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Linux in 2 paragraphs :

Want to know what Linux is and how it became what everybody today talks about? Just read the 2 following paragraphs!

1.How Linux started :

Linux was created as a collective effort of thousands of computer enthusiasts and developers spread all over the world, trying to create an advanced, open source operating system, suitable for their needs. It is based on GNU (GNU is Not Unix) software, an effort undertaken by Richard Stallman, the father of Free Software back on the 80's, to create free software and foster the sharing of software knowledge, which was prohibited by companies trying to control it. This initial effort created a base set of valuable tools and programs but lacked the core of an operating system, that is a kernel. It was 1991 when Linus Torvalds, a Finish student trying to create a better Minix (a tiny unix kernel for educational and academic purposes created by Andrew Tanenbaum) posted a message at comp.os.minix, asking about POSIX standards. Later he announced the first kernel version. It wasn't even usable, but what better attraction for developers and hackers! The rest is history!

2.How Linux made it to the real world :

Today Linux is used by millions of people all over the world. All big companies (except Micro$oft) periodically announce support for linux, linux products and various source contributions. Who would believe it! The dream finally came true! This transformation in computer industry didn't came easily though. A few years ago, Linux had already made an impression to the industry but was still a hacker's and developer's game. But that was not enough! Big companies support for Linux would guard Linux's position as a standard alternative OS, making it easier for Linux to reach even more people. But the term "Free Software" made companies hesitate about Linux. They couldn't understand how they could get revenues and stronger their position by supporting Linux. The term Free has the meaning of "free speech", not free beer. That is, it is not about money but rather freedom! So, Eric Raymond proposed the term "Open Source" instead and published the now famous paper "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" describing the virtues of "Open Source" model vs the model of proprietary software. Netscape, the browser's king was the first to understand it and the open source release of Netscape's browser became available to the developer community. More companies followed and today companies strive to show they contribute to Linux more than others do. IBM, COMPAQ, SGI, SUN, the catalog is just endless.

A bit of my Linux history!

I've been using Linux since 1996 (an old Slackware distribution). That days i had to write some programs for the Operating Systems course on Unix machines. That's how i begun using Linux. Later, i moved to RedHat 5.0, 5.2, 6.0, 6.2 and finally to 7.1. I De-installed Win95 during 1998, because it became obvious to me that Linux is a much more superior development platform. I enjoy playing with Linux. I can spend days, searching for new stuff and hacking things. Of course at the begining it was hard, because i couldn't (or didn't know how to) get help, but after some time, when you learn to master every single situation, you just can't live without it! Nowdays that you can find countless resources, hardware issues are a memory of the past, isntallation can't cecome easier and the User Interface has reached to a high level, it is easy for a new linux user to quickly appreciate and switch to Linux.

The superior platform!

Linux virtues come from the combination of its Unix inheritance along with the Open Source model. Efficiency, reliability, scalability, portability, source quality & availability to name few are the main virtues.

Efficient and quality code :

The efficiency comes as a result from both program's quality code and Linux kernel itself. This cooperation leads to programs that run faster that other proprietary programs on other Unix systems. Another plus is the resource allocation strategy used by Linux. All resources are used efficiently and with respect from the kernel. You don't need an expensive workstation to run Linux! For example a 386/486 Linux machine can be very valuable as a firewall, proxy, a bridge or whatever you name it. Actually my home network consists of 2 P-133s customized to my needs and they are fast even for development purposes! I never upgraded them to a PIII-1000 Mhz (like many Windowz users do) as a motivation to better learn Linux internals and customize them! And i 've never regret this!

Portability :

"Portability" is the holy grail of software. Linux runs allmost on every platform you can imagine! It already runs on Itanium, your can install it to your old Amiga machine you still keep in your basement, your iPaq, that old sparc machine in the lab, the Alhpa server used in your company.

Scalability :

Linux runs from IBM's wrist watch to Beowulf clusters used in NASA and other world leading labs. What can you say!!! This is due ti it's modular design. You can strip down the kernel to port it to a resource limited device or you can add the futures needed to scale up to your 8 CPU, 256Giga machine! Isn't that beautiful or what?

Reliability :

You will never need to reboot, if you install a new driver or change some settings and you will never see a "blue screen of death"! The kernel will not allow a "bad-behaviored" application to hang your system!

open source :

For developers, source availability is the single most precious stuff! This is also beneficial in case a bug or security problem is found. In just some hours it is fixed from developers all over the world, and you can immediately upgrade to the fixed version! These are the benefits of Open Source Model which i consider to be the greatest idea in the computer world!

My Top 5 Linux Links :

1.Linux Weekly News : The definite resource for your complete weekly information including Security, Kernel, Distributions, Development, Commerce and more! I've not missed a single page since 97! Also check out the yearly editions, or the daily ones if you like everyday information.

2.freshmeat : Daily(fresh) updates and huge collection!

3.slashdot : News for geeks, stuff that matters! Interesting news and chat!

4.linuxdevices : Linux in the embedded market! Linux runs everywhere!

5.handhelds.org : Linux on the iPaq! (sponsored by COMPAQ)

Linux books :

Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution. This is a must have "open source" book you can find online on Reilly. 16 Chapters contributed from people like Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman (founder of GNU), Eric Raymond, Michael Tiemann of Cygnus(gnu pro tools), Tim O'reilly, Larry Wall(perl inventor), Bob Young(Redhat CEO) to name a few. Go here to find more about contributors!

3 Annoying things & misconceptions about Micro$oft

1. Most people believe Bill Gates invented computers, and the only operating system is Windowz!

2. Even big companies (at least here in Greece) ask for Visual C++/Basic programmers. If you tell them you know C++ but don't use Visual C++, they will probably not hire you, because what they understood is : you don't know C++ ! (they don't even understand that Visual C++ is just an IDE!)

3. I get many mails with .doc attachments. Some foolish people will send you a .doc file even with 1 sentence! They believe that in order to write a simple sentence they must use Word! (Ascii text = Word!). Seeing a .doc attachment means i will imediately delete your message (who knows how many viruses it may hold)


Manolis Perakakis
Last modified: Sun Jun 24 18:56:28 GMT-5 2001