In a narrow sense, Linux is a Unix-like kernel started by Linus Torvalds in 1991.

In common usage, Linux is an operating system built around the Linux kernel. This operating system includes many other components, notably from the GNU project, so the term GNU/Linux is sometimes used. There are many different Linux distributions (see ), including more or less the same programs but with different installers and other customizations.

The Linux kernel is used in some non-unix-like embedded operating systems, the best known being Android.

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