The Linux Operating System
The Linux operating system began as a hobby of Linus Torvalds, a young student that attended Finland's University of Helsinki. Torvalds' initial interest was in Minix, a small Unix system. His work began in 1991 with ideas to develop a system that exceeded the functionality of Minix. In 1994, the Linux kernal was released under the GNU General Public License, the source code made freely available to all. This very kernel forms the heart of every Linux operating system.
The extreme size, functionality and compatibility of Linux has made it the perfect alternative to proprietary systems developed by Microsoft, IBM and Unix. Deep into its second decade, Linux has been adopted worldwide and is the preferred choice for a server platform. It is also gaining ground on other systems by picking up a strong following as a home and small business desktop operating system.
A few years after the initial release, many tech savvy users dismissed Linux as a simple hobbyist project that would never be suitable for the needs of the general public. However, with the aid of developers of desktop management systems like GNOME and KDE, office suite solutions like OpenOffice.org , the Mozilla web browser and other open-source projects, a number of applications can now be run on Linux and operated by anyone regardless of experience.
To experience Linux and get a feel for its functionality, users can download a live version known as Knoppix. The software includes everything needed to perform your routine computing tasks and requires no installation. It can be run on any computer capable of booting up from a CD drive. Linux offers several different versions, all of which are easy to setup, configure and put into use.
The Linux Community
Linux is primarily driven by its large community of users and developers. Some voluntarily develop and fund their distributions with Debian being one known project. Others maintain a community version of proprietary distributions similar to what Red Hat has done with Fedora.
You will find that many technology websites have a strong focus on the Linux operating system. There's Linux Weekly News which is a weekly publication of Linunx-related news, the Linux Journal, an online magazine that publishes Linux articles on a monthly basis, and Slashdot, a popular technology news sites that publishes several stories on Linux and other open-source projects. There are also print magazines that focus on Linux software components and complete Linux operating systems.
Although the Linux source code is available to developers and users free of charge, many large companies have established business models revolved around contributing, supporting and selling Linux products. Some of these organizations include Dell, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Novell, Red Hat and Sun Microsystems. Commercial suppliers often charge for support when it comes to business owners while some give away software in order to market proprietary hardware.
The Linux Trademark
The Linux operating system is represented by the official mascot, Tux the penguin. Tux was selected by Linus Torvalds and created by Larry Ewing who allowed it to be used freely to promote the system.