1. an open-source version of the UNIX operating system
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
n 1: an open-source version of the UNIX operating system
The Jargon File (version 4.4.7, 29 Dec 2003):
/lee'nuhks/, /li?nuks/, not, /li:?nuhks/, n.
The free Unix workalike created by Linus Torvalds and friends starting
about 1991. The pronunciation /li'nuhks/ is preferred because the name
?Linus? has an /ee/ sound in Swedish (Linus's family is part of Finland's
6% ethnic-Swedish minority) and Linus considers English short /i/ to be
closer to /ee/ than English long /i:/. This may be the most remarkable
hacker project in history ? an entire clone of Unix for 386, 486 and
Pentium micros, distributed for free with sources over the net (ports to
Alpha and Sparc and many other machines are also in use).
Linux is what GNU aimed to be, and it relies on the GNU toolset. But the
Free Software Foundation didn't produce the kernel to go with that toolset
until 1999, which was too late. Other, similar efforts like FreeBSD and
NetBSD have been technically successful but never caught fire the way Linux
has; as this is written in 2003, Linux has effectively swallowed all
proprietary Unixes except Solaris and is seriously challenging Microsoft.
It has already captured 41% of the Internet-server market and over 25% of
general business servers.
An earlier version of this entry opined ?The secret of Linux's success
seems to be that Linus worked much harder early on to keep the development
process open and recruit other hackers, creating a snowball effect.? Truer
than we knew. See bazaar.
(Some people object that the name ?Linux? should be used to refer only to
the kernel, not the entire operating system. This claim is a proxy for an
underlying territorial dispute; people who insist on the term GNU/Linux
want the FSF to get most of the credit for Linux because RMS and friends
wrote many of its user-level tools. Neither this theory nor the term GNU/
Linux has gained more than minority acceptance).
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (18 March 2015):
("Linus Unix") /li'nuks/ (but see below)
An implementation of the Unix kernel originally written
from scratch with no proprietary code.
The kernel runs on Intel and Alpha hardware in the general
release, with SPARC, PowerPC, MIPS, ARM, Amiga,
Atari, and SGI in active development. The SPARC, PowerPC,
ARM, PowerMAC - OSF, and 68k ports all support shells,
X and networking. The Intel and SPARC versions have
reliable symmetric multiprocessing.
Work on the kernel is coordinated by Linus Torvalds, who holds
the copyright on a large part of it. The rest of the
copyright is held by a large number of other contributors (or
their employers). Regardless of the copyright ownerships, the
kernel as a whole is available under the GNU General Public
License. The GNU project supports Linux as its kernel until
the research Hurd kernel is completed.
This kernel would be no use without application programs.
The GNU project has provided large numbers of quality tools,
and together with other public domain software it is a rich
Unix environment. A compilation of the Linux kernel and these
tools is known as a Linux distribution. Compatibility modules
and/or emulators exist for dozens of other computing
The kernel version numbers are significant: the odd numbered
series (e.g. 1.3.xx) is the development (or beta) kernel which
evolves very quickly. Stable (or release) kernels have even
major version numbers (e.g. 1.2.xx).
There is a lot of commercial support for and use of Linux,
both by hardware companies such as Digital, IBM, and
Apple and numerous smaller network and integration
specialists. There are many commercially supported
distributions which are generally entirely under the GPL. At
least one distribution vendor guarantees Posix compliance.
Linux is particularly popular for Internet Service
Providers, and there are ports to both parallel
supercomputers and embedded microcontrollers. Debian is
one popular open source distribution.
The pronunciation of "Linux" has been a matter of much debate.
Many, including Torvalds, insist on the short I pronunciation
/li'nuks/ because "Linus" has an /ee/ sound in Swedish
(Linus's family is part of Finland's 6% ethnic-Swedish
minority) and Linus considers English short /i/ to be closer
to /ee/ than English long /i:/ dipthong. This is consistent
with the short I in words like "linen". This doesn't stop
others demanding a long I /li:'nuks/ following the english
pronunciation of "Linus" and "minus". Others say /li'niks/
following Minix, which Torvalds was working on before Linux.
More on pronunciation (/pub/misc/linux-pronunciation).
LinuxHQ (http://linuxhq.com/). slashdot
(http://slashdot.org/). freshmeat (http://freshmeat.net/).
Woven Goods (http://fokus.gmd.de/linux/). Linux
funet Linux Archive (ftp://ftp.funet.fi/pub/Linux), US
mirror (ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/), UK Mirror