Linux Timeline

100 of the most significant events in Linux history.

As part of our 100th issue celebration, we present 100 of the most significant events in Linux history. As shown in the timeline, the first issue of Linux Journal coincided with the release of Linux 1.0. Ever since, the fortunes of our magazine have followed those of Linux at large.

It's been a wild eight years, filled with a variety of exciting events. Choosing only 100 was a difficult task, and certainly some readers will be quick to point out events they would have chosen that we did not, but the following manages to maintain the roller-coaster ride that is Linux history.

We would like to recognize our indebtedness to Rebecca Sobol and Jonathan Corbet at Linux Weekly News, for allowing us to borrow heavily from the timeline featured on their site and for their accurate and gracious historical editing.

August 1991

“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 :-) Linus (PS. Yes - it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.”

September 1991

Linux version 0.01 is released and put on the Net.

April 1992

The first Linux newsgroup, comp.os.linux, is proposed and started by Ari Lemmke.

October 1992

Peter MacDonald announces SLS, the first standalone Linux install. At least 10MB of space on disk was recommended.

June 1993

Slackware, by Patrick Volkerding, becomes the first commercial standalone distribution and quickly becomes popular within the Linux community.

August 1993

Matt Welsh's Linux Installation and Getting Started, version 1 is released. This is the first book on Linux.

March 1994

The first issue of Linux Journal is published. This issue featured an interview with Linus Torvalds and articles written by Phil Hughes, Robert “Bob” Young, Michael K. Johnson, Arnold Robbins, Matt Welsh, Ian A. Murdock, Frank B. Brokken, K. Kubat, Micahel Kraehe and Bernie Thompson. Advertisers in the premier issue include Algorithms Inc., Amtec Engineering, Basmark, Fintronic (later became VA Research, VA Linux Systems, then...), Infomagic, Prime Time Freeware, Promox, Signum Support, SSC, Trans Ameritech, USENIX, Windsor Tech and Yggdrasil.

Linux 1.0 is released.

June 1994

While at a conference in New Orleans, Jon “maddog” Hall persuades Linus to port Linux to DEC's 64-bit Alpha computer processor chip. Less than two weeks later, maddog had also persuaded DEC to fund the project. An Alpha workstation was immediately sent to Linus. “Digital [DEC] and the Linux community formed the first truly successful venture of suits and Linux geeks working together”, said maddog.

Linux International, a nonprofit vendor organization, is founded by Jon “maddog” Hall. Linux International goes on to become a major contributor to the success of Linux, helping corporations and others work toward the promotion of the Linux operating system.

August 1994

Linux trademark dispute: is Linux trademarked? William R. Della Croce, Jr. files for the trademark “Linux” on August 15, 1994, and it is registered in September. Della Croce has no known involvement in the Linux community yet sends letters out to prominent Linux companies demanding money for use of the trademark “Linux”. A lawsuit is filed in 1996 against Della Croce. Plai.pngfs in the suit include Linus Torvalds; Specialized Systems Consultants, Inc. (publishers of Linux Journal); Yggdrasil Computing, Inc.; Linux International; and WorkGroup Solutions (also known as LinuxMall). The plaintiffs prevail, and in 1997 announce the matter as settled by the assignment of the mark to Linus Torvalds on behalf of all Petitioners and Linux users.



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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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