August 31, 2001

Linux as a 10-year-old: Looking back on a week's worth of coverage

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

Linux's 10th birthday celebration this week was a fairly low-key affair, although several technology and general-interest publications noted the milestone.

Much of the coverage, primarily starting last weekend, focused on a simple history of Linux, starting with Linus Torvalds' posting on the Minix newsgroup 10 years ago, announcing his plans for a hobby OS. It appears that reporters even respected's wish that the Sunnyvale, Calif., birthday picnic be a "no media" event; the picnic got virtually no coverage.

Frankly, most of the stories on Linux's birthday wouldn't provide much new information to regular readers of NewsForge or other Linux news sites. A birthday is an arbitrary place to stop for a second and look around, and the Bangalore Linux Users Group even noted that Aug. 25 is a fairly arbitrary day to celebrate Linux's birthday. Oct. 5 may have just as good a claim.

If you've been paying attention, you know Linux's successes and challenges, and its history has been well documented long before its 10th birthday. Do a NewsForge search on "desktop" or browse our "business" or "games" topics to see some of the challenges; search on "embedded," "IBM," or "enterprise" to see some recent successes.

But there were a couple of stories this week worth noting:

An article at ZDNet looks ahead, saying the big challenge in the future is creating a profitable business model around Linux. Of course, there's also the challenge of the Microsoft "full-court press" on Linux and the GNU General Public License.

The BBC has a nice overview of Linux's first 10 years, plus a bunch of reader comments on the virtues of Linux. Here's one of my favorite testimonials there, from Pernilla Sund of Finland: "We are using Linux boxes to control our biotech-robots. One error and metal starts flying trough the air. The machines have now been running for years with zero problems! Linux is reliable."

The Boston Globe's Hiawatha Bray celebrates a decade of Linux by comparing the development styles of Linus Torvalds and that other guy from Redmond, Wash. "Bill Gates -- smart, arrogant and power-hungry -- wants a social machine that will enforce absolute control. He runs Microsoft Corp. with an iron grip, and makes software designed to impose One True Way of computing on millions of hapless serfs. Torvalds just wanted good software. So he and his allies built a social machine rooted in openness and cooperation ... Early versions of Linux infiltrated corporate America at precisely the right moment to offer an alternative to computer professions exhausted by Microsoft's relentless greed and arrogance."

I'm not sure I can write a better ending to a Linux at 10 story than that.


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