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Linux a Unix-based operating system designed to provide users of personal computers a free and reasonably low cost operating system that was comparable to other traditional and more expensive UNIX systems. As a result, Linux is the first free Unix-like operating system. A GNU Project was launched in 1983 by Richard Stallman (Moody, 11). It was initially intended to develop a free Unix-compatible operating system that was to be called GNU. However, many utilities and programs were contributed by developers all round the world. By the year 1991, most of the system’s components were ready, but the kernel was missing (Moody 13).
A man named Linus Torvalds invented Linux. He was a student in Finland at the Helsinki University where he had been using a non free Unix-like system called Minix. It was after his interaction with Minix that he began writing his own kernel. He began by developing hard-drive access and device drivers. By September, he had a basic design which he called Version 0.01 (Moody, 15). It is this kernel, called Linux, which was combined with GNU system to produce a free operating system. It was on 5th October 1991 that Torvalds sent a post to Minix Operating system announcing the release of a new version 0.02 which still needed Minix to operate (Moody, 21). This attracted a considerable level of interest. This kernel was rapidly improved by Torvalds in collaboration with a growing number of volunteers communicating via the internet. As a result, by December 19th, a standalone Unix-based Linux system was released (Weber, 50).
Linux version 0.12 was later released on 5th January 1992 (Weber, 54). It had an improved and more stable kernel. Afterwards, version 0.95 was released reflecting the fact that it was fast becoming a full-featured system (Weber, 59). After that, Linux operating system became an underground phenomenon with an ever growing number of distributed programmers who continue to develop, enhance and debug the source code baseline to date (Weber, 67). Torvalds later released version 0.11 under a freeware license which he devised but then went ahead to release version 0.12 under the well established General Public License (Raymond, 24). A lot more free software was created over the next several years for Linux.
Linux underwent continual improvement through the 1990’s and eventually began being used in large scale applications such as networking, database serving and web hosting, proving ready for production use(Raymond, 56). A major update of the Linux Kernel, version 2.2, was released officially in January 1999 (Raymond, 59). Eventually, by the year 2000, many computer companies had begun supporting Linux in one way or another (Moody, 40). This was after recognizing a common standard which would finally serve to reunify the disintegrated world of the Unix wars. It was until January 2001 that the next major release, version 2.4 was put into the market. Among other improvements, it provided compatibility with upcoming generations of Intel’s 64-bit Itanium computer processors (Raymond, 99).
Even though Linus Torvalds continued to work as the Linux kernel release manager, he chose not to work at any of the various companies that were involved with Linux (Torvalds and Diamond, 20). This was to avoid showing favoritism to a particular organization. He instead opted to work for Transmeta, helping to develop mobile computing solutions (Torvalds and Diamond, 12). He later made Open Source Development Labs his home which later merged into the Linux Foundation (Torvalds and Diamond, 13).
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