the penguin, mascot of Linux
Linux ( LEE-nuuks or LIN-uuks) is a family of open-source Unix-like operating systems based on the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released on September 17, 1991, by Linus Torvalds. Linux is typically packaged in a Linux distribution.
Popular Linux distributions include Debian, Fedora Linux, and Ubuntu, which in itself has many different distributions and modifications, including Lubuntu and Xubuntu. Commercial distributions include Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise. Desktop Linux distributions include a windowing system such as X11 or Wayland, and a desktop environment such as GNOME or KDE Plasma. Distributions intended for servers may omit graphics altogether, or include a solution stack such as LAMP. Because Linux is freely redistributable, anyone may create a distribution for any purpose.
Linux was originally developed for personal computers based on the Intel x86 architecture, but has since been ported to more platforms than any other operating system. Because of the dominance of the Linux-based Android on smartphones, Linux, including Android, has the largest installed base of all general-purpose operating systems, . Although Linux is, , used by only around 2.3 percent of desktop computers, the Chromebook, which runs the Linux kernel-based Chrome OS, dominates the US K–12 education market and represents nearly 20 percent of sub-$300 notebook sales in the US. Linux is the leading operating system on servers (over 96.4% of the top 1 million web servers' operating systems are Linux), leads other big iron systems such as mainframe computers, and is the only OS used on TOP500 supercomputers (since November 2017, having gradually eliminated all competitors).
Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free and open-source software collaboration. The source code may be used, modified and distributed commercially or non-commercially by anyone under the terms of its respective licenses, such as the GNU General Public License (GPL). The Linux kernel, for example, is licensed under the GPLv2, with a special exception for system calls, as without the system call exception any program calling on the kernel would be considered a derivative and therefore the GPL would have to apply to that program.