We start off this series with a heavyweight in Open Source, Linux. For the uninitiated, Linux is an open source operating system with all the capabilities required for everyday tasks we need to accomplish. This article is intended to give you a basic grounding in the operating system. Embedded are links which might get you to places you wish to see.
Editor’s Note – While this article is not directly related to Entrepreneurs or Entrepreneurship, it is part of a series of articles detailing some open-source tools start-ups might find useful.
A short history of Linux
In 1991, the most popular operating system with academics was the old, tried and tested system, UNIX. While extremely powerful and very efficient, it was commercial. There was a very famous effort to build an open source operating system as an alternative to UNIX called GNU. GNU, quite amusingly, stands for “GNU’s Not UNIX”. The head of the project is a very famous man called Richard Stallman. The project still exists and maintains what are called the core utilities of the Linux Operating system.
However, GNU came to an impasse, seeing that no one was able to make what programmers call the “kernel” of the GNU Operating System. The Kernel is to the operating system what the brain or liver is to the body. It is what does all the dirty work and abstracts things like memory management away from the program so that the program can focus on doing what it does best, i.e. serve the user.
This was when a Finnish Student studying in the University of Helsinki, a certain Linus Torvalds, came up with a kernel, namely Linux. Torvalds was frustrated by Minix (A UNIX clone), whose licensing permitted only educational use and being curious about operating systems in general, decided to write a kernel on his own.
The rest, as they say, is history. Developers flocked to Linux and began building upon it, turning it from a kernel into a fully-fledged operating system.