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Birth of Linux and How the Name ‘Linux’ Came to Be

Friday / February 25 , 2022

Through the 1970s and 80s, almost every major university, academy, and research-centre used Unix in their computers. As Unix gained popularity, its commercial business also rose. But Unix was not open source, you had to buy the license from the owner AT&T if you wanted to use it. Also, you could not have access to the source code of the Unix. That means you cannot modify the operating system according to your need. Over time, some programmers would grow tired of Unix and want the complete control of the operating system.

Linus Torvalds was a student studying Computer Science at the University of Helsinki. Linus used Unix at the university on a daily basis. He was really amazed and inspired by the power and features of Unix, but as Unix was a proprietary OS, he was determined to develop his own operating system. So, he started writing the kernel, the core of the OS in 1991.

Torvalds built Linux more as a free and open-source alternative to Minix, another Unix clone that was predominantly used in academic settings at the time. He originally wished to name it “Freax,” but the administrator of the server Torvalds used to distribute the original code-named his directory “Linux” after a combination of Torvalds’ first name and the word Unix, and the name stuck.

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