Magoosh GRE

Understanding of how Linux was originated

| November 21, 2012

INTRODUDCTION

Linux, the flagship of open source software (OOS) (Applewhite, 2003), has been reported to be the significant force that has strengthened some developing countries in the technology map.(Wilburn 1997; UNCTAD 2002). It is said to be the backbone for accelerating the growth of low income countries’ IT industries and it intend to increase their tendency to innovate.

The main aim of  this paper is to gain an understanding of how Linux was originated. How it diffused from  the innovator to its current position on the S curve. We attempt to achieve this by assessing its market share and the circumstances that lead to its success.

 

ABSTRACT

Linux is an operating system that originated from Unix operating system. This paper analyzes how it came about, how it was developed and diffused. It also emphasizes on the position of the innovation on the S curve, how successful the product was, its effects on the market and on the society.


UNIX

In order to understand the popularity of Linux, we need to travel back to 30years ago when computer use to be as big as a rock or a football stadium. While the size of those computers was a problem, one thing made it even worse. Every computer has to run on a specific operating system. Being able to work with one system does not guarantee you could work with another. Therefore, it was difficult both for the users and the system administrators.

Technologically the world was not that advanced, so they had to cope with the size of the computer for another decade. In 1969, a team of developers in Bell Lab laboratories started working on solution to software problems and they developed new operating system which was (Machtelt Garrrels, 2008)

  • simple and elegant
  • Written in the C programming language instead of in assembly code
  • Able to recycle code.

The Bell Labs developers named their project “UNIX”.

The code recycling features were important. Until then, all computers were written on a special code developed for one system. Unix on the other hand needed only a small part of that special code, which is now commonly named the Kernel. (Machtelt Garrels, 2008). The operating system and all other functions were built around this kernel and written in a higher programming language, C.

This language was specifically created for the UNIX system.  Using this technique, it was easier to develop an operating system that run on many different type of hardware.

LINUS AND LINUX

By the beginning of the 90s home PC were powerful to run on full blown UNIX (M. Tim Jones, 2005)

Linus Torvalds, a computer science student at the University of Helsinki in Finland thought it would be a nice idea to have a sort of freely available academic version of UNIX, and so, he started to code.  He started by developing device drivers and hard-drive access, and by September he had a basic design he called Version 0.01 (Ramesh Bangia at el, 2007). This Kernel which is called Linux was combined with the GNU system to produce a complete free operating system. Torvalds released an open source code for linux, which allow anyone to access and modify the source code at no cost (Sander Van Vugt, 2009). As a result, anyone who has the knowledge of linux can modify and change the system. Linux became most popular operating system because of its free source distribution and compatibility with other hardwares (Vijay Shekhar, 2006).

How Linux was developed

(Nicholas Wells, 2003) On January 5, 1992, Linux Version 0.12 was released, an improved, stable kernel. Then another Version 0.95 was released to reflect the fact that it was becoming the full-featured system. After that, Linux became an underground fact with a growing group of distributed programmers that develop and enhance the source code baseline to this day.

Torvalds released Version 0.11 under a freeware license of his own plan, but then released Version 0.12 under the well established GNU General Public License and more software was created for Linux over the next couple of years (Richard L. Petersen, 2005). Linux continued to improve in the 90s and started to be used in large-scale application like networking, database serving and proving ready for production use (Richard Petersen, 2008). Version 2.2 which is a major update of Linux Kernel was released in 1999. In 2000, most computer companies supported Linux in one way or the other, recognizing a common standard that could finally reunify the fractured world of the Unix wars (Micheal H. Jang, 2003). The next major release was Version 2.4 in January 2001, which provides compatibility with upcoming generations of Intel’s 64-Bit Itanium processor computers (Micheal H. Jang, 2006).

How Linux was diffused.

The diffusion of an innovation is seen as a social process where the innovative idea or product is adopted as a result of the existence of different types of adopter categories (Owen, 1991).

Sheth (1998) posited that the fundamental factors that, which influence the propensity to resist or adopt an innovation, are, the perceived risks associated with adopting the innovation, and the level of habit change in adopting the innovation. In reviewing the diffusion of Linux, diffusion occurred when the perceived financial and performance risks, and the changes in habit that were required to use the product were apparently low and free to a large population of consumers.

Linux has a very low total cost of ownership (TCO). A survey conducted in the U.S., Brazil, France, Germany, Sweden and Japan, for instance indicated that 50% of the respondents perceived Linux having a lower TCO (N Kshetri, 2005)

Consider the initial investment. The price of Microsoft’s entry-level operating system was £50 in 2002. Taking £300 as the average price of a PC, it amounts to 15% of the total cost of a PC. Linux, on the other hand can be freely downloaded or purchased with a nominal distribution fee. Linux’s cost saving potential is more appealing to users from developing countries. PCs with Linux as the operating system are, more attractive in developing countries. For instance, LG Electronics, the South Korean multinational sells Linux-based desktop in India at prices lower than brands using commercial operating systems (N Kshetri, 2005). Linux was easily diffused from the stage of innovators through the segments that eventually make up the majority of adopters because of its free and open source operating system. Users and developers of Linux can easily access and modify the source code at no cost.

Another key factor that accelerates the diffusion of Linux is its ability to run on old machines.

(Gray 2000) Linux can even run on 486 chips machine unlike Microsoft Windows XP Professional that requires a minimum of 233 MHz processor and 64 MB of RAM. This advantage of Linux is more important for users in developing countries.

In many cities and regions, local associations known as the Linux User Groups (LUGs) helps to diffuse this free software. They hold meetings and provide free demonstrations, training, technical support and operating system installation to new users.

(Erricos John, et al 2002) stated that the adoption of Linux was due to the social network composed of innovators, early adopters, early majority……and diffusion in this case could be social backbone that lowers the risk of using this innovation.  The rate of diffusion has risen from the innovators to the late majority as shown in the diffusion curve. (See fig 1).

Where the Original funding did came from?

After the release of Linux by Linus Torvalds, the source code was made available on the internet for anyone who wants to develop the software. The innovator neither forms a spin out company nor sells the idea. The source code was made available on the internet and developers started developing new versions of Linux.

What happened about the IPR? Was the innovation patented?

Linux was developed as a cooperative Open Source effort over the internet. So no company or institution has control over it. Most Linux software is developed as Open Source software. This means that the source code is freely distributed along with the application (Richard Petersen, 2007). Programmers over the internet contribute to a software package development by modifying and correcting the source code. Linux is an open source operating system. Its source code is included in all distribution and is freely available on the internet (Aries Technology Inc, 2003-2007). There are other major software projects that are open source, for instance KDE and GNOME. The Netscape Communicator Web browser package has also become open source, with its source code freely available on internet (Neil Smyth, 2010).

Open source software is protected by public licenses. These prevent commercial companies from taking control of open source software by adding a few modifications, copyrighting those changes and selling the software as their own product. The most popular public license is the GNU General Public License provided by the free software foundation. This is the license that Linux is distributed under (Dr Mukesh Dhunna et al, 2010).

The GNU General Public License retains the copyright, freely licensing the software with the note that the software and modification made to it will always be freely available. However, there are other public license created to support different kinds of open source projects, for instance the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) lets commercial application uses GNU licensed software libraries.

Linux is currently copyrighted under the GNU public license provided by the free software foundation, and it is often referred to as GNU software. GNU software is distributed free, provided it is freely distributed to others.

 

Why is Linux Successful?

Linus operating system for servers and PCs has really gained ground. It is now pushed by big firms such as IBM, Intel, HP, and Dell and is used by large companies like DaimlerChrysler and Morgan Stanley. It open architecture makes it compatible to run on any computer architecture: in the hand-held ARM-based iPAQ and the mainframe IBM system z9, system z10, in devices ranging from mobile phones to supercomputers (Graham Glass et al, 2005). The cost of production is relatively low, because it can be downloaded off the web for free. Because the source code is widely available on the net, developers all around the world can contribute freely on any development or improvement of the programme. This represents an investment in time and people than ever a cash-flush giant as Microsoft cannot match.

Linux operating system is highly reliable and secured which makes it difficult for worms to attack (http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS6909870737.html )

However, the real success for Linux came from its backing from the major computer manufacturers, who want to use it as a competitive tool against Microsoft (Eric Viardot, 2004 ). For instance, Linux got a big boost when Intel unfastened its close association with Microsoft and started producing chips for Linux. Such backing is seen as a commitment to the long-term of this operating software by major corporations, which desperately needed freedom from the Microsoft monopoly.

Effects of Linux on the Market

The Linux market is growing rapidly, and the revenue of servers, desktops and packaged software running Linux was expected to go beyond £22.2 billion in 2008.

A report from IDC’s Q1 2007 financial report shows that Linux held a total of 12.7% of the overall sever market at that time (IDC Q1 2007 report). However, this estimate is based on the number of servers sold by various companies, and did not include server hardware purchased separately which had Linux installed on it later.

In September 2008, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged that 60% of web servers run Linux versus 40% that run windows server (Nicholai James, 2008). Primarily based on web server statistics, most companies estimated that the market share of Linux range from less than 1% to 4.8%. In comparison, Microsoft operating system hold more than 85% (Beer Stan, 2007). The emerge of Linux did not kill its competitors (Microsoft, Mac Operating System) rather it encourages innovation in the technological industry.

“In the second half of 2003, linux sales in the Chinese PC market exceed 800,000 copies. Similarly, in November 2003, Sun announced a deal to sell 200 million copies of Linux-based Java desktop to the Chinese government to be use throughout the country. China’s Linux market grew by 27.1% in 2005 and the Chinese research IT firm predicted an annual growth rate of 49.3% from 2005-2009 for the Chinese Linux server software market” (N Kshetri, 2007).

Linux has also made huge success in the film industry. Titanic was the first major film produced on Linux server in 1997. Since then, major studios including Dreamworks Animation, Pixar, Weta Digital, and Industrial Light & Magic have migrated to Linux. According to the Linux Movies Group, more than 95% of the servers and desktops at large animation and visual effects companies use Linux (http://www.linuxmovies.org/).

The Effect of Linux on the Society.

Linux created a lasting impact in the technological industries. Linux has been the primary source of technological innovations originated for and used in developing countries (N Kshetri, 2007). For instance, Encore software of India has design a handheld internet appliance, Simputer, based on Linux. At a cost of below £150, Simputer provides internet and email access in local languages; micro banking applications; speech recognition and text-to-speech conversion.

Computador Popular (Popular Computers) in Brazil that costs less than £200 runs Linux. Computador is an internet appliance without a floppy or a hard disk and features many attributes in a moderately-price PC (N Kshetri, 2007). Consumers can also buy inexpensive hard disk and other accessories.

Due to its low cost of ownership and open source operating system available, it has help users mostly in the developing countries to lay hand on a computer of their own and create room for developers to be more creative.

Conclusion

The development of Linux came at the right time. The innovation resulted from a need pull. Before the invention of Linux operating system, every computer runs on separate operating system which makes it very difficult for developers because they had to write different programs for different operating system. Linus Torvalds wrote the source code for Linux and made it available on the web. The operating system is registered under GNU which made it possible for anyone to improve on it. The low cost of ownership and open source operating system accelerates the diffusion of the innovation. However, due to its availability to run on any other operating system (new/old), it dominated the market share of the technological industries. From my point of view, Linux is highly dominated in Asia and Africa because of its low cost.

ABSTRACT

Linux is an operating system that originated from Unix operating system. This paper analyzes how it came about, how it was developed and diffused. It also emphasizes on the position of the innovation on the S curve, how successful the product was, its effects on the market and on the society.

 INTRODUDCTION

Linux, the flagship of open source software (OOS) (Applewhite, 2003), has been reported to be the significant force that has strengthened some developing countries in the technology map.(Wilburn 1997; UNCTAD 2002). It is said to be the backbone for accelerating the growth of low income countries’ IT industries and it intend to increase their tendency to innovate.

The main aim of  this paper is to gain an understanding of how Linux was originated. How it diffused from  the innovator to its current position on the S curve. We attempt to achieve this by assessing its market share and the circumstances that lead to its success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

1         Machtelt Garrels, 2008. Introduction to Linux, A Hands on Guide.

 

2         M.Tim Jones, 2005. GNU/Linux application Programming.

 

3         Ramesh Bangia, Balvir Singh, Ramesh Bangia, 2007. Operating System and Software Diagnostics.

 

4         Sander Van Vugt, 2009. Beginning the Linux Command Line.

 

5         Vijay Shekhar, 2006. Red Hat Linux- The Complete Bible.

 

6         Nicholas Wells, 2003. Guide to Linux installation and administration.

 

7         Richard L. Petersen, 2005. Red Hat Enterprise Linux & Fedora Core 4

 

8         Richard L. Petersen, 2008. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5: Administration Security Desktop.

 

9         Micheal H. Jang, 2003. Mastering Red Hat Linux 9.

 

10     N Kshetri, 2005. Diffusion Pattern of Linux: An Assessment on Major Technology Dimensions

 

11     Gray F. Douglas, 2000. ‘Low Cost Gives Linux Appeal, Say Supporters at Comdex’, IDG News Service, November 13,

http://www.idg.net/idgns/2000/11/13/COMDEXLowCostGivesLinux.shtml

 

12     Erricos John Kontoghiorghes, Stavros Siokos, 2002. Computational method in decision-making, economics and finance.

 

13     Aries Technology Inc, 2003-2007. Aries Linux Essentials.

 

14     Neil Smyth, 2010. Ubuntu 10.10 Essentials.

 

15     N Kshetri, 2007. Increasing Returns and the Diffusion of Linux in China.

 

16     Dr Mukesh Dhunna, J. B. Dixit, 2010. Information Technology in Business Management.

 

17     Graham Glass, King Ables, 2005. Linux for Programmers and Users.

 

18     Erick Viardot, 2004. Successful Marketing Strategy for high-tech firms, Volume 5.

 

19     IDC Q1 2007 report. Linux-watch.com2007-05-2009

 

20     Nicholai James, 2008. Ballmer Still Searching for an Answer to Google. http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/151568/ballmer_still_searching_for_an_answer_to_google.html

 

21     Beer Stan, 2007. Vista to play second fiddle to Xp until 2009

 

22     http://www.linuxmovies.org/

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Category: Free Essays, Information Technology