Linux Timeline

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

Sun Microsystems announces that it will release the source to Solaris under the Sun Community Source License. The actual release drew criticism: “In a move aimed at Linux, Sun said it will announce Wednesday that it is making the source code for its new Solaris 8 operating system 'open'. Webster's has lots of definitions for the word, including 'not sealed, fastened, or locked'. But when you dig into the details of Sun's announcement, you'll find that what it is offering doesn't come close to meeting the dictionary's definition, let alone that of the Open Source movement.” —Lawrence Aragon,, January 26, 2000

November 1999

“...if there's one thing about Linux users, they're do-ers, not whiners.” —Andy Patrizio,

Red Hat buys Cygnus for almost $700 million in stock. Rumors of other acquisitions by Red Hat begin to circulate and show no signs of stopping.

December 1999

VA Linux Systems goes public after two repricings (originally priced at $11-$13/share). The final IPO price is $30/share; that price rises immediately to $300 before closing around $250. It sets the record for the biggest IPO rise in the history of the NASDAQ.

“Gee. Remember when the big question was 'How do we make money at this?”' —Eric Raymond

January 2000

VA Linux Systems announces SourceForge (although the site had actually been up and running since November 1999). SourceForge also makes the code for its operation available under the GPL. By the end of the year, SourceForge hosted over 12,000 projects and 92,000 registered developers.

Version 1.0 of Red Flag Linux is released in the People's Republic of China.

Transmeta breaks its long silence and tells the world what it has been up to—the Crusoe chip, of course.

The Linux Professional Institute announces the availability of its first Linux professional certification exam.

Linux wannabe press releases flow from companies trying to ride on the success of Linux stocks., for example, posts the following: “ has further distinguished itself in the competitive Internet health industry race by being one of the first to integrate the Linux Operating System, produced by Red Hat, the leading developer and provider of open-source software solutions.”

February 2000

The latest IDC report suggests that Linux now ranks as the “second-most-popular operating system for server computers”, with 25% of the server operating system sales in 1999. Windows NT is first with 38% and NetWare ranks third with 19%. IDC previously predicted that Linux would get up to the number two position—in 2002 or 2003. The revolution appears to be well ahead of schedule.

VA Linux Systems acquisition of in a high-profile purchase that values Andover shares at 0.425 of VA's, or roughly $50/share. is the owner of the popular web sites and and Frank Kaspar and Associates also have made plans to merge. has been at the top of the retail side of Linux almost since the very beginning; Kaspar is one of the largest distribution channels.

Red Hat wins InfoWorld's “Product of the Year” award for the fourth time in a row.

March 2000

“The law in open code means that no actor can gain ultimate control over open-source code. Even the kings can't get ultimate control over the code. For example, if Linus Torvalds, father of the Linux kernel, tried to steer GNU/Linux in a way that others in the community rejected, then others in the community could always have removed the offending part and gone in a different way. This threat constrains the kings; they can only lead where they know the people will follow.” —“Innovation, Regulation, and the Internet” by Lawrence Lessig for The American Prospect.

A new version of LILO is posted that is able to get past the 1024-cylinder boot limit that has plagued PC systems for years.

The latest Netcraft survey shows Apache running on just over 60% of the Web.

Caldera Systems goes public after a short delay, on March 21. The stock, which was offered at $14/share, began trading at $26 and closed at $29.44. It thus registered a 110% gain on its first day.

“Caldera knows of no company that has built a profitable business based in whole or in part on open-source software.” —Caldera SEC filing

Walnut Creek (the parent company for Slackware) and BSDi announce their merger. Yahoo! will be taking an equity investment in the new company.

Motorola Computer Group announces the release of its HA Linux distribution. This distribution is aimed at telecommunications applications that require very high amounts of uptime; it includes hot-swap capability and is available for the i386 and PowerPC architectures.

The Embedded Linux Consortium is announced. Its goal is “to amplify the depth, breadth and speed of Linux adoption in the enormous embedded computer market”. The initial leader will be Rick Lehrbaum, the man behind the and web sites, among other things.

Ericsson announces its “Screen Phone HS210” product—a Linux-based telephone with a touchscreen that can be used for e-mail, web browsing, etc. Ericsson and Opera Software also announce that Ericsson's (Linux-based) HS210 Screen Phone will incorporate the Opera web browser.



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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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