In 1991, the Finnish student Linus Torvalds started the development of Linux. This is a stable, remarkably fast and freely available Unix-like operating system. Strictly speaking, Linux is just the kernel of the operating system. To involve other programmers in the development of the system, Linus Torvalds released the source code under the GNU General Public Licence (GLP). Over the years, many well-known companies have recognized the real potential of Linux and the number of users is growing daily.

Table of Contents


GNU is a recursive acronym and means GNU is Not Unix. The founder behind the GNU project (The GNU Manifesto) is the well-known MIT programmer Richard Matthew Stallman (also called rms), who worked in the artificial intelligence department at MIT back in the 1970s. The actual idea behind the GNU project was to develop an operating system that was 100% freely available and compatible with Unix. In January 1984, Richard Stallman and his colleagues started writing a Unix-like operating system. In 1991, there was only an operating system kernel missing, so in 1992 they agreed on the newly developed Unix-like kernel by Linus Torvalds. This combination brought a complete operating system called GNU/Linux into the world.

GNU/Linux Naming Controversy

The Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative are in disagreement about the name GNU. As already mentioned, the operating system GNU/Linux is only created when the software components are brought together. As a result of the digital progress and the increasing spread of Linux, for example in smartphones and tablets as Android, the share of GNU software components is constantly decreasing. Some of the new software programs are not even subject to the GNU General Public License. Therefore, the Open Source Initiative believes that the addition of GNU should not be used in these cases. This is what Linus Torvalds writes about this topic Linus Torvalds about this topic.

Linux is Everywhere

As you can certainly easily observe, our entire environment is being automated ever more quickly and efficiently. Although many would not have guessed it, Linux is now found in smartwatches, smartphones, smart homes, transportation systems, storage facilities, factories, power plants and hospitals. Linux has come to stay, and it is growing extremely fast.

Deployment in Companies

Linux offers multi-user and multitasking features, which makes it possible for different users to work together and run programs in parallel. It is possible to equip offices and workstations of a company with Linux desktops in a short time. Different applications like LibreOffice, KeePass for passwords, Thunderbird email program with OpenPGP support and personal information manager, Lightning calendar as Thunderbird add-on, Firefox, Skype for communication, Nextcloud for the company’s own server, Okular for PDF etc. are available. For large companies there is also the possibility to use pre-programmed and paid software solutions from Linux, two examples are Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Enterprise Linux Server.

Digital Security and Forensics

The Linux distribution Kali is not only a well-known name among hackers around the world, but also among IT security companies. The operating system can be downloaded and installed from the Internet with many pre-installed tools. Kali is optimized for penetration and security tests as well as digital forensics. It is an open source project, which is maintained by Offensive Security. The company offers the operating system free of charge for download, but also offers certifications with costs. The professional use of Kali is particularly important when it is applied to companies. In order to solve problems properly, please read the official documentation.

GNU/Linux on USB Stick

Nowadays it is also no big effort to install a running GNU/Linux operating system on a USB stick. This makes it possible to transport an entire working environment with all its advantages in an ordinary trouser pocket. In order to ensure that the programs which have been installed during the runtime and the settings which have been carried out are retained on the mobile system, it should be a persistent installation. The operating system on the USB stick can then be selected and booted from any ordinary computer via the boot menu when starting the respective computer.

Private Use of Linux

Linux is particularly well suited for private use; anyone can put together a Linux system according to his or her own wishes. There are some impressive distributions available on the Internet for home use. A distribution with excellent graphics, for which the owners ask for a freely selectable fee, would be elementary OS, for example. In case it should be an additional software with costs, many commercial software vendors now offer their commercial software also for Linux systems. But usually the average user gets along with the freely available packages. If you want to get a first impression of the software variety of Linux, click here.