Tux the penguin, mascot of Linux


Linux is a Unix-like and mostly POSIX-compliant computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open-source software development and distribution. The defining component of Linux is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released on 5 October 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The Free Software Foundation uses the name GNU/Linux to describe the operating system, which has led to some controversy.

Linux was originally developed as a free operating system for Intel x86–based personal computers, but has since been ported to more computer hardware platforms than any other operating system. It is the leading operating system on servers and other big iron systems such as mainframe computers and supercomputers, but is used on only around 1% of desktop computers. Linux also runs on embedded systems, which are devices whose operating system is typically built into the firmware and is highly tailored to the system; this includes mobile phones, tablet computers, network routers, facility automation controls, televisions and video game consoles. Android, the most widely used operating system for tablets and smartphones, is built on top of the Linux kernel.

The development of Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free and open-source software collaboration. The underlying source code may be used, modified, and distributed—commercially or non-commercially—by anyone under licenses such as the GNU General Public License. Typically, Linux is packaged in a form known as a Linux distribution, for both desktop and server use. Some popular mainstream Linux distributions include Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, openSUSE, Arch Linux, and the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Linux distributions include the Linux kernel, supporting utilities and libraries and usually a large amount of application software to fulfill the distribution's intended use.

A distribution oriented toward desktop use will typically include X11, Wayland or Mir as the windowing system, and an accompanying desktop environment such as GNOME or the KDE Software Compilation. Some such distributions may include a less resource intensive desktop such as LXDE or Xfce, for use on older or less powerful computers. A distribution intended to run as a server may omit all graphical environments from the standard install, and instead include other software to set up and operate a solution stack such as LAMP. Because Linux is freely redistributable, anyone may create a distribution for any intended use.


In 1991, while attending the University of Helsinki, Torvalds became curious about operating systems[1] and frustrated by the licensing of MINIX, which limited it to educational use only. He began to work on his own operating system kernel, which eventually became the Linux kernel.

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.[2] 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 projects 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.[30] Developers worked to integrate GNU components with the Linux kernel, making a fully functional and free operating system.[3]

Linus Torvalds (cropped)

Linus Torvalds, principal author of the Linux kernel

Linus Torvalds had wanted to call his invention Freax, a portmanteau of "free", "freak", and "x" (as an allusion to Unix). During the start of his work on the system, he stored the files under the name "Freax" for about half of a year. Torvalds had already considered the name "Linux," but initially dismissed it as too egotistical.[4]

In order to facilitate development, the files were uploaded to the FTP server ( of FUNET in September 1991. Ari Lemmke, Torvald's coworker at the Helsinki University of Technology (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".


Unix has many applications used today including medical equipment and workstation software for Magnetic Resonance (MR) and Conventional Radiography (CR). Unix is compatible for multiuser and multitasking capabilities including running behind other software platforms such as Windows NT and/or WinXP in MR scanning.


  1. Torvalds, Linus. "What would you like to see most in minix?". Newsgroup: comp.os.minix. Usenet: 1991Aug25.205708.9541@klaava.Helsinki.FI. Retrieved September 9, 2006.
  2. Linus Torvalds (14 October 1992). "Chicken and egg: How was the first linux gcc binary created??". Newsgroup: comp.os.minix. Usenet: 1992Oct12.100843.26287@klaava.Helsinki.FI. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  3. "Overview of the GNU System". Retrieved March 9, 2009.
  4. Torvalds, Linus and David Diamond, Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, 2001, ISBN 0-06-662072-4


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