started all in 1969 with the development of UNIX ,which was originally
developed at Bell Laboratories as a private research project by a small
group of people
(K. Thompson, Dennis M Ritchie, M. D. McIlroy, J. F.
Ossanna), starting in 1969 after their lab withdrew from the MULTICS
?project. When Multics was withdrawn Ken Thompson and Dennis
needed to rewrite an operating system in order to play space travel on
another smaller machine (a DEC PDP-7 [Programmed Data Processor 4K
memory for user programs).So they started to develop an Operating
system.. The goals of the group were to design an operating system to
satisfy the following objectives:
??????Simple and elegant
??????Written in a high level language
rather than assembly?language
??????Allow re-use of code
result was a system which a punning colleague called UNICS (Uniplexed
Information and Computing Service)–an ’emasculated Multics’
had a relatively small amount of code written in assembly language
(this is called the kernel) and the remaining code for the operating
system was written in a high level language called C.
itself was far more expensive. In quest of big money, the UNIX vendors
priced it high enough to ensure small PC users stayed away from it. The
source code of UNIX, once taught in universities courtesy of Bell Labs,
was now cautiously guarded and not published publicly. To add to the
frustration of PC users worldwide, the big players in the software
market failed to provide an efficient solution to this problem.
solution seemed to appear in form of MINIX. It was written from scratch
by Andrew S. Tanenbaum, a Dutch professor who wanted to teach his
students the inner workings of a real operating system. It was designed
to run on the Intel 8086 microprocessors that had flooded the world
As an operating system, MINIX was not a superb one. But it
had the advantage that the source code was available. Anyone who
happened to get the book ‘Operating System’ by Tanenbaum could get hold
of the 12,000 lines of code, written in C and assembly language. For
the first time, an aspiring programmer or hacker could read the source
codes of the operating system, which to that time the software vendors
had guarded vigorously.
In 1991, Linus Benedict Torvalds was a
second year student of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki
and a self-taught hacker was working on MINIX But all that was lacking
was an operating system that could meet the demands of the
professionals. MINIX was good, but still it was simply an operating
system for the students, designed as a teaching tool rather than an
industry strength one.
At that time, programmers worldwide were
greatly inspired by the GNU project by Richard Stallman, a software
movement to provide free and quality software. In the early eighties,
commercial software companies negotiated stringent nondisclosure
agreements to protect their secrets.
But Stallman had a
different vision. His idea was that unlike other products, software
should be free from restrictions against copying or modification in
order to make better and efficient computer programs. With his famous
1983 manifesto that declared the beginnings of the GNU project, he
started a movement to create and distribute softwares that conveyed his
philosophy (Incidentally, the name GNU is a recursive acronym which
actually stands for ‘GNU is Not Unix’). But to achieve this dream of
ultimately creating a free operating system, he needed to create the
tools first. So, beginning in 1984, Stallman started writing the GNU C
Compiler (GCC), an amazing feat for an individual programmer considered
as one of the most efficient and robust compilers ever created.
1991, the GNU project created a lot of the tools. The much awaited Gnu
C compiler was available by then, but there was still no operating
system. Even MINIX had to be licensed. Work was going the GNU kernel
HURD, but that was not supposed to come out within a few years.
in August, 1991 ??Linus Trovalds uploaded his code of his
Kernel (Linux 0.01) on the university website and along with Gnu
(1.08) and gcc (1.40) this was called the Gnu/Linux Operating
codes were downloaded, tested, tweaked, and returned to Linus. Linux
came in October 1991.
And work went on. Soon more than a hundred
people joined the Gnu/Linux camp. Then thousands. Then hundreds of
thousands. Powered by a good no. of programs from the GNU project,
Gnu/Linux was ready for the actual showdown. Linux(the kernel) was licensed under GNU
General Public License, thus ensuring that the source codes will be
free for all to copy, study and to change.
Soon, commercial vendors
moved in. Gnu/Linux itself was, and is free. What the vendors did was to
compile up various software and gather them in a distributable format,
more like the other operating systems with which people were more
familiar. Red Hat , Caldera, Debian, and some other companies gained
substantial amount of response from the users worldwide. With the new
Graphical User Interfaces (like X-windows, KDE, GNOME)the Gnu/Linux
distributions became very popular. Now there are more than 200 Gnu/Linux
The best thing about Gnu/Linux today is the fanatic
following it commands. Whenever a new piece of hardware is out, Linux
kernel is tweaked to take advantage of it. It has also been adapted for
use in Alpha, Mac, PowerPC, and even for palmtops, a feat which is
hardly matched by any other operating system. And it continues its
journey into the new millennium, with the same enthusiasm that started
one fine day back in 1991.
all the warning and prophecies of the skeptics wrong, Gnu/Linux has
completed a decade of development. Today, Gnu/Linux is one of the fastest
growing operating systems in the history. From a few dedicated fanatics
in 1991-92 to millions of general users at present, it is certainly a
remarkable journey. But what’s really amazing is the continuously
increasing band of developers spread throughout the world who work with
a fervent zeal to improve upon the features of Gnu/Linux. The development
effort is not, as many closed-sourced advocates accuse, totally
engulfed with chaos. A well designed development model supervised by
some maintainers is adopted. Along with this, there are thousands of
developers working to port various applications to Gnu/Linux.
added confidence, many large and small businesses have adopted Gnu/Linux
based servers and workstations as an integral part of their offices.