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Linux is a operating system kernel created by Linus Torvalds in 1991. It is used by variants of The GNU Operating System such as Manjaro Linux, GNU GuixSD, Mageia, openEuler and many others. It is also the basis for the popular Android operating system used by the majority of the worlds "smartphones".

Popularity and common use

The Linux kernel is probably the most widely used piece of software ever created. It is found in routers, spaceships, cars, satellites, refrigerators, stereos, laptops, desktops, cell phones and countless other devices.

Misconceptions regarding the name "Linux"

Most variant of the The GNU Operating System are commonly referred to as "Linux distributions". Richard Stallman would very much like to interject for a moment that

"What you’re referring to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux, or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux. Linux is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning GNU system made useful by the GNU corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX. Many computer users run a modified version of the GNU system every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of GNU which is widely used today is often called “Linux”, and many of its users are not aware that it is basically the GNU system, developed by the GNU Project. There really is a Linux, and these people are using it, but it is just a part of the system they use. Linux is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the machine’s resources to the other programs that you run. The kernel is an essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only function in the context of a complete operating system. Linux is normally used in combination with the GNU operating system: the whole system is basically GNU with Linux added, or GNU/Linux. All the so-called “Linux” distributions are really distributions of GNU/Linux."

Richard Stallman in a legendary interview

In the release notes for first Linux kernel Linus Torvalds stated that:

"Sadly, a kernel by itself gets you nowhere. To get a working system you need a shell, compilers, a library etc. These are separate parts and may be under a stricter (or even looser) copyright. Most of the tools used with linux are GNU software and are under the GNU copyleft. These tools aren't in the distribution - ask me (or GNU) for more info."

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