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August 25th 2020: birthday of an alternative!
August 25th 1991, exactly 29 years ago, Linus Torvalds, a Finnish programmer and computer scientist, posted a message in the comp.os.minix community forum entitled:
The message says:
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, andI’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them :-)
PS. Yes — it’s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT portable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-hard-disks, as that’s all I have :-(.
Today we celebrate the birth of Linux. An important date, which marks a significant milestone in the history of open-source: making valid alternatives to proprietary software available to the community of developers.
Anyway, the history of free software began even earlier, in the 1980s, when the software industry was becoming consumer-oriented and when the operating system most used on all mainframe systems was Unix (developed by AT&T and Bell and under license).
In 1983, a hacker, facing proprietary and “closed” codes, such as Unix, tried to find an alternative and to “Make Unix Free”.
He is Richard Stallman (rms to his friends :-)), the founder of GNU, a Unix compatible operating system, free, for anyone who wants to use it. In its “manifesto” rms asks all computer manufacturers and collaborators for contributions in time, money, programs and systems.
Stallman believes, in fact, that, based on his principles, it is essential to create software that can be shared with everyone, without having to sign any license agreement. And, in his project, he decides to put together a sufficient number of free applications (and all compatible with Unix), so that no one needs to resort to non-free software.
The kernel was still missing. Thus, in 1991, Linus Torvalds used the GNU development tools to produce the Linux kernel. The existing programs of the GNU project were adapted to work with the Linux kernel and today many sources use the name “Linux” to refer to the general-purpose operating system (generating many disputes about the name within the community).
Currently, the most popular operating systems of the Unix or Unix-like family are MacOS, while GNU / Linux is certainly the dominant one in the server field, even if there is a growing diffusion also on personal computers.
Fast forward to today, Linux has more than 12 000 contributors from over 1300 companies that contribute to the Linux kernel.
Happy Birthday Linux and a giant thanks to not only Linus but every single one of the contributors that have taken part in it over the years.