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A Historical Look At The First Linux Kernel

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the to-configure-simply-recompile dept.

Operating Systems 173

LinuxFan writes "KernelTrap has a fascinating article about the first Linux kernel, version 0.01, complete with source code and photos of Linus Torvalds as a young man attending the University of Helsinki. Torvalds originally planned to call the kernel "Freax," and in his first announcement noted, "I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones." He also stressed that the kernel was very much tied to the i386 processor, "simply, I'd say that porting is impossible." Humble beginnings."

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173 comments

No sooner had I finished compiling... (5, Funny)

kaleco (801384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008603)

...than Gentoo using kernel 0.02 was made available.

Too bad (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20008633)

that that Torvalds guys project never amounted to anything useful.

"Humble beginnings" (-1, Troll)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008609)

And also something that anyone who actually cares about already knows.

Come on, this is like doing a history of the First World War again, complete with photos of the Arch-Duke. Anyone who cares already knows. Anyone who wants to find out, can find out.

And it isn't something the is deserving of a place on this website!

Re:"Humble beginnings" (1)

Luke Dawson (956412) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008659)

I don't agree. There are plenty of people out there who may be interested, but just never really got around to actually looking it up. I was like that for a long time - I used Linux way before I knew anything about its beginnings. So I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would find this interesting. And trust me, there are plenty of people out there who don't know squat about the Great War either.

Re:"Humble beginnings" (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008839)

Uhm, depends on how long you've been frequenting slashdot...

Not only that, I knew the story even before knowing slashdot. In days long gone, it was pretty much included in every Linux book you could buy. This is pretty much "required general knowledge" for anyone being in Computer Sience or IT.

Re:"Humble beginnings" (2, Informative)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008921)

Besides, for those too lazy to read up the history of Open Source and Linux, just watch Revolution OS [google.com] . Features Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, Bruce Perens, Eric Raymond and many more.

Re:"Humble beginnings" (1)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 6 years ago | (#20010183)

That book that Torvalds co-wrote is pretty good. I think it's called "Just for fun". Great read.

Re:"Humble beginnings" (2, Funny)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 6 years ago | (#20012465)

Funny....no one in the IT dept where I work (besides me) knows shit about Linux...much less its history. No wonder nothing here works properly...

Re:"Humble beginnings" (0)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 6 years ago | (#20011783)

I started using it around kernel version 0.9 something, I even did some programming on the kernel and I have used Linux on at least one of my desktops since 1995, both for work and for hobby.

The first distro I actually tried (other than bootstrapping systems myself) was a Slackware found in a computer magazine.

you insensitive clod (3, Interesting)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008695)

I didn't know about this (that the first kernel was completely i386 specific) and consider the article interesting.

It's Also a Great Story (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008697)

Anyone who cares already knows. Anyone who wants to find out, can find out.
Well, that's not true, as it turns out, I care but I'm not afraid to admit I didn't know any of these things that Linus felt (having joined the game late, nor have I seen the documentation for the first release). And I don't go around looking at the history of software I use, I simply use the software. I use gcc but I'm not so sure its history would be that interesting to me.

Come on, this is like doing a history of the First World War again, complete with photos of the Arch-Duke.
I don't think that's a very good analogy. This wasn't really a history of the Linux kernel, more so a short intro to the attitude of the single point in the beginning. In my opinion, reading through this and scanning the attached documents would be more like if you had given me the first three pages of the Bible. "In the beginning, there was this guy that wasn't very sure anything would come of a project ..." This is a good article because I kind of always thought that Torvalds started Linux knowing it was going to be big. I imagined him sitting down one day and saying, "F this noise, I'm going to write an operating system that works ... and I'll distribute it for free!" ... except in Swedish?

But that's not what happened and I think that's important for people to recognize. This was not unlike Frodo starting off on a quest thinking he wasn't going to get anywhere (though the motivation and implications are not so huge). It's the classic hero-by-accident story and since it's a true story, I love it all the more.

You know, I always thought about writing to Paul Harvey (if he's still alive) and asking him to do a "And that's the rest of the story" on Linus. That would be some classic stuff. Although most the listeners, probably not even sure what Linux is let alone know its creator Linus, would probably think he's suffering from some form of dementia set on by age ...

And it isn't something the is deserving of a place on this website!
Are you kidding me? This actually makes me want to start some open source project even though I recognize it will probably go nowhere. Of course this belongs on this site.

Re:It's Also a Great Story (1, Troll)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008895)

Linux [wikipedia.org] .

All the meaty goodness you could want, along with links to everything mentioned in the article (including the news groups, and all that other random crap).

As well, if you do a Search for "linux history" (with or without the "), you get Linux the big picture [liw.iki.fi] , Linux History [xplinux.biz] and a much better history then the one in the article, History of Linux [uiuc.edu] (though not the first from the search result).

Basically, the article is rehashing stuff that is very easily found, presenting it in a format that isn't even very interesting (a short blurb at the beginning and then a copy of all the other stuff..., sounds hard to do!) and leaves out a bunch of relevant information (such as all the GNU stuff that made it usable...)!

Re:It's Also a Great Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20010685)

Hmmm. Every article that is linked from this site can be found elsewhere, so it doesn't belong here.

  stupid douchemitter

Re:History of GCC (4, Interesting)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009283)

I use gcc but I'm not so sure its history would be that interesting to me.
I'm no historian, but I think the origin of GCC is very interesting. When RMS started the GNU project, he was not a compiler guy. He had written system tools, but never a compiler. He recognized that any free operating system (GNU in particular) would require a free compiler and that this was a requirement, not an option. So he sat down and wrote the first GCC himself. It wasn't something he wanted to do, but it was fundamental to his vision so he did it anyway. That speaks to his insight, ability, and dedication. Most important was the insight. Imagine where GNU/Linux would be today if it had to rely on commercial compilers. Yep, that's right - it wouldn't exist.

Also, there is much discussion about GCC transitioning to GPLv3 license. Apparently once the 4.3 branch is released, 4.2 will no longer be maintained under GPLv2. I believe this is because the FSF knows the compiler is fundamental and the license change is so important they don't really want patches contributing to the version under the old license.

Re:History of GCC (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20010423)

Hate to tell you this but GCC wasn't the first free compiler. It wasn't even the first c compile.
There was the Small c compiler that dates back all the way to 1980. There was also the DICE compiler for the Amiga written by Matt Dillon of FireflyBSD fame that was from around the same time frame.
Now GCC is leaps and bounds ahead of those compilers today but without if RMS hadn't written GCC frankly I think Somebody would have like Matt Dillon maybe.

Re:History of GCC (2, Informative)

fsmunoz (267297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20011221)

Hate to tell you this but GCC wasn't the first free compiler. It wasn't even the first c compile.

Maybe not, but your examples don't seem to totally support that :)

There was the Small c compiler that dates back all the way to 1980.

That's correct, but the scope of Small C and GCC are, I think, a bit different... Small C was made for embeded systems and supports a subset of the C language. It was there, true, but GCC was the first ANSI C free compiler.

There was also the DICE compiler for the Amiga written by Matt Dillon of FireflyBSD fame that was from around the same time frame.

DICE was shareware (... I sold DICE as shareware and it quite unexpectedly generated a fair chunk of income. This allowed me to expand into later Amiga models (A3000) as well as put together some fairly souped up PC's (for the times), on which I ran Linux... [kerneltrap.org] ). The source code has been made available (http://www.obviously.com/dice/) but that was in 1997, so quite recently comparing with GCC. I'm not even going into the DICE licence.

if RMS hadn't written GCC frankly I think Somebody would have like Matt Dillon maybe.


Sure. That can be said of anything ever done by anyone I think...

Re:History of GCC (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20012905)

I forgot that DICE was shareware. It was a nice little compiler.
Small c wasn't for embedded systems. In 1980 an 8080 with 16k of ram was a powerful desktop!
Maybe you should look more at the history of the GCC compiler.

"GCC was started by Richard Stallman in 1985. He extended an existing compiler to compile C. The compiler originally compiled Pastel, an extended, nonportable dialect of Pascal, and was written in Pastel. It was rewritten in C by Len Tower and Stallman,[3] and released in 1987[4] as the compiler for the GNU Project, in order to have a compiler available that was free software. Its development was supervised by the Free Software Foundation.[5]"

So Stallman based his work on another free compiler. Of course the story doesn't end there.

"In 1997, a group of developers, dissatisfied with the slow pace and closed nature of official GCC development, formed a project called EGCS (Experimental/Enhanced GNU Compiler System), which merged several experimental forks into a single project forked from GCC. EGCS development subsequently proved more vigorous than GCC development, and EGCS was eventually "blessed" as the official version of GCC in April 1999."

So what we know and love as GCC is really based on EGCS because GCC was moving way too slow. Kind of like HURD. The statement that I often here that RMS wrote GCC is an exaggeration. Hie is one of the authors of GCC. If he hadn't of done it someone else would have.

Re:History of GCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20011145)

Another poster already commented that if a Free C compiler did not exist, Linus would have used a proprietary one.

If the GNU toolset did not exist, Linus would have used different tools. Even today, the toolset can disappear, and the kernel can change to use something else.

Without Linux, the GNU toolset would not have the popularity it does today. It would not receive the code contributions it receives today. It would not be in quite as good of a state as it is today.

Without Linux, RMS doesn't have a Free software "poster child". With the reluctance to move to GPLv3, RMS is losing his poster child anyway, and that's the biggest cause for concern for the FSF and GPLv3.

GNU needs Linux more than Linux needs GNU.

-M

(and, appropriately, the captcha for this is "irksome", which is my impression of the "GNU/Linux" garbage)

Re:History of GCC (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#20012771)

The same could be said in reverse. GNU could have used the BSD kernel instead of the Linux kernel, and then what? Would Linux the kernel ever have been more than a hobby toy? I guess the world will never know...

Re:"Humble beginnings" (1)

Slackus (598508) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008751)

Why are there so many trolls on slashdot, I see so many negative posts lately that it's becoming a drag to even read the comments. I for one enjoyed the article.

Re:"Humble beginnings" (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008815)

Nothing to compile here. Move along.

In all seriousness, this article is one of the better linux history pieces I've seen as well. Personally, the first picture of Linus bears a striking resemblence to a young Jerry Lewis - the second one of a slumped over Dean Martin after a martini.

Re:"Humble beginnings" (0, Troll)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009603)

Ob. 'You must be new around here'

Seriously, half the time the trolls are the entertainment.
I mean, do you really give a shit about 15+ year old kernels and a goofy looking European?
Seriously.

Re:"Humble beginnings" (2, Insightful)

ttnb (1121411) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008797)

Anyone who cares already knows. Anyone who wants to find out, can find out.

I'm not interested in learning the history of everything -- I'm just interested in learning the history of events that can teach me significant lessons, e.g. by inspiring me (starting humble can work out really well if there is significant demand and an empowering license like the GPL is used) or by warning of dangers.

Therefore, articles like this are important to me. I wouldn't know to look for this particular bit of history if it weren't for people pointing out that this is a worthwhile bit of history to read up on.

(In this particular instance, I knew already, but only because I came across an article on the same topic some time ago. Nevertheless I'm appreciating the reminder.)

Re:"Humble beginnings" (2, Interesting)

mce (509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008901)

Well, I was there back then (read my sig) and yet even so I enjoyed the trip down Linux memory lane while going through this article. Sure, this is not top-quality journalism, but if you don't want to read it, then don't.

Slashdot is not anymore what to used to be when I joined (look at my /. id to see what I mean), but even so I still use it as my home page on my home boxen. If there's stuff that I don't want to read, I simply don't.

PS: I happen to be interested in military history as well. So yes, I do still read stuff about WWI, archduke included, even after so many years. In fact, your mentionaing of it just caused me to read what Wikipedia says about Franz Ferdinand.

Re:"Humble beginnings" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20009167)

Slashdot is not anymore what to used to be when I joined
For a lot of us that's because we are no longer young, we are no longer ready to believe anything, we no longer have people throwing money annd offices with comfy chairs at us for knowing how to use a shell and a scripting language. Linux and technology and the world in general aren't as fun as they were, because we got old.

Hell, even Dennis Miller somehow became a cranky old right wing blowhard when I wasn't looking. The world has moved on.

Official kernel development strategy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20008625)

"When the first kernel pops, then toss in about 1/2 cup of open source developers and shake vigorously until the popping dies down. You don't want to leave it on until you hear nothing, because then it's sure to be burnt."

That's it! (4, Interesting)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008647)

Instead of trying to convince Linus to go to GPL v3, we can just convince him to go back to the original liscence! :)

This kernel is (C) 1991 Linus Torvalds, but all or part of it may be redistributed provided you do the following: - Full source must be available (and free), if not with the distribution then at least on asking for it. - Copyright notices must be intact. (In fact, if you distribute only parts of it you may have to add copyrights, as there aren't (C)'s in all files.) Small partial excerpts may be copied without bothering with copyrights. - You may not distibute this for a fee, not even "handling" costs. Mail me at [email blocked] if you have any questions. Sadly, a kernel by itself gets you nowhere. To get a working system you need a shell, compilers, a library etc. These are separate parts and may be under a stricter (or even looser) copyright. Most of the tools used with linux are GNU software and are under the GNU copyleft. These tools aren't in the distribution - ask me (or GNU) for more info.

Re:That's it! (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008683)

You may not distibute this for a fee, not even "handling" costs.
There's your show-stopper.

Re:That's it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20008753)

There's your show-stopper.
Yeah, I didn't really understand that clause. Charging to send around media even if the content is free has been pretty standard since forever I thought.

Re:That's it! (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009001)

Back in those days people were selling buckets of free software at high "fee" cost. Linus apparently didn't like this.

Re:That's it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20011791)

Perhaps it was a reaction to GNU selling GCC and Emacs for several hundred dollars?

Linus even wrote a book about it (5, Informative)

bomanbot (980297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008687)

To get an even deeper look into the beginnings of the Linux Kernel, I like the book that Linus wrote which is called Just for Fun - The story of an accidental revolutionary (ISBN 1-58799-080-6, google the rest).

It contains the entire back history how Linux began as a side project and of course the famous spat with Andrew Tanenbaum over Minix and Linux and I found it to be a good (if very nerdy) read.

But the pictures in the article? Just sad, he reminds me so much of myself ;-)

Re:Linus even wrote a book about it (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009153)

But the pictures in the article? Just sad, he reminds me so much of myself ;-)

Erm, what, an average looking white male? So sad.

Oh No! (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008711)

He looks just like Bill Gates at that age!

Re:Oh No! (1)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 6 years ago | (#20011515)

They started out the same, but Linus looks like he's moved on more, and with out picking up the air of some one unpleasant....

At least two people agree on 640kB (5, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008713)

From memory.c

* NOTE 2!! When from==0 we are copying kernel space for the first
  * fork(). Then we DONT want to copy a full page-directory entry, as
  * that would lead to some serious memory waste - we just copy the
  * first 160 pages - 640kB. Even that is more than we need, but it
  * doesn't take any more memory - we don't copy-on-write in the low
  * 1 Mb-range, so the pages can be shared with the kernel. Thus the
  * special case for nr=xxxx.

Re:At least two people agree on 640kB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20008743)

Same source:
As the current opinion seems to be that 64 Mb is more than
enough, but 64 tasks might be a little crowded,


Re:At least two people agree on 640kB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20011749)

And thus was born the development attitude toward memory management in Linux memory that continues to this day. What a mess. "OOM Killer" anyone? Or kswapd, there was a 10 year odyssey of suck.

5 most important OSS figures (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20008727)

This is my list of 5 most important open source software figures in the world.
 
Linus Torvalds - Thanks for giving me Linux when I just couldn't live with Windows (my roots are in MS-DOS world). Computing became fun again when I loaded Suse Linux on my Pentium 200MHz 32MB computer in 1998. It was as much fun as it was back in the late 80s when I run my own BBS on my first PC.
 
Richard Stallman - You opened up my eyes and I was thrilled with your ideology and I found you a charismatic leader. I couldn't believe it when I noticed you actually bothered to reply to my e-mail when I asked you something about X window system.
 
Jordan Hubbard - Cool guy, not nerdy at all, take a look at pictures of him - you would never guess he's one of the world's leading kernel gurus. Thanks for giving us FreeBSD! Very cool OS back then when you were leading the project. You showed us all how one can become one of the world's leading gurus just by self studying hard.
 
Eric Raymond - Your dedication to OSS is amazing and inspiring! Your novel "Cathedral and the bazaar" is nowadays considered a legendary book and it deserves to be. It is just so amazing book! Nobody else could probably describe hackers better than Eric does in his Jargon File.
 
Arpad Gereoffy a.k.a. Arpi - Thanks for giving us MPlayer when there was no decent way to watch videos on Linux in 1999. Microsoft tried to dominate the video format market by introducing Windows only .asf format, but it was in no time MPlayer supported .asf files on Linux. I can still remember what it felt like. It felt amazing - almost better than sex.

So, here are my heroes, how about yours?

Re:5 most important OSS figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20008809)

Steve Balmer for referring to the GPL as a cancer....
Any publicity is good publicity.
People don't seem to be "dying" fromt he PL cancer do they.

Re:5 most important OSS figures (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008849)

I'd like to thank Bill Gates, for giving OSS an easy target to shoot at. Hey, ESR: put that gun away...no, you can't shoot him!

Also to Guido van Rossum for giving us a fantastic language to play with.

And to Miguel de Icaza for getting the GNOME project started

And finally, to legendaries such as Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, (the missing and presumed dead) Jim Gray, Brian Kernighan, and so many others -- you are the ones who inspired us to do this!

Re:5 most important OSS figures (1)

locokamil (850008) | more than 6 years ago | (#20010031)

Brian Kernighan is very much alive; he is currently teaching undergraduates at Princeton. I happened to stumble into one of his courses by accident while shopping around at the beginning of the semester (COS333 [princeton.edu] ), and stuck around for the entire class. I'm glad I did: the man's a treasure trove of UNIX stories and experience, and a great teacher and mentor to boot.

Re:5 most important OSS figures (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20010499)

I don't think the Mexican douche Miguel deserves to be on any list.

He sucks.

Re:5 most important OSS figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20008915)

Me. I am my own hero.

Not because I designed one of the world's best kernels, or wrote the most popular FOSS license all around.

But because I finally understood how MMU works. Because I learned what are: assembler, compiler and linker, and how to use them. Because when I saw an interesting project on sf.net, I didn't download the binary, but started browsing CVS. Because my sister is using KDE on Linux.

These are small accomplishments, nothing really worthy YOUR attention. But to me, this is my life, my own little world, and I can do whatever I may want to do with it. All these little, beautiful things that make up one geek's life.

you fucking pathetic loser (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20008939)

please kill yourself

RMS not an "open source figure" (1)

ttnb (1121411) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008977)

This is my list of 5 most important open source software figures in the world. ... Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman doesn't agree with being called an "open source software figure" or with being considered part of the "open source movement". The "open source" movement is a fork of the "free software" movement started by Richard Stallman. Although "open source software" is practically identical to "free software" for just about all practical purposes, the fundamental philosophy of the Open Source Initiative [opensource.org] differs significantly enough from the viewpoint of Stallman's Free Software Foundation (FSF) [fsf.org] that the FSF will, if participating at all at "open source" events, put up a big "we're not part of the open source movement!" banner. A good discussion of the difference between "open source" and "free software" from the FSF's perspective is here [fsf.org] .

Re:RMS not an "open source figure" (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 6 years ago | (#20011115)

He can claim his name is GNU/ Stallman and it doesn't matter. He's associated with Open Source in the mind of the public to the extent that the public is even aware of him. Whether or not Open Source is a fork of Free Software is debatable. However, it is logically correct to call Free Software a subset of Open Source Software.

Re:RMS not an "open source figure" (1)

ttnb (1121411) | more than 6 years ago | (#20011703)

However, it is logically correct to call Free Software a subset of Open Source Software.

Well, if you start with the assumption that the set of Free Software is identical to the set of Open Source Software (which is approximately true), you can derive as a logical conclusion that it is a subset, yes. However, making that statement is very misleading, as it gives the impression of Free Software somehow being a special case of Open Source Software.

Initially and for seveal years (I don't know exactly when they changed that), the Open Source Initiative described itself as "a marketing program for free software" and as a "pitch for 'free software' on solid pragmatic grounds rather than ideological tub-thumping". These quotes are from their "Frequently Asked Questions about Open Source" document which used to be available quite prominently on their website. You can still find a copy here [opensource.ac.uk] .

Re:5 most important OSS figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20009295)

"Arpad Gereoffy a.k.a. Arpi - Thanks for giving us MPlayer when there was no decent way to watch videos on Linux in 1999. Microsoft tried to dominate the video format market by introducing Windows only .asf format, but it was in no time MPlayer supported .asf files on Linux. I can still remember what it felt like. It felt amazing - almost better than sex."

Mplayer is the dog's bananas.
I remember using a friends Windows box and wondering why I could not full screen some video formats, and not all videos would play with that player that comes with Windows.
That was the first time I realised I'd lost touch with OS's outside Linux. :)

Re:5 most important OSS figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20010717)

I recommend MPlayer to Windows and Mac users as being the only program that can (a) play almost every video format, and (b) doesn't require codec installation, which is invasive and difficult to undo. On Windows, codecs are basically synonymous with malware, so private codec libraries are a serious gain for both usability and security.

Re:5 most important OSS figures (1, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009417)

You're gay.

Not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20010649)

No, I'm not gay. I'm 100% heterosexual. I'm just a person who has the courage to show emotions and write emotionally. There's nothing sexual about it. I wish other people would have the courage to write more emotionally, even as anonymous cowards - I'm sure this world would be a better place.

Re:Not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20012143)

That closes it. You are gay.

Re:5 most important OSS figures (1)

eokyere (685783) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009601)

software freedom is law; so put eben moglen (and the rest of the staff, who work to tirelessly to maintain the freedoms we are able to build upon) up there somewhere

Re:5 most important OSS figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20010289)

Eric S. Raymond is massively overrated. He does not deserve a place on a list populated by the other four, all of whom are expert engineers.

Remind me again what ESR's contribution has actually been? Some software that he's written? Perhaps a key part of a kernel, or an application that everyone uses? Or perhaps just a website full of crazy far-right ramblings?

Whenever you hear ESR bragging about his own importance, think bullshit and post this link: http://people.ubuntu-in.org/~ghoseb/esr.html [ubuntu-in.org]

Then ask him to tell you about the time he became a paper millionaire through being on the board of VA Software and couldn't resist boasting about it everywhere. Millions of dollars buys a whole lot of guns, which will certainly come in useful when the homosexual terrorist communists invade.

Re:5 most important OSS figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20011299)

Not sure who I'd get rid of from your list, but I'd put {Kernighan and Ritchie} in there. C is the building block for so much of F/OSS.

Re:5 most important OSS figures (2, Insightful)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 6 years ago | (#20011339)

Richard Stallman - ... I couldn't believe it when I noticed you actually bothered to reply to my e-mail when I asked you something about X window system.
Spamming for a donation to the League for Programming Freedom doesn't count.

You have a strange list. You left out the most important kernel programmer ever - Ken Thompson, you also left out Dennis Ritchie (first C compiler, designer of the first Unix file system), and for promoting excellent modern programming practices and teaching us all how to program the right way - Brian Kernighan and PJ Plauger.

And what about Larry Wall for Perl? John McCarthy for Lisp (say what you want about Lisp, but it's the only language that has survived with programming mindshare for over half a century)? The lead engineer of the group at IBM who wrote the first high level language compiler for Fortran, proving that assembly language wasn't the end-all for efficient programming? Donald Knuth for his programming books and TeX?

uh huh (5, Interesting)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20008731)

I have a poster in my office with all the lines of code for kernel 0.0.1. It's uber-geek. A must have for most slashdotters!

Sincerely... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20008773)

...I've been reading about "the beginnings of Linux" for the hundreth time.

TFA = (slownewsday | dupe);

How would one build this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20009005)

How would one build this kernel? What else did Linus need to have this kernel running on his system? It would be fun to build and boot this in a VM. It's so small I can almost understand it. :)

Re:How would one build this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20009311)

It is bootstrapped through minix.

Re:How would one build this? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009627)

I'm glad someone mentioned Minix. Whatever happened to that and why didn't it get the same level of interest as Linux?

Re:How would one build this? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009685)

Forget my last question. Why didn't I bother to Google first - it's all there.
Be nice if /. had a 'delete my dumb post' button.

Re:How would one build this? (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009843)

It got quiet a bit of interest, but was hampered by two major issues initially.

First, it wasn't free software. It was shared source, you could obtain the source after buying a copy and share that source with others who had also bought a copy, but you couldn't just modify it and pass on your modifications to anyone who wanted. That extra step of "Receiver must already have a license" was an issue, and reduced the number of experimenters and tinkerers drastically. GNU/Linux has achieved much of its popularity through the ability of virtually anyone who has a copy to pass on that copy to others, with freely downloadable LiveCDs and other ways to be exposed to it with little commitment on your part.

The other was that it was (usually, at least in x86) 16 bit. Applications generally ran in 64k memory spaces (albeit different spaces for code and data.) This severely limited the available functionality.

Linus, in part, wrote the first Linux kernel to try to overcome the second issue. By using Linux + the GNU toolchain instead of Minix, you had a full blown 32 bit operating system. Things like the X11 Windowing System suddenly became possible. His eventual adoption of the GPL also gave Linux users the freedom needed to ensure they could build a much bigger community around that kernel than Minix was able to achieve.

Today, Minix version 3 is available as free software, and in 32 bit form, but it happened too late to stop the GNU/Linux juggernaut from rolling right over it.

Re:How would one build this? (4, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20010919)

Well I think that is a bit unfair.
Minix and Linux where different proposes in mind from the start. I would consider them be both be highly successful.
Minix was included with a text book. Minix was written to teach students how a Unix like OS worked so they could learn how write operating system code! Minix was very portable, clearly written, and would even run on an 8088 and 68000. It's technical limitations where just a logical trade off.
Requiring people to own the book to have the OS was probably a mistake but My guess is that the author wanted to prevent people from reselling Minix. Plus he really wanted people to buy his book.
Linux was some guy that wanted to write a free Unix Kernel for his 386 and he didn't care if it worked on anything but a 386 or frankly anything but his own computer.
Frankly at that time I and everybody else was waiting for the real free UNIX that the GNU project was going to write. The future was going to be GNU Unix and it was going to be a state of the art micro kernel based UNIX like OS. Of course the future doesn't really feel obligated to follow our plans.
Minix was a brilliant success. How many of the early Linux Kernel developers read Operating Systems: Design and Implementation by Andrew S. Tanenbaum?
I would say that Minix it did it's job very well.

Now Minix3 is a very new project. Frankly I find it very interesting. It is micro kernel and it runs drivers in user space. The goal is to create self healing OS. AKA a driver crashing will not take out the OS.
It uses BSD instead of the GPL which I am beginning to favor because of what I consider the bad spirited anti-Tivo clauses in GPLV3.
I really hope that Minix3 does get the attention that it deserves. Just as I hope the OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, DragonflyBSD, and Linux continue to grow and thrive.

Re:How would one build this? (3, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20012327)

``Plus he really wanted people to buy his book.''

He, or the publisher. IIRC, it took quite some convincing on Andy's part to actually allow Minix to be distributed by third parties at all.

Re:How would one build this? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20012955)

I really don't know but I stand by my opinon that Minix did exactly what was expected of it. I helped educate people that went on to write Operating Systems. One of which is Linux.
Besides I don't know him well enough to call him Andy. But I would love to meet him.

Re:How would one build this? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20012285)

``Today, Minix version 3 is available as free software, and in 32 bit form, but it happened too late to stop the GNU/Linux juggernaut from rolling right over it.''

Not to mention that Minix 3 development still happens mostly behind closed doors, and actually using the system requires carefully stepping around all the pitfalls. It may have a great design, but development and implementation are still somewhat lacking.

Re:How would one build this? (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009999)

Yep I used Minix at Uni - modified the memory manager to use a different allocation algorithm! I was going to ask the same question - why did Linux take off the way it did?

Note the mention of GNU (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009099)

Yup, GNU Mach was well into development BEFORE Linux was even written. This is an example why open source projects are more effective when they're driven by pragmatism and not politics.

Re:Note the mention of GNU (5, Insightful)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20010635)

Maybe if the GNU folks had only been working on a kernel instead of also doing the hundreds of other programs as well, they would have made more headway with HURD. And if Linus had been trying to do a whole OS and not just the kernel, Linux the kernel would still be early in development.

The mention of GNU should merely point out how important the GNU is in GNU/Linux. As Linus said in the post: Sadly, a kernel by itself gets you nowhere. To get a working system you need a shell, compilers, a library etc. These are separate parts and may be under a stricter (or even looser) copyright. Most of the tools used with linux are GNU software and are under the GNU copyleft.

Re:Note the mention of GNU (2, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20010971)

Maybe if the GNU folks had only been working on a kernel instead of also doing the hundreds of other programs as well, they would have made more headway with HURD. And if Linus had been trying to do a whole OS and not just the kernel, Linux the kernel would still be early in development.
Very doubtful.

First off, keep in mind that originally, Linux was aimed at being more on-par with Minix than Hurd. Linus would have written it even if the Gnu folks didn't exist, though it would have been written with pcc instead of gcc. Early on, he didn't have or even target creating a "whole OS", just a terminal server.

The mention of GNU should merely point out how important the GNU is in GNU/Linux.
Every time I hear "GNU/Linux", I have to chuckle. It's a bit like Pittsburgh demanding that Ford vehicles be called Steel/Ford. It's the ultimate example of RMS's hubris, and frankly I find it unfortunate, since most of his fundamental ideas are not unreasonable, just his ego and his behavior.

Re:Note the mention of GNU (2, Insightful)

Peaker (72084) | more than 6 years ago | (#20011335)

The purpose of the GNU work is to make people aware of Freedom-related issues.

Saying Stallman insisting on calling it GNU is hubris is funny, when you consider that its not Stallman who named it after his first name.

Its reasonable to request distributions that are heavily based on Linux and GNU to mention GNU in their name.

I would also think it is reasonable for a huge codebase such as KDE to request that, too. For example, "Kubuntu" for short, and "A KDE frontend to a GNU/Linux system" for long.

Calling it "Kubuntu Linux" (or "Redhat Linux") despite that simple request is not "illegal" or even not legitimate, but it is not very considerate of the many people who contributed to GNU in the hopes of raising awareness to the GNU project and software Freedom.

Re:Note the mention of GNU (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20012829)

> when you consider that its not Stallman who named it after his first name.

Nor did Linus, if you'd even bothered to read the summary.

Despite RMS's handwavings about Linux merely dropping some trivial kernel piece into the otherwise completed GNU system, the reality is that the Linux people did a lot of work in getting the glibc and binutils toolchain working for it. RMS has to this day not acknowledged any of their work in doing so. I think it's more RMS's failure to reciprocate that has more to do with it. He who demands respect the loudest is usually afforded the least.

Re:Note the mention of GNU (0, Troll)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20011323)

Maybe if the GNU folks had only been working on a kernel instead of also doing the hundreds of other programs as well, they would have made more headway with HURD. And if Linus had been trying to do a whole OS and not just the kernel, Linux the kernel would still be early in development.

This is a poor excuse. Linux went from nothing to a whole operating system in an extremely short space of time. Sure it used GNU tools which makes it all the more curious why GNU Hurd managed to go nowhere. Weren't those same tools available to the Hurd kernel too? One could also ask what's Hurd's excuse SEVENTEEN YEARS AFTER STARTING that it still isn't a viable alternative to Linux?

The mention of GNU should merely point out how important the GNU is in GNU/Linux. As Linus said in the post: Sadly, a kernel by itself gets you nowhere. To get a working system you need a shell, compilers, a library etc. These are separate parts and may be under a stricter (or even looser) copyright. Most of the tools used with linux are GNU software and are under the GNU copyleft.

Lots of things are important to Linux, not just GNU tools. The insistence by some that it be called GNU/Linux is absurd. If you took away the parts that are not GNU, not copyright FSF, it would be wallowing in obscurity just like the Hurd.

Re:Note the mention of GNU (5, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#20012703)

This is an example why open source projects are more effective when they're driven by pragmatism and not politics.

The problem is that politics is interested in you even if you're not interested in it. The pragmatic approach involves taking politics into account even if you're personally bored to tears by the subject.

Linus's middle name.... (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009123)

I had no idea it was Benedict. I've not seen that elsewhere, must not be something he likes ;)

"From: Linus Benedict Torvalds [email blocked]"

Re:Linus's middle name.... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009325)

Or something he doesn't care about, and nobody decided it was important enough to make fun of.

I went by my middle name for the first 18 years of my life, but chose to go with my first name instead for various reasons. Hardly anyone except my family knows my middle name, and it's not because I don't like it. It's just not important enough to announce to everyone I meet, let alone the entire world.

Re:Linus's middle name.... (1)

Soruk (225361) | more than 6 years ago | (#20010039)

Some university systems set your email From: line to have your full name (as they have it) and don't let you change it, and they make you jump through all sorts of hoops with the sysadmins if you wanted to change it even for legit reasons (being known by your middle name, wanting to drop the middle name altogether or reduce it to an initial), presumably to stop people's outgoing email looking like it fell out of an IRC server.

fairytale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20009185)

"I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones."

...and so the userbase of said operation system remained small and unprofessional and everybody lived happily ever after.*

*to be added to "famous last words posted on Slashdot"

More than just a kernel (4, Informative)

sepluv (641107) | more than 6 years ago | (#20009361)

just as a preemptive strike against all the Linus-entirely-made-the-OS-himself trolls before they come out of the woodwork, here is the last paragraph of section 2 from the announcement in the TFA. Torvalds says it better than I could:

Sadly, a kernel by itself gets you nowhere. To get a working system you need a shell, compilers, a library etc. These are separate parts and may be under a stricter (or even looser) copyright. Most of the tools used with linux are GNU software and are under the GNU copyleft. These tools aren't in the distribution - ask me (or GNU) for more info.

Embarassing change of context (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20010277)

Am I the only one twisted enough to have fixed for a moment on the once perfectly innocent sentence : "Could someone please try to finger me from overseas?"... :)

Ready? (4, Funny)

bollucks (450288) | more than 6 years ago | (#20010341)

...and it was almost ready for the desktop.

Re:Ready? (2, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20010865)

``...and it was almost ready for the desktop.''

At the time, it sort of was. Remember, this was the age of DOS. I don't know how much you could actually do with Linux at the time, but GNU was already a vastly more featureful system than DOS. When the first Linux distribution came out (Slackware, 1993), it sported all the glory of the GNU system, a GUI (XFree86), the ability to run DOS, and, if I recall correctly, even some support for running win16 (remember, Windows 95 wasn't out yet) programs.

Ah, the good old days...accounting (4, Interesting)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 6 years ago | (#20010547)

Because I was a computer-room assistant back in college I got a couple of Unix accounts (that's what they were called) to learn and possibly help the grad students who were doing all the "cool" stuff on them (as opposed to showing a freshman how to print from WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS (F7 baby!)). The problem with the Unix machines (a SunOS and an Ultrix box) was that they both had accounting turned on and so I had $5000 of computer time to use until I had to go back and ask for more, which they actually gave only begrudgingly. I guess some departments really paid some $$$ for access.

Anyway, along comes Linux (not .01 but some very pre-1.0 version) and somebody else put it on a Gateway2000 486 machine) and all of a sudden I had, along with all the other assistants, a Unix-like machine we could call our own, do whatever we want and not worry about screwing up the "real" work being done. So when it came to learning how the Unix-world worked, I learned far more on that early Linux box than either SunOS or Ultrix if only because I didn't have to deal all the accounting stuff.

The funny thing is that I remember feeling that the Linux box responded better than the Sun machine or the VAX in that it seemed to handle more users better (though I suppose on the Linux box we were just mucking about with standard commands instead of doing heavy-duty work).

Nice slice of history! (1)

farrellj (563) | more than 6 years ago | (#20011825)

I got into Linux around kernel version 0.11 or so...and what a wild, strange trip it has been! I would have been even more fun to have caught the original posting by Linus...but I only had access to the newsgroups around the kernel version I mentioned.

ttyl
          Farrell
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