My 3 favorite Linux releases

What's your favorite Linux kernel release?
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For the 25th anniversary of the Linux kernel, I gave a 25 years of Linux in 5 minutes lightning talk at All Things Open in Raleigh. As we approach the kernel's 27th anniversary, I'd like to take a stroll down memory lane and look back at the three releases that have been most significant to me.

Linux 2.4.x

Initially released in January of 2001, the 2.4.x series was significant in the kernel's history and contained many major milestones. USB and Bluetooth support were added, ext3 was released, LVM was introduced, ISA Plug-and-Play support was included, and much, much more.

Although 2.4.x was a successful and long-lived series released during a critical time for Linux adoption, it's significant to me for an entirely different reason. Starting with 2.4.19, I maintained an -lq patchset that became surprisingly popular. In fact, despite my assurances that it would probably result in your machine starting on fire, I found out a couple large companies were using it in production. The patchset began with my desire to have rmap and the O(1) scheduler in the same kernel. It grew based on feature requests from there. I ended up winding down the project after those two features were rolled into mainline, but it was a great learning experience and a rewarding project that I look back on fondly.

Linux 0.99.5

This was the Linux kernel version installed with the first version of Linux that I managed to use on a daily basis. The distribution was Yggdrasil, included with Linux Bible. Linux was a bit more raw back then, and it took me a few tries to convert my main machine. For those who haven't had to hand craft a XF86Config or manually "swapon", these were much different times.

Since that install, I haven't looked back; I've used Linux on my desktop ever since. I've installed many distributions since Yggdrasil, which have included many kernels more recent than 0.99.5, but as they say, you always remember your firsts.

Linux 2.2.x

The 2.2.x release removed the global spinlock, but it was also the current version when I launched and when I got my first full-time Linux job. These were two significant personal milestones, which make this series memorable for me. This release also stands out to me as it's the first mainline version to be passed to a maintainer, which was Alan Cox.

What's your favorite Linux kernel release?

Those are the three Linux kernel versions that are the most memorable for me, but I'd like to know which version(s) are important to you, and why. Let me know in the comments.

We're also running a "What was your first Linux kernel version?" poll on

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Jeremy Garcia is the founder of  and an ardent but realistic open source advocate. Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @linuxquestions


It's a bit of an ironic question, since the best releases happen seamlessly, and suddenly "things just happen", like finding hardware and drivers and whatever.
More distinct are "bad" kernels, like the current 4.17.x series which has broken my laptop's wifi, so I have had to downgrade -- what use is a laptop without wifi?

Easy question.

Kernel version introduced a 200-line patch (or so) that integrated whitelist preemption, meaning that for audio production and other multimedia creation tools, the kernel was low-latency enough to provide near-realtime performance.

Since, I haven't had to compile realtime patches into my systems; the kernel is low-latency enough for production. It's greatly simplified multimedia production on Linux.

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