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Unix Dweeb

Celebrating Linux’s 28 years

Aug 29, 20192 mins

Linux just turned 28, and in that time, it has moved from being an interesting project to what is in many ways the most significant operating system, spawning hundreds of distributions and taking over the field of supercomputing. Happy 28th, Linux!

tux birthday cake Linux
Credit: Sandra Henry-Stocker

Linux just turned 28 years old. From its modest beginnings as an interesting project to the OS that now empowers all 500 of the top 500 supercomputers, along with a huge variety of tiny embedded devices, its place in today’s computing world is unparalleled.

I was still working with SunOS at the time that Linux was announced — a couple years before it evolved into the System V based Solaris. The full ramifications of what it would mean to be “open source” weren’t clear at the time. I was in love with Unix, and this clearly related newborn was of some interest, but not enough to draw me away from the servers I was managing and articles I was writing in those days.

It didn’t take long for it to get my attention, along with that of a growing fan base. Over time, the open-source nature of Linux meant it was possible for well over 10,000 developers to help improve, add features, and enhance the security of the OS. It allowed others to tailor it to specific needs and specific devices. It also made it possible for developers to bundle software and make the OS easier to install and update.

Today, there are nearly 300 active distributions. Some target specific audiences and come prepackaged with special-purpose tools, such as Kali for penetration testing. Others are very general purpose.

By some accounts, more than 95% of the top 1 million web servers run Linux, along with over 90% of the public cloud and well over 80% of smartphones. So, even if you’re walking around offices still dominated by Windows desktops, Linux is winning big time in some of the most important markets and remains the beating heart of the open source movement.

Happy birthday, Linux! Here’s to wishing you many decades of continued success, dedicated contributers, and happy users.

Unix Dweeb

Sandra Henry-Stocker has been administering Unix systems for more than 30 years. She describes herself as "USL" (Unix as a second language) but remembers enough English to write books and buy groceries. She lives in the mountains in Virginia where, when not working with or writing about Unix, she's chasing the bears away from her bird feeders.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Sandra Henry-Stocker and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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