This is the story of Linux

Figure 1.4. Professor Andy Tannebaum

Professor Andy Tannebaum

1985 Professor Andy Tanenbaum wrote a Unix like operating system from scratch, based on System V standards POSIX and IEEE, called MINIX for i386 for Intel PC aimed at university computer science research students.

MINIX was also bundled with a popular computer science operating system study book by that author. Although the operating system was free the book was to be purchased.

A Finnish student called Linus Torvald first came into contact with Unix like systems through his use of this MINIX at the university of Helsinki Finland in Computer Science.

Linus Torvald wanted to upgrade MINIX and put in features and improvements, but Andrew Tanenbaum wanted Minix the way it was and so Linus decided write his own kernel.

He released Linux on the Internet as an Open Source product and under his own license and then later in 1991 under the GPL.


If you want to travel around the world and be invited to speak at a lot of different places, just write a Unix operating system.

-- Linus Torvald  

Figure 1.5. Linus Torvald

Linus Torvald

The FSF (Free Software Foundation), started by Richard Stallman, as a development effort to promote the use of Free Software, Stallman recognized the need to write a free and open source Unix-like operating system so that people could have a Unix system under a non-propriety non-restrictive commercial license

The FSF started a project called GNU to fulfill this aim GNU stands for "GNU is not Unix" (a recursive acronym).

By 1991 GNU had already amassed a compiler (GCC- GNU C Compiler), a C library, both very critical components of an operating system, and all associated generic Unix base programs (ls, cat, chmod etcetera).

They were missing a kernel, which was going to be called the GNU HURD (HURD is not yet complete 2004 April).

The FSF naturally adopted the Linux kernel to complete the GNU system to produce what is known as the GNU/Linux operating system, which is the correct term for all distributions of Linux like Red Hat Linux and SuSE Linux.

1994 Linux 1.0 release

Figure 1.6. Tux, the Linux mascot

Tux, the Linux mascot