Linux

Linux

[lin-uhks or, esp. British, lin-ooks]
Computers, Trademark.
an operating system, based on UNIX, that runs on many different hardware platforms and whose source code is available to the public.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
linux (ˈlaɪnʌks)
 
n
a nonproprietary computer operating system suitable for use on personal computers

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

Linux
computer operating system, named for Linux kernel, written 1991 by Linus Torvalds of Finland (who coined the word but did not choose it as the name).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang Dictionary

Linux

/lee'nuhks/ or /li'nuks/, _not_ /li:'nuhks/ n. The free Unix workalike created by Linus Torvalds and friends starting about 1991. Tthe pronunciation /lee'nuhks/ is preferred because the name `Linus' has an /ee/ sound in Swedish (Linus's family is part of Finland's 6% ethnic-Swedish minority). This may be the most remarkable hacker project in history -- an entire clone of Unix for 386, 486 and Pentium micros, distributed for free with sources over the net (ports to Alpha and Sparc and many other machines are also in use).

Linux is what GNU aimed to be, and it relies on the GNU toolset. But the Free Software Foundation didn't produce the kernel to go with that toolset until 1999, which was too late. Other, similar efforts like FreeBSD and NetBSD have been technically successful but never caught fire the way Linux has; as this is written in 1999, Linux is seriously challenging Microsoft's OS dominance.

An earlier version of this entry opined "The secret of Linux's success seems to be that Linus worked much harder early on to keep the development process open and recruit other hackers, creating a snowball effect." Truer than we knew. See bazaar.

(Some people object that the name `Linux' should be used to refer only to the kernel, not the entire operating system. This claim is a proxy for an underlying territorial dispute; people who insist on the term `GNU/Linux' want the the FSF to get most of the credit for Linux because RMS and friends wrote many of its user-level tools. Neither this theory nor the term `GNU/Linux' has gained more than minority acceptance).
FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

Linux definition

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 reliable symmetric multiprocessing.
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 Public License. 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 environments.
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 Service Providers, 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.
More on pronunciation (http://foldoc.org/pub/misc/linux-pronunciation).
LinuxHQ (http://linuxhq.com/). slashdot (http://slashdot.org/). freshmeat (http://freshmeat.net/). Woven Goods (http://fokus.gmd.de/linux/). Linux Gazette (http://ssc.com/lg).
funet Linux Archive (ftp://ftp.funet.fi/pub/Linux), US mirror (ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/), UK Mirror (ftp://sunsite.doc.ic.ac.uk/packages/Linux/).
(2000-06-09)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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