Linux, a freely distributable version of UNIX is developed by Linus Torvalds. Linux is one of the most popular operating systems to use for development by programmers. This tutorial will take a deep dive into the history of Linux.
The beginning of the UNIX project
The inspiration for UNIX came from the Multics project at the Bell Laboratories. This project aimed at building a multi-user operating system with single-level storage, dynamic linking, and a hierarchical file system. The project was in collaboration with AT&T. Later, however, this project came to an end in 1969 due to financial issues.
Even after the discontinuation of the project, two scientists Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie continued working with the idea. They later decided to rewrite the operating system in C language. This was named ‘UNIX‘.
UNIX quickly gained popularity and by the 80s, major organizations like IBM and HP were creating their own UNIX systems. The reason for UNIX gaining popularity was its availability and portability. Unix in its early days was proprietary software.
The beginning of the GNU project
In the year 1983, Richard Stallman was working along with the Free Software Foundation(FSF) to come up with the first free UNIX-like operating system. This was called the GNU project.
During this project, Richard came up with ‘Hurd‘ which is the GNU Kernel. GNU was later used by Linus Torvalds for developing Linux.
GNU’s short for “GNU’s not Unix!“. It’s a recursive acronym, as there’s no real full-form of the word GNU.
Who developed Linux – About Linus Torvalds
Linus Benedict Torvalds was born on 28 December 1969 in Helsinki, capital of Finland. He studied at the University of Helsinki in Finland. This is where he started working on a project for ‘fun’. This project later shaped into what we today know as Linux.
Torvalds began programming at the age of 10 on his grandfather’s Commodore VIC-20. He created Linux as a part of his Master’s thesis titled, ‘Linux: A Portable Operating System’. He was just 21 years old when he started working on Linux.
He has got a total of 35 applied and granted patents internationally.
Torvalds announced Linux to the world on 25 August 1991. He wrote about Linux on a Usenet newsgroup called “comp.os.minix”. The message he posted was:
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.
Torvalds only developed the Linux Kernel. The Linux operating system is a collaboration between millions of developers all around the world, involving the GNU Project, the Linux kernel development team (headed by Torvalds), and others.
That is why the correct way to refer to any Linux operating system using GNU is GNU/Linux.
The first release of Linux
The first prototypes of Linux were publicly released in 1991. The first version(1.0) came out in 1994.
Mascot Design for Linux
The official mascot for Linux, a penguin was announced in 1996.
The penguin was called ‘TUX’.
Over the years, several distributions of Linux have come out. Some of the popular ones are
This tutorial looked at the history of Linux. From its early roots in the UNIX project started by Bell Labs to finally Linus Torvalds developing Linux as a part of his thesis project.