Linux History
Desktop Training - Linux Newbie

History of Linux

Linux is a complete operating system which was originally designed by a Finnish student at the University of Helsinki, Finland. The student's name was Linus Torvalds who began working on Linux in 1991. He had been interested in a Unix variation called Minix which had been used as a teaching aid. Torvalds released the original version of Linux on the Internet for free, sparking a development process which involved many developers who collaborated for free to help develop the operating system.

The Linux operating system consists of the kernel and the applications, including the source code. Linux is interactive in that when a user enters a command a response is seen with the operating system. It is multi-user, meaning that many people may access the same computer with Linux at the same time. Multitasking, the ability to carry out more than one task at a time, is another important feature of the Linux operating system.

Linux is licensed under the Free Software Foundation's GNU, General Public License. This means that, anyone can distribute free copies of Linux. In most distributions the source code is made available also. This is called Open Source. The Free Software Foundation is a group that was founded by Richard Stallman in 1984 to encourage the development of free software.

The Open Source Definition

Open source doesn't just mean access to the source code. The distribution terms of open-source software must comply with the following criteria:

1. Free Redistribution

The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.

2. Source Code

The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost preferably, downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.

3. Derived Works

The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.

4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code

The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified form only if the license allows the distribution of "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time. The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software.

5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for controversial research.

7. Distribution of License

The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.

8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product

The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's being part of a particular software distribution. If the program is extracted from that distribution and used or distributed within the terms of the program's license, all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original software distribution.

9. The License Must Not Restrict Other Software

The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.

Closed Source Definition

Closed Source is when the code for the software is not freely available, i.e. Microsoft. The Closed Source software creators are the only ones who can modify the code.

Artistic License

This License requires that any modifications to the code must remain in the control of the person who is the Copyright Holder.


This allows the owner to give away the software but the owner will maintain the license to the software.


Shareware allows you to try the software for a period of time. After the trial period is over you must purchase the software or remove it from your computer.

Linux Development

Linux has matured into a full-featured operating system which supports almost 10,000 applications, programming languages, and tools. It runs on almost any hardware that is available including USB Flash drives, CF Flash disks and mini-ITX boards..

The environment in which Linux can function is wide including: Windows 95/98, NT, Win2000, XP, Novell, Mac and Unix. This ability to access so many other operating systems makes Linux a great choice for networking and server operations. In fact, networking is one of the strongest features of Linux because of the stability, performance, ease in management and very low cost. Using fundamental network tools like Network File System and Samba, Linux easily networks with Unix and Windows workstations running Windows2000 or XP.


Copyright CyberMontana Inc. and
All rights reserved. Cannot be reproduced without written permission. Box 1262 Trout Creek, MT 59874