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Linux

Linux

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Published by Rajat Bhardwaj

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Published by: Rajat Bhardwaj on Dec 15, 2010
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 1
Linux
(commonly pronounced IPA: /
lnks/ in English; variants exist) is a generic termreferring to Unix-like computer operating systems based on the Linux kernel. Their development is one of themost prominent examples of free and open source software collaboration; typically all the underlying sourcecode can be used, freely modified, and redistributed by anyone under the terms of the GNU GPL
 
and other free licenses.Linux is predominantly known for its use in servers, although it is installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from embedded devices and mobile phones to supercomputers. Linux distributions,installed on both desktop and laptop computers, have become increasingly commonplace in recent years,owing largely to the popular Ubuntu distribution and to the emergence of netbooks. The name "Linux"comes from the Linux kernel, originally written in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The rest of the system, includingutilities and libraries, usually comes from the GNU operating system announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman.The GNU contribution is the basis for the Free Software Foundation's preferred name
GNU/Linux 
 
History
The Unix operating system was conceived andimplemented in the 1960s and first released in1970. Its wide availability and portability meantthat it was widely adopted, copied andmodified by academic institutions andbusinesses, with its design being influential onauthors of other systems.The GNU Project, started in 1984 by RichardStallman, had the goal of creating a"
complete Unix-compatible softwaresystem
"composed entirely of free software. Thenext year Stallman created the Free SoftwareFoundation and wrote the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) in 1989. By the early 1990s, many of the programs required in an operating system (such as libraries, compilers, text editors, a Unix shell, anda windowing system) were completed, although low-level elements such as device drivers, daemons, andthe kernel were stalled and incomplete. Linus Torvalds has said that if the GNU kernel had been availableat the time (1991), he would not have decided to write his own.
MINIX
In 1991 while attending the University of Helsinki, Torvalds began to work on a non-commercialreplacement for MINIX, which would eventually become the Linux kernel.Linux was dependent on the MINIX user space at first. With code from the GNU system freely available, itwas advantageous if this could be used with the fledgling OS. Code licensed under the GNU GPL can beused in other projects, so long as they also are released under the same or a compatible license. In order to make the Linux kernel compatible with the components from the GNU Project, Torvalds initiated aswitch from his original license (which prohibited commercial redistribution) to the GNU GPL. Developersworked to integrate GNU components with Linux to make a fully functional and free operating system.
Commercial and popular uptake
Richard Stallman, left, founder of the GNU project,and Linus Torvalds, right, author of the Linux kernel
 
 2
L
inux adoption
Today Linux distributions are used in numerous domains, from embedded systems to supercomputers,and have secured a place in server installations with the popular LAMP application stack. Use of Linuxdistributions in home and enterprise desktops has been expanding. They have also gained popularity withvarious local and national governments. The federal government of Brazil is well known for its support for Linux. News of the Russian military creating their own Linux distribution has also surfaced. India has goneso far as to make it mandatory for all state high schools to run Linux on their computers China uses Linuxexclusively as the operating system for its Loongson processor family to achieve technologyindependence France and Germany have also taken steps towards the adoption of Linux.Linux distributions have also become popular with the newly founded netbook market, with many devicessuch as the ASUS Eee PC and Acer Aspire One shipping with customized Linux distributions pre-installed.
Current development
Torvalds continues to direct the development of the kernel. Stallman heads the Free SoftwareFoundation, which in turn supports the GNU components. Finally, individuals and corporations developthird-party non-GNU components. These third-party components comprise a vast body of work and mayinclude both kernel modules and user applications and libraries. Linux vendors and communities combineand distribute the kernel, GNU components, and non-GNU components, with additional packagemanagement software in the form of Linux distributions.For the 2.6.29 release only, the kernel's mascot, a penguin named Tux, has been temporarily replaced byTuz in order to highlight efforts to save the Tasmanian Devil from extinction
Design
 A Linux-based system is a modular Unix-like operating system. It derives much of its basic design fromprinciples established in Unix during the 1970s and 1980s. Such a system uses a monolithic kernel, theLinux kernel, which handles process control, networking, and peripheral and file system access. Devicedrivers are integrated directly with the kernel.Separate projects that interface with the kernel provide much of the system's higher-level functionality.The GNU userland is an important part of most Linux-based systems, providing the most commonimplementation of the C library, a popular shell, and many of the common Unix tools which carry outmany basic operating system tasks. The graphical user interface (or GUI) used by most Linux systems isbased on the X Window System.
User interface
ee also: User interface
Users can control a Linux-based system through a command line interface (or CLI), a graphical user interface (or GUI), or through controls attached to the associated hardware (this is common for embeddedsystems). For desktop systems, the default mode is usually graphical user interface (or GUI).On desktop machines, KDE, GNOME and Xfce are the most popular user interfaces, though a variety of additional user interfaces exist. Most popular user interfaces run on top of the X Window System (or X),which provides network transparency, enabling a graphical application running on one machine to bedisplayed and controlled from another.
 
 3
Other GUIs include X window managers such as FVWM, Enlightenment and Window Maker. The windowmanager provides a means to control the placement and appearance of individual application windows,and interacts with the X window system. A Linux system typically provides a CLI of some sort through a shell, which is the traditional way of interacting with a Unix system. A Linux distribution specialized for servers may use the CLI as its onlyinterface. A ³headless system´ run without even a monitor can be controlled by the command line via aremote-control protocol such as SSH or telnet.Most low-level Linux components, including the GNU Userland, use the CLI exclusively. The CLI isparticularly suited for automation of repetitive or delayed tasks, and provides very simple inter-processcommunication. A graphical terminal emulator program is often used to access the CLI from a Linuxdesktop.
Development
L
inux distribution
 A summarized history of Unix-like operating systems showing Linux's origins. Note that despite similar architectural designs and concepts being shared as part of the POSIX standard, Linux does not shareany non-free source code with the original Unix or Minix.
 
The primary difference between Linux and many other popular contemporary operating systems is thatthe Linux kernel and other components are free and open source software. Linux is not the only suchoperating system, although it is by far the most widely used. Some free and open source softwarelicenses are based on the principle of copyleft, a kind of reciprocity: any work derived from a copyleftpiece of software must also be copyleft itself. The most common free software license, the GNU GPL, is aform of copyleft, and is used for the Linux kernel and many of the components from the GNU project.Linux based distributions are intended by developers for interoperability with other operating systems andestablished computing standards. Linux systems adhere to POSIX, SUS, ISO and ANSI standards wherepossible, although to date only one Linux distribution has been POSIX.1 certified, Linux-FT.
[35]
 Free software projects, although developed in a collaborative fashion, are often produced independentlyof each other. The fact that the software licenses explicitly permit redistribution, however, provides abasis for larger scale projects that collect the software produced by stand-alone projects and make itavailable all at once in the form of a Linux distribution. A Linux distribution, commonly called a "distro", is a project that manages a remote collection of systemsoftware and application software packages available for download and installation through a networkconnection. This allows the user to adapt the operating system to his/her specific needs. Distributions aremaintained by individuals, loose-knit teams, volunteer organizations, and commercial entities. Adistribution can be installed using a CD that contains distribution-specific software for initial systeminstallation and configuration. A package manager such as Synaptic allows later package upgrades andinstalls. A distribution is responsible for the default configuration of the installed Linux kernel, generalsystem security, and more generally integration of the different software packages into a coherent whole.

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