History and Development of Linux

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A Brief History of Linux

Linux is a computer operating system. As such, it controls the basic input and output functions of a computer, enabling it to perform such tasks as displaying information on a monitor, accepting input from a keyboard, and saving and retrieving files on storage devices (including hard disks, floppy disks, and network drives). In many respects, the Linux operating system is very similar to UNIX. Linux commands closely resemble those found on other UNIX-type operating systems and many programs written for other systems run on Linux.

The Linux Kernel

By 1991,the GNU project had succeeded in making many utilities available to users under the GPL. However, there still was not an operating system kernel.

That year, a 21-year old student in Finland, at the University of Helsinki, developed a UNIX-like operating system for his own use. The operating system he had created was inspired by another UNIX-like system, called Minix.

The student, Linus Torvalds , posted his creation on the Internet and put out requests on the USENET newsgroup comp.os.minix for other programmers to help him further develop it. At that point, Linux (not yet named) was at version 0.02, but it could already run such UNIX utilities as bash, gcc, gnu-sed, and so forth.

The Linux kernel was not a complete system without all of the utilities and the utilities were not a complete system without the kernel. When Torvalds agreed to release Linux under the GPL, the GNU project finally had a complete operating system.

How Linux Kernels are Numbered

Even numbered Linux kernel releases are official or final. Odd numbered releases are beta/developer versions. A third number gives the fix level. The Linux kernel version is different than the distribution number. For example, the current version of the kernel is 2.4. Version 2.4.3 would include a beta fix to the official kernel.

Benefits of Linux

The large number of organizations working to make Linux a better system, its list of benefits increases daily. Some of these include:

  • Low cost
  • Easy licensing
  • Performance and stability
  • Interconnectivity and interoperability

Uses for Linux

Like other operating systems, there are many different ways that Linux can be used. Linux has many features and capabilities that make it an excellent operating system for end users, but it can also function as a capable server operating system. Some of the many potential uses for Linux include:

  • Web site server
  • Domain name server, router or Internet gateway
  • Database server
  • Software development platform
  • Parallel processing
  • Learning environment
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