Wednesday marks 30 years since Linux was released. On August 25, 1991, Linux creator Linus Torvalds typed a brief announcement for his kernel in the Minix newsgroup. It started as a hobby project, but has since grown into ‘the OS on which the internet runs’.
Exactly 30 years ago, Torvalds typed in a now famous announcement post that he was working on a free operating system, purely as a ‘hobby’. “It won’t be as big and professional as GNU,” the Finn wrote at the time. “This has been brewing since April and starting to get ready. I’d love to get some feedback on what people like or don’t like about minix, as my OS is somewhat similar, with the same physical file system layout for practicality reasons and other things” , said the Finn.
This post marks the beginning of the ever-popular kernel, although the first Linux source code was not shared until a month later, on September 17, 1991. A year later, Torvalds licensed Linux with a GNU GPL, after which the first Linux “distributions” appeared; full operating systems based on the Linux kernel. On March 14, 1994, Linus Torvalds decided that the kernel was stable enough to release version 1.0.
Since then, Linux has grown into something huge. Among other things, the kernel is the power source of almost all web servers that keep the internet running. The kernel is also at the core of your Android smartphone, and is also widely used for smart speakers, set-top boxes, IoT devices and routers. Also, the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world all run Linux and the OS is also used for satellites, by NASA and on the computers on board the ISS.
All that in thirty years, starting as a hobby project of a Finnish student who was dissatisfied with Minix and wanted to take matters into his own hands. So it’s hard to overestimate Linux’s impact on everyday life, even if it’s not always apparent on the surface.
The Linux Foundation is also celebrating Linux’s 30th anniversary