The History of Linux began in 1991 with the commencement of a personal project by a Finnish student, Linus Torvalds, to create a new operating system kernel. Since then the resulting Linux kernel has been marked by constant growth throughout its history. Since the initial release of its source code in 1991, it has grown from a small number of C files under a license prohibiting commercial distribution to its state in 2009 of over 370 megabytes of source under the GNU General Public License.
Events leading to creation The Unix operating system was conceived and implemented in the 1960s and first eleased in 1970.
Its availability and portability caused it to be widely adopted, copied and modified by academic institutions and businesses. Its design became influential to authors of other systems. In 1983, Richard Stallman started the GNU project with the goal of creating a free UNIX-Iike operating system. As part of this work, he wrote the GNU General Public License (GPL). By the early 1990s there was almost enough available software to create a full operating system.
However, the GNU kernel, called Hurd, failed to attract enough attention from developers leaving GNU incomplete.
Another free operating system project in the 1980s was the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). This was developed by UC Berkeley from 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.
MINIX, a Unix-like system intended for academic use, was released by Andrew S. Tanenbaum in 1987. While source code for the system was available, modification and redistribution were restricted.
In addition, MINX’s 16-bit design was not well adapted to the 32- it features of the increasingly cheap and popular Intel 386 architecture for personal computers. These factors and the lack of a widely-adopted, free kernel provided the impetus for Torvalds’s starting his project. He has stated that if either the GNU or 386BSD kernels were available at the time, he likely would not have written his own. The creation of Linux In 1991, in Helsinki, Linus Torvalds began a project that later became the Linux kernel.
It was initially a terminal emulator, which Torvalds used to access the large UNIX servers of the university. He wrote the program specifically for the hardware he as using and independent of an operating system because he wanted to use the functions of his new PC with an 80386 processor. Development was done on MINIX using the GNU C compiler, which is still the main choice for compiling Linux today (although the code can be built with other compilers, such as the Intel C Compiler). As Torvalds wrote in his book Just for Fun, he eventually realized that he had written an operating system kernel.
On 25 August 1991, he announced this system in a Usenet posting to the newsgroup “comp. os. minix. ” The name Linus Torvalds had wanted to call his invention Freax, a portmanteau of “freak”, free”, and “x” (as an allusion to Unix). During the start of his work on the system, he stored the files under the name “Freax” for about half of a year. Torvalds had already considered the name “Linux,” but initially dismissed it as too egotistical. In order to facilitate development, the files were uploaded to the FTP server (ftp. funet. fi) of FUNET in September 1991.
Ari Lemmke, Torvald’s coworker at the University of Helsinki who was one of the volunteer administrators for the FTP server at the time, did not think that “Freax” was a good name. So, he named the project “Linux” on the erver without consulting Torvalds. Later, however, Torvalds consented to “Linux”. To demonstrate how the word “Linux” should be pronounced, Torvalds included an audio guide with the kernel source code. Linux under the GNU GPL Torvalds first published the Linux kernel under its own licence, which had a restriction on commercial activity.
The software to use with the kernel was software developed as part of the GNU project licensed under the GNU General Public License, a free software license. The first release of the Linux kernel, Linux 0. 01, included a binary of GNU’s Bash shell. In the “Notes for linux release 0. 1 Torvalds lists the GNU software that is required to run Linux. In 1992, he suggested releasing the kernel under the GNU General Public License. He first announced this decision in the release notes of version 0. 12. In the middle of December 1992 he published version 0. 99 using the GNU GPL.
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