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Posted by sonny 03/19/2009 @ 06:12

Tags : linux, operating systems, computers, technology

News headlines
Mr. DisplayLink goes to Linux - CNET News
Today, DisplayLink announced it is planning to bring its technology to Linux. The company released a library that enables Linux developers to create X Servers, drivers, and other Linux applications, which will be compatible with products that utilize...
Kids belong on Linux netbooks - Computerworld
Kids belong on Linux, specifically on netbooks running Linux. Preston felt that "although Linux is generally easy to use these days, upgrading and installing software on it is no easy task". He's griped about updating software on Linux before,...
Linux development service cracks DaVinci code -
The LinuxLink framework now supports TI's video-oriented DM6446 and DM355 RISC/DSP system-on-chips (SoCs), and provides Linux-based reference board device drivers and automated development tools, says the company. The subscription-based LinuxLink...
Switching My Dad to Linux--Part Two - Computerworld
As mentioned in my last posting, I'm not a very good Linux evangelist. I don't try and convert family and friends to Linux. As mentioned in my last posting, I'm not a very good Linux evangelist. I don't try and convert family and friends to Linux....
Dell launches £200 netbook - Computerworld
The big difference is price, which drops to £200 in the cheapest Ubuntu Linux version. The price reduction has been achieved by stripping out the odd feature that most netbook buyers would hardly have used, specifically the HDMI interface,...
MontaVista releases next generation of its embedded Linux OS -
Latest version of Linux lets developers take better advantage of target hardware platforms and open source software. By Richard Nass According to MontaVista Software, its latest version of Linux, called MontaVista Linux 6, lets embedded developers take...
Is an IBM purchase of Red Hat inevitable? - ZDNet
In the short run, she notes that there's solid demand for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Jboss in a down economy. Meanwhile, sales to the government—Red Hat has just beefed up its sales force to sell to Washington DC—are expected to get a stimulus boost....
Nokia, Intel developing oFono Linux-based OS for GSM phones - PMP Today
Called oFono, this new Linux-based mobile platform is for GSM phones ruling out any speculation that it's for a Nokia netbook. Details about it are pretty scarce at the moment, but it seems like a big project. Could there be some truth to Nokia E97...
The Day, Or Year, The Linux Desktop Died - InformationWeek
That was the year that forces conspired to make sure Linux on the desktop would never become a reality. Linux as a server was another matter entirely, but to him the "Linux desktop" is as dead as the Amiga. How did this happen? Sam cites three things....
Media-ready SoHo NAS devices run Linux -
LaCie announced two Linux-based network-attached storage (NAS) devices for the home or small office, equipped with gigabit Ethernet and USB ports. The $190 d2 Network offers 500GB to 1.5TB capacity, while the $380 Big Disk Network combines two drives...


A summarized history of Unix-like operating systems showing Linux's origins. Note that despite similar architectural designs and concepts being shared as part of the POSIX standard, Linux does not share any non-free source code with the original Unix or Minix.

Linux (commonly pronounced IPA: /ˈlɪnəks/ in English; variants exist) is a generic term referring to Unix-like computer operating systems based on the Linux kernel. Their development is one of the most prominent examples of free and open source software collaboration; typically all the underlying source code can be used, freely modified, and redistributed by anyone under the terms of the GNU GPL and other free licenses.

Linux is predominantly known for its use in servers, although it is installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from embedded devices and mobile phones to supercomputers. The popularity of Linux distributions as desktop and laptop operating system has been growing lately due to the rise of netbooks and the Ubuntu distribution of the operating system.

The name "Linux" comes from the Linux kernel, originally written in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The rest of the system, including utilities and libraries, usually comes from the GNU operating system announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman. The GNU contribution is the basis for the alternative name GNU/Linux.

The Unix operating system was conceived and implemented in the 1960s and first released in 1970. Its wide availability and portability meant that it was widely adopted, copied and modified by academic institutions and businesses, with its design being influential on authors of other systems.

The GNU Project, started in 1984 by Richard Stallman, had the goal of creating a "complete Unix-compatible software system" made entirely of free software. The next year Stallman created the Free Software Foundation and wrote the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) in 1989. By the early 1990s, many of the programs required in an operating system (such as libraries, compilers, text editors, a Unix shell, and a windowing system) were completed, although low-level elements such as device drivers, daemons, and the kernel were stalled and incomplete. Linus Torvalds has said that if the GNU kernel had been available at the time (1991), he would not have decided to write his own.

MINIX, a Unix-like system intended for academic use, was released by Andrew S. Tanenbaum in 1987. While source code for the system was available, modification and redistribution were restricted (that is not the case today). In addition, MINIX's 16-bit design was not well adapted to the 32-bit design of the increasingly cheap and popular Intel 386 architecture for personal computers.

In 1991 while attending the University of Helsinki, Torvalds began to work on a non-commercial replacement for MINIX, which would eventually become the Linux kernel. In 1992, Tanenbaum posted an article on Usenet claiming Linux was obsolete. In the article, he criticized the operating system as being monolithic in design and being tied closely to the x86 architecture and thus not portable, as he described "a fundamental error." Tanenbaum suggested that those who wanted a modern operating system should look into one based on the microkernel model. The posting elicited the response of Torvalds, which resulted in a well known debate over the microkernel and monolithic kernel designs.

Linux was dependent on the MINIX user space at first. With code from the GNU system freely available, it was advantageous if this could be used with the fledgling OS. Code licensed under the GNU GPL can be used in other projects, so long as they also are released under the same or a compatible license. In order to make the Linux kernel compatible with the components from the GNU Project, Torvalds initiated a switch from his original license (which prohibited commercial redistribution) to the GNU GPL. Developers worked to integrate GNU components with Linux to make a fully functional and free operating system.

Today Linux distributions are used in numerous domains, from embedded systems to supercomputers, and have secured a place in server installations with the popular LAMP application stack. Use of Linux distributions in home and enterprise desktops has been expanding. They have also gained in popularity with governments such that the governments have decided to use them in their computers. The federal government of Brazil is well known for its support for Linux. News of the Russian military creating their own Linux distribution has also surfaced. India has gone so far as to make it mandatory for all state high schools to run Linux on their computers. China, France, and Germany have also taken steps in its adoption.

Linux distributions have also become popular with the newly founded netbook market, with many devices such as the ASUS Eee PC and Acer Aspire One shipping with customized Linux distributions pre-installed.

Torvalds continues to direct the development of the kernel. Stallman heads the Free Software Foundation, which in turn supports the GNU components. Finally, individuals and corporations develop third-party non-GNU components. These third-party components comprise a vast body of work and may include both kernel modules and user applications and libraries. Linux vendors and communities combine and distribute the kernel, GNU components, and non-GNU components, with additional package management software in the form of Linux distributions.

A Linux-based system is a modular Unix-like operating system. It derives much of its basic design from principles established in Unix during the 1970s and 1980s. Such a system uses a monolithic kernel, the Linux kernel, which handles process control, networking, and peripheral and file system access. Device drivers are integrated directly with the kernel.

Separate projects that interface with the kernel provide much of the system's higher-level functionality. The GNU userland is an important part of most Linux-based systems, providing the most common implementation of the C library, a popular shell, and many of the common Unix tools which carry out many basic operating system tasks. The graphical user interface on most Linux systems is based on the X Window System.

A Linux-based system can be controlled by one or more of a text-based command line interface (CLI), graphical user interface (GUI) (usually the default for desktop), or through controls on the device itself (common on embedded machines).

On desktop machines, KDE, GNOME and Xfce are the most popular user interfaces, though a variety of other user interfaces exist. Most popular user interfaces run on top of the X Window System (X), which provides network transparency, enabling a graphical application running on one machine to be displayed and controlled from another.

Other GUIs include X window managers such as FVWM, Enlightenment and Window Maker. The window manager provides a means to control the placement and appearance of individual application windows, and interacts with the X window system.

A Linux system typically provides a CLI of some sort through a shell, which is the traditional way of interacting with a Unix system. A Linux distribution specialized for servers may use the CLI as its only interface. A “headless system” run without even a monitor can be controlled by the command line via a remote-control protocol such as SSH or telnet.

Most low-level Linux components, including the GNU Userland, use the CLI exclusively. The CLI is particularly suited for automation of repetitive or delayed tasks, and provides very simple inter-process communication. A graphical terminal emulator program is often used to access the CLI from a Linux desktop.

The primary difference between Linux and many other popular contemporary operating systems is that the Linux kernel and other components are free and open source software. Linux is not the only such operating system, although it is by far the most widely used. Some free and open source software licences are based on the principle of copyleft, a kind of reciprocity: any work derived from a copyleft piece of software must also be copyleft itself. The most common free software license, the GNU GPL, is a form of copyleft, and is used for the Linux kernel and many of the components from the GNU project.

Linux based distributions are intended by developers for interoperability with other operating systems and established computing standards. Linux systems adhere to POSIX, SUS, ISO and ANSI standards where possible, although to date only one Linux distribution has been POSIX.1 certified, Linux-FT.

Free software projects, although developed in a collaborative fashion, are often produced independently of each other. The fact that the software licenses explicitly permit redistribution, however, provides a basis for larger scale projects that collect the software produced by stand-alone projects and make it available all at once in the form of a Linux distribution.

A Linux distribution, commonly called a “distro”, is a project that manages a remote collection of system software and application software packages available for download and installation through a network connection. This allows the user to adapt the operating system to his/her specific needs. Distributions are maintained by individuals, loose-knit teams, volunteer organizations, and commercial entities. A distribution can be installed using a CD that contains distribution-specific software for initial system installation and configuration. A package manager such as Synaptic allows later package upgrades and installs. A distribution is responsible for the default configuration of the installed Linux kernel, general system security, and more generally integration of the different software packages into a coherent whole.

A distribution is largely driven by its developer and user communities. Some vendors develop and fund their distributions on a volunteer basis, Debian being a well-known example. Others maintain a community version of their commercial distributions, as Red Hat does with Fedora.

In many cities and regions, local associations known as Linux Users Groups (LUGs) seek to promote their preferred distribution and by extension free software. They hold meetings and provide free demonstrations, training, technical support, and operating system installation to new users. Many Internet communities also provide support to Linux users and developers. Most distributions and free software / open source projects have IRC chatrooms or newsgroups. Online forums are another means for support, with notable examples being and the Gentoo forums. Linux distributions host mailing lists; commonly there will be a specific topic such as usage or development for a given list.

There are several technology websites with a Linux focus. Print magazines on Linux often include cover disks including software or even complete Linux distributions.

Although Linux distributions are generally available without charge, several large corporations sell, support, and contribute to the development of the components of the system and of free software. These include Dell, IBM, HP, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Novell, Nokia. A number of corporations, notably Red Hat, have built their entire business around Linux distributions.

The free software licenses, on which the various software packages of a distribution built on the Linux kernel are based, explicitly accommodate and encourage commercialization; the relationship between a Linux distribution as a whole and individual vendors may be seen as symbiotic. One common business model of commercial suppliers is charging for support, especially for business users. A number of companies also offer a specialized business version of their distribution, which adds proprietary support packages and tools to administer higher numbers of installations or to simplify administrative tasks. Another business model is to give away the software in order to sell hardware.

Most Linux distributions support dozens of programming languages. The most common collection of utilities for building both Linux applications and operating system programs is found within the GNU toolchain, which includes the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) and the GNU build system. Amongst others, GCC provides compilers for Ada, C, C++, Java, and Fortran. The Linux kernel itself is written to be compiled with GCC. Proprietary compilers for Linux include the Intel C++ Compiler and IBM XL C/C++ Compiler.

Most distributions also include support for Perl, Ruby, Python and other dynamic languages. Examples of languages that are less common, but still well-supported, are C# via the Mono project, sponsored by Novell, and Scheme. A number of Java Virtual Machines and development kits run on Linux, including the original Sun Microsystems JVM (HotSpot), and IBM's J2SE RE, as well as many open-source projects like Kaffe.

The two main frameworks for developing graphical applications are those of GNOME and KDE. These projects are based on the GTK+ and Qt widget toolkits, respectively, which can also be used independently of the larger framework. Both support a wide variety of languages. There are a number of Integrated development environments available including Anjuta, Code::Blocks, Eclipse, KDevelop, Lazarus, MonoDevelop, NetBeans, and Omnis Studio while the long-established editors Vim and Emacs remain popular.

As well as those designed for general purpose use on desktops and servers, distributions may be specialized for different purposes including: computer architecture support, embedded systems, stability, security, localization to a specific region or language, targeting of specific user groups, support for real-time applications, or commitment to a given desktop environment. Furthermore, some distributions deliberately include only free software. Currently, over three hundred distributions are actively developed, with about a dozen distributions being most popular for general-purpose use.

Linux is a widely ported operating system kernel. The Linux kernel runs on the most diverse range of computer architectures: in the hand-held ARM-based iPAQ and the mainframe IBM System z9, in devices ranging from mobile phones to supercomputers. Specialized distributions exist for less mainstream architectures. The ELKS kernel fork can run on Intel 8086 or Intel 80286 16-bit microprocessors, while the µClinux kernel fork may run on systems without a memory management unit. The kernel also runs on architectures that were only ever intended to use a manufacturer-created operating system, such as Macintosh computers (with both PowerPC and Intel processors), PDAs, video game consoles, portable music players, and mobile phones.

Although there is a lack of Linux ports for some Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows programs in domains such as desktop publishing and professional audio, support for common applications roughly equivalent to those available for Mac and Windows is available for Linux.

Most Linux distributions provide a program for browsing a list of thousands of free software applications that have already been tested and configured for a specific distribution. These free programs can be downloaded and installed with one mouse click. A digital signature guarantees that no one has added a virus or a spyware to these programs.

The two main frameworks for developing graphical applications are those of GNOME and KDE. These projects are based on the GTK+ and Qt widget toolkits, respectively, which can also be used independently of the larger framework. Both support a wide variety of languages.

Many free software titles that are popular on Windows, such as Pidgin, Mozilla Firefox,, and GIMP, are also available in versions that run on Linux. A growing amount of proprietary desktop software is also supported, see List of proprietary software for Linux. In the field of animation and visual effects, most high end software, such as AutoDesk Maya, Softimage XSI and Apple Shake, is available for Linux, Windows and/or Mac OS X. CrossOver is a proprietary solution based on the open source Wine project that supports running Windows versions of Microsoft Office, Intuit applications such as Quicken and QuickBooks, Adobe Photoshop versions through CS2, and many popular games such as World of Warcraft and Team Fortress 2.

The collaborative nature of free software development allows distributed teams to localize Linux distributions for use in locales where localizing proprietary systems would not be cost-effective. For example the Sinhalese language version of the Knoppix distribution was available for a long time before Microsoft Windows XP was translated to Sinhalese. In this case the Lanka Linux User Group played a major part in developing the localized system by combining the knowledge of university professors, linguists, and local developers.

The performance of Linux on the desktop has been a controversial topic; for example, Con Kolivas accused the Linux community of favoring performance on servers. He quit Linux kernel development because he was frustrated with this lack of focus on the desktop, and then gave a "tell all" interview on the topic.

Historically, Linux distributions have mainly been used as server operating systems, and have risen to prominence in that area; Netcraft reported in September 2006 that eight of the ten most reliable internet hosting companies ran Linux distributions on their web servers. (As of June 2008, Linux distributions represented five of ten, FreeBSD three of ten, and Microsoft two of ten.) This is due to its relative stability and long uptime, and the fact that desktop software with a graphical user interface for servers is often unneeded. Enterprise and non-enterprise Linux distributions may be found running on servers. Linux distributions are the cornerstone of the LAMP server-software combination (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python) which has achieved popularity among developers, and which is one of the more common platforms for website hosting. Linux distributions are commonly used as operating systems for supercomputers. As of November 2008, out of the top 500 systems, 439 (87.8%) run a Linux distribution.

Due to its low cost and ability to be easily modified, an embedded Linux is often used in embedded systems. Linux has become a major competitor to the proprietary Symbian OS found in the majority of smartphones—16.7% of smartphones sold worldwide during 2006 were using Linux—and it is an alternative to the proprietary Windows CE and Palm OS operating systems on mobile devices. Cell phones or PDAs running on Linux and built on open source platform became a trend from 2007, like Nokia N810, Openmoko's Neo1973, Motorola RAZR2 v8, Motorola ROKR E8, Motorola MING series, Motorola ZINE and the on-going Google Android. The popular TiVo digital video recorder uses a customized version of Linux. Several network firewall and router standalone products, including several from Linksys, use Linux internally, using its advanced firewall and routing capabilities. The Korg OASYS and the Yamaha Motif XS music workstations also run Linux. Furthermore, Linux is used in the leading stage lighting control system, FlyingPig/HighEnd WholeHogIII Console.

Many quantitative studies of free / open source software focus on topics including market share and reliability, with numerous studies specifically examining Linux. The Linux market is growing rapidly, and the revenue of servers, desktops, and packaged software running Linux was expected to exceed $35.7 billion by 2008.

IDC's report for Q1 2007 says that Linux now holds 12.7% of the overall server market. This estimate was based on the number of Linux servers sold by various companies. Although, with web servers that do not belong to companies, i.e. personal web servers and blog sites, the percentage of overall market share is higher than that of the Microsoft web server.

Estimates for the desktop market share of Linux range from less than one percent to almost two percent. In comparison, Microsoft operating systems hold more than 90%.

The frictional cost of switching operating systems and lack of support for certain hardware and application programs designed for Microsoft Windows have been two factors that have inhibited adoption. Proponents and analysts attribute the relative success of Linux to its security, reliability, low cost, and freedom from vendor lock-in.

Also most recently Google has begun to fund Wine, which acts as a compatibility layer, allowing users to run some Windows programs under Linux.

The XO laptop project of One Laptop Per Child is creating a new and potentially much larger Linux community, planned to reach several hundred million schoolchildren and their families and communities in developing countries. Six countries have ordered a million or more units each for delivery in 2007 to distribute to schoolchildren at no charge. Google, Red Hat, and eBay are major supporters of the project. While the XO will also have a Windows option, it will be primarily deployed using Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

In the film industry Linux has been the platform of choice for several years. The first major film produced on Linux servers was Titanic in 1997. Since then major studios like Dreamworks Animation, Pixar and Industrial Light & Magic have moved to Linux. Currently more than 95% of the servers and desktops at large animation and visual effects companies use Linux.

The Linux kernel and most GNU software are licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL requires that anyone who distributes the Linux kernel must make the source code (and any modifications) available to the recipient under the same terms. In 1997, Linus Torvalds stated, “Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did.” Other key components of a Linux system may use other licenses; many libraries use the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), a more permissive variant of the GPL, and the X Window System uses the MIT License.

Torvalds has publicly stated that he would not move the Linux kernel (currently licensed under GPL version 2) to version 3 of the GPL, released in mid-2007, specifically citing some provisions in the new license which prohibit the use of the software in digital rights management.

A 2001 study of Red Hat Linux 7.1 found that this distribution contained 30 million source lines of code. Using the Constructive Cost Model, the study estimated that this distribution required about eight thousand man-years of development time. According to the study, if all this software had been developed by conventional proprietary means, it would have cost about 1.08 billion dollars (year 2000 U.S. dollars) to develop in the United States.

Most of the code (71%) was written in the C programming language, but many other languages were used, including C++, assembly language, Perl, Python, Fortran, and various shell scripting languages. Slightly over half of all lines of code were licensed under the GPL. The Linux kernel itself was 2.4 million lines of code, or 8% of the total.

In a later study, the same analysis was performed for Debian GNU/Linux version 4.0. This distribution contained over 283 million source lines of code, and the study estimated that it would have cost 5.4 billion euros to develop by conventional means.

In the United States, the name Linux is a trademark registered to Linus Torvalds. Initially, nobody registered it, but on 15 August 1994, William R. Della Croce, Jr. filed for the trademark Linux, and then demanded royalties from Linux distributors. In 1996, Torvalds and some affected organizations sued him to have the trademark assigned to Torvalds, and in 1997 the case was settled. The licensing of the trademark has since been handled by the Linux Mark Institute. Torvalds has stated that he trademarked the name only to prevent someone else from using it, but was bound in 2005 by United States trademark law to take active measures to enforce the trademark. As a result, the LMI sent letters to distribution vendors requesting that a fee be paid for the use of the name, and a number of companies have complied.

The Free Software Foundation views Linux distributions which use GNU software as GNU variants and they ask that such operating systems be referred to as GNU/Linux or a Linux-based GNU system. The media and common usage, however, refers to this family of operating systems simply as Linux, as do many large Linux distributions (e.g. Ubuntu and SuSE Linux). Some distributions use GNU/Linux (particularly notable is Debian GNU/Linux), but the term's use outside of the enthusiast community is limited. The naming issue remains a source of confusion to many newcomers, and the naming remains controversial. Linus Torvalds is against the GNU/Linux naming, stating that Linux is not a GNU project.

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Linux adoption

Knoppix Linux desktop

Linux adoption is new use of the Linux operating system by homes, organizations, companies, and governments, while Linux migration refers to the change from using other operating systems to using Linux.

There are many factors that have resulted in increased use of Linux systems by traditional desktop users as well as operators of server systems, including desire for decreased operating system cost, increased security and support for open source principles. Several national governments have passed policies moving governmental computers to Linux from proprietary systems in the 21st century.

Linux-powered personal computers account for 4% of unit sales. However, it has always been common for users to install linux in addition (dual boot) or in place of the pre-existing Microsoft Operating platform.

Although Linux's status as mainstream operating system is relatively recent, it has already been adopted in several different scenarios throughout the home, business, and government.

As local governments come under pressure from institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the International Intellectual Property Alliance, some have turned to open source Linux software as an affordable, legal alternative to both pirated material and expensive computer products from Microsoft, Apple and the like (see below). The spread of Linux affords some leverage for these countries when companies from the developed world bid for government contracts (since a low-cost option exists), while furnishing an alternative path to development for countries like India and Pakistan that have many citizens skilled in computer applications but cannot afford technological investment at "First World" prices.

Linux is often used in technical disciplines at universities and research centres. This is due to several factors, including that Linux is available free of charge and includes a large body of free/open source software. To some extent, technical competence of computer science and software engineering academics is also a contributor, as is stability, maintainability, and upgradability. IBM ran an advertising campaign entitled "Linux is Education" featuring a young boy who was supposed to be "Linux".

Linux is also used in some corporate environments as the desktop platform for its employees, with commercially available solutions including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, and Linspire.

Linux is used on desktop computers, servers and supercomputers, as well as a wide range of devices.

Because Linux desktop distributions are not usually sold like other operating systems, there are no sales numbers that indicate the number of users. One downloaded file may be used to create many CDs and each CD may be used to install the operating system on multiple computers. Due to these factors many estimates of current Linux desktop often rely on webpage hits by computers identifying themselves as running Linux. The use of these statistics has been criticized as unreliable and as underestimating Linux use.

Using webpage hits as a measure, until 2008 Linux accounted for only about 1% of desktop market share, while Microsoft Windows operating systems held more than 90%. This might have been because Linux was not seen at that time as a direct replacement for Windows.

According to W3Counter webpage hits the Linux desktop market share increased 62% from 1.32% to 2.13% between mid 2007 and the beginning of 2009, while Windows use fell from 95.52% to 88.77% in the same period, a drop of 7%.

The Linux Counter uses an alternate method of estimating adoption, asking users to register and then using a mathematical model to estmate the total number of desktop users. In March 2009 this method estimated 29 million Linux users.

Reasons to change from other operating systems to Linux include better system stability, virus, trojan, adware and spyware protection, low or no cost, that most distributions come complete with application software and hardware drivers, simplified updates for all installed software, free software licencing and availability of application repositories. Linux also eliminates the need to defragment file systems as it doesn't store files in a fragmented manner. Linux desktop distributions also offer multiple desktop workspaces, free and unlimited support though forums and an operating system that doesn't slow down over time. Environmental reasons are also cited, as Linux operating systems usually do not come in boxes and other retail packaging, but are downloaded by the internet. The lower system specifications also mean that older hardware can be kept in use instead of being recycled or discarded.

Application support, the quality of peripheral support, and end user support were at one time seen as the biggest obstacles to desktop Linux adoption. According to a 2006 survey by The Linux Foundation, these factors were seen as a "major obstacle" for 56%, 49%, and 33% of respondents respectively at that time.

The November 2006 Desktop Linux Client Survey identified the foremost barrier for deploying Linux desktops was that users were accustomed to Windows applications which had not been ported to Linux and which they "just can't live without". These included Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk AutoCAD, Microsoft Project, Visio and Intuit QuickBooks. In a survey conducted in 2007, 72% of respondents said they used ways to run Windows applications on Linux.

51% of respondents to the 2006 Linux Foundation survey believed that cross-distribution Linux desktop standards should be the top priority for the Linux desktop community, highlighting the fact that the fragmented Linux market is preventing application vendors from developing, distributing and supporting the operating system. In May 2008, Gartner predicted that "version control and incompatibilities will continue to plague open-source OSs and associated middleware" in the 2013 timeframe.

Availability and quality of open source device drivers have long been issues for Linux desktops. Particular areas which are seen as needing attention are drivers for printing, wireless support, and audio. For example in early 2007, Dell did not sell certain hardware and software with Ubuntu 7.04 computers, including printers, projectors, Bluetooth keyboards and mice, TV tuners and remote controls, desktop modems and Blu-ray disc drives, due to incompatibilities and legal issues.

In October 2004 Chief Technical Officer of Adeptiva Linux, Stephan February, noted at that time that Linux was a very technical software product, and few people outside the technical community were able to support consumers. Windows users are able to rely on friends and family for help, but Linux users generally use discussion boards, which can be uncomfortable for consumers.

First of all, it shows that Linux is making headway in the enterprise and beginning to have an impact on competitors and they are reacting to that. Secondly, it's healthy to take a long look at any solution and analyze its strengths and weaknesses and the economic ramifications of one choice over another.

Ultimately, consumers and decision makers need to look carefully at the data including the sources of the data and the criticism and decide if Linux is the right decision, but as more people choose Linux and it finds its place in the market, it is bound to wear a target. That's simply the price you pay for success in the marketplace.

In the SCO-Linux controversies, the SCO Group alleged that source code donated by IBM was illegally incorporated into Linux, although this claim has been shown to be invalid in court. A rival operating system vendor, Green Hills, has called the open source paradigm of Linux "fundamentally insecure".

Linux became popular in the Internet server market particularly due to the LAMP software bundle.

Linux is the most popular operating system among supercomputers.

Linux is often used in various single- or multi-purpose computer appliances and embedded systems.

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Linux distribution

Linux Distro Genesis, timeline representing the development of various Linux distributions.

A Linux distribution (also called GNU/Linux distribution by some vendors and users) is a member of the family of Unix-like software distributions built on top of the Linux kernel. Such distributions (often called distros for short) consist of a large collection of software applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, media players and database applications. The operating system will consist of the Linux kernel and, usually, a set of libraries and utilities from the GNU project, with graphics support from the X Window System. Distributions optimized for size may not contain X, and tend to use more compact alternatives to the GNU utilities such as busybox, uclibc or dietlibc. There are currently over three hundred Linux distributions. Most of those are in active development, constantly being revised and improved.

Because most of the kernel and supporting packages are some combination of free software and open source, Linux distributions have taken a wide variety of forms — from fully featured desktop and server operating systems to minimal environments (typically for use in embedded systems, or for booting from a floppy disk). Aside from certain custom software (such as installers and configuration tools) a distribution simply refers to a particular assortment of applications installed on top of a set of libraries married with a version of the kernel, such that its "out-of-the-box" capabilities meets most of the needs of its particular end-user base.

One can distinguish between commercially backed distributions, such as Fedora (Red Hat), openSUSE (Novell), Ubuntu (Canonical Ltd.), and Mandriva Linux and community distributions such as Debian and Gentoo, though there are other distributions that are driven neither by a corporation nor a community; perhaps most famously, Slackware.

Before the first Linux distributions, a would-be Linux user was required to be something of a Unix expert, not only knowing what libraries and executables were needed to successfully get the system to boot and run, but also important details concerning configuration and placement of files in the system.

Linux distributions began to appear very soon after the Linux kernel was first used by individuals outside the original Linux programmers. They were more interested in developing the operating system than they were in application programs, the user interface, or convenient packaging.

SLS was not well-maintained, so Patrick Volkerding released a distribution based on SLS, which he called Slackware; released July 16, 1993. This is the oldest distribution still in active development.

Users were attracted to Linux distributions as alternatives to the DOS and Microsoft Windows operating systems on the PC, Mac OS on the Apple Macintosh and proprietary versions of Unix. Most early adopters were familiar with Unix from work or school. They embraced Linux for its stability, low (if any) cost, and for the availability of the source code for most or all of the software included.

The distributions were originally simply a convenience, but today they have become the usual choice even for Unix or Linux experts. To date, Linux has proven more popular in the server market, primarily for Web and database servers (see also LAMP), than in the desktop market.

A typical desktop Linux distribution comprises a Linux kernel, GNU tools and libraries, additional software, documentation, a window system, window manager, and a desktop environment. Most of the included software is free software/open-source software which is distributed by its maintainers both as compiled binaries and in source code form, allowing users to modify and compile the original source code if they wish. Other software included with some distributions may be proprietary and may not be available in source code form.

Many provide an installation system akin to that provided with other modern operating systems. Self-hosting distributions like Gentoo Linux, T2 and Linux From Scratch provide the source code of all software and include binaries only of a basic kernel, compilation tools, and an installer; the installer compiles all the software for the specific microarchitecture of the user's machine.

Distributions are normally segmented into packages. Each package contains a specific application or service. Examples of packages include a library for handling the PNG image format, a collection of fonts, or a web browser.

The package is typically provided as compiled code, with installation and removal of packages handled by a package management system (PMS) rather than a simple file archiver. Each package intended for such a PMS contains meta-information such as a package description, version, and "dependencies". The package management system can evaluate this meta-information to allow package searches, to perform an automatic upgrade to a newer version, to check that all dependencies of a package are fulfilled and/or to fulfill them automatically.

Although Linux distributions typically contain much more software than proprietary operating systems, it is normal for local administrators to install software not included in the distribution. An example would be a newer version of a software application than that supplied with a distribution, or an alternative to that chosen by the distribution (e.g., KDE rather than GNOME or vice versa for the user interface layer). If the additional software is distributed in source-only form, this approach requires local compilation. However, if additional software is locally added, the 'state' of the local system may fall out of synchronization with the state of the package manager's database. If so, the local administrator will be required to take additional measures to ensure the entire system is kept up to date. The package manager may no longer be able to do so automatically.

Most distributions install packages, including the kernel and other core operating system components, in a predetermined configuration. Few now require or even permit configuration adjustments at first install time. This makes installation less daunting, particularly for new users, but is not always acceptable. For specific requirements, much software must be carefully configured to be useful, to work correctly with other software, or to be secure, and local administrators are often obliged to spend time reviewing and reconfiguring assorted software.

Some distributions go to considerable lengths to specifically adjust and customize most or all of the software included in the distribution. Not all do so. Some distributions provide configuration tools to assist in this process.

By replacing everything provided in a distribution, an administrator may reach a "distribution-less" state: everything was retrieved, compiled, configured, and installed locally. It is possible to build such a system from scratch, avoiding a distribution altogether. One needs a way to generate the first binaries until the system is self-hosting. This can be done via compilation on another system capable of building binaries for the intended target (possibly by cross-compilation). See for example Linux From Scratch.

The diversity of Linux distributions is due to technical, organizational, and philosophical variation among vendors and users. The permissive licensing of free software means that any user with sufficient knowledge and interest can customize an existing distribution or design to suit his or her own needs.

A Live Distro or Live CD, is a Linux distribution that can be booted from a compact disc or other medium (such as a DVD or USB flash drive) instead of the conventional hard drive. Some minimal distributions such as tomsrtbt can be run directly from as little as one floppy disk without needing to change the hard drive contents.

The read-only nature of CDs and DVDs means that user data cannot be stored with the operating system, but must be written to some other device (such as a USB flash drive or an installed hard drive) if any is to be kept. Temporary operating system data is usually kept solely in RAM.

The portability is advantageous for applications such as demonstrations, borrowing someone else's computer, rescue operations, and as installation media for a standard distribution. Many popular distributions come in both "Live" and conventional forms (the conventional form being a network or removable media image which is intended to be used for installation only). This includes SUSE, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, MEPIS, Sidux, and Fedora. Some distributions, such as Knoppix, Devil-Linux and Dyne:bolic are designed primarily for Live CD, Live DVD or USB ('pen-drive') use.

DistroWatch maintains a popularity ranking of distribution information on its web site (using primarily page views), but this is not considered to be a reliable measure of distribution popularity.

Other distributions are targeted at other specific niches such as the tiny embedded router distribution OpenWrt, the Ubuntu project to create Edubuntu for educational users, and KnoppMyth which wraps Knoppix around MythTV to ease building Linux-powered DVRs. Still others targeted the Apple Inc. Macintosh platform, including mkLinux, Yellow Dog Linux, and Black Lab Linux. Karoshi Linux is a server system based on PCLinuxOS aimed at educational users.

The Free Standards Group is an organization formed by major software and hardware vendors that aims to improve interoperability between different distributions. Among their proposed standards are the Linux Standard Base, which defines a common ABI and packaging system for Linux, and the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard which recommends a standard filenaming chart, notably the basic directory names found on the root of the tree of any Linux filesystem. Those standards, however, see limited use, even among the distributions developed by members of the organization.

The diversity of Linux distributions means that not all software runs on all distributions, depending on what libraries and other system attributes are required. Packaged software is usually specific to a particular distribution, though cross-installation is sometimes possible on closely related distributions.

There are tools available to help people make the decision, such as several different versions of the Linux Distribution Chooser and the universal package search tool, whohas. There are some easy ways to try out several Linux distributions before deciding on one. Multi Distro is a Live CD that contains nine space-saving distributions. Tools are available to make such CDs and DVDs, among them Nautopia.

Virtual machines such as VirtualBox, VMware Workstation, and Microsoft Virtual PC(2003) permit booting of Live CD image files without actually burning a CD.

Details and interest rankings of Linux distributions are available on DistroWatch and a fairly comprehensive list of Live CDs is Some websites such as and offer screenshots and videos as a means to getting a first impression of various distributions.

Workspot provides online Linux desktop demos using Virtual Network Computing (VNC).

As part of the free software movement, Linux User Groups (LUGs) still provide the primary face-to-face forum for demonstration of Linux. Commercial exhibitions also provide Linux demonstrations to potential new users, especially corporate buyers.

Anaconda, one of the more popular installers, is used by Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora and other distributions to simplify the installation process.

Some distributions let the user install Linux on top of their current system, such as WinLinux. Linux is installed to the Windows hard-disk partition, and can be started from inside Windows itself. Similar approaches include coLinux.

Virtual machines (such as VirtualBox or VMware) also enable Linux to be run inside another OS. The VM software simulates an isolated environment onto which the Linux system is installed. After everything is done, the virtual machine can be booted just as if it were an independent computer.

Some specific proprietary software products are not available in any form for Linux. This includes many popular computer games, although in recent years some game manufacturers have begun making their software available for Linux. For example, Epic Games sells a Linux version of its Unreal Tournament 2004. This problem is also addressed by emulation and API-translation projects like Wine and Cedega, which make it possible to run non-Linux-based software on Linux systems, either by emulating a proprietary operating system or by translating proprietary API calls (e.g., calls to Microsoft's Win32 or DirectX APIs) into native Linux API calls.

Computer hardware is often sold with the operating system of a software original equipment manufacturer (OEM) already installed. It is uncommon for this operating system to be Linux, even though the portability features of Linux mean that it can be installed on most machines. In the case of IBM PC compatibles the OS is usually Microsoft Windows; in the case of Apple Macintosh computers it has always been a version of Apple's OS, currently Mac OS X; Sun Microsystems sells SPARC hardware with Solaris installed; video game consoles such as the Xbox, PlayStation, and Gamecube each have their own proprietary OS. That Linux is not installed by default on most computer hardware limits its market share: consumers are unaware that an alternative exists, they must make a conscious effort to use a different operating system, and they must either perform the actual installation themselves, or depend on support from a friend, relative, or computer professional.

However, it is actually possible to buy hardware with Linux already installed. Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Affordy, and System76 all sell general purpose Linux laptops, and custom-order PC manufacturers will also build Linux systems (but possibly with the Windows Key on the keyboard). Terra Soft sells Macintosh computers and PlayStation 3 consoles with Yellow Dog Linux installed. It is more common to find embedded devices sold with Linux as the default manufacturer-supported OS, including the Linksys NSLU2 NAS device, TiVo's line of personal video recorders, and Linux-based cellphones, PDAs, and portable music players.

Consumers also have the option of obtaining a refund for unused OEM operating system software. The end user license agreement (EULA) for Apple and Microsoft operating systems gives the consumer the opportunity to reject the license and obtain a refund. If requesting a refund directly from the manufacturer fails, it is also possible that a lawsuit in small claims court will work. On February 15, 1999, a group of Linux users in Orange County, California held a "Windows Refund Day" protest in an attempt to pressure Microsoft into issuing them refunds. In France, the Linuxfrench and AFUL organizations along with free software activist Roberto Di Cosmo started a "Windows Detax" movement, which led to a 2006 petition against "racketiciels" (translation: Racketwares) and the DGCCRF branch of the French government filing several complaints against bundled software.

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Source : Wikipedia