Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system. Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free software and open source development: typically all underlying source code can be freely modified, used, and redistributed by anyone.
The name "Linux" comes from the Linux kernel, started in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The system's utilities and libraries usually come from the GNU operating system, announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman. The GNU contribution is the basis for the alternative name GNU/Linux.
Predominantly known for its use in servers, Linux is supported by corporations such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell, Oracle Corporation, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems. It is used as an operating system for a wide variety of computer hardware, including desktop computers, supercomputers, video game systems, such as the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, several arcade games, and embedded devices such as mobile phones and routers.
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, had the goal of creating a "complete Unix-compatible software system" made entirely of free software. In 1985, Richard Stallman created the Free Software Foundation and developed the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL). Many of the programs required in an OS (such as libraries, compilers, text editors, a Unix shell, and a windowing system) were completed by the early 1990s, 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.