A trademark for an open-source version of the UNIX OS. Originally written from scratch with no proprietary code by Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds and a worldwide assortment of computer geeks, Linux is now probably the most famous example of free software and of open-source development.
The name Linux strictly refers only to the Linux kernel, but it is commonly used to describe entire operating systems that are based on the Linux kernel combined with additional libraries and development tools. Linux distributions typically bundle large quantities of software with the core system.
The kernel was originally developed for Intel 386 microprocessors but now supports a variety of computer architectures. There is a great deal of commercial support for and use of Linux, both by hardware giants such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Apple and numerous smaller network and integration specialists. Linux is overtaking many proprietary versions of UNIX. It is deployed in applications ranging from personal computers to supercomputers and embedded systems such as mobile phones and personal video recorders. Proponents attribute this success to its vendor independence, low cost of implementation, security, and reliability.