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Tux the penguin, mascot of Linux
Ubuntu 10.10.png
Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution, one of many available
OS family Unix-like
Working state Works better than mac
Source model Free and open source software
Supported platforms IA-32, MIPS, x86-64, SPARC, DEC Alpha, Itanium, PowerPC, ARM, m68k, PA-RISC, s390, SuperH, M32R and more
Kernel type Monolithic
Userland GNU and others.
License Various including GNU General Public License, BSD License, Apache License, MIT License, and others[1]

Linux or GNU/Linux is a free and open source software operating system for computers. The operating system is a collection of the basic instructions that tell the electronic parts of the computer what to do and how to work. Free and open source software (FOSS) means that everyone has the freedom to use it, see how it works, and change it.

There is a lot of software for Linux, and since Linux is free software it means that none of the software will put any license restrictions on users. This is one of the reasons why many people like to use Linux.

Tux the penguin[change | change source]

Tux the penguin

The mascot of Linux is a cartoon penguin named "Tux". When a person sees the penguin on software and hardware, it means that it will work with Linux, and sometimes all systems that are like Unix.

The idea of the penguin came from the creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds. The image was made by a man named Larry Ewing in a competition to create a logo. The image, Tux, did not win, but it was picked as a mascot later.

Tux has now become a symbol for Linux, and sometimes even for open source. He can be seen in many different places and often, when people refer to Linux, they think about Tux. Tux has even been included in many video games, such as Super Tux (like Super Mario Bros.), Tux Racer (where players race Tux down an icy hill) and Pingus (like Lemmings).

Uses[change | change source]

Desktop[change | change source]

Although there are only a few Linux versions for some Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows programs in areas like desktop publishing[2] and professional audio and video[3][4][5] there are programs that are comparatively similar in quality compared to those available for Mac and Windows.[6]

Many free software titles that are popular on Windows, such as Pidgin, Mozilla Firefox,, and GIMP, are available for Linux. A growing amount of proprietary desktop software can also be used under Linux, such as[7] Adobe Flash Player, Opera, Google Picasa, RealPlayer, and Skype. CrossOver is a proprietary solution based on the open source Wine project that supports running older Windows versions of Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop versions until CS2. Microsoft Office 2007 and Adobe Photoshop CS3 are known not to work.[8][9]

KDE and Gnome
KDE 4.png GNOME Shell.png
KDE Gnome

Servers and supercomputers[change | change source]

Roadrunner, the world's fastest supercomputer (as of 2009), which runs Linux

Linux has mainly been used as a server operating system, and has risen to be known by a lot of people in that area; Netcraft reported in February 2008 that five of the ten best internet hosting companies run Linux on their web servers.[10] This is because of its stability and uptime, and the fact that desktop software with a graphical user interface for servers is often unneeded.

Linux is commonly used as an operating system for supercomputers. As of November 2007, out of the top 500 systems, 426 (85.2%) run Linux.[11]

Pronunciation[change | change source]

In 1992, Torvalds explained how he pronounces the word Linux:

'li' is pronounced with a short [ee] sound: compare prInt, mInImal etc. 'nux' is also short, non-diphthong, like in pUt. It's partly due to minix: linux was just my working name for the thing, and as I wrote it to replace minix on my system, the result is what it is... linus' minix became linux.

Torvalds has made available an audio sample which indicates his own pronunciation, in English and Swedish.[12][13]

Some English speakers pronounce the name as lee-narks or lee-nix or lie-nix. According to Torvalds, that is incorrect pronunciation.[source?]

Code size[change | change source]

A 2001 study of Red Hat Linux 7.1 found this distribution had 30 million lines of code. The study showed that Red Hat 7.1 required about 8,000 years of time to develop. The study also said that if all this software had been made by proprietary means, it would have cost about $1.08 billion to make in the United States.[14]

Most of the code (around 71%) was written in the C programming language, and many other languages were used, including C++, assembly language, Perl, Python, Fortran, and various shell scripting languages. A little more than half of all lines of code were licensed under the GPL. The Linux kernel was made up of 2.4 million lines of code, or 8% of all the code.[14]

Different Linux versions[change | change source]

Fedora, another Linux operating system

People who want to get Linux can download it from the Internet or buy it from a store or a website. Sometimes books and magazines about Linux have a CD or DVD with Linux on it. Any certain version of Linux is called a "distribution", or "distro". A Linux version has the Linux kernel and the GNU operating system, and some extra programs that might not be part of GNU. Different versions include different extra programs. The versions used by the most people include:

People might pay some money for a version, so they can have a CD-ROM or DVD and to help the company to make their versions better. Usually when someone pays, it is so the company will help the user after they install it, which is called "support".

Software for Linux includes:

Licensing, trademark, and naming[change | change source]

The Linux kernel and most GNU software are licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL requires that anyone who distributes the Linux kernel must make the source code (and any modifications) available to the recipient under the same terms. In 1997, Linus Torvalds said, “Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did.”[15] Other key components of a Linux system may use other licenses; many libraries use the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), a type of the GPL that is less restricted, and the X Window System uses the MIT License.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Debian GNU/Linux Licenses – Ohloh". Retrieved 2009-03-27.
  2. Advani, Prakash (2000-10-27). "Microsoft Office for Linux?". FreeOS. FreeOS Technologies (I) Pvt. Ltd.. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  3. Smith-Heisters, Ian (2005-10-11). "Editing audio in Linux". Ars Technica. Ars Technica, LLC. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  4. Lumma, Carl (April 2007). "Linux: It's Not Just For Computer Geeks Anymore". Keyboard Magazine. New Bay Media, LLC.. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
  5. James, Daniel (February 2004). "Using Linux For Recording & Mastering". Sound On Sound. SOS Publications Group. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
  6. "The table of equivalents/replacements/analogs of Windows software in Linux".
  7. "The Global Desktop Project, Building Technology and Communities". Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  8. "Microsoft Office 2007". CodeWeavers. CodeWeavers Inc.. 2007-11-25. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  9. "Photoshop CS 3". CodeWeavers. CodeWeavers Inc.. 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  10. "Tiscali Italia is the Most Reliable Hosting Company in February 2008". Netcraft. March 4 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
  11. Operating system Family share for 11/2007 | TOP500 Supercomputing Sites
  12. "Howto pronounce Linux?". Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  13. "Linus pronouncing Linux in English and Swedish". Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Wheeler, David A (2002-07-29). "More Than a Gigabuck: Estimating GNU/Linux's Size". Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  15. "Linus Torvalds interview". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2008-08-18.

Other websites[change | change source]