The History of How Linux Came to Be George ChemorCollege of Southern NevadaCIT 173December 3, 2017 Linux is an open source operating system that was initially created by Linus Torvalds. What once was created only as an operating system for personal computers, Linux has since been adapted into many of the devices we use every day. Some examples include smart phones, tablets, smartwatches, televisions, and video game consoles, just to name a few.
Linux is even the foundation of the in-car entertainment center of the Tesla Model S. So how has Linux become one of the most well-known and commonly utilized operating systems in history? This paper takes a brief look at the history and evolution of Linux in order to better understand how far it has come. In 1991, Linus Torvalds was a sophomore at the University of Helsinki when he became known as the creator of the open source operating system that we know today as Linux. During his time in school, Torvalds used the open source operating system MINIX which was available free of charge but was licensed for educational use only. MINIX was a watered-down version of UNIX that only really sufficed as a learning program for students instead of a powerful operating system to be used by the masses for both business and personal use. The high cost of hardware and UNIX itself made it difficult for everyday people to own and manage. Frustrated by these obstacles, Torvalds decided he wanted to create an operating system that was UNIX-like but improved for common use. Torvalds chose to share his envisioned idea and the plans of his project on the internet and found many programmers and developers worldwide that shared the same interest.
He was able to get some of the smartest programmers in the world to aid in his vision by adding enhancements and patching bugs which ended up accelerating the speed and advancement of the project. Torvalds is responsible for approximately two percent of the present-day code of the Linux kernel. The low percentage of Torvalds’ contribution to the final product is the result of thousands of programmers and developers from around the world having contributed to further develop the kernel. Programmers have dedicated their time free of charge in order to create the best possible open source software and applications available. To keep up with how fast technology continuously evolves, software that is open source is beneficial in that it can be coded to provide a variety of tools and features. However, any new code that is written into the Linux kernel is ultimately authorized by Torvalds to this day.
Although Linus Torvalds is credited with the creation of Linux, a man named Richard Stallman is credited with the initial idea of developing a free operating system. Stallman’s career started at MIT within the university’s artificial intelligence laboratory. In YEAR, Stallman created the Emacs editor, which is _______. Afterwards, In YEAR, Stallman established something called the GNU Project with the goal of creating an entirely free operating system. GNU is an acronym which stands for “GNU’s Not Unix!” Thus, a revolutionary movement to provide users with free and superior software begun.
GNU developed all the necessary tools to build a fully complete operating system, except for the actual kernel itself. When Torvalds created the Linux kernel, programmers and developers began inputting all of GNU’s tools into the kernel, and the result combined created the Linux system that is known today. Linux is licensed under the General Public License (GPL).
The GPL enforces that the kernel must stay open to anyone and everyone and not a single company or person can have a say in the way a user can use or modify it. There is, however, individual copyrights and trademarks on various brands of Linux which are obtainable. For example, there are many different distributions of Linux; some of the most popular ones include CentOS, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora, and Debian to name a few. The actual Linux trademark is still owned by Torvalds, and he continuously oversees the use of it through Linux International, which is a non-profit organization. The GPL ensures that any distribution of the Linux kernel must have the source code with all changes and modifications available under the same terms of the parent license. However, if additional software is included with the distribution, it may be licensed under other open source operations. After decades of advancement and progression, Linux is now considered one of the fastest growing operating systems in history. As of November 2017, Linux is the only operating system used on the TOP500 supercomputers, eliminating all other competition.
The rapid and extensive growth of Linux has been embraced by users worldwide. Because of the growth, products that are created with Linux have resulted in billions of dollars in revenue. Linux has become the main operating system for millions of people as well as businesses, corporations, and even governments. Ultimately, what was once just the vision of a frustrated college student, Linux has since exceeded all expectations by far. It is all thanks to the labors and perseverance of generations of programmers, developers, engineers, and computer masterminds. Massive corporations, whole governments, and millions of people all over the world have been brought together because of open source software. The GNU Project paved the way for the progression of open source software and the endless dedication and passion of Linus Torvalds has given us Linux.