Linux and Other Software Projects
In last week's article, I talked about the beginning of Linux. Starting this week, I want to expand on that beginning, talking about pieces of Linux and the Linux movement that have made it what it is today and what it will be in the future. This week's column and program are about what other efforts have contributed to the product we now call Linux.
Last week, I talked about how UNIX and Minix had influenced Linus' initial work. These operating systems set the initial direction, but they were not the only influence. Others include The GNU project of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), UNIX-like code developed at UC Berkeley, and the IEEE's POSIX standard. In addition, the availability of powerful and inexpensive computer hardware certainly helped set the direction.
The FSF's GNU project was started in order to make a free, UNIX-like operating system, complete with a full set of development tools and utility programs. While the operating system itself (the HURD) had never really made it, the related tools have made a significant contribution, first to the UNIX area itself and then to Linux.
For example, GCC, the GNU C Compiler, has been adopted or made available on many computer systems, (including those from Hewlett-Packard and Sun) for years. Emacs, a text editor that some use as their total work environment, has also been made available for all UNIX and many non-UNIX-based computer systems.
UNIX-based systems and their derivatives include hundreds of utility programs. They perform general file management functions, edit and manipulate data files and, in general, offer many capabilities to users of the systems. These programs are licensed products--not something that could be included with a free operating system such as Linux. To turn Linux the operating system into Linux, a complete distribution, GNU utilities were adopted.
Besides the GNU utilities, a large set of utility programs were developed at the University of California at Berkeley. Many of these utilities were initially based on UNIX code from AT&T, but the most recent release of those programs is free of the AT&T code. This made it possible to include these programs with Linux distributions as well. There are many programs, but the most obvious are the Berkeley print spooling system and the sendmail mail transfer agent.
In addition, there are Berkeley-based operating systems. The three flavors are FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD. Some code and many ideas from the BSD systems have been included in Linux as well.
Back when UNIX was thought to be the one true operating system, the idea of a vendor-independent standard came up. After all, UNIX was a product of AT&T. No matter which UNIX-based computer system you were buying, the licensing went back to AT&T.
The POSIX standard, a product of IEEE, is a set of standards that define how things look--not how they are implemented. For example, there is a standard for the command interpreter or shell. It specifies what the user sees regarding capabilities. Software developers are then free to develop a shell that offers the specified capabilities.
POSIX compliance became important enough that, in addition to all the UNIX vendors, other OS vendors were attempting to make their OS comply. This included Digital's VMS system and Microsoft's NT, with each of these implemented as an add-on.
POSIX compliance has been less than perfect for all vendors, but Linux comes as close as any and much closer than the majority of the vendors. What this means is it is extremely easy to take an application written to run on any UNIX system and re-deploy it on a Linux-based system.
One final thing that has influenced Linux development is the capabilities of new computer hardware. While UNIX was born and developed back in the days of 10-character-per-second teletype terminals, Linux is a recent happening. Therefore, it doesn't have a lot of the baggage UNIX includes.
Also, as the Linux design model is open (anyone can see what the code looks like in a Linux system and can contribute to the development effort), it evolves much more quickly than a closed system. This means that as new technology appears, code can be developed and tested to support the new technology.
The downside is that Microsoft works with hardware developers so they will be aware of the hardware before the Linux market is. However, with people willing to test software on a moment's notice on diverse hardware, the Linux community can quickly debug drivers for new software.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide