Something happened back in 1991 that dramatically changed the future of computing. Linus Torvalds, a Finnish-American software engineer, released the Linux kernel and the second version of the GNU General Public License (GPLv2). A good portion of the technology we use today would not be what it is had this not happened.
It all started on August 25th of that year when Torvalds announced in a usenet post that he was working on a free OS and that it would be ready within a few months. He also said it “won’t be big and professional like gnu,” but that wasn’t exactly how things turned out!
The beauty of the Gnu GPL was that, instead of restricting what users can do with the Linux kernel, it maximized their rights. Richard Stallman, GNU founder, referred to these rights as the “four freedoms.” They include the freedom to run, copy, study/improve and distribute. This was akin to turning the function of a license inside out.
Source:: Network World – Linux