Linux Timeline

100 of the most significant events in Linux history.
May 1998

The Google search engine pops up. Not only is it one of the best search engines around, but it's based on Linux and features a Linux-specific search page.

Big databases start to arrive. Support for Linux is announced by Computer Associates for their Ingres system and by Ardent Software for their O2 object database.

June 1998

“Like a lot of products that are free, you get a loyal following even though it's small. I've never had a customer mention Linux to me.” —Bill Gates, PC Week, June 25, 1998

“...these operating systems will not find widespread use in mainstream commercial applications in the next three years, nor will there be broad third-party application support.” —The Gartner Group says there is little hope for free software.

A Datapro study comes out showing that Linux has the highest user satisfaction of any system; it also shows Linux to be the only system other than Microsoft Windows NT that is increasing its market share.

IBM announces that it will distribute and support the Apache web server after working a deal with the Apache team.

July 1998

The desktop wars rage as KDE and GNOME advocates hurl flames at each other. Linus gets in on the act, saying that KDE is okay with him. In this context, KDE 1.0 is released. The first stable release of the K Desktop Environment proves to be popular, despite the complaints from those who do not like the licensing of the Qt library.

Informix quietly releases software for Linux. Meanwhile, Oracle beats Informix to the punch PR-wise and makes a Linux-friendly announcement first, suggesting that they would soon be supporting Linux. Oracle promises to make a trial version available by the end of 1998, a deadline they beat by months. This, seemingly, was one of the acid tests for the potential of long-term success for Linux; a great deal of attention resulted from both Informix's and Oracle's announcements.

Informix announces support for Linux effectively moments after Oracle does so. Sybase later announces their support for Linux also.

Linus appears on the cover of Forbes magazine. A lengthy story presents Linux in a highly positive manner and brings the system to the attention of many who had never heard of it before. Linux begins to become a household word.

September 1998 is launched by Dave Whitinger and Dwight Johnson. The site, later acquired by, arguably becomes the most well-read and visited Linux portal of all time.

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer admits that they are “worried” about free software and suggests that some of the Windows NT source code may be made available to developers. The same month Microsoft goes on to list Linux as a competitive threat in its annual SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission) filing. Speculation abounds that their real purpose is to influence the upcoming antitrust trial.

October 1998

“For the moment, however, the company from Redmond, Washington, seems almost grateful for the rising profile of Linux, seeing it as an easy way of demonstrating that Windows is not a monopoly, ahead of its antitrust trial, scheduled to begin on October 15. That may be short-sighted. In the long run, Linux and other open-source programs could cause Mr. Gates much grief.” —The Economist, October 3, 1998

Intel and Netscape (and two venture capital firms) announce minority investments in Red Hat Software. The money is to be used to build an “enterprise support division” within Red Hat. An unbelievable amount of press is generated by this event, which is seen as a big-business endorsement of Linux.

Corel announces that WordPerfect 8 for Linux will be downloadable for free for “personal use”. They also announce a partnership with Red Hat to supply Linux for the Netwinder.

December 1998

A report from IDC says that Linux shipments rose by more than 200% in 1998, and its market share rose by more than 150%. Linux has a 17% market share and a growth rate unmatched by any other system on the market.

January 1999

“Microsoft Corp. will shout it out to the world when Windows 2000 finally ships. Linux creator Linus Torvalds announced the arrival of the next generation of Linux, version 2.2, with a simple note to the Linux-kernel mailing list.” —Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, Sm@rt Reseller

Samba 2.0 is released. It contains a reverse-engineered implementation of the Microsoft domain controller protocols, allowing Linux servers to provide complete services to Windows networks.

Hewlett-Packard and Compaq announce plans to offer Linux-based systems. Later, Dell also announces plans to begin selling Linux-installed systems. SGI contents itself with providing information on how to bring up Linux on its systems.

Loki Entertainment Software announces that it will port Civilization: Call to Power to Linux.



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you people have no life to

Anonymous's picture

you people have no life to write on this! wow get a JOB

very, very very, very true.

The L - Meister's picture

very, very very, very true. GET A LIFE! wats with the penguins?

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

What about the Tivo? Now there is an elegant embedded linux product. I think that one piece of hardware brought linux to more homes that anything else...

And Java?

Anonymous's picture

The biggest boost for server-side development not mentioned? Oh god, I wrote code in Java ever since I started developing on Linux.

Linux is the great choice as the server is C/S, NT is bull*****.

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

First commercial distribution of Linux in June 1993?

I like Slackware, but before that was Yggdrasil.

Adam Richter announced a Linux CDROM for sale in November 1992 by his Yggdrasil company.

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

I still have a CD labeled "Yggdrasil GNU/Linux/X - Fall '93". I think this was the third CD they produced, and they released their first one at the end of 1992.

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

As far as I remember, the first newsgroup for linux was alt.os.linux

and not comp.os.linux; google groups contains messages from 19 Jan 1992!

Re: Linux Timeline

Fe03's picture

The "alt" hierarchy has never been considered an authoritative location for a newsgroup. To create an alt.* newsgroup, all you had to do was send a "newgroup" message and it would spread across the usenet and be created. The "comp" hierarchy required/requires a vote process. The creation date of a comp.os.linux newsgroup would have reflected sufficient recognition in the usenet community to support the formal creation of the group.

What? No [feature x]?

Anonymous's picture

I can't believe an educated person would even attempt to publish a "Linux timeline" without mentioning [feature x]. It must be a deliberate slight by the clearly idiotic author.

For this malfeasance, I sentence you to a huge pile of irritating, whiny, useless comments!

Re: What? No [feature x]?

Anonymous's picture

Hear! Hear!

I think many developers would emphasize different points in the history, most likely the ones they know best.

Thanks for the fun retrospect! Now I which I had kept my 5.25" floppy distribution of 0.98 patch level somthing!


Anonymous's picture

Many claim that Netscape Communications's decision to release its browser suite as open source software was the event that convinced many large corporations that the Linux operating system (and the free software movement in general) was viable and should be embraced.

It surprises me that this milestone was not mentioned here.

The announcement was made in February 1998.

Re: Mozilla?

Anonymous's picture

eh, check january 1998:

Netscape announces that they will release the source to their browser under a free software license. This almost certainly remains one of the most important events of the year; it opened a lot of eyes to what Linux and free software could provide.

July 2002

Anonymous's picture

Lunix is dying. Oh the humanity!

So nothing happened between April 1995 and January 1997?

Anonymous's picture

Seems odd that more than one and a half years worth of Linux is simply left out here. What's wrong with that period? I started using Linux at this point and I'm pretty sure MANY noteworthy things happened. How about "Linux Kernel 2.0"?

Hallowe'en papers, mindcraft benchmarks

Anonymous's picture

Surely those should have been included rather than some of the fluff.

Re: Hallowe'en papers, mindcraft benchmarks

Anonymous's picture

Yes, especially the Halloween paper was a very important point in Linux history as it showed that Linux got so important that even MS feared...

Please insert this one and remove the Skylarov part, it's not about Linux at all.

But the article is quite good, although I would have liked to see more technical things, less business oriented. Kernel 2.0 was not mentioned and other important technical steps like the first release of X Window for Linux are missing, too. After all, those are the things that made Linux a success...

What about DeCSS

Anonymous's picture

and the DVD players for Linux that it enabled?

Quite lacking

Anonymous's picture

No mention of Eazel or Loki. I can't believe id Software wasn't mentioned. I don't think I'm alone when I say they single handedly saved OpenGL and freedom of (commercial) computer graphics and helped Linux incredibly since almost day one. I would have also liked some updates on GNU software. For example, what gcc, binutils, etc. were in use from Linux 0.x to 1.x to 2.x, etc. Would be quite cool to see how everything updated. Oh, and, um. WHERE IS THE GIMP?! Perl? Python? Are you guys nuts?! Perhaps there needs to be a comprehensive timeline... wiki-style.

Re: Quite lacking

Anonymous's picture

Um, check again. Loki was mentioned.

What seems criminal to omit was the MCC distribution ...

No mention of GNU?

Anonymous's picture

"100 of the most significant events in Linux history"?

Without mentioning the start of the GNU-project, surely this is a joke. Without GNU Linux simply wouldn't exist.

"From CSvax:pur-ee:inuxc!ixn5c!ihnp4!houxm!mhuxi!eagle!mit-vax!mit-eddie!RMS@MIT-OZ

From: RMS%MIT-OZ@mit-eddie

Newsgroups: net.unix-wizards,net.usoft

Subject: new UNIX implementation

Date: Tue, 27-Sep-83 12:35:59 EST

Organization: MIT AI Lab, Cambridge, MA

Free Unix!

Starting this Thanksgiving I am going to write a complete

Unix-compatible software system called GNU (for Gnu's Not Unix), and give it away free(1) to everyone who can use it. Contributions of time, money, programs and equipment are greatly needed.

To begin with, GNU will be a kernel plus all the utilities needed to write and run C programs: editor, shell, C compiler, linker, assembler, and a few other things. After this we will add a text formatter, a YACC, an Empire game, a spreadsheet, and hundreds of other things. We hope to supply, eventually, everything useful that normally comes with a Unix system, and anything else useful, including

on-line and hardcopy documentation.


Read the full initial announcement at

Re: No mention of GNU?

Anonymous's picture

I was pretty choked by this, too, despite never supporting them (like by using Debian). I kept meaning to send LJ a nasty note, but voila, here's a web forum.

Sure, it was probably hard to pare down the list only 100 events, but c'mon, no mention of being adopted as the kernel for an otherwise kick-ass operating system (without which Linux would be... useless)

Re: No mention of GNU?

Anonymous's picture

It isn't finished yet. Nor anywhere near being finished. This is LJ, not HJ(Hurd Journal).

Re: No mention of GNU?

Anonymous's picture

Correct. But you should apply that same sentence to Linux as well. If you call Linux an "operating system", then it's indeed very far from finished. OK, the kernel is here, but what about all the rest?

GNU + Linux is a usable operating system, hence GNU/Linux. You don't need Stallman to realize that. GNU never intended to write all software from scratch, only the proprietary parts.

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

I read the whole thing. Pretty good, but I sure would have expected to see a mention of the infamous Halloween Documents in there...

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

I concur. Perhaps the timeline will be revised.

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

What about a.out > elf or libc5 > glibc? No mention of X or 3d support? What about mozilla?


Anonymous's picture

is better than making love. for something better than slashdot visit

I did...

Anonymous's picture

...and they served up some Javascript-ridden horror of a page that rendered as an empty black window in Konqueror.


Avoid them like the plauge

Anonymous's picture

You will be much better off if you do avoid them. I read some of the recent things they said about Orion, to go kill himself. Orion, don't listen to those jerks. Stop promoting their board.

Re: Slashdot

Anonymous's picture

For better than Slashdot, visit:

Tell them that Orion sent you.

Avoid them like the plauge

Anonymous's picture

You will be much better off if you do avoid them. I read some of the recent things they said about Orion, to go kill himself. Orion, don't listen to those jerks. Stop promoting their board.


Anonymous's picture

I like the article, it brings nostalgie. But there is one thing I can't understand.

Mandrake played a great role in my life, a lot of things in the past were connected with me, Linux and Mandrake.

Mandrake project deserves mentioning in Linux Timeline, doesn't it?

Re: Mandrake

Anonymous's picture

no. it doesn't.

Re: Mandrake

Anonymous's picture

Yes it does !!!

No-Die 8-)

Anonymous's picture

My opinion is, that Linux will go on very, very strong in the Server-Area. I, myself cannot find a better hosting solution than linux.

On Desktop-Systems I am not really sure 8-))))
MS is not bad in this field ... Resorts Cheap Hotels


Re: Mandrake

Anonymous's picture

There were a lot of things left out.

Too many to list.

Most important things completely missing

Anonymous's picture

What about KDE2 and KDE3?

What about Linux 2.0?

You put in irrelevant nonsense (IBM's ad-campaign, where some kernel-summit is, etc.) but leave out the really important things, it seems.

Re: Most important things completely missing

garym's picture

I agree that the graffitti incident is probably not all that important, but what I would count as a hallmark is the appearance of the first IBM television commercial, the one with the tough-cop voice-over and scenes of bohemian Helsinki; this marks the introduction of Linux to the television audience and is as significant as the Forbes interview.

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

There is also a reference to Qt being licensed under the GPL. I think that may be inaccurate. Qt is licensed under the QPL, I believe.

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

Please please don't say such stupid things. How many times do they have to tell the world!? Now *read* carefully, pick up a crayon and write it down at least a kazillion times (yes dumbo, read the license):

"The Qt GUI Toolkit is Copyright (C) 1994-2000 Trolltech AS.

You may use, distribute and copy the Qt GUI Toolkit under the terms of

GNU General Public License version 2, which is displayed below."

(From the Qt 2.3.0 tarball).

Now pick up a new crayon (by now the other one should be gone), and write: "I should not comment on things I do not know about."

Qt was GPL even before 2.3.0 but I don't have that tarball here.

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

screw you 2

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

it's dual-licensed under the QPL & the GPL for free/open projects. commercial development requires buying licenses.

Re: Linux Timeline

Anonymous's picture

Actually it's double licensed under GPL _and_ QPL so you can choose the one you like better (you write free open source code or must buy a license).


Anonymous's picture

Nice article.

But in the February 2000 chapter, you wrote Shouldn't it be ?

nice but:

Anonymous's picture

Why the hell would you take your time to write this!?

It was probably to INFORM

Anonymous's picture

It was probably to INFORM people

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