Linux and the Open Source Movement

One could argue that if readers didn't have to purchase Andrew Tanenbaum's MINIX operating system that accompanied his book Operating Systems: Design and Implementation [TANE87], there would be no Linux.

However, the Free Software Foundation, founded by Richard Stallman, had already been working for a number of years on a free version of UNIX. The compiler, utilities, and just about everything except the kernel had been written under the auspices of the GNU license which allowed the source to be freely distributed.

Linus Torvalds, a research assistant at the University of Helsinki in Finland, released Linux 0.0.1 in August of 1991, and the rest, as they say, is history. Popularity of Linux continues to grow. Although it originally took many of its ideas from Minix, Linux has been influenced by all versions of UNIX and non-UNIX systems. Linux followed in the success of UNIX by being ported to just about every hardware architecture and platform available from IBM mainframes down to hand-held organizers.

Users of Linux will find a number of components from many different authors and organizations. A Linux OS is comprised of the Linux kernel, much of the Free Software Foundation's GNU software, and a number of other free applications and utilities. There are many distributors of Linux, with the top players being Red Hat, SuSe, TurboLinux, and Caldera.

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