What Is Linux?

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Linux is a free operating system that was created by Linus Torvalds
when he was a student at the University of Helsinki in 1991. Torvalds
started Linux by writing a kernel - the heart of the operating system
- partly from scratch and partly by using publicly available
software.  Torvalds then released the system to his friends and to a
community of "hackers" on the Internet and asked them to work with it
and enhance it. It took off.

Today, there are hundreds of software developers around the world
contributing software to the Linux effort. Because the source code for
the software is freely available, anyone can work on it, change it, or
enhance it. On top of the Linux kernel effort, the creators of Linux
also drew on a great deal of system software and applications that are
now bundled with Linux from the GNU software effort (GNU stands for
"GNU is Not UNIX"), which is directed by the Free Software Foundation
(FSF). There is a vast amount of software that can be used with Linux,
all of which includes features that can compete with or surpass those
of any other operating system in the world.

If you have heard Linux described as a free version of UNIX, there is
good reason for it. Although much of the code for Linux started from
scratch, the blueprint for what the code would do was created to
follow POSIX standards. POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface for
UNIX) is a computer industry operating system standard that every
major version of UNIX complied with. In other words, if your operating
system was POSIX-compliant, it was UNIX.

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