Linux (pronounced "linnucks") is a monolithic, open-source kernel, and a family of operating systems based on that kernel. The Linux kernel was originally developed by Linus Torvalds, who announced it on the comp.os.minix newsgroup on August 25, 1991. Since then, it's been ported to computer architectures including x86-64, x86, ARM, RISC, and DEC Alpha. It is licensed under version 2 of the GPL.
Developers have access to all Linux source code, and are permitted under the license conditions to modify and distribute it.
Where is Linux used?
Presently, Linux is used by several million users worldwide. The composition of users varies from private users, training centers, universities, research centers, and companies. Below are examples of where Linux is used today.
- Android phones and tablets - Android phones and tablets use a form of Linux.
- Servers - A vast majority of the web servers that run many web pages (including this one) are using Linux.
- Supercomputers - All of the top supercomputers use a Linux-based operating system.
- TV, Cameras, DVD players, etc. - Most of the appliances that use some form of a computer use Linux.
- Amazon - Many of the computers that help run Amazon use Linux.
- Google - Computers that help run Google and Google search results use Linux.
- Planes - Airplanes computers and screens you watch on the plane use Linux.
- U.S. Postal service - The computers and servers that help run systems to sort and manage mail in the U.S.
- NYSE - The New York Stock Exchange uses Linux to help run its exchange.
- LHC - The Large Hadron Collider uses Linux.
- OLPC - The One Laptop Per Child program used Linux on all its computers.
Who makes Linux now?
Thousands of organizations, corporations, and individuals help develop Linux and each of its various distributions. For more information, visit LinuxFoundation.org. You can read what's happening right now in Linux development at LKML.org, the Linux kernel mailing list.
Linux distributions, flavors, and variants
Linux may be obtained in two different ways. All the necessary components can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet, which means an operating system can be assembled for almost nothing. An alternative is to use a so-called distribution, which is a Linux variation offered by many companies. They include a broad range of applications and full programs that significantly simplify the installation of Linux.
There are hundreds of different distributions of Linux were released. Below are a few that we currently have listed on our site. A great site that lists almost every distribution, and rankings is DistroWatch.
You can see our "How do I know what kernel or distro of Linux I have?" page for information on identifying what distribution of Linux you have.
|A - D||F - L||M - R||S - Z|
DSL (Damn Small Linux).
Red Hat Linux.
There are many variants of Linux, each with hardware requirements. Some can run on minimal systems with small amounts of RAM and disk space.
If you want to run Linux, and your computer meets the following specifications, it should be able to run any variant of Linux.
- 64-bit Intel or AMD processor
- 1 GB RAM
- 10 GB of hard drive space
- CD/DVD drive or a USB port for installation