Linux is celebrating its 25th birthday on August 25 (though some feel the birthday should be on October 5, when the release was made public), and we think a trip down memory lane is in order.

Linus Torvald announced the inception of Linux in an understated, unassuming message left on the comp.os.minix newsgroup

Hello everybody out there using minix –

I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I’ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months, and I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them 🙂

Linus (torvalds@kruuna.helsinki.fi)

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Linux is everywhere: phones, cars, refrigerators, Roku devices. It is the driving force behind the Internet, scientific discovery and research can thank Linux for the computer based testing required to evolve, the stock exchange is completely depending upon it. Linux is the most secure operating system in existence today

For those with little expertise in this realm, an operating system is software that manages hardware that come with your personal computers. It’s the middle man between software and hardware. Without it, you would have no computer

Some components of Linux

The Boot-loader: The software that manages the boot process of your computer. For most users, this will simply be a splash screen that pops up and eventually goes away to boot into the operating system.

The kernel: the core of the system that maintains the memory and peripheral devices. The kernel is the “base” level of any operating system.

Daemons: These are background services (printing, sound, scheduling, etc) that either start up during boot, or after you log into the desktop.

The Shell: The Linux command line is the shell. It makes it possible to run the computer via a text interface.

Graphical Server: The graphics on your monitor. Sometimes it is called the X server or just X.

Desktop Environment: The aspect with which the user has interaction. Each includes built-in applications (like web browsers, games, etc).

Applications: Linux provides high-quality software that is easy to find and install. Linux distributions include tools that make the application installation simple.

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The most amazing aspect of Linux is that it is an open source license. This means the program can be run for any reason, it can be studied and adjusted, and the original as well as any modified versions can be redistributed.

Linux is similar to other operating systems in many ways. Like Windows and OS X, Linux has a graphical interface, and it has the equivalents of word processing applications in other systems. It can be used on any computer

Linux is different from other operating systems in that it is open source software, as was mentioned above. The code used to create Linux is free and available to the public to view, edit, and for users with the appropriate skills to contribute to.

Another factor that contributes to the unique nature of Linux is that there are many different distributions, and therefore different software options. This makes it largely customisation because users also can choose the core components of Linux, like graphic display, and other user-interface components.

The enormity of what Linux has become is astonishing, considering its unassuming start. The impact of Linus’ work, along with that of more than 10,000 programmers, have virtually transformed the computer industry and the way in which it affects the lives of the public at large

Conclusion

Today, Linux is a paradox. It resides on both the smallest, most minute systems as well as complex and varied servers. It calls a countless number of desktops home, and Linux can be credited for creating the Android OS.

Being that it is unlicensed, Linus is almost impossible to track. Therefore, no one can say how many versions of it are being run at any given time. There are, of course some versions that are licensed, like Red Hat and SUSE but of course these make up a minuscule percentage of the totality of the Linux system. The truth is, it is not possible to even guess the extent of Linux’s presence. Wikipedia has put forth an idea that many attest to, but the amazing thing is, this lion of operating systems, celebrating its 25th birthday, is basically an anonymous asteroid that landed on earth all those years ago.

Here is a list of some types and versions that have come into being since the inception of Linux:

  • 43 3rd Party
  • 5 Arch
  • 50 Debian
  • 21 Fedora
  • 12 Gentoo
  • 49 independent
  • 3 Knoppix
  • 5 Madriva
  • 3 openSuse
  • 3 Pacman
  • 10 RHEL
  • 13 RPM
  • 20 Slackware
  • 4 Slax
  • 17 Ubuntu
  • 258 total

The page on Wikipedia breaks down the different version based on the major distributions. Some are members of the larger groups, or families, such as Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Slackware and others are in smaller groups more individualised and less conspicuous in the history of Linux.

It is no wonder that the birth of this gentle giant is celebrated year after year. Join me in wishing this gentle giant a happy 25th birthday.