Linux - The Operating System of the 21st Century TM
Silicon Valley Linux User's Group
What is Linux?
Linux is a Unix-like operating system for personal computers and other platforms. Linux currently runs on CPUs from Intel, AMD, Motorola, Digital, MIPS, Sun, HP, IBM, and many others. Linux also runs on a number of small devices, such as 3Com's PalmPilot, Apple Computer's iPod, etc. Linux is also "open source", meaning that its components are permanently and freely available to any customizer.
The Linux operating system is a fully functional one, offering more than many proprietary operating systems. With any Linux "distribution" (complete software system), you receive the Linux kernel, device drivers for peripherals, development tools, text editors, games, everything you need to use the Internet, and much more. For example, one of the most extensive such distributions, Debian GNU/Linux, provided access to 17,797 installable software packages (with a full CD set being 13 discs) as of April 18, 2006. At any given time, about a dozen full "office" application suites enjoy some popularity.
Linux is developed by volunteers and paid professionals from around the world. These programmers organize their activities via the Internet. Anyone can download entire Linux "distributions" from the Internet, to run free of charge on any number of machines that they want. Many of the programs that come with Linux also have freely available and adaptable source code. This means that you can edit the programs to solve your own problems, fix bugs, and support other users.
Linux is also supported by a number of commercial developers, including Oracle, Informix, Computer Associates, Bentley Systems, and many others.
Since its founding in 1992, Linux has expanded into new
areas once occupied only by supercomputers and high-end workstations, including
availability of friendly end-user interfaces for home and business desktop
users. In 1997, Linux was the only non-Microsoft OS growing in market share. The
number of Linux users worldwide is estimated at between 20 to 30 million, and
The Free Standards Group provides a page about its business-class members, which also serves as a good background on the leading lights of the Linux community.
Feedback to SVLUG webmasters.