Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The History of GNU/Linux

Although the GNU/Linux operating system was generally free to anyone as both open source and in price, it did not catch on in the commercial computer market. For starters, GNU/Linux didn’t come packaged like other operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows. Instead, a great deal of programming knowledge was needed to piece together the hundreds of little programs, written by hundreds of different programmers, which comprised the operating system. Sometimes, a piece of hardware would be lacking an essential piece of software called a device driver to allow that hardware to work. In cases like these, individuals would have to write the program themselves to get their computer up and running.

Almost immediately, programmers began to realize the difficulty that many computer non-experts were having with the GNU/Linux operating system. Again, their sense of community kicked in, and people began packaging all of the necessary programs to successfully install the Linux operating system. These collections of programs were called distributions, or distros for short. In 1992, a company called Yggdrasil Linux created the first CD-ROM-based Linux distribution. This opened the floodgates for many other companies to piece together Linux distributions for people to use. Some of the more popular distributions throughout the years are Red Hat, SUSE, Mandriva (formerly Mandrake), and Debian, which the Ubuntu distribution is based on.

While the distros made the installation of the operating system easier, it was the development of a program called the X Window System that brought GNU/Linux from only the computers of experts to those of hobbyists as well. The X Window System was a project that had been started in 1984 with the purpose of giving a graphical user interface, or GUI, to the Unix operating system. From this project, the three most popular desktop environments were born: GNOME, KDE, and Xfce. Now, GNU/Linux users were not limited to only a command line to work from. The X Window System now gave them a desktop rivaling the commercial operating systems like Microsoft Windows and the Apple Mac OS.

Despite the fact that the GNU/Linux operating system was free, it was still limited in use to true computer enthusiasts. GNU/Linux was also deemed much more stable as an operating system in the early days of Windows when system crashes became the fodder for many Microsoft-related jokes. Still, the popularity of GNU/Linux didn’t grow much. Even in the days when viruses and worms began to emerge in Windows computers and networks, the immune GNU/Linux operating system still sat on the sidelines.

Source of Information : McGraw Hill Osborne Media How to Do Everything Ubuntu

No comments: