Linux is a Unix-like and mostly POSIX-compliant computer operating system (OS) assembled under the model of free and open-source software development and distribution. The defining component of Linux is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel.

Linux distributions have long been used as server operating systems, and have risen to prominence in that area; Netcraft reported in September 2006, that eight of the ten most reliable internet hosting companies ran Linux distributions on their web servers. Since June 2008, Linux distributions represented five of the top ten, FreeBSD three of ten, and Microsoft two of ten; since February 2010, Linux distributions represented six of the top ten, FreeBSD two of ten, and Microsoft one of ten.

Linux distributions are the cornerstone of the LAMP server-software combination (Linux, Apache, MariaDB/MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python) which has achieved popularity among developers, and which is one of the more common platforms for website hosting.

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