The Linux kernel is a free and open-source, monolithic, modular, multitasking, Unix-like operating system kernel. It was conceived and created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds for his i386-based PC, and it was soon adopted as the kernel for the GNU operating system, which was created as a free replacement for UNIX. Since then, it has spawned a large number of operating system distributions, commonly also called Linux. Linux is deployed on a wide variety of computing systems, such as embedded devices, mobile devices (including its use in the Android operating system), personal computers, servers, mainframes, and supercomputers. It can be tailored for specific architectures and for several usage scenarios using a family of simple commands (that is, without the need of manually editing its source code before compilation); privileged users can also fine-tune kernel parameters at runtime. Most of the Linux kernel code is written using the GNU extensions of GCC to the standard C programming language and with the use of architecture specific instructions (ISA). This produces a highly optimized executable (vmlinux) with respect to utilization of memory space and task execution times.Day-to-day development discussions take place on the Linux kernel mailing list (LKML). Changes are tracked using the version control system git, which was created by Torvalds as a bespoke replacement for BitKeeper. Linux as a whole is released under the GNU General Public License version 2 only (GPL-2.0-only) with an explicit syscall exception (Linux-syscall-note), but it also contains several files under other compatible licenses.
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