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Just what is “Linux”?

Jan 28, 2010, 06:04 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jack Wallen)

"Recently I have had several people call me on mis-stepping the nomenclature surrounding the Linux operating system. But I get this a lot, and from all points of the spectrum: From newbies to power users. The central issue that I have is that this issue causes great confusion with newbies and anger with power users. To that end, I thought I would put forth a few ideas that could solve this issue. It’s confusing, it’s frustrating, and it’s rooted in years of heavy geek war. So read on and chime in. Your input is valuable.

"I will preface this by saying I am not associated with any distribution or any developer. I am a technical writer who has covered the Linux operating system since 1998. And although I have interviewed and chatted many of the top-level developers and creators (even Linus himself), I am not in constant contact with them. Now…let’s discuss this “Linux” issue.

"Technically speaking...

"If you look at the Wikipedia definition of Linux you will find it terms Linux as the “generic term for UNIX-like computer operating systems based on the Linux kernel.” So already we have the purists up in arms. Why is that? The purists speak of “Linux” as nothing more than a kernel. But if Linux is only a kernel, what is an operating system?"

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