Linux is a free and open-source software operating system that runs on a wide variety of hardware, from mobile phones and tablets to servers and mainframes. Linux is the leading operating system on servers and other big iron systems such as mainframe computers, and the only OS used on TOP500 supercomputers. It is also popular on embedded systems, such as routers, and is used as an alternative to Microsoft Windows and Apple's macOS on personal computers and laptops.
A Linux distribution, often called a distro for short, is a collection of software that makes up a complete operating system. A typical Linux distribution includes a Linux kernel, GNU tools and libraries, additional software, documentation, a window system (if applicable), a window manager, and a desktop environment. Some distributions also include a package manager, which can be used to install additional software.
There are hundreds of Linux distributions, each with a different focus. Some are designed for specific purposes, such as security or gaming, while others are general-purpose distributions that can be used for any type of task.
The Linux kernel is the core of a Linux operating system. It is responsible for managing the system's resources, such as memory, processors, and I/O devices. The kernel also provides a communication interface between the user and the hardware.
The Linux kernel was originally developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991. It is based on the Unix kernel, and has been released under the GNU General Public License (GPL) since version 2.0.
The latest stable version of the Linux kernel is 5.4.17, which was released on 2020-02-03.
A typical Linux distribution includes a wide variety of software, such as a text editor, a web browser, a mail client, and many others. The software is typically divided into two categories: userland and kernel land.
Userland software is any software that is not part of the kernel. This includes the vast majority of software that users interact with, such as applications, utilities, and services.
Kernel land software is any software that is part of the kernel. This includes drivers, which are responsible for interacting with hardware, and core kernel components.
The GNU tools and libraries are a set of tools and libraries that are used by the Linux kernel and many userland applications. They were originally developed as part of the GNU Project, and are now used by most Linux distributions.
The GNU tools and libraries include the GNU C Library (glibc), the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), and the GNU Debugger (GDB).
The X Window System (X11) is a windowing system that is commonly used on Linux systems. It provides a graphical user interface (GUI) by creating windows and menus on the screen.
The X Window System is typically used with a desktop environment, such as GNOME, KDE, or Xfce.
Desktop environments are collections of software that provide a complete user experience, including a window manager, a set of applications, and a set of libraries.
GNOME is a popular desktop environment that is used by many Linux distributions. It is designed to be simple and easy to use.
KDE is another popular desktop environment. It is more feature-rich than GNOME, but can be more difficult to use.
Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment that is designed to be fast and easy to use.
There are many other window managers and desktop environments available for Linux.
Documentation is an important part of any software project, and Linux is no exception. The Linux Documentation Project (LDP) is a volunteer effort to provide high-quality documentation for the Linux operating system.
The LDP provides documentation in a variety of formats, including HTML, PDF, and ePUB. It also provides translations of documentation into many languages.
The Linux Kernel Archives (LKML) is the primary mailing list for Linux kernel development. It is where new features and changes to the kernel are discussed and decided upon.
The LKML is open to all, and anyone can subscribe to it. However, it is primarily aimed at developers and those with a technical background.
The Linux Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports the development of the Linux operating system. It provides financial and legal support to the kernel developers, as well as funding for other important projects, such as the GNOME desktop environment.
The Linux Foundation also sponsors conferences and events, such as the annual LinuxCon and CloudOpen conferences.
Linux is a versatile and powerful operating system that can be used for a wide variety of tasks. It is available in many different forms, such as distributions, live CDs, and virtual machines.
Linux is free and open-source software, and is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). This means that anyone is free to use, modify, and redistribute the software.
Linux is used by millions of people around the world, on a wide variety of hardware. It is the leading operating system on servers, and is also popular on desktop computers, laptops, and embedded systems.