Today, 17 years later, Linux powers everything from supercomputers to mobile phones. In fact ask yourself this: if Linux didn't exist, would Google, Facebook, PHP, Apache, or MySQL?
Linus is the son of the journalists Anna and Nils Torvalds, He was attracted to computers from an early age and attended the University of Helsinki from 1988 to study Computer Science. In 1991, he purchased a PC. As the computers at the university were Unix-based, he bought a copy of Andrew Tanenbaum’s MINIX operating system. He was dissatisfied with it, and set about writing his own Unix clone from scratch, unaware of the enormity of the task.. After four months work, in his bedroom in his mother’s apartment, he announced, in the MINIX newsgroup comp.os.minix …
“I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386 (486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready.”
Torvalds called it Linux (short for Linus' MINIX). He took a break from his studies to work full-time on the project. By the end of October he was able to announce, ‘It has finally reached the stage where it's even usable’, and released Linux under the GPL (GNU General Public License). It soon became the focus of the largest collaborative ‘open source’ project ever undertaken, including geek superstars Fred van Kempen and Alan Cox.. Linus led the development work, not just by his technical brilliance, but by his engaging and genial personality.
'Which Linux distro do you use? '
Linus: 'I've used different distributions over the years. Right now I happen to use Fedora 9 on most of the computers I have, which really boils down to the fact that Fedora had fairly good support for PowerPC back when I used that, so I grew used to it. But I actually don't care too much about the distribution, as long as it makes it easy to install and keep reasonably up-to-date. I care about the kernel and a few programs, and the set of programs I really care about is actually fairly small.
And when it comes to distributions, ease of installation has actually been one of my main issues - I'm a technical person, but I have a very specific area of interest, and I don't want to fight the rest. So the only distributions I have actively avoided are the ones that are known to be "overly technical" - like the ones that encourage you to compile your own programs etc.
Yeah, I can do it, but it kind of defeats the whole point of a distribution for me. So I like the ones that have a name of being easy to use. I've never used plain Debian, for example, but I like Ubuntu. And before Debian people attack me - yeah, I know, I know, it's supposedly much simpler and easier to install these days. But it certainly didn't use to be, so I never had any reason to go for it. '