Why Linux succeeded where others failed

With Linux turning 25 this year, IEEE Spectrum looked at why it thrived when its contemporaries stumbled.

By - March 30, 2016 Share on LinkedIn
Linux sticker

When Linux Torvalds put the first version of his operating system kernel on Usenet in 1991, he had no idea what it would become.

“I credit the fact that I didn’t know what the hell I was setting myself up for for a lot of the success of Linux,” Torvalds told IEEE Spectrum in a recent interview.

“If I had known what I know today when I started, I would never have had the chutzpah to start writing my own operating system – you need a certain amount of naïveté to think that you can do it.”

IEEE Spectrum highlighted four factors that led to Linux flourishing:

  1. Timing: Linux came at a time when the GNU project had everything except a kernel.
  2. Copyleft licence: The Linux licence forced developers to contribute any improvements they made back to the project.
  3. Free: Operating systems such as Minix, BSD, and GNU cost anything from $169 to $5,000. Torvalds insisted that Linux remain free.
  4. Frequent releases: The pace of innovation within the Linux community was faster than any other free software project at the time.

“The fact that I didn’t really know where it would end up meant that I was perhaps more open to outside suggestions and influence than I would have been if I had a very good idea of what I wanted to accomplish,” he said.

Torvalds said people didn’t have to sign on to somebody else’s vision, but could join with their own vision of where things should go.

“I think that helped motivate lots of people.”

Linux kernel 4.4 released

Linux encryption ransomware hacked – how to get your files back

New encryption ransomware targets Linux servers

Arch Linux install on Twitch gets hijacked by Gentoo botnet

Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

Connect with Us

androidappletwitterfacebookgoogleplusfeednewsletter

Poll

Do you buy new tech and gadgets as they launch, or wait for price cuts and sales?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

Vodacom is not cheating you out of data

Vodacom logo on wall

After Vodacom changed the way it reports how much data you have on your account, subscribers were worried they were getting fewer megabytes.

How much Jacob Zuma must pay for his Nkandla Firepool

Zuma's firepool

A panel of six experts from two quantity surveyor firms helped the National Treasury determine how much Zuma had to pay for the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

Zuma must pay R7.8 million for Nkandla upgrades

Jacob Zuma

The National Treasury has submitted a report to the Constitutional Court on how much President Jacob Zuma must pay for non-security upgrades at his Nkandla home.

How strong South Africa’s army is

SA Army Helicopter

This is how South Africa’s army compares to the superpowers of the world.

X

Newsletter Subscription


Name
Email *
Enter the following to confirm your subscription *
Captcha image


Free MyBroadband Newsletter
Subscribe
×