Linux celebrates its 25th birthday today

The open source operating system is still getting 4,000 new lines of code a day

Today marks 25 years since Linus Torvalds sent out his industry-changing message, asking for help testing a new operating system he had devised.

On 25 August, 1991, he wrote: "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. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons)among other things)."

That operating system, Linux, went on to change the world of computing, becoming the major open source alternative to corporate giants like Microsoft's Windows OS.

Today, its reach is far and wide. For instance, Google's open source Android operating system is based on Linux, giving Linux the largest installed base of mobile users around the world.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Linux owes much of its popularity to its open source nature. Letting other developers tinker and tweak with the original OS has led to dozens of different commercial versions of Linux known as distributions such as Ubuntu, openSUSE, CentOS and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

That innovation around the Linux kernel continues today. To mark the 25th anniversary, the Linux Foundation released a Linux Kernel Development report stats showing that more than 13,500 developers from 1,300 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since 2005.

"Even after 25 years, Linux still serves as an example of how collaborative development can work, which can be applied to other open source projects," said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation.  

That development leads to a new kernel release every eight to 12 weeks, the report shows, with that time period striking a balance between providing enough time to find problems and being short enough that the workload does not become too unwieldy.

The lines of code in the kernel have increased substantially too it now has 22 million lines of code, compared to just 10,000 lines of code in the 0.01 version. Linux developers now add on average 4,000 lines of code a day.

The biggest contributors to Linux are large companies Intel contributed 13% of changes between versions 3.19 and 4.7, closely followed by Red Hat at 8%, Samsung at 3.9%, IBM at 2.7% and Google at 2%.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"Above all, 25 years of kernel history show that sustained, cooperative effort can bring about common resources that no group would have been able to develop on its own," the report concluded.

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now


operating systems

Best Linux distros 2019

24 Dec 2019
open source

View from the airport: Linux Open Networking Summit 2019

1 Oct 2019

What is open source?

13 Sep 2019

IBM doubles down on Red Hat independence

10 Jul 2019

Most Popular

data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
Microsoft Windows

Memes and Viking funerals: The internet reacts to the death of Windows 7

14 Jan 2020

Openreach offers free full-fibre installation for thousands of homes

14 Jan 2020

Microsoft to patch ‘extraordinarily serious’ cryptographic flaw

14 Jan 2020