While most operating systems have a closed source nature, from the beginning Linux / Ubuntu has remain open sourced. This has allowed it to become quite popular.

My question:

How has it used open source to its advantage? And what has keeping it open sourced allowed it to do, that it otherwise wouldn't?

  • I would challenge the assumption that "most operating systems have a closed source nature" Many current operating systems (MacOS (incl. iOS), Android, Solaris, HP-UX, AiX, ...) are rooted in Unix/BSD systems which had been kind of open (predating the term and current concept of "open source" ...) and partly open (i.e. Apple Darwin is the base for OS X opensource.apple.com)
    – johannes
    Sep 24, 2015 at 13:09

2 Answers 2


As Linus Torvalds developed a simple Unix-kernel for his home PC he decided to make it open source under the GPL-license, because he used GNU-software in making it and wanted to say thanks this way. GNU was building a free Unix-like OS by replacing step by step every program in System V Unix. They were already pretty far, but they still missed a kernel. Linux was that kernel.

This decision had some consequences. As many people already followed the effort of the GNU-project to build an OS, Linux was very interesting. Linux making the kernel GPL resulted in many of them starting to be interested into Linux and many of them started to contribute to the project. Also Linux completed the GNU-system. So finally GNU could release a completely free system - with Linux as the kernel. This lead to a lot of buzz among the free-software-aficionados and started to make Linux popular.

  • 1
    because he used GNU-software in making it and wanted to say thanks this way Not really, he switched to GPL at the request of others: web.archive.org/web/20070819045030/http://www.kernel.org/pub/… "The Linux copyright will change: I've had a couple of requests to make it compatible with the GNU copyleft, removing the "you may not distribute it for money" condition." Feb 26, 2017 at 20:43

From a blog post by Jennifer Marsh:

With Linux being open-source, several distributions are available to the end-user. Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu and Mint are just a few of the distributions available to end users, and these distributions are completely free to download.

Security is the other main advantage. Several whitehat hackers have contributed to the overall security of Linux, and by making the source available to anyone, security experts can help identify any main security flaws in the operating system. The advantage over operating systems such as Windows is that security flaws are caught before they become an issue for the public.

Keeping it open sourced allowed us to have so many choices in a wide variety of events.

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    When you copy material written by others, you must clearly indicate what is original content written by you and what is copied. Just saying “Credit to …” is deceptive, it makes it look you got inspiration rather than plain copying. Please read how to reference material written by others. Jun 26, 2015 at 20:43
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    @Gilles I'll keep that in mind from now on, and Thank you for the link Jun 26, 2015 at 21:17

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