Happy 25th once again to Linux, 'the little OS that definitely could'

On Oct. 5, 1991, Linus Torvalds officially released the first Linux kernel into the wild

Aug. 25 may be Linux's official birthday, but Oct. 5 is in many ways the day it began to make a real mark on the world. That's when Linux creator Linus Torvalds officially released the first Linux kernel into the wild.

"As I mentioned a month(?) ago, I'm working on a free version of a minix-lookalike for AT-386 computers," Torvalds wrote in a newsgroup post on Oct. 5, 1991. "It has finally reached the stage where it's even usable (though may not be depending on what you want), and I am willing to put out the sources for wider distribution."

Torvalds released version 0.02 of the kernel that day, unleashing what went on to become one of the most transformational forces in computing history.

In the 25 years that have passed since then, Linux has gone on to include some 22 million lines of code. More than 13,500 developers from more than 1,300 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel just since the adoption of Git made detailed tracking possible back in 2005.

Roughly 7.8 changes are now accepted into the kernel every hour. It gains 4,600 lines of new code every day. Top corporate sponsors include Intel, Red Hat, Samsung, IBM, Google, AMD, and ARM.

"Linux put open source on the map and began the journey of the rise of open source for serious computing," said Al Hilwa, a program director with IDC.

The software has both inspired and experienced major evolution since its debut in 1991, said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT.

"By the time the OS began making forays into the commercial market a half decade or so later, it became a catchphrase for advocates hoping to overthrow what they saw as Microsoft's hegemony over desktop computing," King recounted.

Meanwhile, the software incited nothing short of a revolution in corporate data centers. "The nascent OS became a power on mainframe platforms, then RISC-based systems," King said. "But a funny thing happened along the way: Linux's hardware agnosticism inspired a range of new Intel/x86-based solutions which, in turn, gradually began to undermine proprietary Unix operating systems."

The early battles were fought at the edge of the network but eventually worked their way back to the biggest iron. Today, more than half of the new mainframe workloads IBM currently sells are Linux-based, he noted.

The OS also continues to expand into new burgeoning areas, including mobile and IoT.

"Linux may be celebrating its silver anniversary today," King said, "but for many in the IT industry, the 'little OS that definitely could' has been pure gold."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?