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About Linux & Open Source

Linux (also known as GNU/Linux) is a computer operating system. It is one of the most prominent examples of free software and of open source development; unlike proprietary operating systems such as Windows or Mac OS, all of its underlying source code is available to the public for anyone to freely use, modify, and redistribute.

Initially, Linux was primarily developed and used by individual enthusiasts. Since then, Linux has gained the support of major corporations such as IBM, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, and Novell for use in servers and is gaining popularity in the desktop market. It is used in systems ranging from the common personal computer to supercomputers and embedded systems such as mobile phones and personal video recorders.

Linux has historically been used mainly as a server operating system, but its low cost, flexibility, and Unix background make it suitable for a wide range of applications.

Linux is the cornerstone of the so-called "LAMP" server-software combination (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python) that has achieved widespread popularity among Web developers, making it one of the most common platforms on the Web.

Linux is increasingly common as an operating system for supercomputers. In the November 2005 TOP500 list of supercomputers, the two fastest supercomputers in the world run Linux. Of the five hundred systems, 73% run some version of Linux, including seven of the top ten.

Open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's sources. Some consider it as a philosophy, and others consider it as a pragmatic methodology. Before open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of phrases to describe the concept; the term open source gained popularity with the rise of the Internet and its enabling of diverse production models, communication paths, and interactive communities. Subsequently, open source software became the most prominent face of open source.

The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.

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