aroun ...
, 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. Many Linux distributions manage a remote collection of system software and application software packages available for download and installation through a network connection. This allows users to adapt the operating system to their specific needs. Distributions are maintained by individuals, loose-knit teams, volunteer organizations, and commercial entities. 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. Distributions typically use a
package manager A package manager or package-management system is a collection of software tools that automates the process of installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing computer programs for a computer A computer is a machine that can be programme ...
such as
apt Apt. is an abbreviation for apartment. Apt may also refer to: Places * Apt Cathedral, a former cathedral, and national monument of France, in the town of Apt in Provence * Apt, Vaucluse, a commune of the Vaucluse département of France * Arr ...
, yum,
zypper ZYpp (or libzypp; ''"Zen / YaST Packages Patches Patterns Products"'') is a package manager engine that powers Linux applications like YaST, Zypper and the implementation of PackageKit for openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise. Unlike some more basic ...
,
pacman originally called ''Puck Man'' in Japan, is a 1980 maze video game, maze action game, action video game developed and released by Namco for Arcade game, arcades. In North America, the game was released by Midway Manufacturing as part of its l ...
or
portage Portage or portaging (Canadian English, Canada: ; ) is the practice of carrying water craft or cargo over land, either around an obstacle in a river, or between two bodies of water. A path where items are regularly carried between bodies of wate ...
to install, remove, and update all of a system's software from one central location.


Community

A distribution is largely driven by its developer and user communities. Some vendors develop and fund their distributions on a volunteer basis,
Debian Debian (), also known as Debian GNU/Linux, is a Linux distribution composed of free and open-source software, developed by the community-supported Debian Project, which was established by Ian Murdock on August 16, 1993. The first version of Deb ...
being a well-known example. Others maintain a community version of their commercial distributions, as
Red Hat Red Hat, Inc. is an American software company that provides open source software products to enterprises. Founded in 1993, Red Hat has its corporate headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, with other offices worldwide. Red Hat has become ass ...
does with
Fedora A fedora () is a hat with a soft brim and indented crown.Kilgour, Ruth Edwards (1958). ''A Pageant of Hats Ancient and Modern''. R. M. McBride Company. It is typically creased lengthwise down the crown and "pinched" near the front on both sides ...
, and SUSE does with
openSUSE openSUSE () is a free and open source Free and open-source software (FOSS) is a term used to refer to groups of software consisting of both free software and open-source software where anyone is free software license, freely licensed to use, ...
. In many cities and regions, local associations known as Linux User Groups (LUGs) seek to promote their preferred distribution and by extension free software. They hold meetings and provide free demonstrations, training, technical support, and operating system installation to new users. Many Internet communities also provide support to Linux users and developers. Most distributions and free software / open-source projects have IRC chatrooms or
newsgroup A Usenet newsgroup is a Software repository, repository usually within the Usenet system, for messages Posting style, posted from users in different locations using the Internet. They are discussion groups and are not devoted to publishing news. ...
s. Online forums are another means for support, with notable examples being LinuxQuestions.org and the various distribution specific support and community forums, such as ones for
Ubuntu Ubuntu ( ) is a Linux distribution based on Debian and composed mostly of free and open-source software. Ubuntu is officially released in three editions: ''Desktop computer, Desktop'', ''Server (computing), Server'', and ''Core'' for Internet ...
,
Fedora A fedora () is a hat with a soft brim and indented crown.Kilgour, Ruth Edwards (1958). ''A Pageant of Hats Ancient and Modern''. R. M. McBride Company. It is typically creased lengthwise down the crown and "pinched" near the front on both sides ...
, and Gentoo. Linux distributions host
mailing list A mailing list is a collection of names and addresses used by an individual or an organization to send material to multiple recipients. The term is often extended to include the people subscribed to such a list, so the group of subscribers is re ...
s; commonly there will be a specific topic such as usage or development for a given list. There are several technology websites with a Linux focus. Print magazines on Linux often bundle cover disks that carry software or even complete Linux distributions. Although Linux distributions are generally available without charge, several large corporations sell, support, and contribute to the development of the components of the system and of
free software Free software or libre software is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty, no ...
. An analysis of the Linux kernel in 2017 showed that well over 85% of the code developed by programmers who are being paid for their work, leaving about 8.2% to unpaid developers and 4.1% unclassified. Some of the major corporations that provide contributions include
Intel Intel Corporation is an American multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, Santa Clara, California. It is the world's largest semiconductor chip manufacturer by revenue, and is one of the devel ...
,
Samsung The Samsung Group (or simply Samsung) ( ko, 삼성 ) is a South Korean Multinational corporation, multinational manufacturing Conglomerate (company), conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul, South Korea. It comprises numerous affi ...
,
Google Google LLC () is an American Multinational corporation, multinational technology company focusing on Search Engine, search engine technology, online advertising, cloud computing, software, computer software, quantum computing, e-commerce, ar ...
,
AMD Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) is an American multinational semiconductor company based in Santa Clara, California Santa Clara (; Spanish for " Saint Clare") is a city in Santa Clara County, California. The city's population was 12 ...
,
Oracle An oracle is a person or agency considered to provide wise and insightful counsel or prophetic predictions, most notably including precognition of the future, inspired by deities. As such, it is a form of divination. Description The wor ...
and
Facebook Facebook is an online social media and social networking service owned by American company Meta Platforms. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dusti ...
. A number of corporations, notably Red Hat,
Canonical The adjective canonical is applied in many contexts to mean "according to the canon (basic principle), canon" the standard (metrology), standard, rule or primary source that is accepted as authoritative for the body of knowledge or literature in t ...
and SUSE, have built a significant business around Linux distributions. The free software licenses, on which the various software packages of a distribution built on the Linux kernel are based, explicitly accommodate and encourage commercialization; the relationship between a Linux distribution as a whole and individual vendors may be seen as
symbiotic Symbiosis (from Ancient Greek, Greek , , "living together", from , , "together", and , bíōsis, "living") is any type of a close and long-term biological interaction between two different Organism, biological organisms, be it Mutualism (biolog ...
. One common
business model A business model describes how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value,''Business Model Generation'', Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Alan Smith, and 470 practitioners from 45 countries, self-published, 2010 in economic, soc ...
of commercial suppliers is charging for support, especially for business users. A number of companies also offer a specialized business version of their distribution, which adds proprietary support packages and tools to administer higher numbers of installations or to simplify administrative tasks. Another business model is to give away the software to sell hardware. This used to be the norm in the computer industry, with operating systems such as
CP/M CP/M, originally standing for Control Program/Monitor and later Control Program for Microcomputers, is a mass-market operating system created in 1974 for Intel 8080/Intel 8085, 85-based microcomputers by Gary Kildall of Digital Research, Inc ...
,
Apple DOS Apple DOS is the family of disk operating systems for the Apple II series The Apple II series (trademarked with square brackets as "Apple ]
_and_versions_of_Mac_OS.html" ;"title=" and rendered on later models as "Apple //") is a family of home computers, one of the fir ...
and versions of Mac OS"> and rendered on later models as "Apple //") is a family of home computers, one of the fir ...
and versions of Mac OS prior to 7.6 freely copyable (but not modifiable). As computer hardware standardized throughout the 1980s, it became more difficult for hardware manufacturers to profit from this tactic, as the OS would run on any manufacturer's computer that shared the same architecture.


Programming on Linux

Most programming languages support Linux either directly or through third-party community based Porting, ports. The original development tools used for building both Linux applications and operating system programs are found within the
GNU toolchain The GNU toolchain is a broad collection of programming tools produced by the GNU Project. These tools form a toolchain (a suite of tools used in a serial manner) used for developing software application software, applications and operating systems. ...
, which includes the
GNU Compiler Collection The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is an optimizing compiler produced by the GNU Project supporting various programming languages, Computer architecture, hardware architectures and operating systems. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) distribute ...
(GCC) and the
GNU Build System The GNU Autotools, also known as the GNU Build System, is a suite of programming tools designed to assist in making source code Software package (installation), packages porting, portable to many Unix-like systems. It can be difficult to make a ...
. Amongst others, GCC provides compilers for Ada, C,
C++ C++ (pronounced "C plus plus") is a high-level general-purpose programming language In computer software, a general-purpose programming language (GPL) is a programming language for building software in a wide variety of application Domain (so ...
, Go and Fortran. Many programming languages have a cross-platform reference implementation that supports Linux, for example
PHP PHP is a general-purpose scripting language geared toward web development. It was originally created by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1993 and released in 1995. The PHP reference implementation is now produced by The PHP Gr ...
,
Perl Perl is a family of two high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming languages. "Perl" refers to Perl 5, but from 2000 to 2019 it also referred to its redesigned "sister language", Perl 6, before the latter's name was offi ...
,
Ruby A ruby is a pinkish red to blood-red colored gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). Ruby is one of the most popular traditional jewelry gems and is very durable. Other varieties of gem-quality corundum are called sapp ...
,
Python Python may refer to: Snakes * Pythonidae The Pythonidae, commonly known as pythons, are a Family (biology), family of Venomous snake, nonvenomous snakes found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Among its members are some of the largest snakes i ...
,
Java Java (; id, Jawa, ; jv, ꦗꦮ; su, ) is one of the Greater Sunda Islands in Indonesia. It is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the south and the Java Sea to the north. With a population of 151.6 million people, Java is the world's List ...
, Go,
Rust Rust is an iron oxide, a usually reddish-brown oxide formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the catalytic presence of water or air moisture. Rust consists of hydrous ferric oxides, hydrous iron(III) oxides (Fe2O3·nH2O) and iron(III) oxi ...
and
Haskell Haskell () is a General-purpose programming language, general-purpose, static typing, statically-typed, purely functional programming, purely functional programming language with type inference and lazy evaluation. Designed for teaching, resear ...
. First released in 2003, the
LLVM LLVM is a set of compiler and toolchain technologies that can be used to develop a front end for any programming language and a back end for any instruction set architecture. LLVM is designed around a language-independent intermediate rep ...
project provides an alternative cross-platform open-source compiler for many languages. Proprietary compilers for Linux include the
Intel C++ Compiler Intel oneAPI DPC++/C++ Compiler and Intel C++ Compiler Classic are Intel’s C (programming language), C, C++, SYCL, and Data Parallel C++ (DPC++) compilers for Intel processor-based systems, available for Microsoft Windows, Windows, Linux, and m ...
,
Sun Studio Sun Studio is a recording studio opened by rock-and-roll pioneer Sam Phillips at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 3, 1950. It was originally called Memphis Recording Service, sharing the same building with the Sun Records label ...
, and IBM XL C/C++ Compiler.
BASIC BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of General-purpose programming language, general-purpose, high-level programming languages designed for ease of use. Dartmouth BASIC, The original version was created by John ...
in the form of
Visual Basic Visual Basic is a name for a family of programming languages from Microsoft. It may refer to: * Visual Basic .NET (now simply referred to as "Visual Basic"), the current version of Visual Basic launched in 2002 which runs on .NET * Visual Basic (cl ...
is supported in such forms as Gambas,
FreeBASIC FreeBASIC is a FOSS, free and open source multiplatform compiler and programming language based on BASIC licensed under the GNU General Public License, GNU GPL for Microsoft Windows, protected-mode MS-DOS (DOS extender), Linux, FreeBSD and Xbox ...
, and XBasic, and in terms of terminal programming or
QuickBASIC Microsoft QuickBASIC (also QB) is an Integrated Development Environment An integrated development environment (IDE) is a Application software, software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software de ...
or Turbo BASIC programming in the form of
QB64 QB64 (originally QB32) is a Self-hosting (compilers), self-hosting BASIC compiler for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, designed to be compatible with Microsoft QBasic and QuickBASIC. QB64 is a C++ Code generation (compiler), emitter, which ...
. A common feature of Unix-like systems, Linux includes traditional specific-purpose programming languages targeted at scripting, text processing and system configuration and management in general. Linux distributions support
shell scripts A shell script is a computer program A computer program is a sequence or set of instructions in a programming language for a computer to Execution (computing), execute. Computer programs are one component of software, which also includes soft ...
, awk, sed and make. Many programs also have an embedded programming language to support configuring or programming themselves. For example,
regular expressions A regular expression (shortened as regex or regexp; sometimes referred to as rational expression) is a sequence of Character (computing), characters that specifies a pattern matching, search pattern in String (computer science), text. Usually s ...
are supported in programs like
grep grep is a command line interface, command-line utility for searching plain-text data sets for lines that match a regular expression. Its name comes from the ed (text editor), ed command ''g/re/p'' (''globally search for a regular expression and p ...
and
locate Locate may refer to: * Locate (finance) * Locator software, in computing * Locate (Unix), Linux command to find files * Locate di Triulzi, an Italian commune of Lombardy * Locate Varesino, an Italian commune of Lombardy See also * Find (dis ...
, the traditional Unix MTA
Sendmail Sendmail is a general purpose internetwork email Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. Email was thus conceived as the electronics, electronic (digital ...
contains its own
Turing complete Alan Mathison Turing (; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalysis, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and mathematical and theoretical biology, theoretical biologist. Turing was high ...
scripting system, and the advanced text editor
GNU Emacs GNU Emacs is a free software text editor. It was created by GNU Project founder Richard Stallman, based on the Emacs editor developed for Unix operating systems. GNU Emacs has been a central component of the GNU project and a flagship project of ...
is built around a general purpose
Lisp A lisp is a speech impairment in which a person misarticulates sibilants (, , , , , , , ). These misarticulations often result in unclear speech. Types * A frontal lisp occurs when the tongue is placed anterior to the target. Interdental lisping ...
interpreter. Most distributions also include support for
PHP PHP is a general-purpose scripting language geared toward web development. It was originally created by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1993 and released in 1995. The PHP reference implementation is now produced by The PHP Gr ...
,
Perl Perl is a family of two high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming languages. "Perl" refers to Perl 5, but from 2000 to 2019 it also referred to its redesigned "sister language", Perl 6, before the latter's name was offi ...
,
Ruby A ruby is a pinkish red to blood-red colored gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). Ruby is one of the most popular traditional jewelry gems and is very durable. Other varieties of gem-quality corundum are called sapp ...
,
Python Python may refer to: Snakes * Pythonidae The Pythonidae, commonly known as pythons, are a Family (biology), family of Venomous snake, nonvenomous snakes found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Among its members are some of the largest snakes i ...
and other dynamic languages. While not as common, Linux also supports C# (via Mono),
Vala Vala or VALA may refer to: Religion and mythology * Vala (Vedic) Vala ('), meaning "enclosure" in Vedic Sanskrit, is a demon mentioned in the Vedas, including the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda. Vala is attributed to be the son of Tvashtr and therefo ...
, and Scheme.
Guile Scheme GNU Ubiquitous Intelligent Language for Extensions (GNU Guile) is the preferred extension language system for the GNU Project and features an implementation of the programming language Scheme (programming language), Scheme. Its first version was ...
acts as an extension language targeting the GNU system utilities, seeking to make the conventionally small, static,
compiled In computing, a compiler is a computer program that Translator (computing), translates computer code written in one programming language (the ''source'' language) into another language (the ''target'' language). The name "compiler" is primarily ...
C programs of Unix design rapidly and dynamically extensible via an elegant, functional high-level scripting system; many GNU programs can be compiled with optional Guile bindings to this end. A number of
Java virtual machine A Java virtual machine (JVM) is a virtual machine that enables a computer to run Java (software platform), Java programs as well as programs written in List of JVM languages, other languages that are also compiled to Java bytecode. The JVM is det ...
s and development kits run on Linux, including the original Sun Microsystems JVM ( HotSpot), and IBM's J2SE RE, as well as many open-source projects like Kaffe and JikesRVM.
GNOME A gnome is a mythological creature and diminutive spirit in Renaissance magic and alchemy, first introduced by Paracelsus in the 16th century and later adopted by more recent authors including those of modern fantasy literature. Its character ...
and KDE are popular
desktop environment In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardwa ...
s and provide a framework for developing applications. These projects are based on the
GTK GTK (formerly GIMP ToolKit and GTK+) is a free and open-source cross-platform widget toolkit for creating graphical user interfaces (GUIs). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License, allowing both Free software, fre ...
and Qt
widget toolkit A widget toolkit, widget library, GUI toolkit, or UX library is a library (computing), library or a collection of libraries containing a set of graphical control elements (called ''widgets'') used to construct the graphical user interface (GUI) of ...
s, respectively, which can also be used independently of the larger framework. Both support a wide variety of languages. There are a number of
Integrated development environment An integrated development environment (IDE) is a Application software, software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development. An IDE normally consists of at least a source code editor, build ...
s available including Anjuta, Code::Blocks, CodeLite,
Eclipse An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when an astronomical object or spacecraft is temporarily obscured, by passing into the shadow of another body or by having another body pass between it and the viewer. This alignment of three c ...
, Geany, ActiveState Komodo, KDevelop, Lazarus, MonoDevelop,
NetBeans NetBeans is an integrated development environment (IDE) for Java (programming language), Java. NetBeans allows applications to be developed from a set of modular software components called ''modules''. NetBeans runs on Microsoft Windows, Windows, ...
, and Qt Creator, while the long-established editors Vim, nano and
Emacs Emacs , originally named EMACS (an acronym for "Editor MACroS"), is a family of text editors that are characterized by their extensibility. The manual for the most widely used variant, GNU Emacs, describes it as "the extensible, customizable, se ...
remain popular.


Hardware support

The Linux kernel is a widely ported operating system kernel, available for devices ranging from mobile phones to supercomputers; it runs on a highly diverse range of
computer architecture In computer engineering, computer architecture is a description of the structure of a computer system made from component parts. It can sometimes be a high-level description that ignores details of the implementation. At a more detailed level, the ...
s, including the hand-held ARM-based
iPAQ The iPAQ is a discontinued Pocket PC A Pocket PC (P/PC, PPC) is a class of personal digital assistant (PDA) that runs the Windows Mobile or Windows Embedded Compact operating system that has some of the abilities of modern desktop IBM ...
and the IBM
mainframes A mainframe computer, informally called a mainframe or big iron, is a computer used primarily by large organizations for critical applications like bulk data processing for tasks such as censuses, industry and consumer statistics, enterprise ...
System z9 or
System z10 A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundaries, structure A structure is an ar ...
. Specialized distributions and kernel forks exist for less mainstream architectures; for example, the ELKS kernel
fork In cutlery or kitchenware, a fork (from la, furca 'pitchfork') is a utensil, now usually made of metal, whose long handle terminates in a head that branches into several narrow and often slightly curved tine (structural), tines with which one ...
can run on
Intel 8086 The 8086 (also called iAPX 86) is a 16-bit computing, 16-bit microprocessor chip designed by Intel between early 1976 and June 8, 1978, when it was released. The Intel 8088, released July 1, 1979, is a slightly modified chip with an external 8-bit ...
or
Intel 80286 The Intel 80286 (also marketed as the iAPX 286 and often called Intel 286) is a 16-bit computing, 16-bit microprocessor that was introduced on February 1, 1982. It was the first 8086-based CPU with separate, non-multiplexed address bus, address ...
16-bit 16-bit microcomputers are microcomputers that use 16-bit microprocessors. A 16-bit register can store 216 different values. The range (computer programming), range of integer values that can be stored in 16 bits depends on the Integer (computer ...
microprocessors, while the µClinux kernel fork may run on systems without a
memory management unit A memory management unit (MMU), sometimes called paged memory management unit (PMMU), is a computer hardware unit having all computer memory, memory references passed through itself, primarily performing the translation of virtual address, virtua ...
. The kernel also runs on architectures that were only ever intended to use a manufacturer-created operating system, such as
Macintosh The Mac (known as Macintosh until 1999) is a family of personal computers designed and marketed by Apple Inc., Apple Inc. Macs are known for their ease of use and minimalist designs, and are popular among students, creative professionals, and ...
computers (with both
PowerPC PowerPC (with the backronym Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC – Performance Computing, sometimes abbreviated as PPC) is a reduced instruction set computer (RISC) instruction set architecture (ISA) created by the 1991 Apple Inc., App ...
and
Intel Intel Corporation is an American multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, Santa Clara, California. It is the world's largest semiconductor chip manufacturer by revenue, and is one of the devel ...
processors), PDAs,
video game console A video game console is an electronic device that Input/output, outputs a video signal or image to display a video game that can be played with a game controller. These may be home video game console, home consoles, which are generally placed i ...
s, portable music players, and mobile phones. There are several industry associations and hardware
conferences A conference is a meeting A meeting is when two or more Homo sapiens, people come together to discuss one or more topics, often in a formal or business setting, but meetings also occur in a variety of other environments. Meetings can be used ...
devoted to maintaining and improving support for diverse hardware under Linux, such as FreedomHEC. Over time, support for different hardware has improved in Linux, resulting in any off-the-shelf purchase having a "good chance" of being compatible. In 2014, a new initiative was launched to automatically collect a database of all tested hardware configurations.


Uses


Market share and uptake

Many quantitative studies of
free Free may refer to: Concept * Freedom, having the ability to do something, without having to obey anyone/anything * Freethought, a position that beliefs should be formed only on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism * Emancipate, to procure ...
/open-source software focus on topics including market share and reliability, with numerous studies specifically examining Linux. The Linux market is growing, and the Linux operating system market size is expected to see a growth of 19.2% by 2027, reaching $15.64 billion, compared to $3.89 billion in 2019. Analysts and proponents attribute the relative success of Linux to its security, reliability, low cost, and freedom from
vendor lock-in In economics, vendor lock-in, also known as proprietary lock-in or customer lock-in, makes a customer dependent on a vendor for Product (business), products, unable to use another vendor without substantial switching barriers, switching costs. Th ...
. ; Desktops and laptops : According to web server statistics (that is, based on the numbers recorded from visits to websites by client devices), , the estimated market share of Linux on
desktop computer A desktop computer (often abbreviated desktop) is a personal computer designed for regular use at a single location on or near a desk due to its size and power requirements. The most common configuration has a computer case, case that houses th ...
s is around 2.5%. In comparison,
Microsoft Windows Windows is a group of several proprietary graphical operating system families developed and marketed by Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation, multinational technology company, technology corporatio ...
has a market share of around 75.5%, while
macOS macOS (; previously OS X and originally Mac OS X) is a Unix operating system developed and marketed by Apple Inc. since 2001. It is the primary operating system for Apple's Mac (computer), Mac computers. Within the market of ...
covers around 14.9%. ; Web servers : W3Cook publishes stats that use the top 1,000,000 Alexa domains, which estimate that 96.55% of web servers run Linux, 1.73% run Windows, and 1.72% run FreeBSD. :W3Techs publishes stats that use the top 10,000,000 Alexa domains and the top 1,000,000 Tranco domains, updated monthly and as of November 2020 estimate that Linux is used by 39% of the web servers, versus 21.9% being used by
Microsoft Windows Windows is a group of several proprietary graphical operating system families developed and marketed by Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation, multinational technology company, technology corporatio ...
. 40.1% used other types of
Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of Computer multitasking, multitasking, multiuser computer operating systems that derive from the original AT&T Corporation, AT&T Unix, whose development started in 1969 at the Bell Labs research center ...
. : IDC's Q1 2007 report indicated that Linux held 12.7% of the overall server market at that time; this estimate was based on the number of Linux servers sold by various companies, and did not include server hardware purchased separately that had Linux installed on it later. ; Mobile devices : Android, which is based on the Linux kernel, has become the dominant operating system for
smartphone A smartphone is a Mobile device, portable computer device that combines Mobile phone, mobile telephone and Mobile computing, computing functions into one unit. They are distinguished from feature phones by their stronger hardware capabilities ...
s. In July 2022, 71.9% of smartphones accessing the internet worldwide used Android. Android is also a popular operating system for tablets, being responsible for more than 60% of tablet sales as of 2013. According to web server statistics, Android has a market share of about 71%, with
iOS iOS (formerly iPhone OS) is a mobile operating system A mobile operating system is an operating system for mobile phones, tablet computer, tablets, smartwatches, smartglasses, or other non-laptop personal computing, personal mobile computin ...
holding 28%, and the remaining 1% attributed to various niche platforms. ; Film production : For years Linux has been the platform of choice in the film industry. The first major film produced on Linux servers was 1997's ''
Titanic RMS ''Titanic'' was a British passenger Ocean liner, liner, operated by the White Star Line, which Sinking of the Titanic, sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912 after striking an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton ...
''. Since then major studios including
DreamWorks Animation DreamWorks Animation LLC (DWA, also known as DreamWorks Animation Studios and simply known as DreamWorks) is an American animation studio that produces animated films and television programs and is a subsidiary of Universal Pictures, a divis ...
,
Pixar Pixar Animation Studios (commonly known as Pixar () and stylized as P I X A R) is an American Computer animation, computer animation studio known for its critically and commercially successful computer animated feature films. It is based in E ...
, Weta Digital, and
Industrial Light & Magic Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is an American Film, motion picture visual effects company that was founded on May 26, 1975 by George Lucas. It is a division of the film production company Lucasfilm, which Lucas founded, and was created when he beg ...
have migrated to Linux. According to the Linux Movies Group, more than 95% of the servers and desktops at large animation and visual effects companies use Linux. ; Use in government : Linux distributions have also gained popularity with various local and national governments. News of the Russian military creating its own Linux distribution has also surfaced, and has come to fruition as the G.H.ost Project. The Indian state of
Kerala Kerala ( ; ) is a States and union territories of India, state on the Malabar Coast of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, following the passage of the States Reorganisation Act, by combining Malayalam-speaking regions of the erstwhile ...
has gone to the extent of mandating that all state high schools run Linux on their computers.
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
uses Linux exclusively as the operating system for its
Loongson Loongson () is the name of a family of general-purpose, MIPS architecture-compatible central processing unit, microprocessors, as well as the name of the Chinese Fabless manufacturing, fabless company (Loongson Technology) that develops them. T ...
processor family to achieve technology independence. In Spain, some regions have developed their own Linux distributions, which are widely used in education and official institutions, like gnuLinEx in Extremadura and Guadalinex in Andalusia.
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
and
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
have also taken steps toward the adoption of Linux. North Korea's
Red Star OS Red Star OS () is a North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia. It constitutes the northern half of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and shares borders with China and Russia ...
, developed since 2002, is based on a version of
Fedora Linux Fedora Linux is a Linux distribution developed by the Fedora Project. Fedora contains software distributed under various free and open-source licenses and aims to be on the leading edge of open-source technologies. Fedora is the upstream (softwa ...
.


Copyright, trademark, and naming

Linux kernel is
licensed A license (or licence) is an official permission or permit to do, use, or own something (as well as the document of that permission or permit). A license is granted by a party (licensor) to another party (licensee) as an element of an agreeme ...
under the
GNU General Public License The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software licenses that guarantee end users the Four Freedoms (Free software), four freedoms to run, study, share, and modify the software. The license was th ...
(GPL), version 2. The GPL requires that anyone who distributes software based on source code under this license must make the originating source code (and any modifications) available to the recipient under the same terms. Other key components of a typical Linux distribution are also mainly licensed under the GPL, but they may use other licenses; many libraries use the
GNU Lesser General Public License The GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) is a free-software license published by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The license allows developers and companies to use and integrate a software component released under the LGPL into their own ...
(LGPL), a more permissive variant of the GPL, and the X.Org implementation of the
X Window System The X Window System (X11, or simply X) is a windowing system for bitmap displays, common on Unix-like operating systems. X provides the basic framework for a GUI environment: drawing and moving windows on the display device and interacting wit ...
uses the
MIT License The MIT License is a permissive free software license originating at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the late 1980s. As a permissive license, it puts only very limited restriction on reuse and has, therefore, high license comp ...
. Torvalds states that the Linux kernel will not move from version 2 of the GPL to version 3. He specifically dislikes some provisions in the new license which prohibit the use of the software in
digital rights management Digital rights management (DRM) is the management of legal access to digital content. Various tools or technological protection measures (TPM) such as access control technologies can restrict the use of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works. ...
. It would also be impractical to obtain permission from all the copyright holders, who number in the thousands. A 2001 study of
Red Hat Linux Red Hat Linux was a widely used Commercial software, commercial Open-source software, open-source Linux distribution created by Red Hat until its discontinuation in 2004. Early releases of Red Hat Linux were called Red Hat Commercial Linux. R ...
7.1 found that this distribution contained 30 million
source lines of code Source lines of code (SLOC), also known as lines of code (LOC), is a software metric used to measure the size of a computer program by counting the number of lines in the text of the program's source code. SLOC is typically used to predict the am ...
. Using the Constructive Cost Model, the study estimated that this distribution required about eight thousand person-years of development time. According to the study, if all this software had been developed by conventional proprietary means, it would have cost about to develop in in the United States. Most of the source code (71%) was written in the
C programming language ''The C Programming Language'' (sometimes termed ''K&R'', after its authors' initials) is a computer programming book written by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie, the latter of whom originally designed and implemented the language, as well as ...
, but many other languages were used, including
C++ C++ (pronounced "C plus plus") is a high-level general-purpose programming language In computer software, a general-purpose programming language (GPL) is a programming language for building software in a wide variety of application Domain (so ...
,
Lisp A lisp is a speech impairment in which a person misarticulates sibilants (, , , , , , , ). These misarticulations often result in unclear speech. Types * A frontal lisp occurs when the tongue is placed anterior to the target. Interdental lisping ...
,
assembly language In computer programming, assembly language (or assembler language, or symbolic machine code), often referred to simply as Assembly and commonly abbreviated as ASM or asm, is any low-level programming language with a very strong correspondence be ...
,
Perl Perl is a family of two high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming languages. "Perl" refers to Perl 5, but from 2000 to 2019 it also referred to its redesigned "sister language", Perl 6, before the latter's name was offi ...
,
Python Python may refer to: Snakes * Pythonidae The Pythonidae, commonly known as pythons, are a Family (biology), family of Venomous snake, nonvenomous snakes found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Among its members are some of the largest snakes i ...
, Fortran, and various
shell script A shell script is a computer program designed to be run by a Unix shell, a command-line interpreter. The various dialects of shell scripts are considered to be scripting languages. Typical operations performed by shell scripts include file manip ...
ing languages. Slightly over half of all lines of code were licensed under the GPL. The Linux kernel itself was 2.4 million lines of code, or 8% of the total. In a later study, the same analysis was performed for
Debian Debian (), also known as Debian GNU/Linux, is a Linux distribution composed of free and open-source software, developed by the community-supported Debian Project, which was established by Ian Murdock on August 16, 1993. The first version of Deb ...
version 4.0 (etch, which was released in 2007). This distribution contained close to 283 million source lines of code, and the study estimated that it would have required about seventy three thousand man-years and cost (in dollars) to develop by conventional means. In the United States, the name ''Linux'' is a trademark registered to Linus Torvalds. Initially, nobody registered it, but on August 15, 1994, William R. Della Croce, Jr. filed for the trademark ''Linux'', and then demanded royalties from Linux distributors. In 1996, Torvalds and some affected organizations sued him to have the trademark assigned to Torvalds, and, in 1997, the case was settled. The licensing of the trademark has since been handled by the Linux Mark Institute (LMI). Torvalds has stated that he trademarked the name only to prevent someone else from using it. LMI originally charged a nominal sublicensing fee for use of the Linux name as part of trademarks, but later changed this in favor of offering a free, perpetual worldwide sublicense. The
Free Software Foundation The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)#501(c)(3), 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Richard Stallman on October 4, 1985, to support the free software movement, with the organization's preference for software being distributed ...
(FSF) prefers ''GNU/Linux'' as the name when referring to the operating system as a whole, because it considers Linux distributions to be
variants Variant may refer to: In arts and entertainment * Variant (magazine), ''Variant'' (magazine), a former British cultural magazine * Variant cover, an issue of comic books with varying cover art * Variant (novel), ''Variant'' (novel), a novel by Rob ...
of the GNU operating system initiated in 1983 by
Richard Stallman Richard Matthew Stallman (; born March 16, 1953), also known by his initials, rms, is an American free software movement activist and programmer. He campaigns for software to be distributed in such a manner that its users have the freedom to u ...
, president of the FSF. They explicitly take no issue over the name Android for the Android OS, which is also an operating system based on the Linux kernel, as GNU is not a part of it. A minority of public figures and software projects other than Stallman and the FSF, notably
Debian Debian (), also known as Debian GNU/Linux, is a Linux distribution composed of free and open-source software, developed by the community-supported Debian Project, which was established by Ian Murdock on August 16, 1993. The first version of Deb ...
(which had been sponsored by the FSF up to 1996), also use ''GNU/Linux'' when referring to the operating system as a whole. Most media and common usage, however, refers to this family of operating systems simply as ''Linux'', as do many large Linux distributions (for example, SUSE Linux and
Red Hat Enterprise Linux Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is a Commercial software, commercial Open-source software, open-source Linux distribution developed by Red Hat for the commerce, commercial market. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is released in server versions for x86-6 ...
). By contrast, Linux distributions containing only free software use "GNU/Linux" or simply "GNU", such as Trisquel GNU/Linux,
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre Parabola GNU/Linux-libre is an operating system for the i686, x86-64 and ARMv7 architectures. It is based on many of the packages from Arch Linux and Arch Linux ARM, but distinguishes from the former by offering only free software. It includes th ...
, BLAG Linux and GNU, and gNewSense. , about 8% to 13% of the
lines of code Source lines of code (SLOC), also known as lines of code (LOC), is a software metric used to measure the size of a computer program by counting the number of lines in the text of the program's source code. SLOC is typically used to predict the am ...
of the Linux distribution Ubuntu (version "Natty") is made of GNU components (the range depending on whether
GNOME A gnome is a mythological creature and diminutive spirit in Renaissance magic and alchemy, first introduced by Paracelsus in the 16th century and later adopted by more recent authors including those of modern fantasy literature. Its character ...
is considered part of GNU); meanwhile, 6% is taken by the Linux kernel, increased to 9% when including its direct dependencies. (
self-published Self-publishing is the publication of media by its author at their own cost, without the involvement of a publisher. The term usually refers to written media, such as books and magazines, either as an ebook An ebook (short for electronic b ...
data)


See also

*
Comparison of Linux distributions Technical variations of Linux distributions include support for different hardware devices and systems or software package configurations. Organizational differences may be motivated by historical reasons. Other criteria include security, includi ...
* Comparison of open source and closed source *
Comparison of operating systems These tables provide a comparison of operating systems, of computer devices, as listing general and technical information for a number of widely used and currently available PC or handheld (including smartphone A smartphone is a Mobile de ...
* Comparison of X Window System desktop environments * Criticism of Linux * Linux Documentation Project * Linux From Scratch * Linux Software Map *
List of Linux distributions This page provides general information about notable Linux distributions in the form of a categorized list. Distributions are organized into sections by the major distribution or package management system they are based on. RPM-based Red Hat ...
* List of games released on Linux * List of operating systems *
Loadable kernel module In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardware ...
*
Usage share of operating systems The usage share of operating systems is the percentage of computing devices that run each operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, software resources, and provides common daemon (computin ...
*
Timeline of operating systems This article presents a timeline A timeline is a display of a list of events in Chronology, chronological order. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labelled with calendar date, dates paralleling it, and usually contempora ...


Notes


References


External links

*
Graphical map of Linux Internals

Linux kernel website and archives

The History of Linux in GIT Repository Format 1992–2010
{{Authority control 1991 software Computing platforms Cross-platform software Finnish inventions Free software programmed in C Linus Torvalds Operating systems Unix variants