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operating system family that use the Linux kernel, including GNU/Linux and Android

Linux is a free and open-source kernel for unix-like operating systems. It was first developed in 1991 by Linus Torvalds.


  • Some people have told me they don't think a fat penguin really embodies the grace of Linux, which just tells me they have never seen an angry penguin charging at them in excess of 100mph. They'd be a lot more careful about what they say if they had.
  • …the Linux philosophy is 'laugh in the face of danger'. Oops. Wrong one. 'Do it yourself'. That's it.
  • Note that nobody reads every post in linux-kernel. In fact, nobody who expects to have time left over to actually do any real kernel work will read even half. Except Alan Cox, but he's actually not human, but about a thousand gnomes working in under-ground caves in Swansea. None of the individual gnomes read all the postings either, they just work together really well.
  • 2.6.<odd>: still a stable kernel, but accept bigger changes leading up to it (timeframe: a month or two).
    2.<odd>.x: aim for big changes that may destabilize the kernel for several releases (timeframe: a year or two)
    <odd>.x.x: Linus went crazy, broke absolutely _everything_, and rewrote the kernel to be a microkernel using a special message-passing version of Visual Basic. (timeframe: "we expect that he will be released from the mental institution in a decade or two").
  • One of the reasons that basic research is advanced most by not resorting to intellectual property is that while doing so would have questionable benefits, the costs are apparent. [...] Interestingly, even in software, this system of open collaboration has worked. Today we have the Linux computer operating system, which is also based on the principle of open architecture.
  • I used to [look at the Linux source code], for Plan 9. They were always ahead of us—they just had massively more resources to deal with hardware. So when we'd run across a piece of hardware, I'd look at the Linux drivers for it and write Plan 9 drivers for it. Now I have no reason to look at it. I run Linux.
    • Ken Thompson; cited in Seibel, Peter (2009). Coders At Work. p. 479. 

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