Work sheet 3

A. The Story of Linux

The story of Linux could be a fairy tale. Listen to the version by the Linux Foundation on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Linux in 2011.

The Story of Linux from the Linux Foundation(3 min 39 sec)

B. The relationship between GNU and Linux

In the previous video you have heard the term kernel. It is used to mean the central part of many computer operating systems. (The term is borrowed from botany, "The central (usually edible) part of a nut, especially once the hard shell has been removed".) Torvalds built the kernel for a Unix-like operating system for the common IBM PCs. But to make it and run it on a machine a whole lot of other software tools are necessary. He used the freely available GNU tools and also licenced his work under the GPL. Watch:

Revolution OS clip set #2 - relationship between GNU and Linux

C. Invention of the term Open Source

Open Source Movement vs. Free Software

C. Why Linux spread

Many things were right for Linux right from the beginning. Not only all the necessary tools were available from the GNU project, Torvalds intuitively understood the free culture brewing at that time. Already in 1992 he adapted the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) for his kernel. The second factor was the spreading of the Internet. Within weeks from the first announcement the source code was available on a FTP site of the University of Helsinki to be freely downloaded. Bug reports and patches started arriving from all over the world. The Linux kernel became the prime example of a high-end collaborative project, consequently being in the kernel developers list was a prestige.

Synergies with other similar projects should not be left uncommented, notably the role of Apache web server. It was the continuation of the source code of one of the very first web servers ever written, which soon became the most popular web server of the Internet. This trend continues even today, the 'LAMP stack' (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) still powers most of the Web.

There was also Samba. This was the network file system protocol SMB (Server Message Block) which Microsoft kept to themselves since the DOS days. It was one of their weapons in building their monopoly. Andrew Tridgell, an imaginative programmer, reconstructed the SMB protocol by listning to its network traffic! Thanks to his work Linux (and other Unixes) could soon become file servers for Microsoft machines.

A Linux time-line

  • 1991: The birth of Linux. What would you like to see most in minix?
  • 1992: Linus uploads Linux kernel version 0.12 to the anonymous FTP server
  • 1993: Already 100 programmers work on the Linux kernel.
  • 1994: Linux kernel version 1.0 released
  • 1995: Linux was ported to Intel i386, DEC and Sun Sparc platforms.
  • 1996: Linux kernel version 2.0 released
  • 1997: Weekly updates to the Linux kernel
  • 1999: Kernel version 2.2 released

Last modified: Thursday, 26 March 2015, 7:19 PM