Linux: History and Introduction..

By: marticles

Competing with Windows, Linux has managed to earn a fair amount of popularity owing to its unique features like being a free software and supporting open source development. Here is an introduction to Linux and an overview of the history of its development. Linux is one of the popularly used operating systems and is a free software supporting open source development. Originally designed for Intel 80386 microprocessors, Linux now runs on a wide variety of computer architectures and has spread far and wide.

History of Linux

Unix was the third operating system to CTSS, the first one followed by MULTICS. A team of programmers led by Prof. Fernando J. Corbato at the MIT Computation Center, wrote the CTSS, the first operating system supporting the concept of time-sharing. AT&T started working on the MULTICS operating system but had to leave the project as they were failing to meet deadlines. Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan at Bell Labs, used the ideas on the MULTICS project to develop the first version of Unix.

MINIX was a Unix-like system released by Andrew Tenenbaum. The source code was made available to the users but there were restrictions on the modification and distribution of the software. On August 25, 1991, Linus Torvalds, a second year computer engineering student studying in the University of Helsinki made an announcement that he was going to write an operating system. With an intent to replace MINIX, Torvalds started writing the Linux kernel. With this announcement of Torvalds, a success story had begun! Linux was previously dependent on the MINIX user space but with the introduction of the GNU GPL, the GNU developers worked towards the integration of Linux and the GNU components.

An Introduction to the Linux Operating System

The Unix-like operating system that uses the Linux kernel is known as the Linux operating system. In 1991, Linus Torvalds came up with the Linux kernel. He started writing the Linux kernel after which, around 250 programmers contributed to the kernel code. Richard Stallman, an American software developer, who was a part of the GNU project, created the General Public License, under which Linux is distributed. The utilities and libraries of Linux come from the GNU operating system.

By the term 'free software', we mean that Linux can be copied and redistributed in the altered or unaltered form without many restrictions. Each recipient of the Linux software is entitled to obtain the human readable form of the software and a notice granting the person the permissions to modify its source code. In other words, the distribution of the Linux software implies the distribution of a free software license to its recipients. Linux supports open source development by which we mean that all its underlying source code can be freely modified, used and distributed. The open source method of development enables the users of the software to access its source code.

A Linux distribution is a project that manages the collection of Linux software and the installation of the OS. It includes the system software and the application software in the form of packages and the initial installation and configuration details. There are around 300 different Linux distributions. The most prominent of the Linux distributions include Red Hat, Fedora and Mandrake. Fedora Core came up after the ninth version of Red Hat Linux. Fedora Core is a rapidly updated Linux distribution. Most of the Linux distributions support a diverse range of programming languages. Most of them include Perl, Python, Ruby and other dynamic languages. Linux supports a number of Java virtual machines and development kits as also the C++ compilers.

Linux is a freely available OS based on the Linux kernel. It is an inexpensive and effective alternative to the UNIX programs and utilities. Its open source implementation enables any programmer to modify its code. Linux supports a multi-tasking and multi-user environment as also the copy-on-write functionality. The monolithic Linux kernel handles the process control, networking and the file system. Device drivers are integrated in the kernel. The Linux operating system is equipped with libraries, compilers, text editors, a Unix shell and a windowing system. Linux supports both the command line as well and the graphical user interfaces. Linux is popularly used in servers and also with desktop computers, supercomputers, video games and embedded systems. I have always enjoyed working on the Linux platform, have you?

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