Linus Torvalds was a student in Helsinki, Finland, in 1991, when he started a project: writing his own operating system kernel. He also collected together and/or developed the other essential ingredients required to construct an entire operating system with his kernel at the center. Soon, this became known as the Linux kernel.
In 1992, Linux was re-licensed using the General Public License (GPL) by GNU (a project of the Free Software Foundation or FSF, which promotes freely available software), which made it possible to build a worldwide community of developers. By combining the kernel with other system components from the GNU project, numerous other developers created complete systems called Linux Distributions in the mid-90’s.
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The Linux distributions created in the mid-90s provided the basis for fully free computing and became a driving force in the open source software movement. In 1998, major companies like IBM and Oracle announced their support for the Linux platform and began major development efforts as well.
Today, Linux powers more than half of the servers on the Internet, the majority of smartphones (via the Android system, which is built on top of Linux), and nearly all of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.