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                         Basic history and chronology of Linux development:

So far, I’ve done a very brief history of how Torvalds came to create Linux – the hacker ethos,
Stallman and the developments which led to the GPL seemed too crucial to leave out. I was
trying to trace the origins of the idea of ‘open source’ whilst avoiding including too much
jargon. Is this the sort of thing you had in mind? If so, I’ll continue with the Linux growth to
the present day.

Richard Stallman and GNU
- During Stallman’s time at Harvard as a physics student in the 1970s, he began working at
the University’s world-renown AI Lab1
- Stallman began distributing an editor program he was developing in the Lab, Emacs. When
he sent out copies, he established an “informal rule” that anyone who made improvements
should also send them back to him. This would become the basis of the free software
movement.2
- The concept of sharing software and working in a community was integral to the hacker
environment Stallman inhabited during this time.3 Throughout his career he has been
known for his passionate belief in freedom of action, speech and work and this principle
translated into his coding.4
- When a new company, Symbolics, hired many of the hackers away from the AI Lab,
Stallman felt they had destroyed his community and their proprietary software threatened
the environment of sharing and creativity in which he had thrived. He sort to create a free
operating system, based on the existing OS, Unix.5
- Stallman worked for years on this project; at first alone and then receiving contributions
from others. This was the beginning of GNU – a Unix-like program which stands for ‘GNU’s
Not Unix’. The project began formally in 1984.6
- As he began writing the components of the GNU operating system and releasing them to
the public, Stallman became concerned with how they would remain free of charge. In 1985
he created the GNU Emacs General Public License – the GNU GPL. This ‘copyleft’ system
allowed users to copy the program, modify it and sell the original or modified versions.
Modified versions had to also be made freely available – even if they incorporated other
proprietary code. This meant that the source code for copylefted software must be made
available to allow for modification.7

Andrew Tanenbaum and Unix
- In 1979, a version of Unix was released under a new license which prevented the source
code being made available to students. Frustrated by this, a professor in computer science
at the Free University of Amsterdamn, Andrew Tanenbaum decided to create an operating
1
    Glyn   Moody, Rebel Code:   Linux   and the open source revolution,   Penguin   2002, 15
2
    Glyn   Moody, Rebel Code:   Linux   and the open source revolution,   Penguin   2002, 17
3
    Glyn   Moody, Rebel Code:   Linux   and the open source revolution,   Penguin   2002, 15-19
4
    Glyn   Moody, Rebel Code:   Linux   and the open source revolution,   Penguin   2002, 28-9
5
    Glyn   Moody, Rebel Code:   Linux   and the open source revolution,   Penguin   2002, 19
6
    Glyn   Moody, Rebel Code:   Linux   and the open source revolution,   Penguin   2002, 20-21
7
    Glyn   Moody, Rebel Code:   Linux   and the open source revolution,   Penguin   2002, 26-7
system that would work in the same way as Unix, but using his own source code so he could
use it for teaching.8
- Where Stallman’s emphasis was on freedom, Tanenbaum was concerned with good design
and simplicity. 9
- The ‘Minix’ kernel source code and teaching guide was released in 1987; it was not quite
free but it was sold only at production costs.10

Linus Torvalds and Linux
- As a student at the University of Helsinki in 1990, Linus Torvalds wanted to run Unix, but
the GNU Hurd (the kernel Stallman was working on as part of the GNU project) which would
have allowed him to do so, had not been released yet.11
- Torvalds had a copy of Minix and starting playing around; he decided he wanted to make a
better version.12
- He was allowed some space on the internet server at Helsinki University and in 1991
Torvalds uploaded the first version of the Linux source code – Linux 0.01. It was very
unfinished but he felt obliged to use the server space he had been given and he emailed 10-
15 people about his project. He was filling a gap between Minix and the GNU Hurd; but
thought of it as a project just for fun.13
- People began to contribute to and discuss Torvald’s code and the beginnings of a
community formed. On releasing Linux 0.12 in January 1992, he adopted the GNU GPL. This
was a turning point as the project started to generate more interest; by 13 th January a new
mailing list for Linux activists had 196 members.14

Growth and size of Linux:

There are two documented measures for looking at the growth of Linux, as far as I can tell:
   1.) the size of the GNU/Linux Operating Systems packaged by commercial and non-
       commercial distributors
   2.) the size of the Linux kernel itself

Comparative size of GNU/Linux OS

Linux distributors:
The following data is based on studies of two of the most popular Linux distributors, Debian
(non-commercial) and Red Hat (commercial).

OS distributor       and SLOC count15           Estimated cost to Estimated
version                                         produce          by development time by
                                                proprietary methods proprietary methods
 8
   Glyn Moody, Rebel Code: Linux and the open source revolution, Penguin 2002, 33
 9
   Glyn Moody, Rebel Code: Linux and the open source revolution, Penguin 2002, 33
 10
    Glyn Moody, Rebel Code: Linux and the open source revolution, Penguin 2002, 34
 11
    Glyn Moody, Rebel Code: Linux and the open source revolution, Penguin 2002, 31
 12
    Glyn Moody, Rebel Code: Linux and the open source revolution, Penguin 2002, 39-41
 13
    Glyn Moody, Rebel Code: Linux and the open source revolution, Penguin 2002, 41-46
 14
    Glyn Moody, Rebel Code: Linux and the open source revolution, Penguin 2002, 48-49
15
   Source Lines of Code Count, for definition see David A Wheeler, ‘More than a Gigabuck: Estimating
GNU/Linux’s Size’, July 2002, http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/redhat71-v1/redhat71sloc.html
                                               (USD)16                       (person-years)
                        17
Red Hat Linux 6.2            17,000,000        $600, 000, 000                4,500
(release: March 2000)
Red Hat Linux 7.118          30,000,000        $1,000,000,000                8,000
(release: April 2001)
Red Hat Linux 819            55,000,000        No value calculated           No value calculated
(release: Sept 2002)
Debian 2.220                 55,000,000        $1,900,000,000                14,005
(release: Aug 2000)
Debian 321                   105,000,000       $6,100,000,000                27,000
(release: July 2002)
Debian 3.122                 229,000,000       $8,043,000,000                60,000
(release: June 2005)

Linux and other operating systems:23

Operating systems                                    SLOC count
Microsoft Windows 3.1 (April 1992)                   3,000,000
Sun Solaris (October 1998)                           7,500,000
Microsoft Windows 95 (August 1995)                   15,000,000
Red Hat Linux 6.2 (March 2000)                       17,000,000
Microsoft Windows 2000 (February 2000)               29,000,000
Red Hat Linux 7.1 (April 2001)                       30,000,000
Microsoft Windows XP (2002)                          40,000,000
Red Hat Linux 8.0 (Sept 2002)                        50,000,000
Fedora Core 4 (previous version; Mary                76,000,000
2005)
Debian 3.0 (July 2002)                               105,000,000
Debian 3.1 (June 2005)                               229,500,000

Growth of the Linux kernel:
- Tuomi calculates that from version 0.01 in 1991 to version 2.4.17 in January 2002, the
kernel code grew from 236,669 characters in the distribution files to over 122 million
16
   Based on the COCOMO cost model, for definition see David A Wheeler, ‘More than a Gigabuck: Estimating
GNU/Linux’s Size’, July 2002, http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/redhat71-v1/redhat71sloc.html
17
   David A Wheeler, ‘More than a Gigabuck: Estimating GNU/Linux’s Size’, July 2002,
http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/redhat71-v1/redhat71sloc.html
18
   David A Wheeler, ‘More than a Gigabuck: Estimating GNU/Linux’s Size’, July 2002,
http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/redhat71-v1/redhat71sloc.html
19
   Juan José Amor, Gregorio Robles, and Jesús M. González-Barahona, ‘Measuring Woody: Debian 3.0’,
December 2004, http://arxiv.org/pdf/cs/0506067
20
   Jesús M. González-Barahona, Miguel A. Ortuño Pérez, Pedro de las Heras Quirós, José Centeno González,
and Vicente Matellán Olivera, ‘Counting potatoes: The size of Debian 2.2’, January 2002,
http://people.debian.org/~jgb/debian-counting/counting-potatoes/
21
   Juan José Amor, Gregorio Robles, and Jesús M. González-Barahona, ‘Measuring Woody: Debian 3.0’,
December 2004, http://arxiv.org/pdf/cs/0506067
22
   Juan José Amor-Iglesias, Jesús M. González-Barahona, Gregorio Robles-Martínez, and Israel Herráiz-
Tabernero, ‘Measuring libre software using Debian 3.1 (Sarge) as a case study: preliminary results’, UPGRADE,
Vol. VI, No. 3, June 2005, http://www.upgrade-cepis.org/issues/2005/3/up6-3Amor.pdf
23
   Table compiled in Juan-José Amor-Iglesias, Jesús M. González-Barahona, Gregorio Robles-Martínez, and
Israel Herráiz-Tabernero, ‘Measuring libre software using Debian 3.1 (Sarge) as a case study: preliminary
results’, UPGRADE, Vol. VI, No. 3, June 2005, http://www.upgrade-cepis.org/issues/2005/3/up6-3Amor.pdf
characters.24
- SLOC count of kernel size:
(2001) Linux kernel 2.2.19: 1,780,000 SLOC25
(2001) Linux kernel 2.4.2: 2,440,000 SLOC26
(2002) Linux kernel 2.4.18: 2,574,000 SLOC27
(2004) Linux kernel 2.6.8: 4,043,000,000,000 SLOC28

I’m sure there must be better and more consistent figures than this for the kernel growth –
there are a couple of statistical academic papers on the kernel that I’ve briefly looked
through
Linux contributors:

Since version 1.0 in March 1994, Linux kernel files have included a ‘credits’ file that lists
important contributors to the project.

No. of people in the Linux credits file, 1994-200229


        13th      6th     7th       12th    9th      30th    26th     11th    4th      11th     31st       21st
        Marc      April   Marc      June    June     Sept    Jan      May     Jan      Marc     Dec        Dec
        h         199     h         199     199      199     199      199     200      h        200        200
        1994      4       1995      5       6        6       9        9       0        2000     0          1


Tota    80        81      128       129     190      196     268      275     283      340      374        407
l



The statistics for Linux developers only track major contributors to the kernel. The credit for
small contributions, such as reporting and patching bugs, is hidden in change logs and
source code comments and is thus difficult to record. There are at least several thousand –
probably tens of thousands – of developers who make these small contributions.30 At
present, there are 655 Linux user groups originating in 91 countries.31 These groups typically
consist of Linux activists and developers and so may give some indication of wider
contributors. There are probably several hundred central participants who do the majority
of the coding and a larger periphery of individuals who contribute sporadically and in less
24
   Code size is measured here in characters, counting comments and documentation as parts of the source
code: Ilkka Tuomi, Networks of innovation: change and meaning in the age of the internet, OUP 2002, 166
25
   Jesús M. González-Barahona, Miguel A. Ortuño Pérez, Pedro de las Heras Quirós, José Centeno González,
and Vicente Matellán Olivera, ‘Counting potatoes: The size of Debian 2.2’, January 2002,
http://people.debian.org/~jgb/debian-counting/counting-potatoes/
26
   David A Wheeler, ‘More than a Gigabuck: Estimating GNU/Linux’s Size’, July 2002,
http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/redhat71-v1/redhat71sloc.html
27
   Juan José Amor, Gregorio Robles, and Jesús M. González-Barahona, ‘Measuring Woody: Debian 3.0’,
December 2004, http://arxiv.org/pdf/cs/0506067
28
   Juan-José Amor-Iglesias, Jesús M. González-Barahona, Gregorio Robles-Martínez, and Israel Herráiz-
Tabernero, ‘Measuring libre software using Debian 3.1 (Sarge) as a case study: preliminary results’,
UPGRADE, Vol. VI, No. 3, June 2005, http://www.upgrade-cepis.org/issues/2005/3/up6-3Amor.pdf
29
   Ilkka Tuomi, Networks of innovation: change and meaning in the age of the internet, OUP 2002, 170
30
   Steven Weber, The success of open source, Harvard University Press 2004, 69
31
   http://lugww.counter.li.org/
extensive ways.32


How is the community organised?

Wasn’t quite sure what you were looking for here: Tuomi goes into organization theory –
how complex would you want a summary to be?

How many computers around the world rely on Linux?

- Indirectly, almost all people who are connected to the Internet use Linux, as many Web-
servers rely on it.33
- In 2001 market research firm IDC34 estimated that about 1.5 million paid copies of Linux
were sold in the previous year for client desktops and 2 million copies for server operating
environments. According to IDC, the estimate for the annual compound growth rate for
Linux server shipments in 1999-2004 was 28.4%35

Estimates using Linux Counter:

Tracking Linux usage is not an automatic process. An individual Linux user has to register
manually on the Linux Counter and thus this probably produces a lower estimate than the
actual user numbers.
No. of registered users at present: 138,126 36
No. of machines registered as using Linux at present: 153,421 37

These statistics are not only the product of voluntary inclusion, but users whose accounts
had not been visited for a certain period of time are deleted. It is assumed that this does not
automatically mean that these account holders have stopped using Linux, so the Linux
Counter estimates that as of 2005 there were 29 million Linux users.38

What is Linux’s market share and how has this evolved?

- By the mid-nineties it was generally believed that Microsoft had secured its position as the
dominant producer of Operating Systems and the most visible open source development
activity, Berkeley BSD Unix, was formally shut down.39
- In 2000, Linux gained credibility as a serious contender with Microsoft. IBM, HP and Intel
and others created the Open Source Development Laboratory in the same year.40 In January
2007, this became the Linux Foundation.41
- In 2001, governments around the world launched initiatives to study the open source
32
   Steven Weber, The success of open source, Harvard University Press 2004, 71
33
   Ilkka Tuomi, Networks of innovation: change and meaning in the age of the internet, OUP 2002,     163
34
   http://www.idc.com/
35
   Quoted from the Kusnetsky and Gillen 2001 research, which is not freely available: Ilkka Tuomi,   Networks
of innovation: change and meaning in the age of the internet, OUP 2002, 163
36
   http://counter.li.org/
37
   http://counter.li.org/
38
   http://counter.li.org/estimates.php
39
   Ilkka Tuomi, Networks of innovation: change and meaning in the age of the internet, OUP 2002,     164
40
   Ilkka Tuomi, Networks of innovation: change and meaning in the age of the internet, OUP 2002,     164
41
   http://www.linux-foundation.org/wordpress/?p=286
model and the use of Linux as an alternative to Microsoft.42
- Ovum open source market forecast for Linux in 2005 said that large companies will be the
chief Linux users and that whilst Linux is a threat to Unix now (2005), it will be a threat to
Windows later.43

Products and services market:
Ovum predicted that the market for Linux products and services will grow from $672 million
in 2004, to $4.8 billion in 2009. Growth will slow from 66% in 2005 to 20% in 2009. It also
said that Linux service revenues will grow faster than Linux software revenues. Services will
grow from 74% to 78% of the total Linux market between 2005 and 2009, as Linux grows in
complexity.

Server market:
The server market is the predominant share of the overall Linux market. Ovum claims this is
where Linux will make the greatest impact. Linux accounted for 81% of this market in 2004.

Specialist computer market:
Rise of Linux OS family use in supercomputers, 1997-2006 44

Date             Linux (share %)     Unix (share %)        Other (share %)45
Nov 1997         0                   99.2                  0.8
Nov 1998         0.2                 99.4                  0.4
Nov 1999         3.6                 94.2                  2.2
Nov 2000         10.8                85.4                  3.8
Nov 2001         7.8                 88.6                  3.6
Nov 2002         14.4                82.6                  3
Nov 2003         36.8                57.8                  5.4
Nov 2004         60.2                36.6                  3.2
Nov 2005         74.4                19.4                  6.2
Nov 2006         75.2                17.2                  7.6



Is there an estimate of how much money is made by Linux resellers, who add to it and
install it? i.e. What is the overall size of the Linux related services market?

There’s a chapter in the Moody book on this that I haven’t read yet…
42
     Ilkka Tuomi, Networks of innovation: change and meaning in the age of the internet, OUP 2002, 164
43
     A summary of the forecast can be found here: http://store.ovum.com/Product.asp?pid=33522
44
     Compiled from: http://www.top500.org/lists
45
     Variously: Windows, BSD based, Mac OS, mixed and N/A

				
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