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Not to be confused with GNU/Linux.

{ At this point it's best to start using a different kernel if you can. Consider BSD or Hurd maybe. ~drummyfish }

Linux (also Lunix or Loonix, egoistically named after its original creator Linus Torvalds) is a partially "open-source" pseudoleftist unix-like operating system kernel, probably the most successful "mostly FOSS" kernel, nowadays already hijacked and milked by capitalism and not worth using anymore. One of its greatest advantages was support of a lot of hardware (though probably owing greatly to the sneaky embedding of proprietary blobs in it); it ran besides others on [x86](x86.md], PowerPC, Arm, had many drivers and could be compiled to be quite small so as to run well even on very weak computers. Linux is NOT an operating system, only its basic part -- for a whole operating system more things need to be added, such as some kind of user interface and actual user programs (so called userland), and this is what Linux distributions do (there hundreds of these) -- Linux distributions, such as Debian, Arch or Ubuntu are complete operating systems (but beware, most of them are not fully FOSS). The mascot of the project is a penguin named Tux (under some vague non-standard license). Linux is one of the biggest collaborative programming projects, as of now it has more than 15000 contributors. Despite popular misconceptions Linux is proprietary software by containing binary blobs (pieces of proprietary code sneakily inserted into obscure parts of the source code) -- completely free distributions have to use forks that remove these (see e.g. Linux-libre, Debian's Linux fork etc.). Linux is also greatly bloated (though not anywhere near Windows and such) and tranny software, abusing technology as a vehicle for promoting liberal politics. While back in the day Linux was one of the coolest projects, by 2024 Linux is absolute shit and basically dead, it has code of censorship, it's been absolutely hijacked by capitalism, developed by the worst corporations and fascist political groups (feminists, LGBT, ...), it is greatly overcomplicated for the sake of keeping a bloat monopoly, commercialized, full of Rust code; there are already even backdoor popping in (see the 2024 XZ scandal), basically it's almost unusable now. The spirit, significance, journey and eventual fate of Linux are similar to e.g. Wikipedia -- initially a project of freedom later on couldn't resist the immense capitalist pressure and eventually started selling its popularity to evil entities, becoming the opposite of its past self.

Fun note: there is a site that counts certain words in the Linux source code, https://www.vidarholen.net/contents/wordcount. For the lulz in 2019 some word counts were: "fuck": 16, "shit": 33, "idiot": 17, "retard": 4, "hack": 1571, "todo": 6166, "fixme": 4256.

Linux is written in the C language, specifically the old C89 standard (which design-wise is very good), as of 2022 (there seem to be plans to switch to a newer version).

Linux is typically combined with a lot of GNU software and the GNU project (whose goal is to create a free operating system) uses Linux (actually a fork of it, called Linux-libre) as its official kernel, so in the wild we usually encounter the term GNU/Linux or GNU+Linux to mean a whole operating system (basically a distro), though the system should really be called just GNU. Despite this most people still call these systems just "Linux", which is completely wrong and shows their misunderstanding of technology -- GNU is the whole operating system, it existed long before Linux, Linux joined GNU later to be integrated into it. Terms like "Linux kernel" also don't make sense, Linux IS a kernel, there is no need to add the word "kernel", it's like "John human" -- no need to add the word "human" here.

Linux is sometimes called "free as in freedom", however that's a blatant lie, it is at best a partially "open-source" or "FOSS" project. Linux is in many ways bad, especially lately. Some reasons for this are:

Nevertheless, despite its mistakes and inevitable shitty future (it's just going to become "Windows 2.0" in a few years), nowadays (2023) GNU/Linux still offers a relatively comfy, powerful Unix/POSIX environment which means it can be drop-in replaced with another unix-like system without this causing you much trouble, so using GNU/Linux is at this point considered OK (until Microsoft completely seizes it at which point we migrate probably to BSD, GNU Hurd, HyperbolaBSD or something). It can be made fairly minimal (see e.g. KISS Linux and Puppy Linux) and LRS/suckless friendly. It is in no way perfect but can serve as an acceptable temporary boat on the sail towards freedom, until it inevitably sinks by the weight of capitalism.

Linux is so called monolithic kernel (oppose to microkernel) and as such tries to do many things at once, becoming quite bloated. However it "just works" and has a great hardware support so it wins many users over alternatives such as BSD.

Some alternatives to Linux (and Linux-libre) and GNU/Linux are:

Switching To GNU/Linux

2024 UPDATE: Don't switch to it, switch to something else now.

One of the basic mistakes of noobs who just switched from Windows to GNU/Linux is that they try to continue to do things the Windows way. They try to force-run Windows programs on GNU/Linux, they look for program installers on the web, they install antiviruses, they try to find a GUI program for a thing that is solved with 2 lines of shell script (and fail to find one), they keep distro hoppoing instead of customizing their system etc. Many give up and then go around saying "brrruh, Loooonix sux" -- yes, it kind of does, but for other reasons. You're just using it wrong. Despite its corruption, it's still a Unix system, you do things elegantly and simply, however these ways are naturally completely different from how ugly systems like Windows do them -- and how they nurture normal people to do them. If you want to convert an image from png to jpg, you don't need to download and crack a graphical program that takes 100 GB and installs ads on your system, you do it via a simple command line tool -- don't be afraid of the terminal, learn some basic commands, ask experiences people how they do it (not how to achieve the way you want to do it). Everyone single individual who learned it later thanked himself for doing it, so don't be stupid.

TODO: more


{ Some history of Linux can be read in the biography of Linus Torvalds called Just For Fun. ~drummyfish }

Linux was created by Linus Torvalds. He started the project in 1991 as a university student. He read a book about operating system design and Unix and became fascinated with it. Then when he bought a new no-name PC (4 MB RAM, 33 MHz CPU), he installed Minix on it, a then-proprietary Unix-like operating system. He was frustrated about some features of Minix and started to write his own software such as terminal emulator, disk driver and shell, and he made it all POSIX compliant. These slowly started to evolve into an OS kernel.

Linus originally wanted to name the project Freax, thinking Linux would sound too self-centered (it would). However the admin of an FTP server that hosted the files renamed it to Linux, and the name stuck (and it still sounds self-centered).

On 25 August 1991 { One year plus one day after I was born :D ~drummyfish } he made the famous public announcement of Linux on Usenet in which he claimed it was just a hobby project and that it "wouldn't be big and professional as GNU". In November 1991 Linux became self-hosted with the version 0.10 -- by the time a number of people were already using it and working on it (among them for example Alan Cox who would become probably the second most famous contributor after Linus himself). Back then Linus created so called Boot-Root images of Linux, something that might be seen as a precursor to distros. Similar "mini distros" were slowly popping up (e.g. SLS, Yggdrasil etc.).

In 1992, with version 0.12, Linux became free software with the adoption of the GPL license. By this it became the main kernel for the free operating system called GNU (started by Richard Stallman) -- the system would henceforth be called GNU/Linux. Though being separate projects, GNU and Linux were (and still are) very close: GNU uses Linux as its kernel and Linux uses GNU tools (such as the gcc compiler) and software (e.g. user programs) for its distros. But indeed there is also a great amount of dissonance between the two projects (GNU is focused on ethics, tolerates absolutely no proprietary parts, uses the term "free software", while Linux accepted capitalism, it is friendly to business, tolerates "justified" proprietary parts, sometimes prefers to use the term "open source"; GNU even has to actively remove proprietary blobs from Linux to be able to use it).

In 1993 two important distributions appeared: Slackware and Debian. Debian would go on to become especially important: its aim was to create and maintain a completely free, non-commercial, simple to use operating system for the people (however it would not be endorsed by GNU for some disagreements about e.g. even giving an option to install proprietary software). Debian developed its own package system and being completely free, it would become a basis for other very popular forks such as Ubuntu, Mint, Devuan and many others -- these would in turn also adopt the package system, widening and de facto standardizing its use. For this reason Debian-based distros are extremely common nowadays.

On 14 March 1994 Linux 1.0 -- a fully functional version -- was released.

TODO: moar

See Also

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