The free online resource Wikipedia has a great biography of Linus Torvalds that examines his life and notable achievements. You can find it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux Torvalds. Or you can head on over to http://groups.google.com/group/comp.os.minix/msg/b813d52cbc5a044b?hl=en to read a copy of Linus's first post about Linux to the world.
The GNU GPL is the brainchild of Richard M. Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation. Stallman, the famous author of the Emacs editing environment and GCC compiler system, crafted the GPL to ensure that software that used the GPL for licensing would always be free and available in source-code form. The GPL is the guiding document for Linux and its ownership, distribution, and copyright. Torvalds holds the rights to the Linux trademark, but thanks to a combination of his generosity, the Internet, thousands of programmers around the world, GNU software, and the GNU GPL, Linux will remain forever free and unencumbered by licensing or royalty issues. See the "Licensing" section later in this Introduction to learn more about the GNU GPL and other software licenses.
Linux, pronounced "lih-nucks," is free software. Combining the Linux kernel with GNU software toolsdrivers, utilities, user interfaces, and other software such as the X.Org Foundation's X Window Systemcreates a Linux distribution. There are many different Linux distributions from different vendors, but many derive from or closely mimic Red Hat's distribution of Linux: Red Hat Linux.
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