Linux Timeline

100 of the most significant events in Linux history.
February 1999

Linux and BSD users unite for “Windows Refund Day”. They visit Microsoft, hoping to return the unused Windows licenses that they were forced to acquire when they purchased a computer system bundled with the OS.

March 1999

“Like a Russian revolutionary erased from a photograph, he is being written out of history. Stallman is the originator of the Free Software movement and the GNU/Linux operating system. But you wouldn't know it from reading about LinuxWorld (Expo). Linus Torvalds got all the ink.” —Leander Kahney, Wired magazine, March 1999

The first LinuxWorld Conference and Expo is held in San Jose, California. As the first big commercial “tradeshow” event for Linux, it serves notice to the world that Linux has arrived; 12,000 people are said to have attended.

Linux Magazine debuts, bringing some additional competition to the Linux print business. Later, other magazines rise and fall including Open, Journal of Linux Technology (JOLT) and Maximum Linux.

VA Research buys the domain for $1,000,000 and announces plans to turn it into a Linux portal. Microsoft's rumored bid for the domain is frustrated.

April 1999

“...please imagine what it is like to see an idealistic project stymied and made ineffective because people don't usually give it the credit for what it has done. If you're an idealist like me, that can ruin your whole decade.” —Richard Stallman on GNU/Linux

Al Gore's presidential campaign web site claims to be open source. That claim is gone, but the site still claims: “In the spirit of the Open Source movement, we have established the Gore 2000 Volunteer Source Code Project; is an 'open site'.“

HP announces 24/7 support services for the Caldera, Turbolinux, Red Hat and SuSE distributions. They also release OpenMail for Linux.

The Linux FreeS/WAN Project releases a free IPSec implementation, allowing Linux to function as a VPN gateway using what is now the industry standard.

“But the mere fact that there is now an official SEC document that includes the text of the GPL serves as fairly astonishing proof that the rules of the software business really are being rewritten.” —Andrew Leonard, Salon

May 1999

“Those two little words—open source—have become a magical incantation, like portal in 1998 or push in 1997. Just whisper them and all will be yours: media attention, consumer interest and, of course, venture capital.” —Andrew Leonard, Wired

August 1999

First Intel IA-64 “Merced” silicon. Although Intel had given simulators to several OS vendors, Linux is the only OS to run on the new architecture on its first day. The Register headline: “Merced silicon happens: Linux runs, NT doesn't”.

SGI announces the 1400L—a Linux-based server system. SGI also announces a partnership with Red Hat and begins contributing to kernel development in a big way.

Red Hat's initial public offering happens; a last-minute repricing helps to create difficulties for people participating in the community offering. The stock price immediately rises to $50; a value that seems high at the time.

“For the umpteenth time, someone paved paradise, put up a parking lot. For the thousands of Linux coders who've built the utopian open-source movement—offering free help to create a free operating system—the IPO of Red Hat Software was a sure sign of Wall Street cutting the ribbon on the new Linux mall.” —The Industry Standard

Motorola jumps into Linux announcements of embedded systems products, support and training services, and a partnership with Lineo.

Sun acquires StarDivision; it announces plans to release StarOffice under the Sun Community Source License and to make a web-enabled version of the office suite.

September 1999

“'Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp. in Burlington, New Jersey is spending $1 million or so to buy 1,250 Linux-equipped PCs from Dell, but it won't pay Red Hat a dime for support', says Michael Prince, chief information officer. 'I suppose Red Hat's business model makes sense to somebody, but it makes no sense to us', he says.” —Daniel Lyons, Forbes, May 31, 1999. Then in September, Burlington ended up purchasing support from Red Hat.

The first big Linux stock rush happens. Shares in Applix more than double in volume, reaching nearly 27 million shares—three times the 9 million shares that are actually on the market.

SCO trashes Linux in a brochure distributed in Northern Europe: “Linux at this moment can be considered more a plaything for IT students rather than a serious operating system in which to place the functioning, security and future of a business. Because Linux is basically a free-for-all it means that no individual person/company is accountable should anything go wrong, plus there is no way to predict which way Linux will evolve.”

Stock in Red Hat hits $135/share. The price seems unbelievably high at the time.



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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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