Technical

Happy 30th Birthday, Linux!

25. Aug 2021

On the evening of August 25th, 1991, Linus Torvalds wrote a short message on the comp.os.minix Usenet newsgroup:

I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones.

Fast-forward 30 years, and to make a long story short, well: Linux is now both big and professional. It’s nearly everywhere, hidden behind the shiny graphical user interface of your smartphone or tablet (well, except for iOS users), in your gaming box, in your car, and even on Mars.

I discovered Linux as a young boy still at school, in 1998. It was in a book store where I was attracted by a shiny package (I had no idea what Linux was) called „SuSE Linux 6.0“ (nowadays available for download from archive.org), and since then I couldn’t stop working with it.

Over time, I got more and more into Linux, and it became an important hobby, with all my PCs running Linux, and also on my home server under my desk at home. Many years later, in 2011, I could finally start working full-time as a Linux administrator. My desktop computer has been only powered by Linux since around 2004, and I’ve been a big fan of KDE ever since.

The author’s original SuSE Linux 6.0 CDs, originally released in December 1998.
More memorabilia from early Linux versions.

Today, the Linux Kernel is more present, yet less visible than ever. We interact with it on containers and in VMs on the cloud, and it gets more and more abstracted away, deep down in serverless architectures, making the Kernel even more invisible than ever before. Albeit out of sight of most users, Linux has become much more solid, mature, and pervasive, and does its great job behind the scenes without interruption.

Linux empowers VSHN at all levels; not only it is the dominating technology we use every day, empowering Kubernetes, containers, and cloud VMs, but it is also the operating system that the majority of VSHNeers (around 66%, according to an internal poll) use for their daily job, the remaining third using macOS or Windows.

Some numbers: of those two thirds of VSHNeers that use Linux every day in their laptops, 61% chose Ubuntu (or one of its various derivatives); 17% use Arch, 11% Fedora, and others use DebianMint, and other distributions. Some even contemplate switching to Qubes OS soon! As for desktop environments, around 35% use GNOME, 25% use KDE, 20% use i3, and 6% use Cinnamon.

Each one of us VSHNeers has a unique feeling about Linux; here are some thoughts about what Linux means to us:

Before using Linux, I was primarily focused on how to use and work with computer systems. With the switch to Linux I started to understand how they actually work.

What I really appreciate about Linux is that it’s (still relatively) lightweight, powerful, transparent and adaptable. I do heavyweight gaming and video livestreaming on the same OS that runs my file servers and backup systems (not all on the same machine, don’t worry). Even my car and my television run Linux! This universality combined with the permissive licenses means that whenever one industry improves Linux (the kernel), every other industry profits.

I originally just wanted to play Minecraft with my friends. Suddenly I had to learn how to host this on a Linux server, which then turned into a fascination on how things work on the backstage. It’s the urge to see how our modern society works!

Linux is the operating system of our software-driven world.

On to the next 30 years of Linux!

Tobias Brunner

Tobias Brunner is working since over 20 years in IT and more than 15 years with Internet technology. New technology has to be tried and written about.

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