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Happy Birthday, Linus 376

Glyn Moody writes "Today is the birthday of Linus. Just under 19 years ago, on the first day the shops in Helsinki were open after the holidays, Linus rushed out and spent all his Christmas and birthday money on his first PC: a DX33 80386, with 4 Megs of RAM, no co-processor, and a 40 Megabyte hard disc. Today, the kernel he wrote on that system powers 90% of the fastest supercomputers, and is starting to find its way into more and more smartphones — not to mention everything in between. What would the world look like had he spent his money on something else?"
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Happy Birthday, Linus

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  • Debian GNU/kFreeBSD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Monday December 28, 2009 @12:38PM (#30572266) Homepage Journal

    What would the world look like had he spent his money on something else?

    Not much different, as the people who built Linux distributions would instead have ported GNU to the kernel of FreeBSD [].

  • Re:happy birthday (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @12:43PM (#30572340) Journal

    Its your mom's birthday, too?

  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @12:53PM (#30572476)
    There's also at least a small chance that many of the kernel hackers who work on Linux today would have been working on the Hurd kernel. As it happened, the release of Linux essentially killed Hurd, although it's technically still around.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 28, 2009 @01:13PM (#30572818)

    If Bill Jolitz hadn't dropped off the face of the Earth for a year and perhaps even when he wasn't incommunicado if he had been more receptive to help from other people who wanted to pitch in we might be running a lot more 386BSD.

    Instead he ceded the high ground (IMO) to Torvalds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 28, 2009 @01:32PM (#30573060)

    and there would have been a Debian project without Linux? would the GNU-utils have been where they are today without the massive attraction to them through Linux? I'm not saying they wouldn't have improved without Linux, but they sure as hell wouldn't be as good as they are today.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 28, 2009 @01:34PM (#30573084)
    For at least the past few years, probably longer, Hurd has been in a kind of limbo state where the old core technology (Mach kernel) is hopelessly outdated, the new-but-stable (L4) isn't very interesting, and the really cool ones which are capability-based (L4.sec, Coyotos, Viengoos) were still in far as I can tell, even Viengoos has been more or less abandoned now. Hurd is effectively dead and/or pointless until we have a good capability-based microkernel. Which would be a huge innovation for an OS that might be usable by people other than researchers.
  • by CaptainOfSpray ( 1229754 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @01:38PM (#30573160)
    Ja må han leva uti hundrade år!

    OK, I'm showing off - I lived in Sweden 18 years, became fluent in Swedish, and I'm guessing (from his name) that Linus is mother tongue Swedish rather than Finnish.
    But we're raising a glass and shouting "Skål" and "Gippis" and so on...
  • Re:over 40 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrjohnson ( 538567 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @01:56PM (#30573408) Homepage
    What about git? It's slowly taking over distributed source control...
  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @03:01PM (#30574206) Journal

    Of course the GNU/GPL is part of the success of Linux. On one extreme, there are those who believe GPL is more than a license, it is religion itself and RMS is their prophet. If the license didn't matter, many of the people writing software only for the GNU/GPL now might have working on BSD instead. Not every programmer is license agnostic. That doesn't mean that Free software (as a whole) would necessarily be behind the current state, but there are many people who are are a part of the "Linux only" scene *solely* because they believe in the idea of the GPL. For some, "free" isn't good enough, it must be "free, with the obligation it stays free". Some of those people just so happen to be pretty good programmers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 28, 2009 @03:18PM (#30574422)

    For you English-only speakers:

    och sedan ska han skjutas, i en skottkärra fram!

    translates to:

    Eight cars can have skates, and in scottcar (we can finish before the others get there).

    It is a corruption of an old Swedish proverb that says that because your carriage has all the glitter and trappings, doesn't mean it will work all that well. I think the OP was referrring to Windows versus Linux.

  • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 ) on Monday December 28, 2009 @05:19PM (#30575808) Homepage Journal

    That's only partly true. In '94 BSD was even or ahead of Linux in terms of features. The reason Linux ended up "the winner" is because there was a stark difference between the two communities in welcoming newbies into the fold. #unix was the place to go on IRC for abuse. In stark contrast, the folks on #linux were very patient and helpful.

    I had both 386BSD and Slackware downloaded to floppy. I ended up running Linux because I was welcomed by the Linux community. Not so much with the BSD crowd. A little kindness is all it took to make Linux the world's most popular Unix OS.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev