What is Linux?
Linux is a clone of the operating system Unix, written from scratch by Linus Torvalds with assistance from a loosely-knit team of hackers across the Net. It aims towards POSIX and Single UNIX Specification compliance.
It has all the features you would expect in a modern fully-fledged Unix, including true multitasking, virtual memory, shared libraries, demand loading, shared copy-on-write executables, proper memory management, and multistack networking including IPv4 and IPv6.
Although originally developed first for 32-bit x86-based PCs (386 or higher), today Linux also runs on a multitude of other processor architectures, in both 32- and 64-bit variants.
New to Linux?
If you're new to Linux, you don't want to download the kernel, which is just a component in a working Linux system. Instead, you want what is called a distribution of Linux, which is a complete Linux system. There are numerous distributions available for download on the Internet as well as for purchase from various vendors; some are general-purpose, and some are optimized for specific uses. We currently have mirrors of several distributions available at http://mirrors.kernel.org/.
Note, however, that most distributions are very large (several gigabytes), so unless you have a fast Internet link you may want to save yourself some hassle and purchase a CD-ROM with a distribution; such CD-ROMs are available from a number of vendors.