What is Linux and how did it start?

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In this article we will explain in brief what is Linux and how everything started. Now, Linux is essentially an “operating system kernel” created by Finnish Linus Torvalds in 1991.

As the ‘’core’’ of an operating system we characterize the part of it that takes over the handling of the hardware as well as the communication of applications with it. It operates at a low level and is responsible for memory and file system management, communication between different processes, system device management, etc. Usually the kernel functions are done in the background and go unnoticed by the user, hiding the details of the internal operation of the computer.

In combination with a range of tools, e.g. compilers, etc., developed for years by the GNU Project (launched by Richard Stallman), the GNU/Linux operating system emerges that most simply refer to as ‘Linux’.

Due to its nature, anyone (company or private) can take the kernel, add the GNU tool chain and any other applications it wants and thus create its own “distribution”, as it is called, i.e. its own “separate” Linux operating system, which is freely available for download and installation.

Currently, there are over 300+ different Linux distributions. Some of the most popular distributions at the moment are Ubuntu, Debian, openSUSE, Fedora, Linux Mint, Slackware, etc. They are all based on the same kernel, Linux (not always in the same version), and are mainly differentiated in terms of applications, utility (for example some use it to power up servers selling Linux VPS hosting to website owners) and friendliness, type and ease of installation and of course in logos.

How Linux started

Torvalds was a student at the University of Helsinki when he started developing the Linux kernel, based on Minix, a Unix-like operating system developed entirely by Andrew Tanenbaum. In 1991, Torvalds announced his ambitious effort in the relevant newsgroup comp.os.minix (discussion group – then there was no Internet as we know it today with websites etc.) even saying that it is nothing “big or professional”, but then the evolution of the kernel followed a frantic course.

The first official version of Linux was released on October 5, 1991. It was available in source code format and could be compiled by each user. For this reason, it became an attraction for many developers, who offered to contribute to the development of the new kernel with additions and improvements. The number of people involved in the development of Linux is very large.

Thousands of developers around the world, volunteers or paid for by large companies, have made their own additions to both the kernel and the individual applications that accompany each distribution, and the contribution of users to finding and correcting problems is important.

Today, the excitement that characterized Linux in its beginnings has not only not been cut but has taken on global dimensions.

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Nick Olanoff

Nick Olanoff helps python developers in developing modern websites or web apps that has the capability to take the advantage of responsive web design through HTML5, CSS3, JQuery etc for improved user experience. Writing content is his only hobby.

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