What is Linux?

The birth of Linux

It was August of 1991, when a student at the University of Helsinki, decided to create a new Operating System (Just as a HOBBY!). He posted the following message to comp.os.minix:

From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system
Message-ID: <1991Aug25.205708.9541@klaava.Helsinki.FI>
Date: 25 Aug 91 20:57:08 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki

Hello everybody out there using minix -

I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-) Linus (torvalds@kruuna.helsinki.fi)

PS. Yes - it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.

Other people around the world offered to help, and thus Linus Torvalds began a collaborative effort to bring a new O/S to life. It started a new way of developing software, building on the work done earlier by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation.

Yes, But, What Is It?

Linux is not "UNIX" but is a UNIX-Like O/S. It was initially intended to run as a substitute for UNIX on early AT style Intel computers. Today it can run on everything from Cell Phones, PC's (And Macs!), to Mainframes, and beyond. Multiple computers, in one location, can be linked together into "Clusters", and computers in multiple locations can be combined over long distances into "Grids". Some of the largest/fastest Supercomputers consist of Clusters of SMP computers. Almost 75% of the Top 500 Supercomputers, run some form of Linux. It may eventually completely replace UNIX.

Technically, the term "Linux" refers to the "Linux Kernel" or the core piece of the O/S, but most people use the word "Linux" to refer to the entire O/S, the Kernel and all the other software that is needed to make Linux a full O/S.

Is it "Linux" or "GNU/Linux"?

That depends on who you ask! If you ask Richard Stallman, then it's "GNU/Linux" as he intended to create a complete O/S. He had most of the tools and libraries needed, but lacked the Kernel when Linus came along and created the Linux Kernel, and added the other parts needed from the GNU System. For that reason he insists that people call it "GNU/Linux"

Many others, including RSI, prefer to simply use "Linux". Over the 15 years of Linux, MANY other individuals and companies have contributed far more to the O/S. Out of respect to ALL, RSI prefers to just use the term “Linux”.

The average user does not know what GNU is, how to pronounce it, and doesn't understand what the FSF have contributed to this O/S (And also what they HAVEN'T contributed!) It's best to keep the name simple.

How can we use Linux?

In the Data-center, Linux is a perfect choice for many services, such as a File, Web, Mail, or Print Servers. As a File Server, using Samba, it can act as a MS Windows Primary Domain Controller. The client computer thinks it's a MS Windows Server! Unfortunately, Linux is not quite ready for many users desktops, especially if the user needs to run software that can only be installed on MS Windows.

The philosophy at RSI, is that we use Linux where we can, and where it's appropriate, and use an MS Windows Server or Workstation, where it is needed.

Who owns Linux?

No one company owns Linux. It is released under the GPL License, so you can either download a "Distribution" for free, obtain a copy from a friend, purchase a boxed set, from a company such as Red Hat or Novell (SUSE). The best way to obtain a copy and have it installed, is by letting RSI do it for you, and demonstrate how to use it!

The alternative way to try out Linux, is to obtain what is called a "Live CD". This can be booted up on any computer, and allows you to work with a Full Linux Distribution, without damaging any O/S, or data on the hard drive in any way. RSI would be happy to provide our Clients and potential Clients with a Live CD, at no cost.

In addition, we will provide you with a copy of OpenOffice.org, that can be installed on any computer as well. You can read more about this complete alternative to MS Office on our OpenOffice.org Page.

(The Live-CD will come with OpenOffice already set up, and ready to use.)

Standards Compliance

The computer industry, guided by the W3C, are encouraging website designers, and other computer professionals, to adhere to internationally accepted Open Standards for Web Design, (such as HTML/XHTML, & CSS), and Accessibility (WAI).

RSI agrees with NOT using proprietary "protocols", or proprietary "standards".

We support these Open Standards, and others when implementing this website, as well as our client's systems. The icons below represent the Open Standards that this website has been validated against.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict
CSS validator

Please support Open SourceTM Software

Open Source Button