Happy 29th anniversary, Linux, and a big thank you to Linus Torvalds
Jack Wallen, who has been using Linux for over 20 years, has a special message for a Linux creator on the 29th anniversary of his humble beginnings.
Remember this message from Linus Torvalds?
Hello everyone out there using minix -
I make a (free) operating system (just a hobby, it's not as big and professional as a gnu) for 386 (486) AT clones. This has been a lie from april, and it's starting to get ready. I would love to get any comments on what people like / dislike in minix, as my OS is somewhat similar (the same physical version of the file system (for practical reasons)) among other things).
I've ported right now bash (1.08) and gcc (1.40), and things seem to be working. This means that I will get something practical within a few months, and I would like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I do not promise to implement them 🙂
Linus ([email protected])
That was the first news at Torvalds that it was about to start creating a new operating system. That message, posted in usenet news agency comp.os.minix, came out August 25, 1991 - that's 29 years ago.
One student, who was studying computer science at the University of Helsinki, was unable to purchase the Minix operating system for the school. So, like any good compsci student, he did what he did best: Create a solution to a problem.
Since then, that's exactly what Linux has been doing - creating solutions.
SEE: Linus Torvalds' biggest hits: An overview of the impact of Linux kernel founder on technology (PDF free) (TechRepublic)
However, I do not think that Torvalds had any idea that his project would end up as an attractive global business. Or was it? In fact, even early adopters (I started using Linux back in 1997) knew that Linux was something special.
Like most new Linux users, I had been working with Windows operating system (back then it was Windows 95) and I was tired of the crashes and so incapable of making the operating system do what I wanted it to do. Yes, most were happy with what Microsoft had to offer, but for those of a more inquisitive nature, those who tended to dive down rabbit holes to find out how the sausage done, Windows was too limited and troublesome. So when we discovered Linux, it was as if a whole new world had opened up before our eyes.
We could eventually become productive in unconventional ways and do just as we wanted. We could have an interesting desktop, we could install software without having to deal with associated costs and limitations, we could experience freedom on the desktop. The steep learning curve of these early calls was worth it in itself.
In the 20+ years I've been using Linux, I wish the platform a "happy birthday" almost every year. But things look a little different this year. Why?
Because I forgot it was the anniversary of Linux.
How did that happen? I'll tell you how.
Indirectly, Linux is responsible for my life. If it weren't for Linus' s creation, I wouldn't have been a technical writer. That happened back in 1999, when I wrote my first article for TechRepublic about Linux. Since then, I can't imagine how many words I wrote about the Linux operating system, but I'm sure it's in the millions.
So one would think that there would be no way to forget such an anniversary. But, let me send it to you like this.
Linux has become such an important part of my life, I can see it almost blending into the background now. It's so second nature that I don't even think about it. Unlike when I use macOS or on the rare occasion that I have to use Windows, I have to stop and think. Linux, on the other hand, is almost an extension of thought and action.
With such a consistent and enduring practice for over twenty years, it is very easy to take something for granted. I know my desk works. I know my operating system will not crash. I know I am (virtually) safe from malicious software. I know the software I use will simply not work. I know I can be productive without the disruption plaguing other platform users.
I know, I know, I know.
Because of that, Linux is just sitting there, doing its day job in and day out, almost without thanks. I don’t think about it. I don't have to stop and fix it. I do not. Because of this, it's been years since I stopped to say a heartfelt "thank you" to Linus Torvalds, for creating the platform that would allow me (and so many others) to do what I do.
SEE: Linux version 29: The greatest events in history to date (ZDNet)
So on this 29th anniversary of the Linux platform, I do not feel the need to celebrate the anniversary of an operating system. I do, however, feel the need to take a moment and appreciate what a young student, at the University of Helsinki, did without the knowledge of people like me. Mr Torvalds, what you have done enables thousands upon thousands of people to have jobs. You opened doors that would otherwise have been walled. You introduced a capability that would not otherwise have been possible. Were it not for your university project, we would not have the cloud, social networks, ships, IoT, peripheral computing, Android, AI, the Hadron Collider, smart TVs, the Amazon Kindle, and so many other things.
Linus Torvalds, you made it possible. So, instead of wishing you a happy birthday to Linux, I want to give you a heartfelt "thank you." The operating system that you started working on 29 years ago changed the course of my life and it changed the world.
The day should be August 25th with Torvalds.
Bravo. Well done. And huzzah.