The history of creation of Linux

Now using the latest version of Ubuntu, Fedora or OpenSUSE, we can enjoy the beautiful and modern desktop environment easy to use graphics programs, the fact that most computer hardware is supported by the system without any additional settings. But have you ever wondered how our favorite operating system came to all this?

If we consider and appreciate the amount of time and effort expended a huge number of developers to achieve this almost perfect state of the system? Probably not. Let’s look at the history of this wonderful OS and on her journey over the last few decades. When she was born? How did that evolve? Distributions appeared during development, and that was the turning point that made from the project for a single person operating system that is used everywhere that we have now? And what were the distributions sent by the community to the archive?

So let’s mentally go back in time almost 30 years ago, and remember how it began the history of Linux systems.

The history of creation of Linux

1991 – the beginning

In the beginning was Unix created by programmers Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie in 1969. Then during the eighties created many projects based on Unix, is inspired by this philosophy. These were: the GNU project Richard Stallman, the BSD (Berkley Software Distribution), the book of Professor Andrew Tanenbaum “Operating systems: design and implementation” and MINIX (mini-Unix), which appeared around the same time as the book.

But in 1991 began the history of Linux. A young Finnish student named Linus Torvalds has combined all that he knew about the existing systems in a new kernel, which could take over the world. There are many legends about why Linus decided to work on my system. One of them says that he worked in MINIX and transferred the data to the hard drive instead of a modem, than wipe all partitions Minix. After that, he was disappointed in this OS and decided to create his own.

Another version says that he wrote the kernel for better functionality of the new machine on the Intel 386, which he used. And how to improve Minix was prohibited, he had to develop his operating system.

Whatever the true reason, he has created a free terminal emulator that was based on Minix, in turn, based on Unix, and it became the basis for the work on the operating system kernel. In 1991 August 25, Linus published his famous message to the newsletters of Minix.

After that, the first version of Linux, which was then called Freax quickly spread on FTP servers around the world, and the number of users started to grow rapidly. Version 0.01 is very different from that available today. You can download the kernel size 71 kilobytes and try to install it from here.

Go down the road of history. Needless to say, Linux has become a full-blown OS, and the Manchester computing centre created one of the first distributions that used a combined boot and root partition. The distribution was called MCC Interim Linux.

1992 – 1994 – development of desktop

It took not much time, and in the period from 1992 to 1994, we saw the emergence and development of the most famous and influential Linux distributions: Slackware, Red Hat and Debian. The core version is increased to 0.95, and here there is support for the X Window System, allowing you to run graphics applications.

Slackware was one of the first distributions that used a new Linux kernel. Then it was called SLS (Softlanding Linux System) was founded by Peter MacDonald in 1992. SLS is pretty much ahead of its time, as it was the first Linux distribution that contains not only the 0.99 Linux kernel, but the TCP/IP stack and the X Window system. But this distro had lots of problems and was soon replaced by Slackware by Patrick Volkerding. Now it is the oldest Linux distribution.

But SLS is not only gave birth to Slackware. Due to the problematic interface of the SLS, another user decided to make their own system and this triggered another branch of the Linux distributions. In 1993, Ian Murdoch released Debian Linux, which, according to him, was named after his then-girlfriend Debra Lynn and himself.

With the development of Slackware there was a company that provided technical support for such software. One of them appeared in 1994 and was called Software und System-Entwicklung, she is now better known as S. U. S. E Linux.

Another distribution, which was released on 3 November 1994, called Red Hat Commercial Linux. The distribution created by Marc Ewing and bears the name of red hat, which the author was at the University.

In 1994, March 14, was released a Linux version 1.0.0, which consisted of 176 250 lines of code. Thus began the history of the development of Linux.

1995 – 1999 – the advent of Gnome and KDE

During this period, the Linux operating system has made a big leap in development, because in the next five years will be the main Linux distributions, which are known and widely used today also appear less visible distributions. All of this is happening during the game “attack of the penguins” and boom

Jurix Linux was an interesting distribution and popularity for a number of reasons. First, it was the first distribution with the script installer that allows an administrator to simplify the installation process. He was one of the first distros which supported bootp and NFS, as well as the first used an ext2 filesystem.

But an important milestone in the history of Jurix Linux was not for this reason – based on it was created by the SUSE Linux that we use today.

Distributions based on Red Hat Linux, is also actively developing during this time. There are versions like Caldera, Mandrake, TurboLinux, Yellow Dog and Red Flag. Now the Linux kernel version changed from 1.2 to 2.2.

Version 2.0 was released in 1996 and it has already reached 41 release. It is this rapid development of the kernel and adding some very important functions secured the position of the Linux operating system as a server operating system and system for IT specialists worldwide.

For example, in version 2.0 introduced support for SMB Protocol, improved memory management, support for work on different types of processors. Version 2.2 has been improving the work of the SMB support PowerPC and the ability to mount NTFS, but only read.

There is a legend that once while on holiday in Australia, Linus Torvalds, visited the zoo, where he was bitten by a ferocious penguin. Then he contracted penguincom and very fond of penguins. In any case, Linus liked penguins. Like he said, they are goofy and fun. As for the name of the symbol Linux Quietly, on the Internet it decrypt as (T)orvalds (U)ni(X). Now you all know.

System based on Debian developed not as active as Red Hat. Developers prefer to work more on convenience and appearance of their distributions. Being more oriented to the desktop, such distributions have often appeared on the covers of popular IT magazines of the time. Came across names such as Libranet, Storm, Finnix and Corel Linux.

Undoubtedly, the most important event for this part of the history of Linux was the appearance of KDE and Gnome. The environment is KDE (Kool Desktop Environment) was introduced in 1996. Its founder was Mathias Ettrich, student at the University of tübingen. It is suggested not just a set of applications and the whole desktop environment in which they can run. Users now have the choice to use the X11 or KDE, written for the recently introduced framework of Qt.

By 1998, the first release of KDE 1.0 and the first distro that used it by default, was Mandrake. 2000 released version 2.0, which has received many improvements, and program Konqueror, KOffice and KIO library.

Miguel de Icaza and Federico Myung announced the development of a new desktop environment and applications for it based on the GTK+ library. This new desktop environment was called Gnome. It is believed that the first operating system that uses Gnome was Red Hat Linux. Gnome has quickly become a popular desktop environment thanks to its high performance and usability for ordinary users. By may 2000, was released version of Gnome 1.2 Bongo.

2000 – 2005 – the emergence of Live-distributions

This period was an important step in the history of the Linux operating system. During these five years its popularity has grown, many new computers running Linux. The kernel continued to improve, new programs, and also appeared the first live-distribution.

Knoppix – friendly distribution based on Debian and developed by Klaus Knopper sleeve, was one of the most popular at the time. He was remarkable for many reasons, but the main of them is the ability to run and to try the system directly from the CD-ROM.

Now we believe this capability is standard. But in those days, Knoppix, released 30 September 2000, can be run on any computer and get a full system with support of various equipment and network. It was something new. Knoppix was the basis for many distributions, and some of them are known and used to this day.

In addition to ready-made distributions, there was a project to help users collect their own distro. Linux From Scratch (LFS) is designed with the book of Jared Beckmans, which tells how to assemble your own Linux distribution from source.

Linux is first and foremost freedom, and he needs to develop. But to support the development, to ensure its protection and to preserve the independence needed to form a company that will take care of it. So in the year 2000 Fund was established to sponsor the work of Linus and the developing community, to create and improve Linux, and to protect and preserve the core values of the movement.

A key moment in this period was the release of Linux kernel 2.4 fourth of January. This version added support for USB, PC cards, ISA Plug and Play, Bluetooth, RAID and ext3. In fact it was the nucleus with the longest period of support, it ended on version in 2011. The kernel has changed greatly and has become more versatile compared to 1.0.

Red Hat, which by that time came to the stock market and received money for supporting free Red Hat Linux OS, has decided that it is time to choose a more commercial approach to business. Therefore, the distribution was divided into two branches. Appeared in Red Hat Enterprice Linux 2.1 with kernel 2.4.9. He was more stable, long-term support for commercial users. And the second distribution – Fedora – free and for the community.

Red Hat Enterprice Linux is still open source. The company publishes the source code on multiple FTP servers from which it downloads several independent groups of developers and compile it on the basis of their distributions: CentOS, Oracle Linux, CERN and Scientific Linux. They have all the advantages of stability for commercial distribution, but do not have access to software and support from Red Hat.

In December 2002 there is an interesting distribution – CRUX. His main goal was to preserve simplicity, this trend was very popular at the time. CRUX was very light and focused more on the developer, not standard user. While other distributions have seen an exponential growth and competition for the best replacement for Windows, CRUX remained the simple and minimalistic. And it is interesting to us because it became the basis for the now very popular ArchLinux.

On 18 December it was announced the release of a new version of the Linux kernel 2.6. In this version added support for PAE, new CPUs, improved support for 64-bit processors, increased maximum file system size to 16 TB, added the EXT4 file system and more.

Already at that time, Linux distributions were pretty good, but they still were very far from the ideal for those who like Microsoft products. Therefore, we needed a new philosophy that made Linux closer to the average user. For Example Ubuntu.

The purpose of Ubuntu, a distro based on Debian, was the creation of easy to use Linux desktop that could use a regular user with little experience in this system. With the release of Ubuntu 4.04 20 Oct 2004 this concept was implemented.

2006 – 2012 – the rise and fall of Ubuntu

During this period, many distributions have become more stable and continue to improve. Also, there are many new distributions. One of them, the first version of which was released at 2006 and today is very popular. Is Linux Mint. It was based on Ubuntu and contains both free and proprietary software. This greatly simplified the installation of codecs, drivers, and other components for beginners. The developers of the distribution kit tried to include new programs, as well as listened to the opinions of its users, and this has won the support of the community.

Meanwhile, released a new version of the desktop environment KDE4, which was met with criticism from users for lack of stability. Even Linus himself said that this version breaks all KDE and represents only half of the features of the previous version. However, the users started to use KDE4 with the Plasma environment and modern appearance and the release of version 4.2, which took place in 2009, already forgotten about his negative experience.

September 23 was released the most popular at the moment operating system based on Linux kernel, although 90% of users do not even have a clue about what they’re using Linux. Of course, this is Android. Version 1.0 was released for the HTC Dream and was able to do everything that you expect from a modern smartphone, but it was very bad. In version 1.1 it fixes most of the errors, but only starting with version 1.5 of Android system is beginning to conquer the world of smartphones.

Throughout this time Ubuntu had become stronger and stronger. She regularly took the first places in the rankings of Linux distributions, has won more and more fans and was quite easy to use. But then, one Sunny day in April, came the release of Ubuntu 14.04, it comes with a new default environment – Unity. I will shift to Gnome 3 and KDE 4 has never been how much negativity flew towards Unity. We can say that while Unity is hated almost everything. But Canonical has not abandoned his idea at once, and the shell was quite suitable for use.

After many years of development in branch 2.6 was finally released kernel version 3.0. And no, there were no significant changes. Just Linus and the community decided that the numbering 2.6.* became too complicated and it is time to change the room.

The failure of KDE4 is not the only bad story development Linux environments. After it could be said that the developers would have to learn from the experience and know what their audience likes. But this is clearly not the team the Gnome, which in April 2012 released Gnome 3. Now Gnome users have been very unhappy with the changes to the interface and switched to KDE or used an older version of Gnome. But in the next version of Gnome is much better, and the developers of Linux Mint decided to keep the old movements with new opportunities and created their own environment – Cinnamon.

2012-2018 – Linux and games

Nowadays Linux is almost completely conquered the server market and has become even more attractive for home users. One of the factors of the attractiveness of Linux for ordinary people is a game. In February 2013, the company Valve, the Creator of a large platform of distribution of games, has released a version of its Steam client for Linux. Then most games could only run using a Windows emulator, and the games that were for Linux, as a rule, few people interested.

A few years later was released SteamOS, the operating system based on Linux for gaming consoles Valve. At the moment for Linux is available for more than 3,000 games on Steam. Also recently Valve started working on the integration of the emulator of Windows games on Steam, which will further simplify their launch, given that recently, this emulator has added support for many libraries from DirectX 10 and 11.

New distributions continue to emerge with the same speed as before. Among them are interesting. For example, Manjaro, based on Arch Linux. He appeared in November 2013, but despite his youth already has a leading position in popularity in many tops. Its advantage is that it simplifies the installation and configuration of ArchLinux, but at the same time leaves its flexibility and some advantages. Besides Manjaro released a lot of new interesting distros like Antergos, ElementaryOS, Linux Deepin and other, which are now popular among users.

As for the Linux kernel, then once again in 2015 version was changed to 4.0. And again there were no major changes, there was a vote and the community decided that the kernel version should change. Of the most significant changes during this period worth noting is the addition of UEFI support, improved work with the new equipment, the addition of security systems, porting subsystems required for Android, improving the stability of Btrfs and many more.

In 2013, the company engaged in the development of Ubuntu, decided to try their hand at the mobile market and has released a mobile version of Ubuntu – Ubuntu Touch. The benefits of the operating system was to be able to turn a smartphone into a full-fledged computer when you connect it to a screen via HDMI. It has developed a separate shell Unity 8, Mir display server instead of X Window and even was released a few smartphones. But the project failed, it was closed down in 2017, after Smasung released their DEX. Also in version 17.10 by the Ubuntu developers decided to abandon the use of Unity and back to Gnome, and instead of their display server Mir will now be used to develop a community of Wayland, which is also being developed to replace outdated Xorg.


Unfortunately, our excursion into the past, Linux has come to the end. We saw old Linux distributions and found out how it all began. Nobody knows what will happen in the future, but the Linux operating system develops and motivates more and more people and companies. This story of the creation of Linux does not end and, most likely, she has a great future.


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