Linux: An Overview of the Linux Operating System

Linux is a Unix-like and mostly POSIX-compliant computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open-source software development and distribution. The defining component of Linux is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released on 5 October 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The Free Software Foundation uses the name GNU/Linux to describe the operating system, which has led to some controversy.

Linux was originally developed as a free operating system for Intel x86–based personal computers, but has since been ported to more computer hardware platforms than any other operating system. It is the leading operating system on servers and other big iron systems such as mainframe computers and supercomputers, but is used on only around 1.5% of desktop computers. Linux also runs on embedded systems, which are devices whose operating system is typically built into the firmware and is highly tailored to the system; this includes mobile phones, tablet computers, network routers, facility automation controls, televisions and video game consoles. Android, the most widely used operating system for tablets and smartphones, is built on top of the Linux kernel.

Where is Linux?

One of the most noted properties of Linux is where it can be used. Windows and OS X are predominantly found on personal computing devices such as desktop and laptop computers. Other operating systems, such as Symbian, are found on small devices such as phones and PDAs, while mainframes and supercomputers found in major academic and corporate labs use specialized operating systems such as AS/400 and the Cray OS.

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