Linux is a modem, free operating system based on UNIX standards. First developed as a small but self-contained kernel in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, with the major design goal of UNIX compatibility. Its history has been one of collaboration by many users from all around the world, corresponding almost exclusively over the Internet. It has been designed to run efficiently and reliably on common PC hardware, but also runs on a variety of other platforms.
The core Linux operating system kernel is entirely original, but it can run much existing free UNIX software, resulting in an entire UNIX-compatible operating system free from proprietary code.
The Linux Kernel
Version 0.01 (May 1991) had no networking, ran only on 80386-compatible Intel processors and on PC hardware, had extremely limited device-drive support, and supported only the Minix file system.
Linux 1.0 (March 1994) included these new features:
1. Support for UNIX’s standard TCP/IP networking protocols
2. BSD-compatible socket interface for networking programming
3. Device-driver support for running IP over an Ethernet
4. Enhanced file system
5. Support for a range of SCSI controllers for high-performance disk access
6. Extra hardware support
Version 1.2 (March 1995) was the final PC-only Linux kernel.
Released in June 1996, 2.0 added two major new capabilities:
1. Support for multiple architectures, including a fully 64-bit native Alpha port.
2. Support for multiprocessor architectures _ Other new features included:
3. Improved memory-management code
4. Improved TCP/IP performance
5. Support for internal kernel threads, for handling dependencies between loadable modules, and for
automatic loading of modules on demand.
6. Standardized configuration interface
Available for Motorola 68000-series processors, Sun Sparc systems, and for PC and PowerMac systems.
The Linux System
Linux uses many tools developed as part of Berkeley’s BSD operating system, MIT’s X Window System, and the Free Software Foundation's GNU project.
The min system libraries were started by the GNU project, with improvements provided by the Linux
Linux networking-administration tools were derived from 4.3BSD code; recent BSD derivatives such as Free BSD have borrowed code from Linux in return.
The Linux system is maintained by a loose network of developers collaborating over the Internet, with a small number of public ftp sites acting as de facto standard repositories.
Standard, precompiled sets of packages, or distributions, include the basic Linux system, system installation and management utilities, and ready-to-install packages of common UNIX tools.
The first distributions managed these packages by simply providing a means of unpacking all the files into the appropriate places; modern distributions include advanced package management.
Early distributions included SLS and Slack ware. Red Hat and Debian are popular distributions from commercial and noncommercial sources, respectively.
The RPM Package file format permits compatibility among the various Linux distributions.
The Linux kernel is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), the terms of which are set out by the Free Software Foundation.
Anyone using Linux, or creating their own derivative of Linux, may not make the derived product proprietary;
software released under the GPL may not be redistributed as a binary-only product.