The Early Days of Computing
Back in the day when computers were really only used in
Universities and large corporations, the software was free. The
code was readily available and exchanged with others much like
the science community works today in sharing information. This
allowed for modifications based on your specific needs.
Bell Laboratories - UNIX is born
In the late 1960’s UNIX was born in the Bell labs, part of AT&T.
Ken Thompson and Dennis Richie were trying to simplify the
existing operating system as well as create a system that could
form a community, not just a system to execute tasks but one
that would communicate with others within the community. This
system was UNIX. AT&T initially released it as a demo and soon
saw the possibilities and began distributing it for a cost.
-the system excelled as a multi-user OS
-also allowed for multi tasking OS
Birth of Open Source
10 years later licensing of UNIX began
in 1979. CPU licensing started at about
$7,000 per license.
Richard Stallman -
Created Free Software Foundation -
idea is to publish open source code, not
GNU - “GNU is not UNIX”
GNU Project - Stallman wrote an open
source OS (a platform that allows all of the programs to run).
This was in response to the efforts of UNIX, Microsoft and others
compiling source code to generate money. He hoped that with
his OS he could create a community that would have enough
programmers creating enough software that nobody would need
to use proprietary software.
-every element of the OS is run
by the community, to help the
better of the OS.
-the freedom to run the pro-
gram however you wish
-study the source code and
change it to do what you wish
-freedom to distribute modified
By the 1990’s Stallman’s OS was still missing one key component,
WHAT IS THE KERNEL?
OS is made up of 3 parts:
utilities - perform tasks that are all the other programs not
provided directly as part of the OS kernel
shell - command interpreter, command line or GUI.
The communication between user and system
kernel - manages the control of the machine and supervises the
various user programs. central part of the operating system.
when an application needs something it requires a set of hardware
resources. the kernel is the middle-man btwn the applications and
the resources. it is used to create file structure and manage the
interface btwn hardware and the programs that use the hardware.
- keyboard, mouse, etc.
Andrew and MINIX
Andrew Tanenbaum - Teacher of computer science using UNIX
as an educational tool but resorted to other measures once UNIX
became a licensed product costing up to $7,000 per computer.
Tannebaum tweaked UNIX and created a similar OS named
MINIX. He licensed the software for a minimal fee but the source
code was not completely open, a restrictive license was ap-
plied in the form of floppy discs for sale through a publication of
MINIX. Because of this the OS did not initially take off but many
students were introduced to MINIX, one of these was
Linus and LINUX
In 1991 a Helsinki University student, Linus Torvalds wrote a
MINIX version completely open source (free of AT&T and LINUX)
code as a hobby that turned into his thesis project titled: Linux: A
Portable Operating System. In 1992 the first version of LINUX is
released through the U. of Manchester. That same year the GUI
for LINUX was released. The OS could be run from the command
line or through the more commonly used GUI.
More and more people started using LINUX and creating
their own programs running LINUX:
Debian- OS system using the LINUX kernel
Slackware- OS system
Suse- creators of OS system and distros
RedHat- server based desktops
Google- widely popular search engine using LINUX
By 2000, IBM announced that they were going to invest
$1 billion in LINUX development.
Ubuntu- OS based on the Debian LINUX kernel
Linspire- formally known as Lindows, based on
Knoppix- OS booted from CD or USB
OLPC - “one laptop per child” goal to make affordable
computers for kids in developing countries. runs on
‘Sugar’, OS software design.
why use LINUX?
Viruses are less of a threat on Linux. The very way a Linux system
is designed makes it very difficult for a virus to function as it does
Most people would put this at the top of the list. The cost ad-
vantage of Linux is huge. In a nutshell, you get the complete OS,
thousands upon thousands of applications AND support for the
grand total price of….$0
You can easily get support when you do run into difficulties. In
addition to the plethora of online forms, both independent and
those provided by the distro supplier, there are also more and
more 3rd party service providers that offer service contracts for
Linux systems. There is also support offered by more and more
traditional Technology names such as Dell, IBM, Novell, Sun and
An excellent window system called X; the equivalent of Windows
but more flexible.
Thousands of applications, software, etc. to customize the look,
feel and overall performance of your workstation.
Thousands of people have made themes or written programs that
you can use to customize based on your tastes and preferences.
Where LINUX fails
To install and keep a LINUX system working at its best, the
user(s) must be a proficient with computers and should ready to
be hands on (aware of possible vulnerabilities).
The responsible person should be used to Unix type commands.
A working knowledge of Unix is useful because some work may
be needed to be done in a non-graphical environment.
NEED OF PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE:
If there is a piece of software that you absolutely cannot work
without, then keeping Windows is probably a good choice. How-
ever, you can have both operating systems installed (often called
“dual-booting”), which can be used to suit your needs.
Lacks in many print and media editing programs.
LACK OF STANDARDIZATION:
The openness of the application has also created a lack of stan-
dardizing. A few dozen ways to install drivers/programs is a
major gripe of LINUX.
Because of the nature of a community “tinkering” some projects
are not as productive as a team solely focused on creating. More
commercially backed programs need to come about.