Later this month is the day traditionally used as the anniversary date for the Linux operating system, which got its public start with an August 25, 1991 post to the comp.os.minux newsgroup. This year, Linux will celebrate its 25th year of changing the world.
Linux has come a long way since those days in the latter half of 1991, and countless articles and books have been written about the impact of piece of software has had on the development of technology.
To get an idea of how fast Linux took off, think about the timeline of the first year of Linux's existence.
Linus Torvalds' now-famous announcement would soon be followed by the first Linux kernel release (0.01) on September 17, then a public release of the Linux kernel (0.02) on October 5.
By November that same year, the Manchester Computer Centre (MCC) would make the Linux kernel available on its FTP site. In February of 1992, Owen Le Blanc from the MCC would put together and launch the first installable Linux distribution--MCC Interim Linux. In May 1992, Softlanding Linux System (SLS) would be released, which was the first distro to actually include the X Window system that actually ran a GUI environment. SLS also holds the distinction for being the immediate predecessor of Slackware Linux.
The next big milestone for Linux would be the release of the first commercial distro Yggdrasil Linux/GNU/X, but that wouldn't be announced until November of 1992, outside that first 12 months of Linux's existence.
But those first 12 months were amazing: from a news group announcement to three distributions inside of nine months, and the groundwork already laid for the first commercial Linux distribution.
It would be another three years from the first Linux kernel release that more familiar Linux distributions would start to appear: Slackware, Debian GNU/Linux, S.u.S.E, and Red Hat Linux would all get launched by mid-1994 (Ubuntu would not show up until 2004). Today, these distros (and so many others) form the basis of a multi-billion dollar industry and the technological backbone of the Internet, mobile, cloud, and application development technology. To name a very, very few. One would be hard-pressed to name any sector of technology (and thereby any aspect of our daily lives) that was not touched in some way by Linux.
The reasons for Linux' success are as diverse as its implementations. But at the core its success if the core of Linux operating system: the Linux kernel. It's a fantastic piece of code, surrounded by software that enables the kernel to compute on nearly every platform on any scale. And, like the software itself, there is a core of talented and decent people within the Linux community: engineers and developers who take advantage of the code and its license with a fundamental belief in creating something that works well. This core group is surrounded by people who recognize this talent and drive and do whatever they can to help make Linux better, too.
This is the community we see every day at Red Hat. We are part of it, we are contained by it, and we are constantly amazed by it.
Linux is more than software--it is a community. For two and a half decades, that community has shown us all the strength in sharing innovation and ideas, and helped spark advancements that in a closed, proprietary world alone would not have happened with the same speed and scale.
So no matter what free and open source software you use, take the time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Linux by noting how it has impacted your own professional and personal life.
And have some cake. Cake is good.
About the author
Brian Proffitt is a Manager within Red Hat's Open Source Program Office, focusing on content generation, community metrics, and special projects. Brian's experience with community management includes knowledge of community onboarding, community health, and business alignment. Prior to joining Red Hat in 2014, he was a technology journalist with a focus on Linux and open source, and the author of 22 consumer technology books.