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History Of Linux: From Beginning To Success

This is the story of how one developer created an entire operating system that's been praised by developers for three decades and it's a massive source of inspiration. Lets we know how Linux developed, the history of Linux, and how it become so popular operating system.

Founder Of Linux

Linux was developed by Linus Torvalds,  he was just a regular student and not unlike many others. The simple key to his success is the fact that he didn't settle for what others could make if something wasn't good enough. He tried to make it himself and share his work with the world. Linus has grown up in Helsinki, Finland, he entered the University of Helsinki in 1988 and began his studies in computer science. After his first year, he had to go to the army but then after around 11 months, he returned to the university to continue his study. During this time he started the Linux project. The first online post regarding the creation of Linux was shared by him on 25 August 1991. He wrote: 

"I'm developing a free operating system ( just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386 (486) at clones."

How Linus Started Developing Linux?

Linus's interests in computers began with a Commodore VIC-20, on which he started to learn programming prior to his time in university. Initially, he learned the basics but later he learned the machine code of the processor to access it directly. Then he bought a Sinclair QL computer and he heavily modified it including the operating system. Due to the difficulty of getting software in Finland, he eventually ended up creating his own games and other programs and eventually even made a Pac-Man clone.

Why Did Linus Developed Linux?

In 1990, he was introduced to the operating system Unix for the first time. Personally, he started studying the Unix-like operating system, Minix. After 1991, he bought his Intel i386 clone of the IBM PC, this was already common for Linux. The software available for the system was not really satisfactory. Minix really couldn't do what he wanted it to do and was sort of limited due to its licensing. So this is what led to the motivation behind creating the Linux project. He becomes very familiar with the Unix-like operating systems. Linus started out writing a task switcher and terminal driver for his intel processor in the spring of 1991 using the Intel x86 assembly language for the chip, this marked the beginning of the Linux project. As shown by his very first post about Linux in 1991, Linus was very interested in and followed very closely the open-source GNU project. But as the GNU project had failed to create a stable kernel, he basically pushed forward with making his own kernel.


In simple terms, the kernel is the core of an operating system that has control over the system and runs the most essential components like the processor, memory, I/O, etc. It's what connects the user applications with the hardware.

Beginning Of Linux

Linus actually said later that if the GNU kernel had existed in 1991, he would never have built a Linux project. On 17 September 1991 Linus uploaded the very first version of Linux which was named 0.0.1 and he uploaded this to a server at his university. Still, it wasn't executable, because it still depended on Minix for compiling. The first official version of Linux was called 0.0.2 and was released on 5 October 1991. Still, it wasn't much better than the first version but it could run Bash GCC and some GNU utilities. 

Success Story Of Linux

Following the open-source mentality of the GNU project, Linus shared the source code and this led to many like-minded people joining his project, including some people from the Minix community. While the Linux kernel was very limited in its functionality, it actually worked, unlike the GNU kernel. This attracted many developers and users even in the infancy of Linux. The GNU project had created many other components for an operating system and many of these components found their way to Linux. Therefore the free software foundation refers to Linux as a GNU/Linux to give credit to the GNU project for their contribution. 

Reason Behind Success Of Linux

The biggest advantage was that Unix was popular in academia so by making a Unix-like operating system, it would be easier for other students to join in.'

In terms of business use, it's also turned out to be quite great. 

As it was so similar to Unix, the change from Unix to Linux is quite simple and these factors have helped Linux become so popular.

With the help of the open-source community, the very simple task switcher and the terminal driver had turned into a real production-ready operating system and this was marked with the release of Linux 1.0.0 in March 1994. At that point, the Linux kernel had 1,76,250 lines of code.

Today the latest version of the Linux kernel is version 5 and most of the big tech companies like Intel, Huawei and Google contribute to the development of Linux. Considering the very humble beginnings and that very first post from Linus back when he announced that he started working on Linux, it's kind of crazy to think that this whole thing has developed into this huge operating system, that's really professional and that's being used by these huge corporations. This is such an inspiring thing because at the end of the day this is just a story of one person who decided to make something that he thought was cool and then shared it with the world.

Things That Show Linux Success

The future of Linux looks really bright and as of 2021, there are more than 27 million lines of code in the Linux git repository.

100% of the world's top 500 supercomputers run on Linux.

If you look at the top 25 websites in the world then you will find that only two are not using Linux.
96.3% of the world's 1 million top servers and 90% of all cloud infrastructure operates on Linux.

The most popular operating system for smartphones is android, but android is based on Linux, so this means that most smartphones in the world run on Linux.

For desktop use, some of the most popular distributions are Mint Debian and Ubuntu. So as you might sense there are Linux distributions for different devices and different users and that shows that Linux can basically run on any device.

Naming Of Linux

Regarding the naming of Linux, Linus actually wanted to call the operating system Freax, a combination of the words "free", "freak" and "x". He had also considered Linux but he thought it sounded too egocentric, so he dismissed it. Actually, if you look at some of the project's early files created by Linus, you will find the files with the name "Freeax". In September 1991, the files were uploaded to FUNET's FTP server (ftp.funet.fi) to facilitate development. Ari Lemmke, a volunteer administrator for the FTP server at Helsinki University of Technology (HUT) at the time, did not think "Freax" was a good name. So, without consulting Torvalds, he named the project "Linux" on the server, Torvalds eventually agreed to "Linux."

Why Is Linux Not So Popular On Desktop?

One of the reasons why Linux isn't so popular on desktops is because many applications made for windows do not run on Linux and Linux has also been particularly behind on gaming. In recent years however a lot of effort has been put into improving gaming compatibility on Linux. According to the Steam Hardware & Software Survey, Linux has grown from around a 0.8% user base to around 1% in the last three years. This might not seem like much but it's a very positive trend for Linux. We might see more gamers switching to Linux in the coming years. 

How To Download And Use Linux?

The great thing about the open-source nature of Linux is the fact that it's free to try, so if you become excited about Linux and you want to try it, you can head over to one of the Linux distro sites and download the distro of your choice and just try it out. for free. You can use it either on an old laptop that you have lying around that you're not using or you can run on your current laptop or a computer without any real issues.

Some links to some of the top distros that you should try: 

1 comment

  1. The reason Linux is not as popular s it could be is that most applications do not offer auto-installers and auto-updaters for it. Personally, I find that ridiculous. How hard could it be to provide an auto-installer -updater for Linux users?

    Because you either have to become a Linux expert or find someone to assist you every time you want to update or install an application, Linux still hasn't become popular with users.

    If people would just do this one thing, far more users would run Linux.