Linux is perhaps the most explored operating system in terms of development. After the invention of the first Linux kernel by Linus Torvalds, developers have been modifying this UNIX-based kernel to produce operating systems with more functionalities and stability.
One of the main factors that make Linux development interesting is the fact that Linux is open source and thus users and developers can add functionalities on it to make it better. The source codes for various releases of Linux operating system are also accessible to developers. Since the first kernel, individuals and companies have developed numerous others, with each being responsible for dozens of Linux operating system releases.
Linux is perhaps the only operating system that has the most dedicated and committed followers. It has also gained a lot of popularity “as the leading server operating system” (Linux Operating System 2003, p. 1). Linus Torvalds developed Linux, while he was studying in a Finnish university. It is based on the UNIX operating system and it was developed with the assistance of developers across the globe through the internet.
In fact, the people who first developed major components of the Linux operating system: Linus Torvalds – who developed the kernel, and Richard Stallman – who had developed utilities and programs that were used in Linux, shared their work first on the internet. This paper is an in-depth analysis of the history of Linux operating system.
History of Linux
Development of the components of Linux started in the year 1983. Although Richard Stallman did not know the destiny of his GNU project, the operating system he was intending to develop proved to have invaluable programs for the Linux operating system. Stallman’s intention was to develop an operating system that provided users around the world with free software and so he had involved developers around the globe in his project.
By the year 1991, Stallman had received or developed most components of his system but he was missing one thing: the kernel (Stewart 2011). A number of theories, the most encouraging being that its inventor, Linus Torvalds, was using a problematic clone of UNIX called Minix have explained the invention of Linux. While using this system Linus encountered problems and suggested modifications to Minix’s developer, who declined them.
Torvalds then decided to develop his own operating system and made a UNIX-based kernel. At the same time, Stallman had collected and developed programs and utilities but he was missing a kernel. The two men linked through the internet and after combining their products and after involving the online community of programmers, Linux was born. Torvalds had named the aforementioned kernel version 0.01, which combined with GNU to form the first Linux operating system (Stewart 2011).
Shortly after version 0.01, Torvalds released version 0.02 and version 0.11. These were developed with help from the internet community (Schneider 2013). The latter version was independent of UNIX and formed the first stand-alone Linux operating system.
Version 0.12 and 0.95 subsequently followed, and Linux attracted more and more developers who sought to perfect it. “Version 2.2 that was a major update to the Linux kernel was officially released in January 1999” (Hayward 2012). “By 2000, most companies produced their machines in such a way that they were compatible with Linux” (Hayward 2012).
Version 2.4 followed shortly afterwards providing some changes and compatibility with 64-bit processors. Jurix Linux also came at about the same time with version 2.2. It “was an important milestone in the history of Linux because it was the base system used for creating the SUSE Linux that we use today” (Hayward 2012, p. 1).
Other releases that came out before the turn of the century include Red Hat, Caldera, Yellow Dog, Turbo Linux, Mandrake, and Red Flag. At this time, the features incorporated in version 2.2 were drawing developers to design their versions of Linux due to some capabilities such as server potential and capability for NTFS.
In addition to these, Gnome and KDE were developed, with KDE being first used in Mandrake and Gnome being used first in Red Hat. After the year 2000, Sun Systems and Oracle announced officially that they supported Linux due to its popularity and increasing adoption in various server rooms all over the world.
Increased popularity of Linux also fuelled further development. Some of the versions released after 2000 include Knoppix that is Debian-based whose popularity made it the best of its time, with ability to boot from a CD. Another major release was version 2.4, which supported PC cards, Bluetooth, EXT3, USB and ISA Plug and Play. This kernel beat all its predecessors in terms of support, which lasted until 2011.
Red Hat then went commercial with the release of Fedora Core for free distribution and Red Hat Enterprise for commercial users. Other developers used Red Hat’s source code and made CERN, CentOS and Oracle Linux. These were however, inferior because they did not have Red Hat’s software. The year 2012 saw the release of CRUX, a lightweight system for developers. Other versions that have been released after CRUX include Arch Linux, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint (Hayward 2012).
While at University in Finland, Linus Torvalds was using Minix, an operating system based on UNIX. Linus felt that there was need for improvement of the operating system but the creator of Minix felt that modifications were unnecessary. Linus then decided to build an open source operating system.
This happened in 1991 and it marked the birth of Linux. Linus built the kernel that formed the heart of Linux operating system and included UNIX programs and utilities, and additional programs and utilities from Richard Stallman. Since then many versions of Linux, which have amazing functionalities and animations, have been produced. Examples of such versions include Ubuntu, Fedora, Red Hat, and SUSE.
- D. Hayward. (2012 Nov.). The history of Linux: how history has shaped the penguin. Future Publishing Ltd. England. Web.
- Linux Operating System: History of Linux. (2003). ClearLead Inc. U.S. Web.
- L. Schneider. (2013). Linux History and Resources. About.com. U.S. Web.
- B. Stewart. (2011). Linux History. Living Internet U.S. Web.