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Happy Birthday to Linux, 30 years strong

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It was on this day 30 years ago that a younger Linus Torvalds announced a free operating system to the comp.os.minix group and from there it exploded across servers, desktops and plenty more.

Now one of the most popular operating systems in the world, you can find it nearly everywhere you look including 100% of the top 500 supercomputers. There's a Linux distribution for everything, and Linux is what will also be powering the upcoming Steam Deck with Valve using SteamOS that's based on Arch Linux. What Torvalds said "won't be big and professional like gnu" has changed the world.

We might not have reached the "year of the Linux desktop", which is a running joke, but there's no denying the great strides the Linux desktop has made over the last few years thanks to many companies and individual contributors. The desktop share is different depending on where you look with StatCounter giving it 2.38% while NetMarketShare put it at 1.79% - both higher if you decide to include ChromeOS which is Linux-based.

The Linux desktop is even now a truly viable gaming platform - something many thought would probably never happen. Thanks to various major game engines and toolkits supporting Linux, drivers constantly improving, lots of native Linux games, Steam Play Proton and more. According to the latest figures from Valve, Linux is sitting at 1% right now of Steam users polled. Perhaps the Steam Deck will bump that up, depending on how Valve include it in their survey.

Happy Birthday, Linux. Here's to another 30 and beyond.

What does Linux mean to you? Let us know in the comments.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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Vulphere 25 Aug, 2021
Happy 30th anniversary, Linux

Linux means freedom, freedom to tinker my system without any visible limitations within the operating system

My first Linux journey was started with an Ubuntu virtual machine back in 2008 (with 8.10), GNOME 2 was so lovely back then

Since then, I went into a phase of distrohopping, from Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Bodhi (yeah), Manjaro...

And here in 2021, I am using Arch Linux with KDE Plasma 5

Last edited by Vulphere on 25 August 2021 at 3:35 pm UTC
scaine 9 years 25 Aug, 2021
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Linux is speed and convenience for me. It's been the year of the Linux desktop in my whole house since 2013. I still use Windows daily as part of my job and the difference in speed and convenience is simply staggering.

Windows-only users are used to double-clicking on a word document and waiting multiple seconds for anything to happen. Then a banner. Then a couple of plug-ins, perhaps. You can actually see what it's doing, it's so slow. Meanwhile, a reasonably complex ODF document on my main PC - I see a flicker of a banner, then I'm in. It's next to instant. PDFs? Instant - none of this Adobe loading screen. Once you get used to that, using Windows becomes utterly tedious. I picked on Word there, but Outlook? God - may as well go make a cuppa while that loads up. At least Outlook can claim some client/server interactions to slow it down, but even there, I used to use Thunderbird with Exquilla in the same environment and it was lightning (geddit?) quick. I genuinely have no idea how an O/S can be so slow. This on a heavily specced Dell 9510 laptop - top of the range, really.

So yeah. No going back for me. Linux was and still is the ray of computing light that kept up my interest in tech just at a time when I was cynically turning my back on it.
Plintslîcho 25 Aug, 2021
Happy Birthday Linux!

For me and my way and preference of how I like to use computers Linux is just the best operating system.

It puts me in control over my computer and gives me all the choices to configure and use it just the way I want it to.
Anza 25 Aug, 2021
Quoting: BogomipsI feel a little bit old right now…

I started looking at Linux with Mandrake and Red Hat distros.

I remember something similar. It was time when you sometimes got CD with a book and I think I got Red Hat that way. Then there was bit of this and that. I ended up sticking with FreeBSD for some time though before switching back to Linux with Arch Linux (back when configuring most of the things via rc.conf was a thing). After messing up my Arch install I switched to Gentoo.

During that time I have pretty much learned that you can pretty much make Linux what you want to, especially with distros that don't make too many choices for you. You can use command line, GUI or maybe both. You can go with the flow and use whatever is popular or stick with something until you realize that nobody is maintaining the software you use and everybody else has already moved on to something else. You can be part of the small minority that understands whats going on under the hood or you can just enjoy having it for free.

There are operating systems that give you most of these things, but what makes the difference is the huge community Linux has. That keeps Linux thriving. It might be small compared to Windows, but Windows users have to be content what Microsoft is pushing. If Microsoft pushes something, they can complain, but forking the old version is not an option. You can like Windows XP better than the later versions, but you shouldn't really connect it to Internet anymore.

There's just so many people who haven't yet experienced these things and are stuck with what came with the computer.
slaapliedje 25 Aug, 2021
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Nicest thing about Linux (as a desktop amongst other things) is that it never makes you feel like you're renting. No pop up ads, no forced behavior due to bad UI design (you don't like the path Gnome is going, move to KDE! Don't like KDE or Gnome, go to XFCE! Or just piece together your own set up! Just drop GUI altogether and sit in terminals all day!)

Android went with the 'hey it's free' and use the Linux kernel, but then slapped the 'well it's free.. but you'll pay one way or another... whether through ads, microtransaction games, agreeing we gather your data, tracking, etc.
Avehicle7887 25 Aug, 2021
Happy Birthday Linux!

I've switched to Linux full time in 2014, been my only OS at home. It's amazing how far it's come since then.

On Windows I was bored and restricted. Win8 UI is a mess and I didn't want to have anything to do with that.
Arcadius-8606 26 Aug, 2021
Man. I remember being so afraid to format my Windows 98 SE install back in the late 90's. I have to thank PCFormatUK and iirc channels back in the day that helped me get my bearings and go all in on Linux. It has helped me enjoy computing at a time when I was BURNT out on trying to get Windows to do things my way. It lead to better con experiences, LUGs and a higher paying job and more.

I wish great things for everyone involved in making linux excellent and may they have 30 more years of Tux goodies to come for all.
a0kami 26 Aug, 2021
Happy birthday Linux!
I'm glad I'm not this old, I'm exactly 7 months younger than it haha. It's kind of a big brother to me.
Purple Library Guy 26 Aug, 2021
I remember when I first started using Linux, it was for the freedom, and in spite of it being a pain in the ass. Although Windows was too in a different way. I was dual-booting with Windows 98 and Mandrake . . . actually, think I briefly started with Red Hat, then heard Mandrake was supposed to be more user friendly, which it was. In both cases, I actually went into a shop and bought them!
But anyway, Win98 kept going weird, and when it started going weird there was very little I could do about it. On the other hand Mandrake was a pain from the get-go but at least there was usually something I could do about it. Arduous, frustrating, time-wasting something, but something. Still, I have to admit that if it weren't for my political ideas I wouldn't have stuck with it. There were always flaky little things in the UI not working quite right. Every time I upgraded I'd have to spend a bunch of time tweaking things to be the way I'd set them up again. The whole Linux software ecosystem was immature; all the programs I used in Linux were crap compared to the Windows equivalents. I would be desperately grabbing the latest RPMs and mucking about installing them and their dependencies, hoping that the latest version of whatever would finally have a couple of the features I wanted. There were times I pretty much stopped using the Linux side and just stuck to Windows. And of course games was mostly on Windows. But I hung in there because I had a strong belief in "Free as in Freedom" and a strong dislike for predatory monopolistic corporations run by sociopaths. Still do.

Now, I'd use Linux, probably without dual booting, even if I didn't have a political bone in my body. Upgrading everything is totally painless. The UI is better than Windows and Just Works. The software ecosystem, for my purposes, ranges from just fine to significantly better than Windows (except for editing pdfs; bloody Adobe). I have no need to game on Windows; nearly all the games I want are on Linux and there's Proton. Windows, on the other hand, is in many ways worse than it was back then. True, it's more solid, doesn't crash all the time or just sort of randomly get squirrely. But it's distinctly unclear about just who's supposed to be running things, and if you don't do things the Microsoft way it nags you about it passive-aggressively forever in hopes you'll give in and (use Edge, send them all your data, or whatever). Even aside from that, it's such massive nagware I can't handle it--all these random popups all the time telling you mysterious crap which looks like you need to do something about it but actually you're almost always best off just closing the damn box and forgetting it ever happened. Whenever I plug in a USB at work, it tells me there's something wrong with the USB and I need to fix it. Then it works fine. I made the mistake of letting Windows try to fix it once, thinking maybe there was actually something wrong. It ratfucked my USB. These days at work I'm getting multiple popups per day telling me I'm supposed to be updating software. I'm not supposed to be updating software, the IT people update the software. But evidently they are not able to get Windows (or maybe its closed source software ecosystem) to shut up, because you don't control Windows, Microsoft does. So many annoying little things, mostly stemming from that basic fact: Microsoft controls Windows, and they use it for their ends, to meet their needs, not yours.

So the politics, as it turns out, has practical implications. Now that Linux UIs and software are fairly mature, the basic fact that they are designed and controlled by and for the benefit of users makes them fundamentally better to use. I'll never go back.

Last edited by Purple Library Guy on 26 August 2021 at 8:33 am UTC
AzP 26 Aug, 2021
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QuoteThe desktop share is different depending on where you look with StatCounter giving it 2.38% while NetMarketShare put it at 1.79% - both higher if you decide to include ChromeOS which is Linux-based.

I don't understand, why would you not count ChromeOS as just another distribution?
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