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Linus' First Linux Post, 20 Years Ago Today 181

jrepin writes "One midsummer's night, a student at the University of Helsinki posted a query to the newsgroup comp.os.minix asking, 'What would you like to see most in minix?' The student's name was Linus Torvalds, and that Usenet post was the beginning of the Linux operating system. The date was 25 August 1991, exactly 20 years ago today. In 1991 Unix had existed for about 20 years, Apple had come out with its Mac OS in 1984, and Microsoft had been flogging Windows since 1985. Torvalds' ambitions for his 'new (free) operating system' were modest. It was to be 'just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu' for IBM PC '386(486) AT clones.' He wanted to call his OS kernel 'Freax,' but a friend who ran the FTP server that hosted the software named Torvalds' source code download directory 'linux' and the name stuck."
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Linus' First Linux Post, 20 Years Ago Today

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  • Re:oh yeah... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by E IS mC(Square) ( 721736 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:15PM (#37207662) Journal

    Related - post from Lars Wirzenius []

  • Re:My first post (Score:1, Interesting)

    by UnresolvedExternal ( 665288 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:15PM (#37207666) Journal
    He may have written a decent OS but he sucked at predictions....
  • Re:FIRST POST! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:22PM (#37207764)

    Hrm, and didn't this start out as simply because Linux needed a way to dial in and get his usenet fix? It started out as a terminal emulator (multithreaded for performance), then when he accidentally "dialed" his hard drive, added permissions and other stuff.

    A bit more spit and polish led to Linux 0.1. All because Linux wanted to read his usenet.

  • 20 years ago today? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:23PM (#37207772)

    Well, Linux has been going in and out of style, but it's still guaranteed to raise a smile.

  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:29PM (#37207840) Homepage Journal

    It was twenty years ago today
    Col. Torvalds gave the source away.
    We've been going in and out of drives
    but we guarantee to raise uptimes.
    So may I introduce to you
    the hack you've known for all these years
    Col. Torvalds' Linux slash GNU Band!

    We're Col. Torvalds' Linux slash GNU Band,
    we hope you will enjoy the code.
    Col. Torvalds' Linux slash GNU Band,
    just hack and let the evening go!

    Col. Torvalds' Linux
    Col. Torvalds' Linux
    Col. Torvalds' Linux slash GNU Band!

    It's wonderful to post here,
    it's certainly no troll.
    You're such a loyal userbase,
    we'd like to merge your code with ours,
    we'd love to grep your /home.

    I don't really want to freeze the code,
    but I thought you might like to know
    this release is going to fix the root
    and we want you all to patch for good.
    So let me introduce to you
    the one and only Billy's fear
    Col. Torvalds' Linux slash GNU Band!

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:41PM (#37208016) Journal

    Just a few months later, I was really wanting a Unixy like OS for my 16 MHz 386 PC with a whopping 2.5 Mb of RAM and 40MB hard disc. In the cold wet January of 1992, I think it was Linux (kernel 0.12, or perhaps 0.11) which we started with.

    Two of us made a few of the PCs in the university's PC lab dual boot Linux and DOS. In those days there were no distros, you had a root disc and boot disc, and had to use cp -r to copy the root disc to the hard disc, then use a hex editor to change the kernel binary to use the hard disc for the root filesystem instead of the floppy.

    I started learning C on this system. All the stuff I needed to learn C on a partition of a 40MB IDE disc. (Later I had a 486 with an 80MB IDE disc, partitioned 50/50 DOS and Linux, on the Linux side I had the X Window System, a C compiler and all the development libraries and enough space to write programs in C for X11. By then there was an early TCP stack too, so a friend and I networked our computers and shared files with NFS).

  • Re:My first post (Score:5, Interesting)

    by peter hoffman ( 2017 ) on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:44PM (#37208060) Homepage

    I don't think anyone will be as influential in the computer world. It was a much smaller community back then and it was easier to stand out. That's not to say there won't be people who do things that are as meaningful but they will now be one of dozens of projects.

    If a person is going to be that sort of stand out today, he will have to be in another field - perhaps nanotechnology or bio-engineering - where the foundations are still being laid.

  • Re:oh yeah... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:48PM (#37208136)

    Meaning, of course, that you were waiting for someone else to conquer your computer for you because you lacked the talent to do so yourself.

    The modus operandi of Open Source. Some guy works dilligently on his own to write some software, then once he releases it its all 'look how great we are!' 'we don't need stupid proprietary software!'.

  • Re:GNU/Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@[ ] ['bea' in gap]> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @01:18PM (#37208674)

    No, that is RMS being bitter.

    Had he been willing to see the opportunity he would have adopted the Linux kernel (Linus wasn't willing to make Linux an official GNU project with copyright assignment) as an interium solution and completed GNU. Had the FSF got its act together and put out a complete bootable distribution of Linux + GNU + X with their official seal of approval it would almost certainly become (had it not sucked, been updated, etc) the primary distribution and we wouldn't have had most of the others because they wouldn't have had a reason to exist. And if they ever finished HURD they could have, like Debian is doing now, began offering a distro with that as the kernel and the users would have decided which they liked.

    A GNU with only FSF copyrighted code was and is never going to happen (no attempt is even being made at things like X for example) so what was the objection to putting Linux in to get to a complete bootable GNU system? Once Linus adopted GPL2 as the license all the parts were in place to produce GNU 1.0 but they waited for HURD. Their fault.

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken