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You may have heard of Linux. You may have even been thinking of giving it a try. And exactly what is this "LIH-nuks" I am talking about, anyway?
Flash back to 1991. Right around the time Microsoft was preparing to release Windows 3.1, Linus Torvalds began writing a unix-like operating system to run on his PC. Today, what we call "Linux" is actually a synthesis of Linus Torvald's kernel and tools from the Free Software Foundation (such as the GNU compiler). Linux usually comes with the choice of two graphical user interfaces, KDE and GNOME, both of which are now fairly mature. Linux is packaged and distributed by several companies and not-for-profit groups, "called "the distributions." The most popular distributions include Red Hat, Debian, SuSE, Mandrake, and Caldera. Even today, the Linux kernel is continually under development. If you want to, you can get the latest kernel source from kernel.org and compile it yourself, but for the rest of us mere mortals, there are the distributions.