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28 facts about Linux for its 28th birthday

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Nearly three decades ago, Linus Torvalds sent the email announcing Linux, a free operating system that was "just a hobby" and not "big and professional like GNU." It's fair to say that Linux has had an enormous influence on technology and the world in general in the 28 years since Torvalds announced it. Most people already know the "origin story" of Linux, though. Here's 28 things about Linux (the kernel and larger ecosystem) you may not already know.


1 - Linux isn't very useful alone, so folks took to creating Linux distributions to bundle user software with it, make it usable and easier to install. The first Linux distribution was Softlanding Linux System (SLS), first released in 1992 and using the .96p4 Linux kernel.

You could buy it on 5.25" or 3.5" floppies, or CD-ROM if you were high-tech. If you wanted a GUI, you needed at least 8MB of RAM.


2 - SLS didn't last, but it influenced Slackware Linux, which was first released in 1993 and is still under development today. Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution and celebrated its 26th birthday on July 17th this year.


3 - Linux has the largest install base of any general purpose operating system. It powers everything from all 500 of the Top 500 Supercomputers to Android phones, Chomebooks, and all manner of embedded devices and things like the Kindle eBook readers and smart televisions. (Also the laptop used to write this post.)


4 - When Linus announced Linux, he didn't actually announce Linux. It was not yet named, he just said "a free operating system" and that it resembled Minix. Somewhat. Later the name for Linux was going to be "Freax," a combination of "free," "freak," and "x." Ponder the name "Red Hat Enterprise Freax" for a moment, and give thanks that was averted.


5 - Once it had a name, then people had to figure out how to pronounce it. Linus himself provided a sound file pronouncing Linux, and it's pronounced (roughly) Leenucks...............



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8 - You may notice that there's a lot of choice when it comes to Linux. A lot of choice. According to the site Distrowatch, there have been more than 850 Linux distributions registered with the site. Many of which have fallen by the wayside over the years.


The site currently lists 260 "active" Linux distributions, which of course includes Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora Linux, CentOS and many others. If you were to count variants of the main distributions, like Fedora's Spins, the numbers would climb substantially....


I underlined the above part.

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