A New Project or a GNU Project?
Linux, as innovative as it is, has been created from “off-the-shelf” technology—it has gone fast and far on the shoulders of giants. It has employed (for the most part) proven technology to give users a truly open operating system.
The most important innovation Linux has given users is not the code, but the license. Because Linux is licensed under the FSF's GNU Public License, users have control, and are not tied to a vendor's apron strings. This creates a market for support, and users who are dissatisfied with the support they are receiving have the option to switch support providers. Not only is there a market for support, but users are also enabled to fix problems and enhance the software themselves, if they are so inclined.
Neither of those options truly exists for operating systems that do not include source; those options demonstrate the true innovation of Linux.
Mark Bolzern is the President of WorkGroup Solutions, Inc, and a Board Member of Linux International.