Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. The defining component of Linux is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released 5 October 1991 by Linus Torvalds.
The term Linux properly refers to just the operating system kernel itself. However, in popular parlance it is used to refer to a complete Linux Distribution which includes GUI components and many other utilities, many of which are supplied by the GNU Project. Android, for example also uses the Linux kernel but includes different components to most desktop Linux distributions.
Linux was originally developed as a free operating system for Intel x86-based personal computers. It has since been ported to more computer hardware platforms than any other operating system. It is a leading operating system on servers and other big iron systems such as mainframe computers and supercomputers: more than 90% of today's 500 fastest supercomputers run some variant of Linux, including the 10 fastest. Linux also runs on embedded systems (devices where the operating system is typically built into the firmware and highly tailored to the system) such as mobile phones, tablet computers, network routers, televisions and video game consoles; the Android system in wide use on mobile devices is built on the Linux kernel.
The development of Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free and open source software collaboration: the underlying source code may be used, modified, and distributed—commercially or non-commercially—by anyone under licenses such as the GNU General Public License. Typically Linux is packaged in a format known as a Linux distribution for desktop and server use. Some popular mainstream Linux distributions include Debian (and its derivatives such as Ubuntu), Fedora and openSUSE. Linux distributions include the Linux kernel, supporting utilities and libraries and usually a large amount of application software to fulfill the distribution's intended use.
A distribution oriented toward desktop use will typically include the X Window System and an accompanying desktop environment such as GNOME or KDE Plasma. Some such distributions may include a less resource intensive desktop such as LXDE or Xfce for use on older or less powerful computers. A distribution intended to run as a server may omit all graphical environments from the standard install and instead include other software such as the Apache HTTP Server and an SSH server such as OpenSSH. Because Linux is freely redistributable, anyone may create a distribution for any intended use. Applications commonly used with desktop Linux systems include the Mozilla Firefox web browser, the LibreOffice office application suite, and the GIMP image editor.
Since the C compiler Linux is written with and the main supporting user space system tools and libraries originated in the GNU Project, initiated in 1983 by Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation prefers the name GNU/Linux.