Chapter 1. Introduction

Linux is a member of the large family of Unix-like operating systems. A relative newcomer experiencing sudden spectacular popularity starting in the late 1990s, Linux joins such well-known commercial Unix operating systems as System V Release 4 (SVR4) developed by AT&T, which is now owned by Novell; the 4.4 BSD release from the University of California at Berkeley (4.4BSD), Digital Unix from Digital Equipment Corporation (now Compaq); AIX from IBM; HP-UX from Hewlett-Packard; and Solaris from Sun Microsystems.

Linux was initially developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991 as an operating system for IBM-compatible personal computers based on the Intel 80386 microprocessor. Linus remains deeply involved with improving Linux, keeping it up-to-date with various hardware developments and coordinating the activity of hundreds of Linux developers around the world. Over the years, developers have worked to make Linux available on other architectures, including Alpha, SPARC, Motorola MC680x0, PowerPC, and IBM System/390.

One of the more appealing benefits to Linux is that it isn't a commercial operating system: its source code under the GNU Public License[1] is open and available to anyone to study, as we will in this book; if you download the code (the official site is or check the sources on a Linux CD, you will be able to explore from top to bottom one of the most successful, modern operating systems. This book, in fact, assumes you have the ...

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