History of Linux
Linux is an operating system that was created by Linus Torvalds back in the early 90‟s
when Linus was a graduate student at the University of Helsinski in Finland. The purpose
of an operating system is to allow the computer hardware, the physical parts of the
computer, to communicate with the computer applications or software. Linus built Linux
using Minix, a minimal Unix clone created by Andy Tanenbaum, as a platform. Linus
started to work on Linux back in 1991 and released version 0.02, and continuously work
on his project to release the post beta version, version 1.0, in 1994. Linus decided to
release the Linux kernel and the source code on the web and distributed freely, so people
do not have to purchase other operating system such as Windows NT or Unix (Linux
Online). The kernel is the core of the operating system and will contain a variety of
features for that operating system. Some of the features for the Linux kernel include
multitasking, virtual memory, fast TCP/IP drivers, shared libraries, and multi-user
capability. Since Linux is released under the General Public License (GPL), anyone can
make copies and customize the codes to their needs (Linux International). Therefore,
various commercial and non-commercial versions have been created and distributed to
the public and priced anywhere from free to versions that might cost hundreds of dollars.
Some of the most popular versions include Red Hat, Novell, SuSE, Debian, Mandrake,
and the Fedora Project, a free descendant of the Red Hat Linux.
When Linus was writing Linux, he never thought the program would take off like the
way it did and revolutionized the software industry. What he ended up with is a very
versatile operating system that is used, nowadays, in anything from a supercomputer to a
cell-phone. In the past, Linux have been used in small to medium operations, but
recently, Linux has been gaining popularity in corporations and other large business
operations (Kersetterm, 2003). The majority of Linux users have switched over from
Unix because users do not have to pay a license fee for something that is very similar to
Unix, and if the users really wanted to, they can even make Linux‟ GUI look like a Unix
machine. There are also several other factors that contributed to Linux‟ sudden uprising.
The number one reason is the weak economy. Since the economy is weak, businesses
have tried to find ways to drive down the cost of operation, and Linux seems like a great
choice because it is the next closest operating system and it can be acquired free of
charge. Then there is the fear of Microsoft monopolizing the industry, which turned users
to the much cheaper alternative, Linux. The last reason is the loosened tie between Intel
and Microsoft, because Intel decided that they want to work with Linux in addition to
Windows (Kersetter, 2003).
Linux users tends to be more technologically advanced than those of Windows
and Mac, because Linux requires users to have a higher level of computer skills to install
and configure the operating system before use. Linux users can also enjoy the highly
interoperability and compatibility of Linux because the operating system allows the users
to install and operate most of the software in the market, including software from
Microsoft, and the users can open and view files from other operating system, like
Microsoft Office. But what‟s even better is that Linux is an open source operating
system, so for anything that Linux cannot run natively, there are probably people that
have written codes to make it compatible (Linux Revolution).
There are countless stories of many companies and individuals who have used Linux in a
way that significantly change the way they operate their lives. An example of this was
when the US Army abandoned Windows and chose Linux for a key component of its
"Land Warrior" program, according to a report in National Defense Magazine. According
to program manager Lt. Col. Dave Gallop this is part of a broader move towards Linux
by the US Army: "Evidence shows that Linux is more stable. We are moving in general
to where the Army is going, to Linux-based OS." The system that Linux has provided to
the Army is a communication tool that links tanks and other vehicles to a command base.
The previous Windows device reportedly was not consistently reliable, and the Army
could not tolerate this because soldier‟s lives were partially dependent on the system. The
Linux system far exceeded the demands for the army, and the reliability of the system
continues to impress commanders in Iraq and all over the world as we speak. In fact, the
US Army is so impressed with Linux, that they are expanding the business that they do
with them. Currently Linux is working on programs developing variants for medics,
combat engineers and forward observers.
Another example of a company that uses Linux is Conoco Inc. In August 2000, Conoco
built and deployed a huge Linux-based supercomputer to analyze massive amounts of
seismic data gathered in the process of exploring for oil and gas. The new geophysical
computer - which Conoco said boasts enough storage capacity to house the complete U.S.
Library of Congress - was built entirely by an internal information technology and
engineering team headed by Dr. Alan Huffman, manager of the $27 billion company's
Seismic Imaging Technology Center. A huge advantage for Linux in this case is price.
Dr. Huffman estimated that the computer costs about one tenth of the price of a
conventional supercomputer. The supercomputer and its accompanying disk farm are
located at Conoco's seismic computing facility in Ponca City, Okla. The new system has
been designed in such a way that it's accessible from almost any Conoco substation.
Making that possible involved re-engineering the company's seismic software to run
under Linux with a Java-based and XML-compatible user interface.
Lawson is a company that owns 7,600 convenience stores in Japan and will be placing
two Linux based computers in each store to implement its new Web ordering system. The
over 15,000 computers will be purchased from IBM pre-configured with Linux installed.
The servers will be used so customers can download music, movies and other Internet
content from terminals in the stores. Lawson currently has Windows computers that let
customers buy concert tickets and reserve airline tickets.
Everybody that owns personal computers is at risk from hackers. You can take measures
to avoid hacks, but you cannot avoid them completely. This is kind of like a car - when
the windows and doors are open then the probability of a thief coming in is high, but if
the doors and windows are closed and locked the probability of being robbed is less, but
still not nil. The entire world is rapidly becoming IT enabled as computer technology has
revolutionized the way our society operates. Whenever sensitive information such as
credit card data is sent through the web, there is always a chance of someone stealing that
information and potentially ruining your life.
Linux has devised a security policy that covers eight key sections. They are;
authentication, authorization, data protection, internet access, internet services, security
audit, incident handling, and responsibilities. Authentication deals with what methods are
used to determine if a user is real or not, which users can or cannot access the system, the
minimum length of password allowed, how long a user can be idle before he is logged
out, etc. Authorization deals with classifying user levels and what each level is allowed to
do on the system, which users can become root, etc. Data protection deals with the details
like what data should be protected and who can access which levels of data on the
system. Internet access deals with the details of the users having access to the internet and
what they can do there. Internet services deals with what services on the server are
accessible from the internet and which are not. The security audit addresses how an audit
and review of security related areas and processes will be done. Incident handling
addresses the steps and measures to be taken if there is a breach of security. This also
covers the steps to find out the actual culprit and the methods to prevent future incidents.
And finally, the responsibilities area covers who will be contacted during an incident and
the responsibilities of the administrator during, and after the incident. This is a very
important area, since the operation of the incident handling mechanism is dependent on
it. Linux encourages all the companies that use its systems that transfer credit card data to
only use the last four digits of the card whenever possible. For instance, Travelocity only
uses the last four digits of the credit card number when there is a possibility of thievery.
Clearly Linux is leading the way in security measures. Linux‟s design team is aware of
the problems that its users may face and are taking every available means of prevention
to prevent external failure of their product. All of the prevention and appraisal costs that
go into the designing of Linux system help ensure the customers that they have purchased
a safe and reliable product.
Linux is a powerful, non-proprietary, standards-based operating system that is currently
the fastest growing computer operating system on the planet. Linux is an operating
system, which acts as a communication service between the hardware, and software of a
computer system. Linux is designed for any computer user who wants to enhance the
performance, speed, stability, and reliability of the basic functions of there operating
system. There are thousands of applications running on Linux worldwide, some of the
applications Linux is used for are Application Servers, Database Servers, Workstations,
X Terminal Clients, Unix Development, Network Servers, Internet Servers, Cluster
Computing, Embedded systems, University systems, Vertical Solutions such as Hotels,
Medical offices, Reservation systems, Legal offices, Petroleum companies, Governments,
Media, Telecommunications, ISPs, Resellers, Retail, Financial, Trader Workstations,
Linux install base is currently estimated at over 10,000,000 and is currently growing at a
rate of 3% per week. When Linux was originally created it was designed to operate only
on Intel-based PCs, but portable and modular coding has allowed it to become
increasingly hardware independent. But now Linux operates on an impressive and
growing list of hardware platforms, it is used in a growing number of supercomputing
environments. Avalon, a supercomputer developed at the Los Alamos National
Laboratory, operates under the Linux operating system and was recently rated among the
500 fastest computers in the world. NASA uses parallel Linux clusters as part of their
Beowulf supercomputer, and Stanford University uses Linux to power the World's
Smallest Web Server. Linux has a wide variety of existing clients who use the fastest
growing operating system on the planet. The fast and powerful Google Internet search
engine is Linux powered, Linux even runs on Apple Power Macintosh and iMac
computers. Today, Linux is receiving strong support from forward-thinking computer
industry giants such as Netscape, AOL, Intel, IBM, HP, Dell, Sun, Oracle, Informix,
Sybase, Compaq, Silicon Graphics Inc., and Novell, as well as many smaller companies
who have traditionally aligned themselves with Microsoft in the past. These actions, and
the trend it suggests, are an indication that a growing number of companies see a brighter
future for Linux than they do for Microsoft Windows.
In order to operate Linux operating system a person is required to have a higher level of
knowledge on how to work a basic computer. Linux operating system comes with an easy
to use installation manual to guide you through the installation process to make the
installation process fairly simple, which is designed to help newcomers and old-times
who do not have any prior technology experience to be able to quickly install the
software without getting frustrated, and annoyed. The Linux operating system basically
installs itself without needing to reboot when the installation process is complete, there
are just a couple simple questions the user has to answer before the installation in
complete. Linux is free software that can be downloaded off the Internet, or you can buy
copies already on CDs for a few dollars from different Web sites. But a better way,
especially for new users, is to buy a packaged version of Linux, that way you'll get a user
manual, an installation CD that you know works and, sometimes real customer support.
Linux operating system installs itself without touching Windows Installation and it also
automatically makes your Windows files available in Linux.
In order to operate Linux operating system efficiently there are 4 levels required for the
beginning-operating user. Level 1 shows someone who is only familiar with Windows
the fundamentals of Linux training. Level 2 focuses on teaching students not only to use
Linux more effectively, but also to control Linux. This includes Linux bash Shell
Programming and Linux System Administration. Level 3 teaches students to configure
and maintain Linux systems, both individual and network, and to extend the Linux
operating system with advanced services. This level is composed of three courses Linux
Network Administration, Linux and Windows integration with Samba, and Apache Web
Server Administration. The last Level teaches Window programmers how to develop in
Linux, this includes introduction to Linux development, Linux System Programming, and
Linux Kernel Programming. Therefore Linux operating system is easy to install but in
order to efficiently operate Linux, a user is required to have a higher level of knowledge
of computers to operate the basic Linux operating system.
The open-source market for operating system is growing tremendously. Consequently,
the popularity of commercial operating systems has decreased over the past decade and
caused a greater push for development in the open-source market. Many platforms have
arisen with countless variations and applications depending on the needs and wants of the
user. Most of the operating systems are derived from the Unix platform and many have
evolved from Linux itself to be adapted and placed in the commercial market. A number
of competitors are listed but not limited to the following:
Window‟s NT 4.0 operating system
Sun‟s open source Solaris 2.6
Digital Unix 4.0
Open VMS VAX, Open VMS Alpha
Other SCO products:
OpenServer, OpenUnix, UnixWare; SCObiz, SCOsource; SCOoffice Mail Server,
SGI Irix 6.2/6.4
Mac OS X Server
There are many traits that Linux possesses that distinguish it from many other operating
systems. Intel produced a white paper that demonstrated the salient features of the Linux
operating system in which they stated that, the rapid growth of Linux can be attributed to
technology and commercial viability. Because Linux is an open source operating system
it is a collaboration of the work of thousands of developers worldwide, in cooperation
over the Internet to develop new features, improve reliability, “and develop new
applications and tools that allow even faster and more robust application development.”
As more and more industries are changing over to open source operating systems the
push for Linux’s evolution has been great. The customization and application of Linux
has allowed many companies to progress in the industrial world and have an advantage
over competitors. Examples are traditional communication platform suppliers like Force,
Motorola, and Ziatech as they have been able to add “new features and capabilities like
high availability, support[ing] NEBS-compliant and CompactPCI* systems with Linux.”
(Intel) Moreover, as the platform continues to evolve, Since so much of the evolution
and development of Linux has occurred via the Internet, its inherent networking
capabilities allow a rich new breed of applications to evolve, combining the best features
of the Internet along with traditional circuit-switched voice communications networks.
This customization process shows that the Linux kernal is well supported by an
enthusiastic and remarkably well informed technical user community.
In many cases companies have seen a competitive advantage by switching to Linux. The
Intel white paper states that “running [the company’s] solution on Linux may improve the
overall reliability and availability of your platform, enabling you to increase the actual
and perceived quality of your solutions, serve your customers better, and even penetrate
new market segments.” (Intel) companies can use this perception to broaden their
customer base and better support those with whom they are currently doing business.
Another differentiating feature is the cost to upgrade to Linux. There are no specific
hardware requirements that are greater “than they are for Windows NT 4.0 or Windows
2000, and you don’t usually need to upgrade your hardware to get the benefit of this
operating system.” (Intel) Furthermore, since Linux is an open source operating system
the need to purchase client licenses or per seat licensing or terminal fees and Intel
suggests using these savings to invest in hardware upgrades yielding “a significant
benefit to everyone involved.” (Intel)
The goal of companies is to reduce costs and pass savings on to their customers. This is a
reason many companies have switched to Linux and have enjoyed
“improving the overall manageability of [their] solutions [and therefore lowering
their] customer’s TCO(total cost of ownership) considerably. Even though Linux
is complimentary, most companies have come to understand that the most
profound financial benefits of using Linux come from its ease of administration,
the wealth of tools available, and its flexibility.”(Intel)
The application used by thousands of companies are shared with and adopted by many
other companies. In this way a company can pick and choose the best application of
Linux and individualize the operating system to their needs.
Globalization has become a major issue for many companies and corporations of all
sizes. Linux offers versatility and the opportunity “to modify software for local use…as
software developers make the most of the tools in products like Linux, and as customers
get used to this capability. ” (Intel) Market share will increase and recognition of the
company will expand to the global level.
Cost Benefit of Training
If a small business owner needs training before using the Linux system, there are many
courses that can be taken online. Almost any accessed webpage will give how to‟s on
operating the system. Novell.com gives different choices for choosing the right training
program for you (Novel). This website lists all of its training certifications including
links to inform of what the certification means. There are also training videos online that
can be purchased for a couple hundred dollars.
Each computer needs a different form of installation. Training websites list different
makes of computers and how to install the system on each one. Lintraining.com lists
Linux training centers all over the world that will help train professionals (Lintraining).
Each link on the page includes ways to reach the center nearest you; some even include
links to more help online. There are many other places training can be found online. Such
places are: whizlabs.com, linuxlinks.com, worldwidelearn.com, and many more.
Support and Security
At www.support.novell.com, there is almost any kind of support needed: product,
component, installation, and more (Novell). At Novell, support services for a small
business costs $3800 (Novell). Some companies charge hourly at fifty dollars an hour or
two hundred dollars a month for up to forty hours. Support is offered for the Linux
system, but in some cases, may be costly.
To have security on a Linux system the software must be installed, as with most
computer systems. However, some systems come with it already installed (Linux
Voodoo). With the Linux system, bugs and viruses are found and fixed quickly because
new software developments grow at a rapid rate.
When looking to buy or install a new server operating system, one may wonder why is
Linux better than the rest? Linux may not be the most wide-known operating system but
it definitely has its perks. Being UNIX-based software, Linux is growing to be very
popular and runs on many different types of computers. Since it is covered by the GNU
Public License, Linux is free and always will be. It is very fast and easy to use, once
trained. The Linux system is known for be very stable and can run for long periods of
time without crashing, freezing, or needing to be rebooted.
Linux has a very large memory and is known as an Open Source (CBT Nuggets). This
means that when bugs are found, they are quickly fixed and they have a fast development
of software. Many systems run off of Linux because it was made for networking and is
very compatible with other systems. Linux can run with other systems on the same
machine at the same time because of its compatibility with others. Linux is a fast and
easy system to use and exceeds the rest.
After a thorough analysis the Camel Jockeys highly recommend Linux. Although it may
be more tedious to learn, after training and implementation users find Linux effective for
the varying applications. Business owners appreciate Linux for the price. Training is
inexpensive and readily available to novice users. Training is available in many different
forms: online, software, books, and training centers. Linux is very cost efficient because
it requires no licensing or fees. Therefore, it can be adopted by businesses of all sizes as
well as individuals. The implementation phase lasts up to two years for phasing out the
old operating system and installing and training personnel on the new and improved
Once Linux‟s popularity and credibility grows and people start seeing how fast and easy
it is to use, we feel it will quickly be adopted. Due to the bandwagon of Microsoft, we
feel that has hindered the expansion of Linux worldwide. However, with proper
marketing techniques, we feel Linux could be effectively used by a much larger
As Lt. Col. Dave Gallop says, “this is part of a broader move towards Linux by the U.S.
Army. Evidence shows that Linux is more stable. We are moving in general to where the
Army is going to Linux based OS.” The Army is just one of many organizations that have
chosen Linux as their operating system. Other businesses include Google, the
International Space Station, Travelocity, Conoco, Panasonic, IBM, Dell, HP, and many
more powerful companies within their respective industry. Businesses that will utilize
Linux will immediately see the financial benefits and as their knowledge increases, the
company will benefit from a competitive advantage. Jeffrey M. Birnbaum, the managing
director for computing at brokerage giant Morgan Stanley's Institutional Securities
Division reports that Morgan Stanley will save up to $100 million in the next five years
by switching to Linux on their 4,000 plus machines. Though Linux may require more
training than other operating systems, the money that it will save, the stability, security,
and speed will make it a worthwhile investment.
By the Free Range Community-Linux Training Centre Project.
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LWN.net Weekly Edition, October 16, 2003