from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Linux or GNU / Linux
Tux, the Linux penguin
developer various
License (s) GPLv2 and others
First publ. 17th September 1991
Current  version 5.8 (August 5, 2020)
Current  preliminary version 5.8-rc6 (July 19, 2020)
Kernel monolithic kernel
Architecture (s) DEC Alpha , ARC , ARM , AVR32 , C6x , H8 / 300 , Hexagon , Itanium , m68k , MicroBlaze , MIPS , Nios II , OpenRISC , PA-RISC , PowerPC , RISC-V , s390 , SuperH , SPARC , Unicore32 , x86 , x86-64 , Xtensa , z Systems

As Linux (German [ liːnʊks ] listen ? / I ) or GNU / Linux ( see GNU / Linux naming controversy ) refers generally free , unix-like multi-user - operating systems running on the Linux kernel and much more on GNU based software. The wide, also commercial distribution was made possible from 1992 by the licensing of the Linux kernel under the free license GPL . One of the initiators of Linux was the Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds . He still takes on a coordinating role in the further development of the Linux kernel and is also known as the Benevolent Dictator for Life (German benevolent dictator for life ). Audio file / audio sample

The modular operating system is further developed by software developers all over the world who work on the various projects. Companies, non-profit organizations and many volunteers are involved in the development. When used on computers, so-called Linux distributions are usually used. A distribution combines the Linux kernel with various software to form an operating system that is suitable for end use. Many distributors and experienced users adapt the kernel to their own purposes.

Linux is widely and widely used, for example on workstation computers , servers , mobile phones , routers , netbooks , embedded systems , multimedia end devices and supercomputers . Linux is used differently: Linux is a constant in the server market as well as in the mobile sector, while it is still playing a small but growing role on desktops and laptops.

Linux is used by a wide variety of users, including home users, governments, organizations and companies.


Developments in advance

In 1983 Richard Stallman started the GNU project . The goal was to create a freely available Unix- like, POSIX -compatible operating system. Although a considerable amount of software had been written in the early 1990s, the actual operating system kernel was still in an early phase and was slow to develop. The equally free Berkeley Software Distribution , which had developed in the 1980s, was involved in a legal dispute with an uncertain outcome and for this reason was also no alternative as a free operating system. In the early 1990s there was no complete, free system available that would have been of interest to developers.

Historical development

In 1991 Linus Torvalds began developing a terminal emulation in Helsinki ( Finland ) in order to better understand his own computer, among other things. Over time, he noticed that the system was evolving more and more into an operating system; he then announced it in the Usenet topic group for the Minix operating system , comp.os.minix . In September of the same year, the system was to be made available to interested parties on a server. The then FTP server administrator Ari Lemmke didn't like either of the names Freax or Buggix suggested by Torvalds , so he published it in a directory called Linux instead. Torvalds initially disagreed with this name, but quickly gave up his resistance because, according to his own admission, he had to admit that Linux was simply a better name.

At that time, Linux was still released under a proprietary license from Torvalds, which prohibited commercial use. However, he soon realized that this hindered the progress of development. He wanted to give all developers a lot more freedom and therefore put Linux under the GNU GPL in January 1992 . It was now possible to integrate Linux into GNU and sell this as the first free operating system. This step made the system more attractive to an even greater number of developers, as it made it easier to modify and distribute.

The term GNU / Linux

The term Linux was initially only used by Torvalds for the kernel he wrote. This was initially used on Minix . Torvalds and the other Linux authors licensed Linux under the GNU GPL in 1992 so that the kernel could be integrated into GNU . This GNU variant quickly became the most widely used variant, as there was no other functional free kernel at the time. When Torvalds and his followers later also referred to the entire operating system as Linux , the founder of the GNU project , Richard Stallman , soon tried to enforce the name GNU / Linux in order to give the role of GNU what he believed to be appropriate. This demand met with different reactions. While the GNU Project and Debian Project adopted the name, most developers and other Linux distributors either declined or clearly opposed it. This was justified on the one hand with convenience, because the name Linux was seen as simpler, and on the other hand with the note that a considerable amount of the software supplied with Linux did not come from the GNU project.


KDE graphical user interface

The development of the Linux kernel is still being organized by Torvalds. He is employed by the non-profit Linux Foundation for this purpose . Other key developers are often paid by different companies. So z. B. Andrew Morton on behalf of Google on the Linux kernel and is responsible for collecting all changes in the so-called merge window and forwarding them to Torvalds.

In addition to the kernel development, other projects have been gathered around the operating system that made it interesting for a larger number of users. Graphic user interfaces such as KDE or Gnome enable a high level of user comfort when used as a desktop system. Various Linux distributions designed for the desktop have simplified the installation and configuration of Linux so much that even beginners can easily master them.

A worldwide community of developers and users creates a multitude of additional software and documentation relating to Linux, which have enormously expanded the possible uses. In addition, manufacturers of proprietary software are increasingly recognizing a market for Linux users and, over time, are increasingly offering programs for Linux. The development of free software takes place primarily in self-organized projects, consisting of volunteer and paid developers, as well as in foundations partially supported by companies. What all models have in common is that they are strongly networked via the Internet and that a large part of the organization and consultation takes place there.

Dispute over Linux

There was an early dispute over Linux. In 1992 Andrew S. Tanenbaum attacked Linux because of what he saw as an outdated design and an overly liberal development model. Tanenbaum came back into the picture later when Ken Brown was writing his book Samizdat , looking for evidence that Linux was just a copy of Tanenbaum's Minix . This time, Tanenbaum defended Linux. Linux is too bad a design to be written off.

There were other disputes with declared competitors. Internal Microsoft documents ( Halloween documents ) became known early on, showing that Microsoft assumed that Linux was the greatest threat to Windows. Microsoft later began a campaign to make Windows look good both technically and economically when compared with Linux. While the community was quite relaxed about this campaign, companies in the Linux environment in particular started counter-campaigns. In autumn 2006, however, Microsoft and Novell announced that they would work together on interoperability and patent protection in order to improve the cooperation between the individual products.

Another competitor, the Unix manufacturer SCO , accused again in 2003 that Linux developers employed by IBM had copied source code from SCO's Unix into Linux. The proceedings were discontinued in the summer of 2007, the SCO Group has now filed for bankruptcy and has been excluded from trading. In 2013 a retrial was requested. The dispute is chronologically documented in the article SCO against Linux .

Trademark law made Linux a problem early on. Some private individuals had the name Linux registered on them in the mid-1990s, which Torvalds was only able to reverse with a lot of help. He transferred the management of the trademark rights to the Linux Mark Institute , which in turn caught the attention in 2005 when it fixed the licenses for trademark protection at up to 5,000 dollars per year. This sum mainly got many people involved in community projects upset, whereupon Torvalds felt compelled to comment in an open letter and make it clear that the money was simply needed so that the non-profit Linux Mark Institute could cover its own costs.

The kernel

Structure of the Linux kernel in detail


The term Linux was initially only used by Linus Torvalds for the kernel, which provides the software with an interface with which it can access the hardware without knowing it in detail. The Linux kernel is a monolithic kernel written in the C programming language . Important subroutines and time-critical modules are, however, programmed in processor-specific assembly language. The kernel makes it possible to load only the drivers required for the respective hardware . The kernel also takes on the assignment of processor time and resources to the individual programs that are started on it. In the individual technical processes, the design of Linux is based heavily on its Unix model .

The Linux kernel has meanwhile been ported to a very large number of hardware architectures. The repertoire ranges from rather exotic operating environments such as the iPAQ handheld computer, navigation devices from TomTom or even digital cameras to mainframes such as IBM's System z and, more recently, mobile phones such as the Motorola A780 and smartphones with operating systems such as Android or Sailfish OS on the Jolla . Despite the modular concept, the basic monolithic architecture was retained. The orientation of the original version of the popular x86 - PCs led early to support various hardware efficiently and to enable the provision of drivers and novice programmers. The basic structures produced spurred the spread.

Kernel versions

All kernel versions are archived on The version to be found there is the respective reference kernel. The so-called distribution kernels are built on this and are supplemented by additional functions by the individual Linux distributions. A special feature is the version numbering scheme, which consists of four numbers and is separated by dots, e.g. B. . It provides information about the exact version and thus also about the capabilities of the corresponding kernel. The last of the four numbers is changed for bug fixes and cleanups, but not for new features or major changes. For this reason, it is seldom included when comparing kernel versions, for example. The penultimate, third number changes when new skills or functions are added. The same applies to the first two numbers, but the changes and new functions must be more drastic for these. From version 3.0 (August 2011) the second digit is omitted.

Development process

Due to the GPL and a very open development model, the development of Linux is not in the hands of individuals, corporations or countries, but in the hands of a worldwide community of many programmers who exchange information primarily via the Internet. In many e-mail lists, but also in forums and on Usenet, everyone has the opportunity to follow the discussions about the kernel, to participate in them and also to make active contributions to the development. This uncomplicated approach ensures rapid and constant development, which also means that everyone can provide the kernel with capabilities that they need. This is only limited by the control of Linus Torvalds and a few specially selected programmers who have the final say in the inclusion of improvements and patches. In this way, roughly 4,300 lines of new code are created every day, with around 1,800 lines being deleted and 1,500 changed every day (data from Greg Kroah-Hartman as an average for 2007). About 100 people responsible for 300 subsystems are currently involved in the development.

Examples of details on kernel changes

Innovations in the kernel 2.6

The stable 2.6 kernel was developed in December 2001 on the basis of the 2.4 kernel at that time and has a number of innovations. The most noticeable impact of these changes is that graphical and interactive applications run significantly faster.

One of the most important changes was the improvement of the so-called O (1) scheduler , which Ingo Molnár completely redesigned for the 2.6 kernel. It has the ability to assign processor time to different processes regardless of the number of processes in constant time. Since Kernel 2.6.23, however, the so-called Completely Fair Scheduler has been used instead .

Another innovation is the introduction of Access Control Lists , with the help of which a very finely tuned rights management is possible, which is particularly important in environments with many users. The new kernel also has a significantly improved file monitoring system. In the new version, called Inotify , the monitoring system sends a message with every operation on a file. B. This is important for desktop search engines, which can then update their index on this file.


Since the Linux kernel would not be able to run or be operated on its own, it must be distributed together with auxiliary software, for example the GNU Core Utilities and many other application programs. Such a compilation is called a "Linux distribution", it is a compilation of different software that can vary depending on the condition. The resulting distributions sometimes differ very significantly. The publisher of a Linux distribution is the distributor .

History of Linux distributions

The need for Linux distributions arose almost immediately due to the Linux development model. The tools of the GNU project were quickly adapted for Linux in order to be able to provide a working system. The first such compilations were MCC Interim Linux , Softlanding Linux System (SLS) and Yggdrasil Linux in 1992 . The oldest distribution still in existence today, Slackware by Patrick Volkerding , followed in 1993 and is derived from Softlanding Linux System.

With the spread of Linux distributions, more people were given the opportunity to test the system, and the distributions became more and more extensive, so that an ever larger area of ​​application could be opened up, which made Linux an increasingly attractive alternative to operating systems from established manufacturers. In the course of time, the background of the distributions also changed: While the first distributions were written by individuals or small groups for the sake of convenience, nowadays there are sometimes very large community projects of volunteers, company distributions or a combination of both.

Modern distributions

Components of a Linux distribution

Most of the mostly small distributions are supported by volunteer projects coordinated via the Internet. The large distributions are more likely to be administered by foundations and corporations. The possible uses of the individual distributions also differed greatly over time. Everything is represented, from desktop PCs to server installations and live CDs to distributions for technical research purposes. The composition of a common Linux distribution for the desktop PC includes a large number of software components that enable daily work. Most distributions are made available on the Internet in the form of finished CD or DVD images or are sold with support contracts or manuals.

There are often no directly installable distributions for special areas of application. Frameworks such as OpenEmbedded are used here . B. used for routers or cell phones to prepare a distribution for use on the device.


A large number of distributions are offered, which enable the user to fine-tune the selection criteria to suit their own needs. Choosing the most suitable distribution is therefore not easy for many inexperienced users. The software used can have more weight for private users than for companies, which in turn place more value on the availability of official customer service (“support”). Also the policy of the project or that of the company behind the distribution, e.g. B. in relation to proprietary software, as well as the characteristics of the community play a role in this project.

The list of Linux distributions contains a list of the most important or popular distributions.

Compatibility between the distributions

The variety of distributions, some of which have different binary formats, their own directory structures and similar differences, leads to a certain degree of incompatibility between the distributions, which so far could not be remedied by guidelines such as the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard and the Linux Standard Base . For example, software that is provided for distribution A cannot necessarily be installed on distribution B. Different perspectives and approaches to solving this problem are examined in more detail in the main article Linux distribution .

Areas of application

The Linux kernel is used on a wide variety of hardware and is supported by a large amount of both free and proprietary software. The deficiencies of the window systems available up to now , possibly the lack of uniformity of the numerous graphic shells and definitely the lack of device drivers, are hindering further spread.

The areas of application of Linux have been continuously expanded since the first version and now cover a wide area.

Desktop systems

KDE 3D desktop with Firefox , Kaffeine , Konqueror and Amarok

Linux, or a Linux distribution, can be operated as a stand-alone operating system, but can also be used within a multi-boot system . Linux can be installed in parallel, for example, alongside Windows or a BSD such as FreeBSD or macOS . Modern distributions such as OpenSUSE , Debian , MX Linux or Ubuntu guide the user through the installation on the PC with the help of graphical user interfaces and almost always recognize other operating systems independently. An individual combination can be selected from well over a thousand free programs. Word processing , spreadsheets , multimedia applications, network tools, games or scientific applications cover most areas of application that are important in everyday office life and in the private sector.

Despite the security advantage over the most widespread Windows operating system and the possibility of parallel installation and extensive, free software offerings, Linux is used hesitantly on desktop computers. Even if the most common Linux desktop environments can be operated in a similar way to Windows or macOS, they differ from them in various system functions. Therefore, as with almost every change of the operating system, a certain training period may be necessary.

The installation of most distributions is simple and provides common settings, and the installation of the applications is usually fully automatic as it is usually handled by a package manager . However, since the exact procedure is not uniformly regulated for all Linux distributions, changing the Linux distribution may require training. The installation of programs that do not belong to the scope of the distribution can be different: Ideally, there is a package source from the program developer, which is integrated in the package manager and can then be installed via this. There are also packages for a number of programs that are available for download, tailored to the distribution. In the worst case, the software must be obtained as source code and compiled for the respective system . Applications that were only brought to market by the provider for macOS or Windows can i. d. Usually use under Linux using API implementations such as Wine , Cedega or Darling or GNUstep . In other cases you have to resort to alternative applications that are available for Linux.

Gnome desktop with Firefox , Nautilus and main menu in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

The two widespread desktop environments Gnome and KDE have different operating concepts, which is why many distributors publish standards and guidelines in order to familiarize both developers and users with how to use different desktop environments and to standardize them.

Larger migrations by companies or institutions that have switched several hundred or thousand computers to Linux desktops have become known, such as the city of Munich as part of the LiMux project or the conversion of 20,000 desktops at Peugeot Citroën. Due to the delivery of pre-installed systems by some specialist dealers and the growing popularity of some distributions such as Ubuntu , the use of Linux on desktop computers grew by almost 30 percent from early 2007 to mid-2008. World was in April 2009 in the report Market Share by Net Applications for the first time identified a market share of one percent. After falling back to 0.9% in 2010 according to NetMarketShare, the market share rose to 1.41% by December 2011. At the end of 2016, the market share was 2.2%.


The LAMP distribution is based on Linux
Linux on System z Type 2066

Due to the compatibility of Linux with other Unix-like systems, Linux has established itself particularly quickly on the server market. Since numerous frequently used and required server software such as web servers , database servers and groupware were available free of charge and largely unrestricted for Linux early on , the market share there grew steadily.

Since Linux is considered stable and easy to maintain, it also fulfills the special requirements that are placed on a server operating system. The modular structure of the Linux system also enables compact, dedicated servers to be operated . In addition, the porting of Linux to various hardware components has meant that Linux supports all known server architectures.

It is used for practically all tasks. One of the best-known examples is the Linux server configuration LAMP , in which Linux is combined with Apache , MySQL and PHP / Perl (sometimes also Python ). Proprietary business software such as SAP R / 3 is now also available on various distributions and has installed over 1,000 systems. The Linux Terminal Server Project enables all software except the BIOS of the clients to be managed centrally.

Since Linux can be operated on a variety of different hardware types, the hardware used for Linux servers is similarly extensive. Modern hardware like that of IBM's eServer p5 is also supported and enables the parallel execution of up to 254 Linux systems (model p595). Linux runs natively on IBM mainframes of the current System z line, using PR / SM in up to 30 LPARs or in each of them under z / VM in a potentially unlimited number of, in real terms, tens of thousands of virtual machines.

In January 2017, at least 34% of all websites were made available via a Linux server. Since not all Linux servers identify themselves as such, the actual share could be up to 31 percentage points higher. An actual market share of up to around 65% cannot therefore be ruled out. The market share of Linux server systems sold in the second quarter of 2013 was 23.2%. Since a different operating system is often installed by a customer himself on servers, this number provides only limited information about the effective use of Linux on server systems.

Smartphone and tablet systems

There are specially optimized Linux distributions for smartphones and tablets . In addition to telephony and SMS functions, they offer various PIM , navigation and multimedia functions. It is typically operated using multi-touch or a pen. Linux-based smartphone systems are mostly developed by a consortium of companies or a single company and in some cases differ greatly from the otherwise classic desktop, embedded and server distributions. In contrast to the embedded area, Linux-based smartphone systems are not limited to a specific device, rather they serve as an operating system for devices of very different model series and are often used by all manufacturers.

Apart from the Linux kernel, the architecture of these smartphone and tablet distributions has little to do with the classic distributions. Only part of the otherwise common GNU software environment is used by Android. The UNIX-like services and tools mostly used on Linux are partially replaced by a Java runtime environment . This creates new programming interfaces that can be emulated or implemented on any other platform. Even so, Android is seen as a Linux distribution that has many features that it shares with numerous embedded Linux distributions. Other smartphone distributions, such as Firefox OS , Ubuntu for phones , Maemo , Tizen , Mer , Sailfish OS and MeeGo use larger parts of the classic GNU software environment, so that these distributions can sometimes be more easily supplemented with classic Linux applications and thus more like Linux distributions in the classic sense.

The WebOS developed by HP Palm is also based on the Linux kernel, but the Userland consists of a proprietary development under a different license. Even the former from Samsung developed Bada was next to a RTOS available kernel on a Linux kernel, which was never sold by Samsung in this combination.

Linux systems have taken the lead in the rapidly growing smartphone market since the end of 2010. In Germany they have consistently had a market share of over 70% since February 2013, with a previous maximum of over 82% in July 2014 (shares of Linux-based alternatives to Android were not explicitly stated in the statistics). Mostly Android devices have successfully pushed back Apple iOS , Windows Phone and Symbian OS .


Since Linux can be adapted and optimized as desired, it has also become widespread in data centers in which specially adapted versions run on mainframes , computer clusters (see Beowulf ) or supercomputers .

In the TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers (as of June 2018), all listed systems are operated with Linux. The largest competitor in the desktop area, Windows, is irrelevant for high-performance computers. In June 2011 there were still 4 systems (including 40th place) that ran with the Windows operating system.

(Automotive) industry

For a variety of reasons, Linux is becoming more and more popular in industry, especially in the automotive industry. The world's first infotainment system operated by Linux was developed by General Motors in cooperation with Bosch . The GENIVI Alliance defines requirements for a Linux distribution specifically for infotainment systems in vehicles. Linux has the greatest market penetration in Japan. Well-known companies that use Linux include: Ashisuto, Aisin AW , JVC KENWOOD Corporation , NTT DATA MSE, and Turbo Systems.

Other areas of application

NAS storage systems or WLAN routers can also use Linux as the operating system. The advantage is that there is a very active developer community, on whose resources (the kernel with the interface, memory management and network functions, but also e.g. extensive developer programs, existing code such as the user interfaces OPIE or GPE Palmtop Environment , experience etc.) the manufacturers can fall back on.



The reasons for evaluating Linux as a secure system are various and depend on its tasks and the software configuration used. As a desktop system, Linux has a strict division of access rights that are not normally observed in other common desktop systems. Among other things, this means that many of the functional principles of common worms and viruses in Linux cannot take effect or can only compromise the executing user, but not the entire system . A compromise of the user can nonetheless lead to sensitive data loss. So far, very few viruses have appeared on Linux, such as Staog and Bliss . Compared to other desktop systems, Linux first became more widespread among users with a very technical and security-conscious environment. Compared to other common desktop systems, the development took place under the eyes of a very security-critical audience. In contrast to desktop systems, the security of server systems primarily depends on the level of experience of the administrators with the system itself. Linux scores with its free availability, which enables administrators to install the system in a wide variety of test scenarios and extensively examine it there. There are also a number of specially hardened Linux distributions that place special emphasis on security aspects. Initiatives like SELinux try to meet high security standards there.

Since Linux is open source software, anyone can study, examine, and adapt the source code. This leads among other things to the fact that the source code (whether for the purpose of adapting, for the purpose of training, from the security interest of an institution or a company or out of personal interest) is studied by more people than in proprietary programs the case can be, whereby security gaps are noticed faster (and can then be fixed).

Security updates

A key feature of many Linux distributions is that they offer free and automated security updates for all software provided. Although this function also exists in other common operating systems, it does not include all the software provided there, does not work automatically or is not free of charge, which is why the hurdle of installing such updates is higher with other operating systems than with Linux.

Antivirus programs for Linux are not widely used, partly because of the generally available security updates . Instead of having an antivirus program search for malware that exploits known security gaps in the installed application software, the known gaps can already be closed with security updates. The existing antivirus programs for Linux are therefore mainly used to scan file and e-mail servers for viruses for other operating systems.

technical skills

Linux has many of the capabilities that are required for a demanding security environment. This includes both simple user and group rights management using role-based access control and more complex rights management using access control lists . In addition, many current distributions also implement mandatory access control concepts using SELinux / AppArmor technology.

Almost every Linux distribution also offers a Secure Shell implementation (mostly OpenSSH ), with which authenticated, encrypted and therefore secure connections between computers can be guaranteed. Other encryption techniques such as Transport Layer Security are also fully supported.

As part of the encryption for data stored on media, the cryptography tool dm-crypt is available, which enables hard disk encryption. It offers the possibility of encryption according to current standards such as the Advanced Encryption Standard . Transparent encryption, in which only individual files are encrypted instead of entire hard drives, is provided by the EncFS encryption extension and the ReiserFS file system . For the security certificates that were acquired in connection with Linux, see the section Software Certificates .


Personnel certificates

In order to make the level of knowledge of technicians and administrators measurable, a series of Linux certificates were launched. The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) offers a worldwide recognized Linux certification in three levels, the first two levels (LPIC-1 and LPIC-2) with two exams each and the third level (LPIC-3) with a core exam (301) and several optional extension tests. The major Linux distributors such as Red Hat , openSUSE and Ubuntu also offer their own training certificates, but some of these are designed for the distributions and their peculiarities.

Software certificates

There are also a number of certificates to assess the level of security of technology products, many of which were awarded for specific Linux distributions . So has z. E.g. the Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 of the Linux distributor Novell received the security certification EAL4 + according to the Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation , Red Hat has also received the EAL4 + certification for its Redhat Enterprise Linux 4 distribution. For many distributors, one problem with certification is the high cost. Certification according to EAL2 costs around 400,000 US dollars.

Hardware support

A common difficulty when using Linux is that there is often insufficient hardware support. In fact, Linux has more drivers included with it than comparable systems ( Windows , macOS ). As a result, it is usually not even necessary to install a driver and it is even possible to change hardware without any problems. This offers the user significantly more convenience than with comparable operating systems, since z. For example, it is possible to move the operating system to another computer without any problems or even to install the operating system on removable media without the need for special adjustments to the system.

However, this smooth hardware support is often not available. This is especially true for more up-to-date hardware. The reason for this lies in the fact that only a few hardware manufacturers provide Linux drivers for their hardware themselves or that these are only available in poor quality. While drivers are available for hardware with an openly documented, standardized interface (e.g. mice, keyboards, hard drives and USB host controllers), this is not always the case for other hardware classes (e.g. network interfaces, sound cards and graphics cards) Case. Many hardware manufacturers rely on proprietary hardware-specific interfaces, the specification of which is also not publicly available, so that it has to be developed using black box analysis or reverse engineering . Examples of this are Intel's HD audio interface and its Linux implementation snd-hda-intel or the free 3D graphics driver nouveau for certain 3D graphics chips from Nvidia . Another example is the ACPI power management standard , which is very complex and tailored to the respective motherboard, so that implementation by the Linux community is often insufficient due to a lack of resources or background knowledge. In this context, the participation of users can often be helpful by pointing out problems and ideally even determining technical information about their hardware and making it available to the Linux community or testing developer versions before publication.

One of the reasons often given for not providing Linux drivers is the development model of the Linux kernel: Since it does not have a fixed driver API , drivers have to be repeatedly adapted to changes in the individual kernel versions. Drivers integrated directly into the kernel are usually maintained by the kernel developers, but must be published under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which some hardware manufacturers reject. Externally made available drivers also have to be constantly adapted and published in new versions, which entails an enormous development effort. In addition, the legal position of such external modules that are not subject to the GPL is controversial because they have to contain GPL-licensed components of the kernel in compiled form for technical reasons.

The problem of hardware support through so-called binary drivers (providing binary files without disclosing the source code) is a controversial issue in the Linux environment: While some advocate the exclusion of proprietary kernel modules, others advocate that some manufacturers provide drivers at all - if necessary also proprietary , with the argument that Linux users would be at a disadvantage without them, because otherwise they would simply be cut off from certain hardware.

However, drivers for many device classes (e.g. all devices connected via USB or network) can also be programmed without any kernel code, which is actually the preferred approach.

Digital rights management

Linus Torvalds emphasizes that Linux and digital rights management (DRM) are not mutually exclusive. Free DRM processes are also available for use under Linux.

In practice, however, the use of DRM-protected media is less possible under Linux than under other systems, because the principle of digital rights management allows rights holders to decide on which DRM systems their media can be used. The procedures used are not standardized, but are controlled by the respective manufacturers, and the two largest manufacturers of digital rights management systems in the end-user environment , Microsoft and Apple , have not published any corresponding programs for Linux as of October 2009 or have even announced their intentions.

However, there is Windows DRM-certified software that can be used under Linux, such as that used with the AVM FRITZ! Media 8020.

In principle, with DRM processes, it is necessary that the data to which the user is only to receive limited rights may not be made available to the user in unencrypted form at any time, as otherwise he could make an unencrypted copy at that moment. Since Linux is open source, it is easy for the user to replace the corresponding program part of a local, purely software-based DRM system with their own code that does exactly that.

Events and media


LinuxTag 2004 in the Karlsruhe Congress Center

Until 2014, LinuxTag was the largest annual fair for Linux and free software in Europe. In addition to the exhibitions of all well-known companies and projects from the Linux environment, visitors were also offered a lecture program on various topics. LinuxTag itself existed from 1996 to 2014 and most recently attracted more than 10,000 visitors a year. In addition to the large LinuxTag, there are also a number of smaller and regional Linuxdays , which are often organized with the support of universities. Since 2015 the Chemnitz Linux Days have been the largest event of its kind in Germany.

The Linux Congress - Linux System Technology Conference in Hamburg is one of the other international trade fairs . A curiosity is the annual LinuxBierWanderung , which Linux enthusiasts from all over the world want to give Linux enthusiasts from all over the world the opportunity to “celebrate, hike and drink beer” together.

In addition to the general trade fairs and congresses, the LUG camp takes place every year . This has been organized and attended by Linux users from the Flensburg area to Switzerland since 2000.

Print media and electronic media

With the increasing spread of Linux, a range of print media has also developed that deal with the topic. In addition to a large number of books on almost all aspects of Linux, regular magazines have also established themselves on the market. The best known representatives are the individual issues of Computec Media , which appear monthly ( Linux-Magazin , LinuxUser ) or quarterly ( EasyLinux ) . For quite a while now , other large publishers such as IDG with the bi-monthly LinuxWelt and Heise with the c't Linux issue series or special issues for long-standing computer magazines, namely PCWelt and c't , have been producing for a long time . In addition, there is also the UbuntuUser magazine for the "Ubuntu Linux" distribution and its derivatives, which appears four times a year and is published by the media provider Computec Media.



The asteroid (9885) Linux , discovered on October 12, 1994, was named after the Linux kernel.


The topic of Linux was also dealt with in a series of documentations. The documentary film Revolution OS deals with the history of Linux, free software and open source and is largely based on various interviews with well-known representatives of the scene. The TV documentary Codename: Linux , broadcast in Germany by Arte , follows a similar path, but also presents a chronological course of the development of Linux and Unix.

See also

Portal: Linux  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Linux
Portal: Free Software  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of Free Software


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  • Ralph Steyer: Linux for those switching . Software & Support Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-935042-61-2 .
  • Linus Torvalds, David Diamond : “Just for fun” - How a freak revolutionized the computer world . Autobiography of the Linux inventor. dtv 36299, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-423-36299-5 (Original title: "Just for fun" - The story of an accidental revolutionary by HarperBusiness, New York, NY 2001. Translated by Doris Märtin, licensed edition by Hanser Verlag, Munich / Vienna 2001).
  • Edward Viesel: Printing on Linux . Professional Linux and open source know-how. 2nd, updated and expanded edition. Bomots, Forbach (France) 2009, ISBN 978-3-939316-60-2 .
  • Matt Welsh, Matthias Kalle Dalheimer, Terry Dawson, Lar Kaufman: Linux. Guide to installation & configuration . O'Reilly, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-89721-353-2 ( ).
  • Steffen Wendzel, Johannes Plötner: Entry into Linux . Galileo-Press, Bonn 2004, ISBN 3-89842-481-2 .
  • Steffen Wendzel, Johannes Plötner: Linux . The distribution-independent manual. Galileo-Press, Bonn 2006, ISBN 3-89842-677-7 .
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  • Michael Kofler : Linux. The comprehensive manual . 1st edition. Galileo Computing, Bonn 2013, ISBN 978-3-8362-2591-5 .

Web links

Commons : Linux  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Linux  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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  6. 50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect (March 23, 2010)
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  14. ( Memento from May 22, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
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  26. ^ Richard Stallman: Is Android really free software? - Google's smartphone code is often described as 'open' or 'free' - but when examined by the Free Software Foundation, it starts to look like something different. The Guardian , September 19, 2011, accessed on September 9, 2012 (English): “The software of Android versions 1 and 2 was mostly developed by Google; Google released it under the Apache 2.0 license, which is a lax free software license without copyleft. [...] The version of Linux included in Android is not entirely free software, since it contains non-free "binary blobs" [...] Android is very different from the GNU / Linux operating system because it contains very little of GNU. "
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  37. Thorsten Leemhuis: Another debate about the prohibition of proprietary Linux drivers. In: Heise online . December 14, 2006 . Retrieved July 26, 2008.
  38. Oliver Frommel: Last exit: Binary . In: Linux magazine . No. 08 , 2008 ( ).
  39. Linus Torvalds: Flame Linus to a crisp! In: Linux Kernel Mailing List archive. April 23, 2003, accessed on July 26, 2008 (English): "I want to make it clear that DRM is perfectly ok with Linux!"
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This article was added to the list of excellent articles on January 15, 2006 in this version .