The Complete Magazine on Open Source

Linux turns 25 today

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It was August 25, 1991, when Linus Torvalds released Linux operating system. The Finnish-American software engineer originally developed Linux as its “personal project” but the kernel emerged as a powerhouse for many open source platforms.

“Even after 25 years,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, in a recent statement, “Linux still serves as an example of how collaborative development can work, which can be applied to other open source projects.”

Free platform for the public

Unix-like Linux operating system was initially available as a free platform for personal computers. It was designed specifically for systems based on Intel x86 architecture but later debuted on a wide range of hardware, starting from desktops and notebooks to tablets, smartphones and even smartwatches and in-car systems.

According to a development report released by the Linux Foundation, over 13,500 developers contributed over more than a decade to build Linux a successful platform. The seventh annual report also notes that 1,300 companies joined the force to take the kernel to the next levels and major entities like AMD, Google, Intel, Red Hat and Samsung sponsored the development.

Contribution from unpaid developers

Not just tech giants but several unpaid developers also contributed to the open source platform. However, the Linux Foundation report reveals that the volume of contributions from unpaid developers has been dropped “for many years”. It has fallen from 11.8 percent in 2014 to 7.7 percent.

“The number of unpaid developers continues its slow decline, as Linux kernel development proves an increasingly valuable skill sought by employers, ensuring experienced kernel developers do not stay unpaid for long,” the report co-authored by Linux kernel developer Jonathan Corbet and Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman reads.

Enormous distros

Linux is packaged in distribution aka distro to offer end-users a finished platform to work. While there was originally just a handful of distros released for their limited use, there is now a large number of options available. You can experience the ever-growing world of Linux through CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu or Android. Commercial distros such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are also being provided in the market.

Today, Linux kernel comes in 4.7 release. It has enhanced security features and advanced graphics support from the kernel 4.6. Torvalds team is additionally in development to release the next version of the community-backed platform with an expanded hardware support that includes Microsoft Surface 3.