The Linux operating system represented a $25 billion ecosystem in 2008. Since its inception in 1991, Linux has grown to become a force in computing, powering everything from the New York Stock Exchange to mobile phones to supercomputers to consumer devices. As an open operating system, Linux is developed collaboratively, meaning no one company is solely responsible for its development or ongoing support. Companies participating in the Linux economy share research and development costs with their partners and competitors. This spreading of development burden amongst individuals and companies has resulted in a large and efficient ecosystem and unheralded software innovation.
Over 1,000 developers, from at least 100 different companies, contribute to every kernel release. In the past two years alone, over 3,200 developers from 200 companies have contributed to the kernel--which is just one small piece of a Linux distribution.
This article will explore the various components of the Linux operating system, how they are created and work together, the communities of Linux, and Linux's incredible impact on the IT ecosystem.