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What is Linux - February 1998

Linux is a open-source 32-bit, Internet ready, multitasking, multimedia, network-enabled operating system that will turn any PC 386 or higher with 8MB Ram and 80MB hard disk into a powerful workstation.

Linux is UNIX but not officially. It is not based on any AT&T source code. Nor is it Unix-branded by the Open Group. Yet, despite these marks that marketing people might hold against it, it's incredibly popular. No exact tally exists of just how much Linux is "out there, but some estimates put it anywhere from 3 million to 10 million installations. Many people believe there are more Linux based computers running Internet servers than all other Operating Systems combined.

This is partly because Linux is free, and even commercial versions of Linux, such as those from Caldera, are ridiculously inexpensive; pricing for the Standard Edition of OpenLinux is only $399.

But part of Linux's popularity has to do with how quickly it adopts new technology. For example, Linux was one of the first OSes to implement IPv6, the latest version of the TCP/IP protocol set.

Linux has many impressive uses in the world. Although you won't find it on a Cray Super Computer, you'll find multiple Linux systems where that Cray might be. There are also multiprocessing extensions built into the Linux 2.x kernel, and NASA (among others) is running a Linux clustering initiative, called Beowulf, that has already demonstrated a gigaFLOP of computing power.

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