In the early 90s, a geek named Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki in Finland thought it would be fun to write a Unix kernel from scratch. He called it Linux, and it was cool but pretty much useless without all the utility programs needed to make it a complete operating system. At the same time, Richard Stallman and his pals at the Free Software Foundation were writing a bunch of freeware Unix utilities collectively known as the GNU Project. It was cool but pretty much useless without a kernel to make it a complete operating system. Fortunately, the two parties decided to collaborate.
News of Linux spread quickly over the Internet, and many other Unix programmers joined the effort to enhance it. What we now know as Linux is a combination of Torvald’s Linux kernel, the GNU Project software, and some other nifty software bit and pieces developed by programmers from all around the world.