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What is Linux?
The name "Linux" is usually used to mean a complete operating system, like Microsoft's Windows or Apple's Mac OS X. But really, deep down, "Linux" is just the bit that looks after your computer: it runs programs, it stores information in your RAM and on your hard disk, and it also provides support for things like connecting to a network. Linux by itself, known as "the kernel" because it's the true core of any desktop system, isn't very interesting. It doesn't have a graphical user interface. It doesn't let you chat to your friends online. And it certainly won't open any Microsoft Office documents! Instead, all these services are provided by applications that are designed to run on top of Linux. Because just giving someone the Linux kernel is pretty much useless, a lot of people have taken the time to put it together with lots of other programs, utilities, tools and documentation to produce something that is useful. These combinations of software is called a Linux distribution (usually shortened to "distro"), and, because people choose different kinds of software or target different kinds users, there are lots of different distros around.
Who created Linux?
Why is Linux free?

 

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What is Linux?
The name "Linux" is usually used to mean a complete operating system, like Microsoft's Windows or Apple's Mac OS X. But really, deep down, "Linux" is just the bit that looks after your computer: it runs programs, it stores information in your RAM and on your hard disk, and it also provides support for things like connecting to a network. Linux by itself, known as "the kernel" because it's the true core of any desktop system, isn't very interesting. It doesn't have a graphical user interface. It doesn't let you chat to your friends online. And it certainly won't open any Microsoft Office documents! Instead, all these services are provided by applications that are designed to run on top of Linux. Because just giving someone the Linux kernel is pretty much useless, a lot of people have taken the time to put it together with lots of other programs, utilities, tools and documentation to produce something that is useful. These combinations of software is called a Linux distribution (usually shortened to "distro"), and, because people choose different kinds of software or target different kinds users, there are lots of different distros around.
Who created Linux?
Linux was created in 1991 as the personal project of a Finnish student called Linus Torvalds, and since then it has grown quickly as other people (and, later, companies) joined in its development. Linux was originally written to work only on Intel CPUs, but since then has been made to work on dozens of different computer architectures - many phones run Linux, for example.
Why is Linux free?
all the Linux distributions in the world are free, meaning that they cost $0 to install and use on your computer. The reason for this is that all Linux distros take their software from the same pool - if one distro has a really awesome program, chances are 50 other distros also have exactly the same feature, so if a company tried to sell their version of Linux people would just go elsewhere. The big upside to all this is that if you ever decide you don't like the direction one distro is taking, you can jump ship and try a different one - you'll find all the same software there ready for you.

 

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What is Linux?
Who created Linux?
Why is Linux free?
What's the difference between free software and open source?