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Linux is a multi-user multi-tasking 32-bit operating system based off of the UNIX operating system developed in the 1960s One of the main characteristics that sets it apart from other operating systems such as Windows is that it is open source meaning that the source code comes with it and the user is able to modify sell or redistribute it freely But a company or an organization did not write Linux it was written by a college student named Linus Travolds With the help of many programmers often called hackers Linux has surprised many people by being a stable high quality system that has little central control The kernel is the heart of an operating system and when most people refer to Linux they are talking about the kernel and not the whole system On a Linux system the user is more in touch with the kernel mainly because heshe can do whatever they want to it legally Also people around the world are always updating the kernel but Travolds has the final word into what goes into each release Linux is one of the few operating systems that has a particular kernel version number scheme For example a stable kernel version can be 2425 Even numbered kernels such as 227 are stable while odd numbered such as 2514 are pre-releases The 2 is for the major release the 4 is for the minor release leading up to the major and the 25 is for the even smaller change leading up to the minor release After that there are prepatches acknowledged with an rc after the version number that are alpha releases If any new development is good enough the kernel can skip numbers so a kernel can go from 223 to 50 in a few months but it has not happened yet As of this writing the latest stable kernel is 263 and the latest prepatch is 264-rc2 and contains over twenty million lines
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