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Raspberry Pi For Dummies by Mike Cook, Sean McManus

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Introducing Linux

The operating system used on the Raspberry Pi is GNU/Linux, often called just Linux for short. The Raspberry Pi might be the first Linux computer you’ve used, but the operating system has a long and honorable history.

Richard Stallman created the GNU Project in 1984 with the goal of building an operating system that users were free to copy, study, and modify. Such software is known as free software, and although this software is often given away at no cost, the ideology is about free as in “free speech,” rather than free as in “free beer.” Thousands of people have joined the GNU Project, creating software packages that include tools, applications, and even games.

In 1991, Linus Torvalds released the central component of Linux, the kernel, which acts as a conduit between the applications software and the hardware resources, including the memory and processor. He is still “the ultimate authority on what new code is incorporated in the standard Linux kernel,” according to the Linux Foundation, the non-profit consortium that promotes Linux and supports its development. The Linux Foundation reports that 7,800 people from almost 800 different companies have contributed to the kernel since 2005.

GNU/Linux brings the Linux kernel together with the GNU components it needs to be a complete operating system, reflecting the work of thousands of people on both the GNU and Linux projects. That so many people could cooperate to build something as complex as an operating system, ...

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