What was the most important moment in the history of Linux?

The Linux kernel is celebrating 27 years since Linus Torvalds first announced his "hobby" operating system.
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373 readers like this
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Getting to where it is today was no small feat for the little project that Linus Torvalds announced to the world on August 25, 1991, with this newsgroup post:

Hello everybody out there using minix -

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).

I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

Today Linux powers so much of the world's infrastructure that it's honestly hard to think of an industry that hasn't been significantly shaped by its progress. From banks to healthcare giants to airlines, to almost all of the most popular websites in use today, and perhaps even the phone in your pocket, the world runs on Linux.

So today, twenty-seven years in, we're asking our readers: What was the most important moment in Linux's history? We've pulled out some highlights in the poll above, but of course we can't include everything, so if your top moment wasn't included, be sure to let us know what it was in the comments below.

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14 Comments

The listed items were important for Linux development. But from the point of view of Linux adoption, I would nominate the release of Knoppix and the LiveCD/LiveDVD concept.

The fact that you could “Try before you rely” helped a lot of Windows and Mac users to evaluate Linux before making the switch.

This was an important step in the process of making Linux accessible to a wider audience.

True that was a very big step right along with online installation straight to flash drive no cat cable nessacery.

In reply to by Charles in NJ (not verified)

I would have voted for the 2.4.x series

I think the most important moment was when Linus "accidentally" lost his Minux partition and decided then to stick with Linux, as outlined in his book "Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary": "...I mistakenly auto-dialed my hard disk instead of my modem. I was trying to auto-dial /dev/ttyl, which is the serial line. But by mistake I auto-dialed /dev/hdal, which is the hard disk device. The end result was that I inadvertently overwrote some of the most critical parts of the of the partition where I had Minix. Yes, that meant I couldn't boot Minix anymore. "

If he still had Minix he might have gotten bored with Linux and had given up on the development, but instead he had to make a decision to go "full Linux".

If not for this accident, we might not have Linux today.

I'd say this: "When Torvalds released version 0.12 in February 1992, he adopted the GNU General Public License (GPL) over his previous self-drafted license, which had not permitted commercial redistribution."

The adoption of the GPL. Linux would have been quickly forgotten had it not adopted this license.

Linus ported Linux to the DEC Alpha quicker than the team from Digital Equipment. This led to Linus' strategic kernel layout for porting his monolithic kernel to multiple architectures and debunking the microkernel architecture of the research community.

It wasn't any _single_ thing. It was, instead, a series of fortunate events which created a virtuous cycle. As with many things - trying to reduce the story to a single event doesn't really make much sense.

While I'm not sure that there is any one development that is the "most important", however, for me the implementation of SMP was a critical step. That provided the computation power that made Linux an affordable and very powerful research platform.

I think it was IBM's victory over SCO. That lawsuit legally validated the GPL for a lot of people.

When IBM put serious money into Linux, the die was cast for Red Hat success.

How about redhats ipo, leading the way to commercialize Linux, and sysadmins sneaking it into the enterprise.

For me, the most important moment was when Linus made Linux Free Software (aka Open Source) by dropping the original license which contained a "non commercial" clause and replaced it with the GNU GPL. Otherwise Linux would never have had this enormous success both commercially and non-commercially.

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