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Confrontation & Development
 

Linus displays Linux running on a notebook pc

 

 

Soon Linus faced some confrontation from none other than Andrew Tanenbaum, the great teacher who wrote MINIX. In a post to Linus, Tanenbaum commented:


 
"I still maintain the point that designing a monolithic kernel in 1991 is a fundamental error. Be thankful you are not my student. You would not get a high grade for such a design :-)"
(Andrew Tanenbaum to Linus Torvalds)

Linus later admitted that it was the worst point of his development of Linux. Tanenbaum was certainly the famous professor, and anything he said certainly mattered. But he was wrong with Linux, for Linus was one stubborn guy who won't admit defeat.

Tanenbaum also remarked that : "Linux is obsolete".

Now was the turn for the new Linux generation. Backed by the strong Linux community, Linus gave a reply to Tanenbaum which seems to be most fitting:


 
Your job is being a professor and researcher: That's one hell of a good excuse for some of the brain-damages of minix.
(Linus Torvalds to Andrew Tanenbaum)

And work went on. Soon more than a hundred people joined the Linux camp. Then thousands. Then hundreds of thousands. This was no longer a hackers toy. Powered by a plethora of programs from the GNU project, Linux was ready for the actual showdown. It was licensed under GNU General Public License, thus ensuring that the source codes will be free for all to copy, study and to change. Students and computer programmers grabbed it.

Soon, commercial vendors moved in. Linux itself was, and is free. What the vendors did was to compile up various software and gather them in a distributable format, more like the other operating systems with which people were more familiar. Red Hat , Caldera, and some other companies gained substantial amount of response from the users worldwide. While these were commercial ventures, dedicated computer programmers created their very own volunteer-based distribution, the famed Debian. With the new Graphical User Interfaces (like X-window System, KDE, GNOME)the Linux distributions became very popular.

Meanwhile, there were amazing things happening with Linux. Besides the PC, Linux was ported to many different platforms. Linux was tweaked to run 3Com's handheld PalmPilot computer. Clustering technology enabled large number of Linux machines to be combined into a single computing entity, a parallel computer. In April 1996, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory used Linux to run 68 PCs as a single parallel processing machine to simulate atomic shock waves. But unlike other Supercomputers costing a fortune, it was rather cheap. The do-it-yourself supercomputer cost only $152,000, including labor (connecting the 68 PCs with cables)-about one tenth the price of a comparable commercial machine. It reached a peak speed of 19 billion calculations per second, making it the 315th most powerful supercomputer in the world. And it was a robust one too. Three months later it still didn't have to be rebooted.

 


A Beaming Linus Today

 

The best thing about Linux today is the fanatic following it commands. Whenever a new piece of hardware is out, Linux kernel is tweaked to take advantage of it. For example, within weeks after the introduction of Intel Xeon® Microprocessor, Linux kernel was tweaked and was ready for it. It has also been adapted for use in Alpha, Mac, PowerPC, and even for palmtops, a feat which is hardly matched by any other operating system. And it continues its journey into the new millennium, with the same enthusiasm that started one fine day back in 1991.

Patricia Miranda Torvalds
Linus in 2002

As for Linus, he remains a simple man. Unlike Bill Gates, he is not a billionaire. Having completed studies, he moved to USA and landed a job at Transmeta Corporation. After conducting a top-secret research and development project, Transmeta launched the Crusoeâ„¢ processor. Linus was an active member of the research team. Recently married to Tove, he is the proud father of a girl, Patricia Miranda Torvalds. But he remains as the world's most favorite and most famous programmer to this date. Revered by Computer communities worldwide, Linus is by far the most popular programmer on this planet.

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