Invented a quarter century ago by the 21-year-old Linus Torvalds as a free operating system (OS) for Intel x86-based personal computers, Linux is the leading OS for servers, mainframes, and supercomputers. In fact, this free, open-source OS now powers thousands of applications around the world, from air traffic control to ocean robots to spacecraft.
To celebrate the 25th birthday of this amazing invention, we’ve put together 25 cool Linux facts. Enjoy!
- Linus Torvalds developed the Linux kernel as a hobby when he was a graduate student at the University of Helsinki in 1991.
- Torvalds’ first Linux kernel occupied a paltry 65kB. Today, Linux kernels routinely surpass 15 million lines of code, of which Linus Torvalds’ codes account for just 1%.
- Linux is based on the GNU General Public License (GPL). Torvalds wouldn’t have written his own operating system if GNU had had a kernel at the time.
- There are 1.4 billion active users of Linux-based Android devices. The dominant operating system for smartphones, Linux puts a world of possibilities into users’ hands.
- Titanic was the first feature film produced on Linux servers. Today, 95% of Hollywood’s desktops and servers used for animation and visual effects rely on Linux.
- Rocket scientists love Linux. To date, 32 space missions have been completed with Linux. It’s helped run everything from NASA’s Curiosity Rover to SpaceX’s Dragon and Falcon 9 spacecraft.
- There are nearly 17 million lines of code in Linux kernel 4.5.4, and 386 bad words embedded in the code of the kernel. Clean code, anyone?
- Linux makes a Big Bang. “The God Particle” was discovered using CERN’s Linux-powered Large Hadron Collider.
- The possibilities are sky high with Linux. That’s why Amazon, Google, Facebook, and others use Linux to deliver their web and cloud services.
- Step aside Unix. Eighty percent of the world’s stock exchanges are powered by Linux, thanks to its combination of high performance and security.
- Linux keeps the world moving. Air traffic control systems, bullet trains, cars, submarines—everywhere you look, you’ll find Linux making our transportation systems faster, safer, and more secure.
- In 2002, The Register claimed Microsoft spent $421 million just to fight Linux.
- Over 41,000 person-years have gone into building Linux into what it is today. That’s about $5 billion dollars in developer salary. Plus a lot of coffee!
- Tux the penguin is the official mascot of Linux. The name Tux is said to stand for “(T)orvalds’ “(U)ni(x),” and was bequeathed by James Hughes.
- Developers from many companies have made significant contributions to Linux. Intel is the largest corporate contributor with over 10,000 changes submitted.
- There are over 800 Linux “distros,” or distributions. Ubuntu, which is based on Debian, is the most popular distro.
- Thirty thousand Windows users download Ubuntu every day. Altogether, Ubuntu is installed on more than 20 million computers. And that’s just one distro.
- Even Microsoft has embraced Linux. The company has thrown open the windows to open source, announcing Linux support in Azure and recently joining the Linux Foundation. Hey, if you can’t beat them…
- Spacewatch has named asteroids after Linux and its creator (9793 Torvalds and 9885 Linux).
- Thanks to the high-performance computing offered by Linux, IBM’s Watson can analyze 200-million pages of clinical data in 15 seconds.
- Linus Torvalds was inspired by an operating system called Minix, and much of the original Linux kernel development was done on Minix. The main difference between the two is that Linux uses a monolithic kernel and Minix uses a microkernel.
- Google has its own Linux distro for internal employees. Based on Ubuntu, Google’s distro is aptly named Goobuntu.
- Steve Jobs offered Linus Torvalds for a job at Apple in 2000. Torvalds rejected the offer.
- Linus Torvalds originally wanted to call the kernel “Freax,” a combination of “free,” “freak,” and “Unix,” but his friend Ari Lemmke renamed the project “Linux” on the FTP server without consulting Torvalds.
- 99.6% of the world’s top supercomputers run Linux, up from 91.4% just five years ago. Hands down, Linux is the preferred choice for high-performance computing environments, offering a unique combination of speed, scalability, and cost effectiveness.
Linux continues to grow in popularity, and Linux talent is in high demand. Even basic Linux skills can make you more valuable to employers. Take your career to the next level with our free online Linux courses with NDG Linux Unhatched and NDG Linux Essentials.