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operating system ("Linus Unix") /li'nuks/ (but see below)
An implementation of the Unix kernel originally written
from scratch with no proprietary code.
The kernel runs on Intel and Alpha hardware in the general
release, with SPARC, PowerPC, MIPS, ARM, Amiga,
Atari, and SGI in active development. The SPARC, PowerPC,
ARM, PowerMAC - OSF, and 68k ports all support shells,
X and networking. The Intel and SPARC versions have
Work on the kernel is coordinated by Linus Torvalds, who holds
the copyright on a large part of it. The rest of the
copyright is held by a large number of other contributors (or
their employers). Regardless of the copyright ownerships, the
kernel as a whole is available under the GNU General PublicLicense. The GNU project supports Linux as its kernel until
the research Hurd kernel is completed.
This kernel would be no use without application programs.
The GNU project has provided large numbers of quality tools,
and together with other public domain software it is a rich
Unix environment. A compilation of the Linux kernel and these
tools is known as a Linux distribution. Compatibility modules
and/or emulators exist for dozens of other computing
The kernel version numbers are significant: the odd numbered
series (e.g. 1.3.xx) is the development (or beta) kernel which
evolves very quickly. Stable (or release) kernels have even
major version numbers (e.g. 1.2.xx).
There is a lot of commercial support for and use of Linux,
both by hardware companies such as Digital, IBM, and
Apple and numerous smaller network and integration
specialists. There are many commercially supported
distributions which are generally entirely under the GPL. At
least one distribution vendor guarantees Posix compliance.
Linux is particularly popular for Internet ServiceProviders, and there are ports to both parallel
supercomputers and embedded microcontrollers. Debian is
one popular open source distribution.
The pronunciation of "Linux" has been a matter of much debate.
Many, including Torvalds, insist on the short I pronunciation
/li'nuks/ because "Linus" has an /ee/ sound in Swedish
(Linus's family is part of Finland's 6% ethnic-Swedish
minority) and Linus considers English short /i/ to be closer
to /ee/ than English long /i:/ dipthong. This is consistent
with the short I in words like "linen". This doesn't stop
others demanding a long I /li:'nuks/ following the english
pronunciation of "Linus" and "minus". Others say /li'niks/
following Minix, which Torvalds was working on before Linux.