What is Linux?
GNU/Linux Operating System
Linux is a free OpenSource powerful operating system that can on almost any computer hardware. Today Linux can be found in cars, Televisions, phones, TV Set Top boxes. Linux was devised back in the early 1990s by a science student at Helsinki University by the name of Linus Torvalds.
He desired an Operating system for his 386 personal computer that was similar to the Unix system had used at the University. Torvalds set about then creating an operating system which later he posted on the internet for anyone who was interested in the work he was doing.
Shortly after, interest began to grow and other like minded individuals and groups started to work on Linus's projects helping to fix bugs and adding enhancements.
It was back in 1991 that Linux began his project for the creation of the Linux Kernel. Initially he set about trying to create a terminal emulator. Development of this Kernel was carried out using MINIX using the GNU C Compiler. On the historic date of 25th August 1991 he announced this system in a Usenet posting to the 'comp.os.minix' newsgroup. The message posted read:
Hello everybody out there using minix -
I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since April, and is starting to get ready.
I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).
I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people would want.
Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)
PS. Yes – it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT portable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.
—Linus Torvalds 
Why is Linux called Linux ?
Well originally Linus intended to call his creation Freax (the words Free and X from Unix were combined). Initially the original files were stored under the name of Freax.
For others to work on the project, the files were loaded to an ftp server in September 1991. Ari Lemmke a fellow co-worker at the university of Helsinki volunteered to help administer the ftp server. Lemmke didn't like the name Freax and so changed this to 'Linux' (a name originally dismissed by Linus for being too egotistical).
Initially Torvalds released his kernel under its own license which had restrictions for commercial use. It wasn't until December 1992 that the version 0.99 of his kernel was released under the GNU GPL (GNU General Public License).
It was at this point that Linux and GNU developers collaborated to create a free operating system.
Originally the name Linux referred to the Kernel Linus had created, however, there have been variations of the name used with different projects.
Today the term Linux is generally accepted as being a collaboration of the Linux Kernel and other software tools.
However, Linux would not have been possible without the vision of a man by the name of Richard Stallman. Stallman a famous pioneer and advocate of freedom software.
In 1984 Stallman a gifted student and programmer at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) set out on a journey to create a truly free operating system that he would donate to the world. Stallman devised the Free Software Project called the GNU Project. (GNU which is an acronym for Gnu's Not Unix). Stallman's operating system would be built around the conceptual framework of Unix. To manage this project Stallman created the Free Software Foundation (FSF).
One of the most important things to come out of this was the creation of the GPL.
General Public License - GPL
The GPL is a creative software license that uses copyright law to protect the freedom of the software user. When software is licensed under GPL these recipients are bound by copyright law to respect the freedom of anyone else to use the software in any way they choose.
The Official Linux Mascot
The concept of the Linux mascot being a penguin came from Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. Torvalds took his inspiration from an image he found on an FTP site, showing a Penguin which looked like the Creature Comforts characters made by Nick Park. The first person to call the penguin "Tux" was James Hughes, who said that it stood for (T)orvalds (U)ni(X). Tux was originally designed as a submission for a Linux logo contest. Three such competitions took place. Unfortunately, Tux won none of these. This is why Tux is formally known as the Linux mascot and not the Linux logo.
Tux was created by Larry Ewing using the first publicly released version (0.54) of GIMP, a free software graphics package. (GNU Image Manipulation Program).
The Linux Time line
Prominent Dates from the history of Linux
1983: Richard Stallman creates the GNU project.
1989: Richard Stallman writes the first version of the GNU General Public License (GPL).
1991: The Linux kernel is publicly announced on 25 August by Finnish student Linus Torvalds. Version 0.01 is released.
1992: The Linux kernel is re licensed under the GNU GPL. The first Linux newsgroup, comp.os.linux, is proposed and started by Ari Lemmke.
1993: Developers work on the Linux kernel. With their assistance the kernel is adapted to the GNU environment. Slackware, is released for the first time. The Debian project is established. Matt Welsh's Linux Installation and Getting Started, is released. This is the first book on Linux!
1994: Torvalds releases version 1.0 of Linux. The XFree86 project contributes a graphic user interface (GUI). Red Hat and SUSE publish version 1.0 of their Enterprise Linux distributions.
1995: Linux is ported to the DEC Alpha and to the Sun SPARC. Linux Expo, the first Linux Trade Show.
1996: Version 2.0 of the Linux kernel is released.
1998: Many large organisations such as IBM, Compaq and Oracle announce their support for Linux. Work starts on a Graphical User Interface (KDE)
1999: Developers begin work on the graphic environment GNOME.
2000: Linux Professional Institute announces the LPI Certification.
2001: January - Version 2.4.0 Linux Kernel was released.
2004: The XFree86 team splits up and joins with the existing X Window standards body to form the X.Org Foundation, which results in a substantially faster development of the X Window Server for Linux.
2005: The project openSUSE begins a free distribution from Novell's community. OpenOffice.org introduces version 2.0.
2006: Oracle releases its own distribution of Red Hat. Novell and Microsoft announce a cooperation for a better interoperability.
2007: Dell starts distributing laptops with Ubuntu pre-installed.
2011: Version 3.0 of the Linux kernel is released.
2012: Version 3.2 of the Linux kernel is released.
2013: Version 3.9 of the Linux kernel is released.
2014: Version 3.18 of the Linux kernel is released.
2015: Version 3.19 of the Linux kernel is released.
2015: Version 4.0 of the Linux kernel is released.
2016: Version 4.4 of the Linux kernel is released.