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A brief history of Linux

Trust me, we take it all for granted! We are used to working with great looking Linux distributions, which provide a fantastic user experience, incorporating pleasant graphics user interfaces, detecting and then properly using a great variety of computer hardware pieces, and so on. Things weren't working always that smooth, though. So, let's take a bit of time to appreciate the effort that went into creating one of the most loved operating systems in the world.

Everything started back in 1969, when Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie created the UNIX OS, the grandfather of Linux. By the way, this page presents a brief history of the UNIX operating system.

We will only discuss Linux in this article, though. After 22 years, Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student, created the first Linux kernel. Apparently, Linus decided to take on this project because he wanted to have a greater degree of control over his Intel 386 computer.

No matter what happened, we know for sure that Linus released the first version of the kernel on the 25th of August, 1991. Linux had a stranger name back then (Freax), but this hasn't deterred people from downloading it in huge numbers. I guess that there were many more geeks back then ;) And believe it or not, you can still download the first version of the kernel here.

A few years later, several important distros that were using Linus' kernel (Red Hat and Debian, for example) have been born. By then, the Linux kernel had almost 200,000 lines of code. The available distributions were quite difficult to set up and use; you had to master the command line. So, they weren't a real alternative to Microsoft Windows' user-friendly interface.

Fortunately, things changed with the arrival of Gnome and KDE (Kool Desktop Environment). By the year 2000, KDE, then at its second major iteration, was hugely popular, including a set of fully functional applications in addition to the desktop environment which made it famous.

It was also the year of release for several live distros, such as Knoppix. All of a sudden, you were able to pop a CD into the drive, restart the computer, and then have it boot up using a Linux distribution which wasn't installing anything on your PC, unless you really wanted that to happen. By now, Linux was catching up with Windows in terms of aspect, and raising the bar in terms of functionality.

The entire world changed for the better with the first release of Ubuntu. Microsoft Windows finally had a real competitor which was coming from the Linux world. And since Ubuntu is that old, it's not a surprise that it has gained a huge number of fans along the years. Not only that, but each new release has brought more and more user-friendly features. It is one of the key reasons why I recommend this distro to anyone who wants to dive into the Linux world for the very first time. I know that other people prefer other distributions, but if you are a Windows user, I promise that you'll feel at home with Ubuntu.

What's going to happen next in the Linux world? No one knows for sure. But what we do know is that the Linux community will continue to innovate, bringing us better and better versions of the operating system that has conquered the world.