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Monday, 18 April 2016

The History of Linux Operating System

 Linux is the first truly open-source operating system modeled on UNIX but before that, there was Unix, created by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (following picture shows Ken and Dennis), in 1969. After that, throughout the eighties, a number of projects started life, all based on the encompassing vision that is Unix. 

The Unix operating system by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (both of AT&T Bell Laboratories) conceived and implemented the UNIX in 1969 and first released in 1970. Later they rewrote it in a new programming language, C, to make it portable. The availability and portability of Unix caused it to be widely adopted, copied and modified by academic institutions and businesses.

In 1977, the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) was developed by the Computer Systems Research Group (CSRG) from UC Berkeley, based on the 6th edition of Unix from AT&T. Since BSD contained Unix code that AT&T owned, AT&T filed a lawsuit (USL v. BSDi) in the early 1990s against the University of California. This strongly limited the development and adoption of BSD.
The underlying GNU Project was launched in 1983 by Richard Stallman originally to develop a Unix-compatible operating system called GNU, intended to be entirely free software. Many programs and utilities were contributed by developers around the world, and by 1991 most of the components of the system were ready. Still missing was the kernel.

But it wasn't until 1991 that a young Finnish student called Linus Torvalds (alongside photo of Linus) would combine all he had learnt from the those landmark systems into a kernel that would take the world by storm. As Torvalds wrote in his book Just for Fun, he eventually ended up writing an operating system kernel. On 25 August 1991, he (at age 21) announced this system in a Usenet posting to the newsgroup "comp.os.minix." There and then Linux evolved into a fully-blown OS, with the Manchester Computing Centre creating one of the first distributions that used a combined boot/ root disk, named MCC Interim Linux. 

On October 5th, 1991, Torvalds sent a posting to the comp.os.minix newsgroup again but now he was announcing the release of Version 0.02, a basic version that still needed Minix to operate, but which attracted considerable interest nevertheless. The kernel was then rapidly improved by Torvalds and a growing number of volunteers communicating over the Internet, and by December 19th a functional, stand-alone Unix-like Linux system was released as Version 0.11 under its own licence, which had a restriction on commercial activity.

1992 - 1994 Rise of Slackware, Red Hat and Debian

Between 1992 and 1994 the rise of the most influential founders of the modern Linux desktop: Slackware, Red Hat and Debian, along with the Linux kernel growing to become 0.95 - the first to be capable of running the X Window System. On January 5, 1992 he released Version 0.12 under the well established GNU General Public License.

Picture: Red Hat Desktop

Slackware started life as SLS, the Softlanding Linux System, as founded by Peter MacDonald in 1992. However, SLS was a buggy beast at best, and it wasn't long before it was superseded by Patrick Volkerding's Slackware, which is the longest-running Linux distro. In 1993, Ian Murdock went forth and gave birth to a system called The Debian Linux Release, which is allegedly named after his then girlfriend Debra Lynn and himself.

As Slackware evolved, companies sprung to life that supported the software. One that appeared in 1994 was the Software und System-Entwicklung, or as it was more commonly known, S.U.S.E Linux.

On 3 November, 1994, another Distro called Red Hat Commercial Linux, created by Marc Ewing, and named after the coloured hat he wore whilst at University came and on 14th March, 1994, Linux 1.0.0 was launched with 176,250 lines of code. Thus was the start of something wonderful.

 1995 - 1999 The arrival of Gnome and KDE (Kool Desktop Environment)

Between 1995 to 1999, Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena announced the development of a new desktop environment and accompanying applications, based on GTK+. This new desktop environment was called Gnome

Torvalds announced in 1996 that there would be a mascot for Linux, a penguin. This was due to the fact when they were about to select the mascot, Torvalds did mention he was bitten by a little penguin (Eudyptula minor) on a visit to the National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra, Australia but we all know he loved Peguins.
Jurix Linux  was born allegedly being the first distro to include a scriptable installer, allowing an admin install to copy the installation process across similar machines. It was one of the first to fully support bootp and NFS, and one of the first Linux systems intended to use EXT2 but what really made Jurix an important milestone in Linux history was the fact that it was the base system used for creating the SUSE Linux that we use today.This is where Linux Operating System started being 'hot'.
Such releases like Caldera, Mandrake, TurboLinux, Yellow Dog and Red Flag all began life from the sudden big bang of the ever-evolving Linux kernel, which was now, from 1995 to 1999, in versions 1.2.0 to 2.2 .
  •  Version 2.0, launched in 1996, saw something like 41 releases in the series. It was this fast turn-around of the kernel, and the addition of some very important features that solidified the Linux operating system as the server OS of choice for IT professionals.
  • Version 2.2 heralded an improvement of SMP, support for the PowerPC architecture and a readonly capability for NTFS.
Debian-based systems, although not as active as their Red Hat counterparts, began to grow, and favoured a more user-friendly server room approach to their distros. Being more desktop-orientated, Debian-based distros were often displayed on the front of the popular magazines at the time, showing off such notable entries as: Libranet, Storm, Finnix and Corel Linux.

 KDE (Kool Desktop Environment) was founded in 1996 by Matthias Ettrich, a student at the University of Tübingen, who proposed not just a set of working applications, but also an entire desktop environment for them to work in.
By 1998, KDE version 1.0 was open to the world, and the first distro to use it was Mandrake.

Interestingly, according to internet folklore, the first Linux OS to feature Gnome was Red Hat. Gnome fast became an acceptable desktop environment, being quick, malleable and very friendly for the average user.

 2000 - 2005 The birth of Live Distros [Live CD]

May 2000 Gnome 1.2 Bongo was released. Oracle and Sun announced official support for Linux versions, as the OS became increasingly popular, and more system admins started to adopt it in their server rooms. In January 2001 Version 2.4 was released, providing (among other improvements) compatibility with the upcoming generations of Intel's 64-bit Itanium computer processors.

In this five years an incredible surge of Linux-powered computers hitt the media, with further improvements to the kernel, heaps of new applications and the appearance of the first live distro.

Knoppix ("which I did use myself"), was a friendly Debian-based distro developed by Klaus Knopper, was also one of the most popular of its time. It was noteworthy for many reasons, but the main one was the fact that it could boot directly from the CD! Knoppix 1.4, as released on 30 September, 2000 a fully-working Linux, with access to a massive range of hardware and the ability to communicate and connect automatically to almost any network available at that time.

 Knoppix set the bar for other Linux distros to follow, and from its humble beginnings it spawned quite the family tree of Knoppix-based distros, many of which are still with us today.

 As the Linux distro was now approaching an almost Zen-like harmony with user and PC, it was still deemed as being distant to those users who preferred the flavourings of Microsoft. Therefore, a new philosophy was needed - something that would make Linux more human, and show more humanity, something Ubuntu.

Based on Debian, Ubuntu's aim was to create an easy-to-use Linux desktop that could be updated to include the latest offerings by the end user with very little experience in Linux. With the release of Ubuntu 4.10, the Warty Warthog, on 20 October, 2004 this dream was realized.

2005 - 2012 Android came!

Linux Mint 1.0, Ada, was released in 2006 with a heady mixture of FOSS (Free and open-source software anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to voluntarily improve the design of the software) and proprietary software. This 'works-out-of-the-box' Linux distro briefly followed the Ubuntu base and later the Debian base as well.

Linux Mint has adapted itself to embrace, and offer, the newest technologies while still keeping an ear to the ground and listening to its users, hence the massive support for this great distro.
KDE4 was released, and was met with some criticism due to the lack of stability, with Linus himself stating that KDE 4.0 was a "break everything" and "halfbaked" release.

23rd September Android was released. One of the most popular Linux-based operating systems ever, although 90% of its users have no idea that it's Linux-based at all.

Version 1.0 was launched with the HTC Dream and could do everything you'd expect from a modern smartphone, but it was buggy. Version 1.1 fixed most of the bugs, but it wasn't until version 1.5 Cupcake that Android really started to get interesting and pave the way for smartphones the world over.

Linux is freedom, and it must be allowed to grow, but to ensure the protection and the advancement of Linux a group must be formed to help keep Linux independent. So, in 2000 the Linux Foundation was formed to sponsor the work of Linus and the developing community, in making and improving Linux, but also to defend it and keep it within the core values of freedom, collaboration and education - a bit like the Justice League, but without capes.

We all know the largest part of the work on Linux is performed by the community: the thousands of programmers around the world that use Linux and send their suggested improvements to the maintainers. Various companies have also helped not only with the development of the kernels, but also with the writing of the body of auxiliary software, which is distributed with Linux. As of February 2015, over 80% of Linux kernel developers are paid.

It is released both by organized projects such as Debian, and by projects connected directly with companies such as Fedora and openSUSE. The members of the respective projects meet at various conferences and fairs, in order to exchange ideas. One of the largest of these fairs is the LinuxTag in Germany (currently in Berlin), where about 10,000 people assemble annually, in order to discuss Linux and the projects associated with it.


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