Linux Turns 25

Linux Turns 25

Linux Turns 25: When Linux was born on Aug. 25, 1991, it was little more than a hobby for then 21-year old Linus Torvald. Today the Linux community is estimated to be upwards of 86 million users strong. The Linux operating system started out as an alternative to other platform architectures in use on mainframes and enterprise back-ends. It has grown into a major mainstream computing platform for small through large companies’ server operations, and has made inroads into consumer computing. “Today, Linux has the largest installed base of all general-purpose operating systems worldwide. Linux is also the leading operating system on servers of any sort, and of 99.4 percent of the top 500 supercomputers,” he told LinuxInsider. “Also, you find embedded Linux in a huge quantity of devices and machines — built into cars, network routers, facility automation controls, entertainment equipment, and medical equipment such as X-rays.”

Early Linux was a revolutionary idea. It provided some conveniences not available to the Minix and Unix operating systems used at the university where Suse President of Engineering Ralf Flaxa studied. “For example, at the very beginning you were able to multiplex your screen — meaning with a key combination, you could switch to a second or third terminal,” he noted. As for the industry as a whole, two milestone achievements thrust Linux toward universal adoption, he said. One was the introduction of cgroups, which paved the way for the Linux containers of today. Another was development of the device tree for the ARM architecture, which made the growth of ARM boards in Linux sustainable. Without Linux, today’s computer users would still be hobbyists distributing shareware for Windows PCs. Instead, there is a completely different IT ecosystem, Hellekson noted — one that “is much more inclusive, much more expansive and much more effective.”

Linux Turns 25

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