Linux was started in 1991 by Linus Torvalds in Helsinki, Sweden. Initially a terminal emulator, which Torvalds used to access the large UNIX servers of the university. Development of Linux was done on Minix using the GNU C compiler, which is still the main choice for compiling Linux to this day. In 1992, there was the Tanenbaum-Torvalds debate, which was a debate between Andrew S. Tanenbaum and Linus Torvalds, regarding Linux and kernel architecture in general. Tanenbaum initiated the debate with his post titled “Linux is Obsolete”. The debate has yet to yield a clear victor and Torvalds and Tanenbaum seem to be on good terms with one another. In 1996, the mascot Tux was introduced as the official mascot of Linux, his original design was by Larry Ewing and the name was suggested by James Hughes as a derivative of Torvalds's UniX.
Linux distributions are members of the Linux family of Unix-like computer operating systems. These systems are built from the Linux kernel and other packages, such as the software from the GNU project. Distributions designed for a smaller size tend to use more compact alternatives such as uclibc. One Linux distribution is Gentoo, a distribution which targets power users. Gentoo is known for its FreeBSD Ports-like automated system for compiling applications from source code. Another Linux distribution is Slackware, which is one of the first Linux distributions. Created in 1993 by Patrick Volkerding and the currently oldest maintained distribution of Linux. Slackware is designed toward stability and simplicity, and strives to be the most UNIX-like GNU/Linux distribution.
The most common way to get a Linux distribution is by booting from a CD-ROM or DVD that contains the installation program and the Linux software. The Linux distribution can be installed on the without affecting previously saved data. Another way to get a Linux distribution is to install it on a relatively powerful computer to use as a server and to use less powerful computers as thin clients over the network. Generally, Linux is installed via CD-ROM or DVD, at one time it was installed using sets of floppy disks but this has been discontinued.
One popular suite available in Linux is OpenOffice. OpenOffice has the key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software. OpenOffice is quite flexible, able to be working with a variety of file formats, such as Microsoft Office. Another suit available in Linux is StarOffice. StarOffice is a cross-platform integrated office package that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and database. StarOffice uses the OASIS format to open documents and has PDF export capability.
One advantage of Linux over Windows is that Linux is free, whilst Microsoft products are on the market for relatively hefty sums of money. Microsoft licenses typically are only allowed to be on a single computer, whereas a Linux distribution can be installed on any number of computers, without the user having to empty their wallet. However, a disadvantage of Linux in comparison to Windows is that of its compatibility. Due to it being free, Linux is a bit behind when it comes to hardware compatibility. Linux does not have as much of a corporate backing as Microsoft, and when looking for third party applications, this could prove to be a problem.
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