Developed by Linus Torvalds and further elaborated by a number of developers throughout the world Linux (lee'nuhks/ or /li'nuks/,_not_/li:'nuhks) is a freely available multitasking and multi-user operating system. From the outset, Linux was placed under General Public License (GPL). The system can be distributed, used and expanded free of charge. In this way, developers have access to all the source codes, thus being able to integrate new functions or to find and eliminate programming bugs quickly. Thereby drivers for new adapters (SCSI controller, graphics cards, etc.) can be integrated very rapidly.
Linux may be obtained in two different ways. All the necessary components can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet. This means that an individual operating system can be assembled for almost nothing. An alternative is to use a so-called Distribution, offered by various companies and including a wide range of applications and installation programs that significantly simplify the installation of Linux.
Presently, Linux is successfully being used by several millions of users worldwide. The composition of user groups varies from private users, training companies, universities, research centers right through to commercial users and companies, who view Linux as a real alternative to other operating systems.
*Also, see the Unix variants
Linux vs. Microsoft Windows NT
Pro: Linux and Linux variants are considerably less expensive to run. Most versions of Linux are free and those that are not are generally very affordable. Especially when looking at the Microsoft Windows NT with multiple licenses.
Pro: Issues are generally resolved more quickly then Windows NT with open source code.
Con: Overall Windows NT has a larger availability of software and drivers. However, because of the popularity of Linux software developers and hardware manufactures are also releasing software support and drivers for their devices.
Con: Windows NT software is generally compatible with other versions of Windows.
Con: Overall Windows NT is generally easier then Linux and has a wider audience familiar with the functionality and control of it.
Note: There are various studies done by different companies that show the performance differences and stability of Linux vs. Microsoft Windows NT. Because of the differences between all of these reports, Computer Hope does not list pro's or con's with performance and stability on either Linux or Windows NT.
Linux vs. Unix
Pro: Linux has a larger availability of software and drivers then most versions of Unix. Variants of Unix such as SUN Solaris may have about the same or more availability of software and drivers then some versions of Linux.
Pro: Linux issues and bugs generally are always fixed extremely fast and will likely be fixed before an issue in Unix is fixed.
Pro: Linux is available for free or for a small cost. Most versions of Unix or Variants of Unix can be very expensive. It is important to note that versions of SUN Solaris are available for free for end-users.
Con: Many versions of Unix are a project of a centralized company and all issues, information and support are maintained at one central location.
Con: Many versions of Unix allow for very large scalability and maintain reliability.
Note: There are various studies done by different companies that show the performance differences and stability of Linux vs. Unix and Unix variants. Because of the differences between all of these reports, Computer Hope does not list pro's or con's with performance and stability on either Linux or Unix.