Linus Torvalds created the Linux operating system as a personal project in 1991 (in Finland), out of the desire to learn and understand the 386 processor and Unix-based operating systems. It was released free-of-charge to the public for everyone to make improvements under the terms of the GNU General Public License.
Since then, Linux has grown into a major player in the operating system market, thanks to the contribution of hundreds of developers all over the world and the coordinating efforts of Linus Torvalds. It has been ported to run on a variety of architectures including Compaq’s Alpha, Sun’s SPARC, and Motorola’s PowerPC chips. The term “Linux” technically only refers to the kernel (the core of the operating system).
12 An important reason why Linux has become so popular today is the ease of availability through the so-called “distributions”. Distributions bundle the Linux operating system together with useful applications developed by independent groups, and usually have an installation program. Many companies offer Linux distributions today; a list of major distributions is given in the next section. With the combined efforts of companies as well as individuals, Linux has evolved into a modern operating system that incorporates protected memory, multitasking, fast TCP/IP networking, shared libraries and multi-user capabilities.
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