The Story of Linux: Commemorating 20 years of the Linux Operating System

August 25, 2011 | 2 minute read
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It was 20 years ago that Linus Torvalds posted the following in the comp.os.minix newsgroup:

Hello everybody out there using minix -

I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and

professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing

since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on

things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat

(same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons)

among other things).

I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work.

This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and

I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions

are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

Linus (

PS. Yes - it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs.

It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never

will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.

What lessons can be drawn from this? For one, Mr. Torvalds turned out to be an awful forecaster. "Won't be big and professional"? "It probaby never will support anything other than AT-harddisks"? Please.

Joking aside, in 20 years Linux has become serious business, running on anything from mobile phones to 91% of the world's top 500 super computers and providing coverage on about two dozen architectures.    It's no longer just Linus' hobby.  In fact, Linux sees contributions from thousands of developers, many of whom work for one of several hundred corporations.

 I asked my boss, Wim Coekaerts, senior vice president, Linux and Virtualization Engineering what his first experience with Linux was.  Here's what he told me:

"I remember seeing the email on the newsgroup back in the day, my friends and I at school ended up downloading the early code and somewhere around the 0.95 version timeframe we started installing it on a few PC's in the datacenter to replace another OS. Linux sure has evolved into a big project.  It has been a huge success and I know it will continue to be.  Today is a very exciting day."

What's your Linux story?  Let us know in the comments. 

Sergio Leunissen

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