I started using Linux in 1994 when I was twelve with Slackware Linux. I remember having long fights with my younger brother about how to divide a 40MB hard disk between Linux and MS-DOS (for games).
It is important to remember how Linux and the BSDs made it possible for a whole generation of tech enthusiasts to educate themselves. At that age, I could not afford to buy a compiler or books as means of getting sample source code. Linux and BSD gave us free compilers, source code from the masters' hands to study, and generally a fun system to tinker with. I can not image being where I am now without that ecosystem.
I hope that future generations will be as fortunate to have these possibilities.
I was so excited to have a "real" C/C++ development environment for free, after years of using a pirated version of Visual Studio. I installed Slack, and within 45 minutes I had totally hosed the system and had to re-install. Then I did it again and again and again... those were the days :)
Also, in a city nearby, one store had a lot of the Walnut Creek catalog on offer. So, it was fairly easy to get hands on Slackware Linux and FreeBSD without an Internet connection.
Sniff. I'm old.
First brush with Linux, a friend had actually bought (yep) Linux-Mandrake (want to say 7.2ish?), and I simply kept bugging him until he lent me the discs. After that Red Hat (came in a book), then Knoppix around 2003-4 ([ab]use of my HS computer lab's cable line). Got a laptop for b-day senior year, that got Ubuntu (abuse of neighbor's wifi).
...back when usenet and gopher were king and you could telnet places still...
...and spam was about new Sun Sparc equipment.
Wish I could get back my SS2 with Wietek CPU and 2x 200Mb disks running SunOS4 :)
I initially played with linux only as a luzer -- I would go up to a friend's place for parties but more accurately to sit in the "commanders seat' -- In a ring of 3..4 monitors. Being a kid, I was enthralled. The friend? Hugh Daniel of the FreeSWAN project (Thanks for the keyfobs, Hugh.)
Then I got a copy of RedHat 6. I used it with an old dilapidated win95 box we had after a move. During the move, we had gotten new laptops, so this one I took over as the nerd child.
I found Mandrake. I dont remember what version -- It was around 2002 or so. It had instructions for dual-booting Windows XP in the manual.
I played with linux until I actually didn't have a choice: I had a machine I couldn't run Windows on at all. I was using Ubuntu 6.06 LTS and the machine was an Alienware computer that wouldn't boot windows right. It had a bad IRQ line from a car crash being pulled low.
Since then I've used Arch, DamnSmall, Debian, Ubuntu, Suse/OpenSUSE and even TInyCore. I've done kernel rebuilds and written countless lines of shell. I've run Linux on Dingoo`s, Zaurii, even SBCs. I've worked with printers that run BSD on the inside (NetBSD) and on servers with hundreds of gigabytes of space. I have done things that Windows would cry over. I have mastered my world's machines with Linux, as well as its friends.
> Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
> Summary: small poll for my new operating system
The Innovator's Dilemma suggests that a disruptive technology replace a dominant standard by working bottom-up: specialize in a corner of the market that is too small or unprofitable to be of interest to the dominant player, then add "cheap but good enough" features.
The economics of Linux might bend some of the Innovator's Dilemma assumptions, but it does seem like Linux is losing its focus as it tries to support servers and desktops and embedded devices. Perhaps a smaller, less capable kernel could capture some super-low-end devices (like cheap mobile devices or home automation).
Linux lacks in real-time features. That could be an angle to get in a new operating systems.
There's a saying that Unix stopped serious research into operating systems. Whenever somebody writes a new system nowadays, one of the first things they port is the Unix infrastructure.
I installed RedHat 5 (from a PC mag CD). RedHat came with a commandline MP3 player (called mpg123) that would decode and play MP3s on my 486. This meant it only took 2 or 3 floppy disks to copy a MP3 I'd downloaded from our family PC's 14.4kb/s net connection.
Today, my phone runs Linux (Maemo), my work PC runs Linux (Ubuntu), my laptop & our TV run Linux (Ubuntu), our router & NAS run Linux (some kind of Debian). Our next car is likely to run Linux and so might our fridge. Thanks Linus!
DISCLAIMER: I've never used Linux, partly because of the above ('which one should I pick?'). Also, I'm not trolling here, but would welcome the opportunity to understand why (to a newcomer at least) there seem to be so many variations to choose from.
It's important to understand that the kernel and the distribution aren't the same thing. All these distributions share the same kernel. We're not dealing with forks of the Linux kernel, just packages around the Linux kernel.
> Also, I'm not trolling here, but would welcome the opportunity to understand why (to a newcomer at least) there seem to be so many variations to choose from.
Tthe closest I've been able to come to a reason is "because we can". Make of that what you will. :)
Some people like a graphic interface while others love the command line and want to do everything there. Some are power users who configure everything to the smallest detail (I've lost count of how many hours I've personally spent on configuring stuff so it's just the way I want) and others simply don't care.
What you must remember is that all distros are just a kernel with various programs, setups and philosophies surrounding it. Some are easy to use but huge and complex, others are bare-bone but simple and there are lot's in the middle, or little of both. You could start with a kernel-only setup or create your own collection of stuff you like, make your own distro.
You can draw similarities to whatever really - Which car should I pick? Why aren't all kitchen tables the same?
Why are there so many linux distros when there's only one windows and mac os you might ask? To begin they are different too, both versions (xp, vista, win 7..) and specialization (professional, home user..) but not all too different. Why? Probably because there's a company promoting, developing and supporting them and it's too hard, expensive and generally unfeasible. Why make two competing products? Let someone else do that, and they have! Unix, Linux, BSD etc.
As someone else said "it's because we can" explains quite a lot. Because someone finds it useful I'd say.
* Sorry it got a bit long winding.
He's talking about the kernel, and to my knowledge there are no significant forks of that.
> 'which one should I pick?'
Ubuntu or Fedora. (Really, it doesn't matter too much).
The more serious problem is the immense amount of resources that are wasted on developing multiple desktops, photo editors, photo managers, music players, chat clients, etc.
Some people will say that competition is good, but if you have that tiny market share, I think it would be better to focus on the overall experience.
If there is one lesson to be taken from the Apple saga that would be the one I'd pick.
Yes, distributions are fractionalized to some degree, but most of them use a pretty standard kernel, and if not, their kernel patches are also open sources, so other distributions can still use them.
Happy birthday, Linux, and cheers to the best kernel in the world!
I was working at DEC then and I remember writing a batch job that would download the the SLS (and later Slackware) distribution floppy images and store them on one of our VAX machines, so that I could copy them onto floppies the next day in order to take them home.
Ah fun times.