History of Linux

We can’t start this blog without going back to the beginning of everything. In this article, we will see the whole history of Linux. What was there before it? Who is the creator of Linux? How did the name Linux come to be? 

Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux

Linus Torvalds is a Finish software engineer with Swedish roots responsible for creating the Linux kernel, which is the core for GNU/Linux OSes like Ubuntu, Debian, Chrome OS, and even Android. 

Linus studied at the University of Helsinki (Finland) and finish with a master’s degree in computer science. During his time there, he got involved with Unix-based OSes such as MINIX and ULTRIX. 

Based on what he saw, he decided to do his thesis on the following topic “Linux: A Portable Operating System”. 

That was the real beginning of it! 

Linux’s code writing started in early 1991, and the first publicly available code was release by Linus on 25 August 1991. It was not ready yet for the market. Just a very early built that with which Linus wanted to get some feedback.  

The name Linux 

The first name that mister Torvalds wanted to use was Freax. It is a combination of “freak” and “free”. The name Linux was already on the shortlist, together with some more, but Linus initially thought it was too egocentric. Later one of his colleagues, who was uploading the files to the FTP server of FUNET, renamed it to Linux, and the author didn’t mind.  

One year later (1992), the kernel (the core, version 0.12) was released under the GNU General Public License. Under it, the software was free to use, share, and modify. This allows the developers, who were contributing mostly for free, to be sure that their work will be free to use for everybody. 

Now Linux uses the second version GPL v2 (since 2000) and didn’t update to the latest GPL v3 (2007) because of a single clause that says that if you agree with version 3 you automatically agree to later versions. 

Linux logo

The Linux logo is a penguin, and it was chosen in 1996. The team working on the project wanted an animal for a mascot. One day Torvalds went to the zoo in Australia, and a little penguin attacked him. A small but fierce create! People thought it was hilarious, and they selected it. They even put him the name Tux (coming from Torvalds’ Unix).  

Linux important dates and milestones

  • 1993. The well-known Debian and Slackware distros started in that year
  • 1994. Version 1 of Linux, which only worked on i386 computer. Red Hat and SUSE started their Linux distros. 
  • 1995. First ports on DEC Alpha, Sun SPARC, and MIPS. 
  • 1996. Version 2.0 of the kernel. It allowed multiple processors. 
  • 2001. With version 2.4 came the USB, Bluetooth ext3 file system. Also, it was the year of the first developers’ summit. 
  • 2005. This year, the OpenSUSE began. 
  • 2007. The release of Android OS based on Linux kernel. The most popular mobile OS up to date. 
  • 2011. Version 3.0. Basically renamed 2.6 version
  • 2012. The revenues (aggregated Linux Server market) surpass those of the rest of the Unix market. 
  • 2015. Version 4.0 adding the support for live patches that don’t require a restart of the system to be applied. 
  • 2019. Version 5.0 brought AMD FreeSync support, support of new components and improved power management. 


Today. Now Linux is on billions of mobile phones, many smart TVs, almost all servers (>90%), and many users’ computers. It is one of the most popular OSes out there that we use daily, directly or not. 

There are now hundreds of distros for various purposes: servers, desktop PCs, mobile phones, embedded devices, TVs, and more. 

Recently it is getting good at gaming too. So it looks like it is on the right path for further success.

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