Penguin Origins: The History of Linux [Geek History]

Danny Stieben 28-01-2013

history of linuxThere’s virtually no place you can go without being in contact with Linux – it powers everything from regular computers to the most powerful servers to our handheld mobile devices. Most people who aren’t techies like us don’t even know what Linux is, nor do they know that Android runs using Linux. Whether you know it or not, Linux is everywhere, and that presence seems to only be increasing.


However, Linux isn’t a new operating system – it’s been around longer than I have and going strong. How did Linux get to where it is today?  Taking a look at the lengthy history of Linux might give us some insight on that question.

The Beginning

history of linux

In mid-September of 1991, a Finnish computer science student by the name of Linus Torvalds released Linux version 0.01, the first one ever. Torvalds claimed that he was inspired to write the Linux kernel because buying Unix or Minix systems was too expensive, especially for a college student. One of his most famous emails which advertised his project to other interested developers mentioned that the kernel project would be “nothing professional” and more of a hobby project rather than a serious attempt at creating a brand new operating system.

Little did he know that his kernel would gain a large amount of support, and over the years the kernel would be greatly expanded to be capable of much more than what it originally was.


It wasn’t long after the original release of Linux that Torvalds decided to license the software using the GNU General Public License, which allowed people to see, copy, use, and modify for their own needs. This seemingly simple decision has played a major role in why Linux has become so popular today. While the Linux Foundation and Linus Torvalds have the authority to control and release official Linux kernels, anyone in the world, both private individuals, as well as businesses or corporations, can use the software for free and modify it to their own needs.


Due to the open nature of Linux, plenty of businesses helped develop patches which would eventually be incorporated into the kernel, spurring its development dramatically.

Slackware & Debian

linux history

Just two years after the original release of the Linux kernel, a man by the name of Patrick Volkerding wrote and published Slackware, the very first Linux distribution – an operating environment ecosystem which is based on the Linux kernel. While all Linux distributions have the Linux kernel (or variations of it) as its core, everything else about the distribution can be changed. From which package format should be used to default programs for both the system and the user.

Approximately two months after the release of Slackware, another important Linux distribution was released – Debian Debian: Enjoy One Of The Most Stable And Trusted Linux Distributions There are plenty of Linux users out there who are using distributions such as Ubuntu or one of the many distributions which are based from Ubuntu, including Linux Mint. However, no matter what you're using,... Read More . Out of these two oldest known Linux distributions, Debian is currently the most influential as a large amount of Linux systems run Debian or a distribution based off of it.


Mandrake Linux

While it definitely not the first distribution, and it wasn’t the best either, Mandrake Linux was one of the first real desktop-oriented Linux distributions. However it had plenty of faults, as Linux in general was still relatively young. However, it was the first serious attempt at a desktop for Linux, and became the most popular Linux distro before other projects arose.

Plenty of people who tried out Linux way back then may have some fond memories of those old systems, despite all of the struggles they had with it such as dependency hell. For those who want to look at Mandrake, check out its successor Mageia Mageia: Enjoy The New Fork Of RPM-based Mandriva [Linux] Mageia is an RPM-based Linux distribution which forked off Mandriva (formerly Mandrake) in September 2010 when Mandriva was experiencing severe financial difficulties. It’s first release was in July 2011, and after just about a year... Read More .

Rise Of Red Hat

linux history

One of the few problems that arise with every venture is how profitable something can be, and the idea of trying to make money from open source software was a great challenge. Red Hat, a corporation that aims at providing a stable Linux distribution and support to businesses, managed to accomplish this by selling support for their own Red Hat distribution. The company became profitable enough that it went public in 1999, and had the 8th highest first-day gain in Wall Street history.


This marked another major milestone for Linux’s history. Today, the company has a large amount of influence on the Linux community as well, helping out with numerous software projects, providing kernel patches, and watching over their community-run distribution Fedora from which their Red Hat distribution is made.


linux history

In 2004, one of the most popular Linux desktop distributions was released for the first time – Ubuntu. At the beginning, the Debian-based distro was, like most other Linux distributions at the time, wasn’t quite easy to get started with. However, after a number of releases, it has become a strong example for what a great Linux desktop should be.

Of course, it’s not the only one as Linux Mint Linux Mint 13 "Maya": A Very Stable Release With Long-Term Support The "Linux release season" is starting to come to an end as the last few major distributions are coming out with their latest release, most notably Linux Mint. This time around the Linux Mint developers... Read More is another great example, but it has become the first distro anyone mentions when they think of Linux. Now, there are plenty of organizations which are supporting Linux, and the first distribution they tend to support is Ubuntu.



history of linux

While there are great advances in the kernel and desktop distributions, it still doesn’t quite compare to the success Linux has had when it comes to mobile devices. Of course, the greatest example of this is Android, which was first released in 2008. Currently, all devices running any version of Android outnumber those that run iOS. Considering how many mobile devices currently exist in the world, that’s a lot of people who have a Linux device in their hand.

Android has been on a roll lately, and there doesn’t seem to be any slowdown in sight. Therefore, while it may not be making a large impact in the desktop market, it most certainly is in the mobile market.


Although it has most certainly been a long 20+ year history of Linux for it to come this far, it has definitely made an impact on everyone’s lives. The rate of Linux adoption appears to be at an all-time high, so the number of Linux devices can only go up. I’m really excited to see where Linux will go in the future, and how it can impact our lives in fantastic ways.

Are you happy with Linux’s progress over the last 20 years? What do you see in its future? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: Alejandro Matos, Ben Preston, Charlie Evatt, Lohan Larsson

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  1. ilayaraja
    August 18, 2016 at 7:29 am

    linux is great. Other operating systems are not equal to linux

  2. nikhil agarwal
    February 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I used dual boot option for windows and ubuntu for almost 3 yrs. But now I am using ubuntu full time. I have also installed ubuntu linux on my external hard drive. When I am on the go I boot from the external hard drive and use the already setup OS anywhere.

  3. Ted
    February 4, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Never any mention of Yggdrasil.The first distro to bypass the dreaded xf86config...

  4. san d
    February 3, 2013 at 9:49 am

    probably.....the best till now !

  5. les
    February 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    I operate a 300 ton 2011 Terex crane. I was surprised to see it boot up with a Linux os.

  6. Vinod Kumar Bishnoi
    January 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Linux!!!! Its great.....
    I have been using it for 3 years. Ubuntu. You will love it.
    Windows...anything you put in USB will search drivers...and drivers and drivers...and sometime you wont find it.
    But linux...I never faced such a problem. Never.
    And Android....what it has done to mobiles. amazing.
    Now Television has Android, Gaming console have android...Cameras have android and you will see every electronic devices will have linux in one or other way... virus nothing..loving it.

    • Danny Stieben
      February 1, 2013 at 12:08 am

      It's pretty impressive! Where do you think Linux might end up next?

      • Vinod Kumar Bishnoi
        February 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm

        Never thought Linux would be my 1st choice on my Desktop, and never thought I would be able to customize my mobile phone to this extent, and never imagined that TV's will be smart and digital camera would have OS.
        So my things so fast, because now linux has got userbase. Billions of users using Linux in one of its form. As you rightly said everybody is in touch with Linux knowingly or unknowingly.
        And I see I am running command $ps all on my mobile phone and it will list all appliance running in my home. And more I am not so imaginative.

  7. Gerhard Tinned
    January 31, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    From my expiriences i miss a likkte the good old SuSe Linux with the YAST installer and all the funny things around it! :-) That was where i started. ;-)

    • Danny Stieben
      February 1, 2013 at 12:07 am

      I had a quick dab with Mandrake, but I was too young to really understand it much. I really got started with Ubuntu around 2008.

  8. Jackson Zhivago
    January 31, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I started out my computer experience using a Linux variant as installed by the OEM. And despite it's child like look is the version I miss. Sadly the cry for Windows propelled the manufacture to completely drop Linux.

    I'm searching desperately now for a version so that I can completely get away from a locked in environment that forces change, and not always for the better but rather to keep the wheels of commerce greased towards the future.

    There's nothing wrong with change, and there is nothing wrong with if it works and works the way you want it to work then leave well enough alone.

    And for some reason I am always drawn back to Linux. I'll have to relearn all the terminal codes but that was part of the fun at times, not all the time, but it was neat to get the look and feel as simple as the clock font etc. to look the way you wanted it to.

    • dragonmouth
      March 11, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      "Sadly the cry for Windows propelled the manufacture to completely drop Linux."
      It wasn't the users crying for Windows. It was Microsoft twisting arms, telling manufacturers that they either drop Linux or MS will not sell them Windows. Since the demand for pre-installed Linux was rather small at the time, the manufacturers caved in and dropped Linux.

      "I’ll have to relearn all the terminal codes"
      Linux is like riding a bicycle - once you know how, it comes back easily.

  9. Charles Orlando
    January 31, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Keep up the great work. If I could write as well as you when I was in college, I'd be a freakin b'zillionare by now. Great work - concise piece. Stay away from girls until you're 34.

    • Danny Stieben
      February 1, 2013 at 12:06 am

      Haha thank you very much for the compliments! I don't think my girlfriend would appreciate that last bit of advice, however. ;)

  10. Anonymous
    January 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Hard to beat free, good quick recourse Danny. Mandrake evolved to Mandriva which I'm using as an OS at the moment and then a split in the organization led to Mageia.
    Been using Linux since the 90's starting with Redhat . Thinking about moving to Ubuntu due to problems with Mandriva and it's availability and back-up.
    How do you compare Ubuntu and Fedora?

    • Danny Stieben
      February 1, 2013 at 12:03 am

      Fedora is for power users who want the latest and greatest. Ubuntu is aimed towards anyone, really, so it's not specific in any regard besides regular home users.

    • dragonmouth
      February 3, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      You can also try Mageia which is developed and supported by a group of ex-Mandriva developers. They decided to create Mageia in case Mandriva goes down the tubes.

  11. Sudeepto Dutta
    January 30, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Reading this article on UBUNTU 12.10 :>

  12. Charles Chisanga
    January 30, 2013 at 7:49 am

    I am been using GNU/Linux since 2003. Linux is stable, faster, efficient, free and robust and can run for days without being rebooted. After try many linux distros I settle on Debian GNU/Linux as it is very stable and has all the software packages I use for Object Relation Database Management System (PostgreSQL/PostGIS), Apache, SAGA GIS, GRASS GIS, QGIS and programming/scripting software such as python. Perl and PHP. A debian box can be deployed as a GIS box, database server, web server or mail server. At home I have also installed skolelinux and I intend to install thin clients.

  13. Elijah Swartz
    January 30, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Ctrl+f GNU Project. 0 of 0
    You can't talk about the history of GNU/Linux without mentioning the GNU Project.

  14. John Jullies Palma
    January 30, 2013 at 3:47 am

    The Force is strong with Linux. :)

  15. Eri Knelson
    January 30, 2013 at 3:26 am

    obviously not a screen shot from that time period. there was no such thing as a USB device then.

  16. Elizabeth
    January 30, 2013 at 1:43 am

    I just want to know where if anywhere I can buy a plush Tux or some other figurine. Especially the little roly-poly chubby baby Tux figures by genius designer Everaldo Coelho, and the ones with various outfits (there's one of Guns & Roses guitarist Slash), those are adorable too. There used to be a plush E-Mule for purchase from their site in Germany but I believe they've been sold out for years. Does anyone make Beanie Babies of the open-source menagerie?

    • OrlandoNative
      January 31, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Elizabeth, look on eBay. I know they made some for some of the Linux conventions, and I *think* even some of the major distro vendors had, at one time or another, come out with ones people could buy.

      Here you go:

      • Danny Stieben
        January 31, 2013 at 11:58 pm

        Thanks for sharing a link! I actually have a plush Tux, but I got it for a Christmas gift so I'm not sure where it was offered.

    • dragonmouth
      February 3, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      If you can attend a Linux Convention there are usually various Tuxes available for free. You can also pick up a lot of other freebies (software, T-shirts, magazines, books, etc.)

  17. Keith Swartz
    January 30, 2013 at 12:34 am

    Very concise, well written & researched history of Linux. It makes a Great Read! Thanks!

  18. Joe Klemmer
    January 30, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Ah, the good old days. I've been using Linux since the 0.12 days (November 1991) and went to it full time for both home and work in early 1995. There are so many stories from those early days. I keep meaning to write them down but now I'm forgetting things.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      I'd be pretty interested in how you switch to Linux for both home and work. For me, it was hard to switch because of available software and its quality. And that was around 2008. :P

  19. Vince Radice
    January 29, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    I have been using Fedora for several years now. Started with 7 and am now at 17. Love the number of antivirus programs required - NONE. Love the number of add on firewalls needed - NONE. Love the price - FREE. But it is not ready for the general public yet. IMO it is about 3 years away. Ubuntu has made great effort to make it usable for the average (and less than average) user. If someone were to come up with a simple class on how it works and how to use it - look out Bill Gates.

    • OrlandoNative
      February 1, 2013 at 1:23 am

      Which is interesting, because Fedora *IS* the Red Hat "general public" distribution. And, they've been working on it for HOW many years now? The fact of the matter is that it's NOT a "commercially viable" desktop product; and, since it's basically a test and "cooker"; it probably never will be. Red Hat *concentrates*, as one would expect, on the Enterprise variants that bring in the money. If some day a commercially viable desktop Linux distro comes into being, it probably won't be by them directly. More likely they'll just fork their own variant out of whatever becomes successful. It might be easy for them if someone else derives it from the Fedora base.

      I'd pretty much have to agree with the author, if there was a Linux distribution more geared towards the average, run of the mill general user, it was probably Mandrake, which morphed into Mandriva, and is now something else. A very easy install, and very easy to add to. Unless you had a really odd video card, even X would automatically configure with just a few inputs from the user (like the resolution you wanted to run at). And one of the window managers was just like Windows, except FAR more stable (which, I hasten to add, isn't all that high a bar, since I don't think *anything* could be less so :D ). I don't think I ever had a Mandriva system crash; I can't say that about Red Hat/Fedora (even though Mandriva was based off it) or even Slackware.

  20. Lindsay
    January 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Don't forget the incredible contribution of the GNU Foundation with the contribution of the GNU Tools to Linux. While the Linux kernel is the core of any Linux installation, it wouldn't ever have gained much traction without the GNU Tools, which provide the lion's share of the basic Unix-like command line user interface. This is why the politically-correct geek always refers to Linux as "GNU/Linux".

    It's worth noting that while desktop Linux gets all the attention about being sexy (or not) the real workhorse versions of Linux are the server versions, which run on perhaps half the web servers in the world. Linux server is rock-solid and transparent, and, speaking as a Linux system admin, generally a pleasure to work with.

    • Curtis
      January 30, 2013 at 3:38 am

      I was waiting for someone to post about the relavence if gnu I this whole Linux discussion. Because truly, what we Linux users are working with is gnu.

      Regarding the servers comment, I actually use my desktop a significant amount without X. So I think for some, the "server" can actually stand ad a reasonable alternative to a full fledged desktop. I guess you just have to get your geek on that much harder...

      • OrlandoNative
        January 31, 2013 at 8:53 pm

        Mmmm.... X isn't just for servers. It's been a few years since I've really dug into Linux, but last I saw it *still* used X to run the screen, even on a desktop. Gnome, KDE, and the rest were just "window managers"; not full fledged graphics handlers. Of course, since then, there could have been a merger of function.

        GNU didn't really "contribute" the GNU utilities to Linux, in the normal definition of the word. "Made them available"; due to the GNU GPL license they're licensed under is more like it. Remember, GNU had it's OWN kernel project - the GNU HURD kernel. Indeed, GNU has always been somewhat ambivalent towards Linux. The fact that Linus Torvalds has, so far, refused to change the kernel license from GPL v2 to GPL v3 is a sticky point, as well.

        I remember well the Slackware distro, one tended to need a fair amount of computer internals knowledge to really use it... ...newer distro's have tried to make it easy for a "general user" to install and use.

        As for "the desktop"; cost isn't always the major factor. Interoperability is. One would think any Unix variant, which, in essence, Linux pretty much is, would win that hands down... ...but many of the most important Windows based applications are created and maintained by Microsoft - Office comes to mind - and they refuse to port it to any other OS than Windows. This isn't an issue for a *server*; but a huge one for the average office worker, as their company's auditors would never sign off for anything that posed any risk with anything affecting day to day business; and their ability to communicate with their outside customers.

        • Danny Stieben
          January 31, 2013 at 11:53 pm

          The different desktop environments still do use X. Wayland is on its way however, and should be included in a few distributions within the next few years.

  21. kevin kelly
    January 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I used linux about 5 years after it came out and still like and use it to this day.

  22. Christopher D . Langton
    January 29, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Amazing how this child blogger mentioned ubuntu is based off debian but failed to tell you mint is based on ubunt...
    Also fails to touch on how linux influenced the Unix rewrite in c. One needs to know these things

    • Lindsay
      January 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      This is an overview, and it's a nice one. Any of us who have been with Linux for many years could write 100 times this amount, all of it interesting. Yes, Mint is based on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian, and Ubuntu is supported by Canonical, much as Fedora is supported by Red Hat. And then there's the saga of how SCO tried to claim that _they_ owned Linux. Don't flaw the author of this piece because he left some things unsaid. There's a lot of history here.

  23. Malcul
    January 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    I keep having a go at it, but last time I couldn't get a reasonable screen mode on the desktop! Without a good screen mode, I couldn't see it being worthwhile using photo editors, or watching video!

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      What do you mean by screen mode?

  24. Neb Radojkovic
    January 29, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    I am one of those people who bought Red Hat to try it out. Not long after that I was chatting at some forum about Ubuntu and they sent me 10 disks to try out and give to friends... I used Ubuntu for a few months and someone said that we should try Linux Mint - I downloaded it, installed and I am happy with it today. Now, my main machine has Linux Mint 13 and I use Mate Desktop. In the course of 10 years, however, I did try many Distros. Some were just forgettable and some made an impression but I still think that Mint is the best for me.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 11:45 pm

      As long as you find one that you like the most, that's all that matters. :)

  25. Yuva
    January 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Future Linux TIZEN

  26. Yuva
    January 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Linux in the future TIZEN

  27. Yogesh Unavane
    January 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Linux == Freedom

  28. Rana wadood
    January 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    i think, Linux is the best OS but some complicated for normal user.

  29. gorlok
    January 29, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Mandrake was a RedHat fork. I would swap RedHat and MDK order. Good article, anyways.

  30. Mike
    January 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I thought you were boing to tell us where the penguin came from??

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Like I mentioned above, Torvalds was bitten by a penguin, so it became the Linux mascot. He later held a competition for the logo.

  31. Steve Rooke
    January 29, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Seems to be no mention of SuSE, and the subsequent OpenSUSE ,as this played a significant role as a top distribution at one time but ended up being dropped by the hoards of Linux users migrating to Debian/Ubuntu when Microsoft bailed out Novel, and for its early migration to the immature KDE4 desktop. Sadly, IMHO, this was akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater as OpenSUSE is a very easy to use, and administer, distribution with primary focus on the much more advanced KDE desktop which is more palatable for users migrating from Windows and for power users in general.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      True, SuSE also made a difference. Possibly should have added that in my article. Thanks for bringing it up!

  32. Ted Melnik
    January 29, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    I was always under the impression that Linux was the UNIX port to the Intel architecture. Since Android does not run in that architecture, why would Android be considered as part of the Linux evolution?

    • Jonathan Pienaar
      January 29, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      The original aim was to be able to run a Unix/Minix clone on 286/386 processors, but it rapidly grew to include any number of architectures, including PPC, embedded systems and parallel processing supercomputers.

      It's possible to root most Android devices and install "pure" Linux kernels and GNU software, as opposed to the highly customised Android versions.

  33. Mara Averick
    January 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Very interesting - I just installed Ubuntu on an old Macbook yesterday so the timing of this article was great

  34. Jon Green
    January 29, 2013 at 9:47 am

    With more than ten years' prior experience of Unix, I started using Linux at kernel version 0.12, for a research project analysing imagery from the Mars Viking Orbiters. It was so robust and functional that Linus numbered the next version 0.95! And it was a breath of fresh air, porting my Viking code from its previous Windows versions - it ran far faster, was more readable, and was much more maintainable. I don't remember the OS having any significant problems: no crashes, no obvious bugs, although I think I had one or two devices for which there weren't drivers. I did write my own driver for one of them. The only pain was having to recompile the monolithic kernel any time I needed to change the hardware. In the early 90s, CPUs were slow by modern standards, memory was limited, and the GCC compiler wasn't as advanced, so recompilation took an age.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      January 29, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      That's an interesting project. Do you still do Astronomical data analysis until now?
      By the way, there is a Puppy Linux puplet specifically for Astronomy hobbyist named Cloudy Skies, which is sadly no longer continued and has since disappeared from mirror sites (I have a copy and would like to upload it somewhere).

  35. abhijeet
    January 29, 2013 at 9:04 am

    i just love linux! the main good thing is that it is open source,free and for an
    average user does not need loads of security can just enjoy your
    internet expierience without worrying about malware and other pests.
    my personal favourite is KUBUNTU!JUST TRY IT!

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      January 29, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      My personal favorite is Puppy.

      • Curtis
        January 30, 2013 at 3:28 am

        My issue with Puppy Linux is the fact that it is a one user platform by default. This would be fine if it were one user in addition to UID 0, but it is not. Superuser status is your only option, and anyone who mucks around as root for too long knows what kinds of consequences that can bring.

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          January 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

          It's a common criticism towards Puppy. In the latest version an experimental stage of 'normal user' account called Wolfy is included.
          I think Puppy is something people would use to-go for doing quick job without extra hassle, hence why it gives you superuser status:because the creator believes you won't fool around the system (which is dangerous, because we all know what we're going to poke around)

  36. Robert "Ruedii"
    January 29, 2013 at 5:08 am

    The original Mandrake Linux was a fork of the Red Hat design, with some significant changes targeting home desktop users and small businesses.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      Didn't know that! Thanks for sharing!

  37. Bob Counts
    January 29, 2013 at 4:32 am

    My first was Red Hat 5.0 and I paid for it, too. Every year I hear some person say this is the year for Linux on the desktop. After all these years I don't think Linux will ever be on the desktop in great numbers. But on the other hand, Linux has taken over just about everywhere else. Linux is literally everywhere, in cell phones, network servers, industrial controllers, games. You name it and someone has either tried it or is using Linux. Linux was even used in a LinkSys Wireless router. Linux will be around for along time. You may not recognize it, but Linux is here to stay.

    • dragonmouth
      January 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      "Every year I hear some person say this is the year for Linux on the desktop."

      Who is this "some person"? Just consider the source. Most, if not all, such declarations are made by pundits. For each pundit declaring for Linux there is another pundit declaring that Linux will NEVER be on the desktop in great numbers. Pundits are paid to generate opinions, the more, the better. As the saying goes, Opinions are like mothers, everybody has one. Just look at how many different opinions about Linux are written by MUO writers.

      • Lindsay
        January 29, 2013 at 10:58 pm

        The problem with desktop Linux isn't that it's not "ready", it's that so many commercial makers of hardware and software don't want to commit to contributing to a development model which runs at right angles to their EULAs and NDAs. For Internet related work, Linux works just fine, but your latest whiz-bang audio card may not be fully supported because the manufacturer doesn't want to let the f/oss developers have the API specs without signing an NDA, which they won't do.

        As Microsoft stumbles in the dark, however, Linux is becoming an increasingly viable platform for daily work that doesn't involve proprietary hardware or software. Even some proprietary software vendors are getting on the bandwagon. The Dropbox installer for Linux works flawlessly, and VMware for Linux is pretty good for running virtual machines on a Linux platform.

  38. ????? ????
    January 29, 2013 at 3:47 am

    I still don't get why Linux is associated with a Penguin.

    • Mike Case
      January 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      Tux is the official mascot of the Linux kernel. He was originally submitted as an entry to a Linux logo competition, and remains the most used icon for Linux.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      January 29, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      You know, I wonder about that too so I googled 'Linux and penguin'. Apparently, Tux the penguin was one of the submissions for Linux logo contest (won none of them) but Linus liked it enough. Read the Wikipedia entry for 'Tux' and the source articles for further details.

    • Paul Stewart
      January 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm


      The penguin was the mascot that Linus T (the creator) used. He liked it and chose it, and it's stuck.

      Please correct me if I'm incorrect anyone else...

      Paul S

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      The penguin has been the Linux mascot ever since Linus Torvalds was bitten by one.

      The specific logo, as used at the top of this article, is what won the logo competition.

  39. Mart Küng
    January 29, 2013 at 3:45 am

    Slackware is not the first but the oldest still existing linux distribution.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      I may have gotten that confused with Slackware being the first big, recognizable distro. My apologies if I got that wrong.

  40. Sas
    January 29, 2013 at 1:23 am

    I am emulating Linuk on MAc OS X, just because it's awesome (linux of course).

    • Mara Averick
      January 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      What gen is your Mac OS X? I'd be curious to try the same thing

      • Gideon Pioneer
        January 30, 2013 at 2:02 am

        The gen of the Mac doesn't matter as long as it has an Intel processor. All you need is a virtualization client like VirtualBox (free, but not great. I recommend VMWare, they may have a trial or a free version for Mac)

        • dragonmouth
          March 11, 2013 at 7:27 pm

          "The gen of the Mac doesn’t matter as long as it has an Intel processor. "
          There are Linux distros for the PowerPC processor. The problem is that they are as current as the processor. One distro that comes to mind is Yellow Dog but the last release was in 2009.

  41. Wouter Ruelens
    January 28, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    It already has the majority of the server market, the mobile market is also increasingly linux based (Ubuntu is going there as well) now it just has to conquer the desktop.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      Pretty much! Desktops are pretty hard to get right, however. There are two "good" things on this front -- Linux is very slowly making progress on desktops, and that the desktop market is shrinking.

  42. Chase Hainey
    January 28, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I think Ubuntu has made some poor choices in terms of Desktop Environment. I can't stand Unity. I do, however, really enjoy Cinnamon Desktop. Works much better in my opinion.

    • dragonmouth
      January 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Canonical has made and will make decisions that they believe will benefit Canonical. Whether those decision are poor or good will be determined by the success of the company. Any benefits to the users come in spite of those decisions, not because of them.

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        January 29, 2013 at 5:21 pm

        Yeah, despite hearing countless demand to Canonical to revert Unity, I still read occassional articles from people who actually like the new interface better. New users in general like the simplicity.
        I agree that we should be able to be productive regardless of the tools, because tools are tools and we're the ones in charge of them.

        • dragonmouth
          January 29, 2013 at 11:26 pm

          Unity is Canonical's version of a tablet GUI. Unity, like Windows 8 GUI, looks and works best on mobile devices. However, they stink on the desktop.

          New users have not had years of experience with the desktop. They are used to smart phones and other mobile devices.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      January 29, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Beauty of Linux world? You can always pick something else that suits your style. No hassle.

      • Lindsay
        January 29, 2013 at 11:03 pm

        Yep. Linux and Open Source is all about freedom of choice.

      • Danny Stieben
        January 31, 2013 at 11:16 pm

        There's plenty of different ways to customize it. Change the desktop environment, install an Ubuntu spin, install a different distro altogether, etc.

  43. Gideon Pioneer
    January 28, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    For some reason Red Hat has a lot of nostalgia for me, even though I never tried it since it's geared towards businesses and costs money. But just looking at the logo always brings back a lot of my early geek memories. It was definitely a (relatively) big player in the OS market back in the day.

    I like how they provide Fedora for regular users but the idea of it being simply a test bed for Red Hat is something I can't stand behind. It feels like they treat Fedora users are third rate users, like rats in a test lab.

    My personal favorite ideology is Haiku OS, followed by Free-BSD. Hope to see both gain traction (especially BSD for desktops).

    Danny, you should definitely take a look at Haiku, it's very interesting.

    • Hélder Ricardo Pereira
      January 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Being a Fedora user I must tell you I don't feel third-rate. I feel first class, I get the latest in Linux developments faster than others, I'm at the vanguard. Yes, Fedora is the most bleeding-edge binary distro and it is the base of Red Hat Enterprise, but it is still very stable and reliable. Things are tested and polished before being submitted. Red Hat boys know how to code. I use it to do all my work since Fedora 16. Zero complaints.

      • Curtis
        January 30, 2013 at 2:59 am

        Although I do have great respect for the Red Hat/Fedora distortion and community, I have to mention that you don't get the latest releases before everyone else. The most up to date binary district is Arch Linux. Though I think that in terms of official repository they might be the most up to date, binary or source.

      • Curtis
        January 30, 2013 at 3:00 am

        Damn autocorrect!


      • Danny Stieben
        January 31, 2013 at 11:06 pm

        I've always liked Fedora and what the project is trying to do. The only thing I don't like about it (and this is me being lazy) is that there isn't as much software pre-packaged for easy installation. Therefore, I've been using Ubuntu for the most part simply because you can find virtually anything for it.

    • dragonmouth
      January 29, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      "It feels like they treat Fedora users are third rate users, like rats in a test lab."

      What do you think Microsoft is doing? What do you think Canonical and other distro developers are doing? They are all treating their users as test rats. In fact ALL software developers use that approach. It is only logical. A development team, no matter how big, is still miniscule in comparison to the number of users. From personal experience as a software developer I can tell you that no matter how thoroughly my team and I tested a program, the users found ways of using and abusing that program that we could never imagine. Millions of users can discover bugs faster than even thousands of developers.

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        January 29, 2013 at 5:23 pm

        " matter how thoroughly my team and I tested a program, the users found ways of using and abusing that program that we could never imagine. Millions of users can discover bugs faster than even thousands of developers."
        Thank you for the chuckle.

        • dragonmouth
          January 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm

          "Thank you for the chuckle."

          You're welcome. But it is a fact of life, developers develop a product and users (mis)use it. Screwdrivers used as chisels, knives used as screwdrivers, glue used for sniffing, etc. Although, to be fair, the misuse of a product, especially in the field of medicine, sometimes can lead to new applications for that product. If the engineer experimenting with radar did not have a chocolate bar in his pocket, we would not have the microwave oven today.

      • Charles Chisanga
        January 30, 2013 at 7:57 am

        I think you stall try debian GNU/Linux

        • dragonmouth
          January 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm

          "I think you stall try debian GNU/Linux"

          What do you mean by that?

          As it happens, I am using Debian.

      • Danny Stieben
        January 31, 2013 at 11:09 pm

        Like I mentioned above, the perception of being "test rats" or not depends on who you ask. Some feel like victims, some understand that that's how it works.

    • Charles Chisanga
      January 30, 2013 at 7:56 am

      I will check it out. What is the url?

      • Gideon Pioneer
        February 3, 2013 at 6:52 pm

        It's at

        It isn't a Linux distribution. It's its own OS that was formed by the ideas of the old BeOS

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 10:59 pm

      I'll definitely try to check Haiku OS out sometime!

      I personally don't think that Red Hat is trying to make Fedora feel like third-rate users (well, of course they're not *trying*, but you know what I mean). If there are any downsides to the distribution as far as the project goes and how it operates, that lies more on the community than Red Hat. Again, that perception depends on who you're talking to.

  44. Ashraf Mohamed
    January 28, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    I think the next generation OS could be the Linux

  45. Réy Aétar
    January 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    amazing how it came so far