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GNU/Linux Fact and History
Analysis of The Evolution

This new and unique approach was studied and analyzed by Eric S. Raymond who has many publications exploring the concepts Free Software came with. His most known publication is "The cathedral and the bizarre" in which he explains the characteristics and the "implicit" rules that helped in making Free Software what it is now.

Eric Raymond sees the Free Software world as a big babbling bizarre, driven by the genuine need of people and grows naturally into a consistent system. On the other hand, the proprietary software world is as a Cathedral, where there is strict hierarchy (more like an army), and strict rules and policies to follow. He asserts that the first (Free Software) is the model which humans followed and prospered with during the history of mankind. Yet, with the later model (Proprietary Software), things are O.K. as long as that the one, or the few, cathedral's heads are O.K. Once they fall, the whole system collapses! Imagine that Microsoft for a reason or another closed, or changed their business type; all your investment in using Microsoft products will become worthless, because no one else can continue upgrading and supporting the software!

Freedom Made The Internet

Had the Internet itself been proprietary it would have never reached the millions of people it did now; a prominent evidence on the successfulness of the Free Software model. This also resembles the de-facto standards that grow and get acceptance in different sectors of the industry. No one in specific does have the sole control on the details and the future of the free software industry.

Business Picking Up on Free Software

By mid 90's, the Free Software had its tangible share in the market and had a wide base of supporters. The Free Software model made a shift in paradigm form the traditional proprietary software model. Free software asserts that the real value of the software is not in the software itself, because it effectively costs zero money to replicate a copy of software. Instead, it is in the added services on the top of software, like upgrading and further development, customization, training, and support. Hence, software business should not be looked at as product business at all; it should be considered as services business.

That new paradigm is proving to be successful. Many companies found themselves a market niche that proprietary software could not offer. They started selling services on top of Free Software.

Successful Businesses

GNU/Linux distributors, like RedHat, gather different Free Software, test it and provide its services on top of it. RedHat offers support and training.

Solution providers, like LinuxCare, are offering support, customization, and development services.

Hardware manufacturers, like IBM and HP, are supporting GNU/Linux because it adds more value to their hardware.

Software houses, like Oracle, are finding a platform that can be tuned to get out most of what the hardware can provide for a Database server. The same thing  applies to software houses, like IBM, that want to make price-advantage by supporting GNU/Linux platform.

CPU manufacturers, like Intel, who published its Itanium IA64 processor architecture long time before its being released, supported Free Software developers to adopt the GNU/Linux to their chip. The result was having GNU/Linux as the first operating system ever to run their new chip to its full extent. On the other hand, Microsoft has not yet released its new 64-bit windows!

free as in freedom


Why GNU/Linux

The Server Side

The Client Side

Facts and History



The father of the Free Software, Richard Stallman, defines Free Software as: A program is Free Software for you, a particular user, if you have the following freedoms:

Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose in any way you like.

Freedom 1: The freedom to change a program to suite your needs.

Freedom 2: The freedom to distribute copies of the program.

Freedom 3: The freedom to publish improved versions of the program.

Free Software Foundation

In the early 80's, Richard Stallman established the Free Software Foundation and started developing a Free Software platform; which he named GNU (pronounced ganoo)

In order to maintain the freedom of the software, he developed the famous GNU Public License (GPL) that also adds the condition "If you use a GPLd software source base, you must release the resulting software as GPL as well; Thus protecting developers, users, and testers from being exploited by proprietary software companies.

Stallman stresses that free here is as in free speech and not free ice-cream. Hence people can make money while keeping the software free. Richard Stallman and his team of volunteers developed the pillar software for the Free Software revolution: Compilers, an Editor, and many Unix-like tools with high quality.

Stallman urges everyone to use and support Free Software even when it is of less-caliber compared to proprietary software; because it is only then a complete free alternative would exist.


It was early 90's by then, when a young Finnish student named Linus Torvalds started working on his own operating system kernel, his kernel was named Linux. Linus released Linux under GPL; he leveraged the tools developed by the GNU project and the distributed collaborative model of the Internet. In few years, Linus and thousands of volunteers built a stable, and feature-rich kernel.

Linus sees the software as a shared and useful knowledge, just like engineering, medicine, science and math. He believes that scientists like Newton, and Da-Vinci have contributed to humanity far more than current proprietary software companies do;  the reason behind that was they didn't restrict their findings and knowledge to themselves! Sharing the knowledge allowed others to contribute to it and hence being of more benefit even to the person who started it himself. Linus knew well how to benefit from that idea.


The GNU/Linux platform was born, and Free Software development picked up like fire ever since. Individuals found in Free Software a space where they can demonstrate their skills and get appreciated and respected for what they do. Many others did it for the pure fun of writing software.

Free Software development followed a unique approach that proved to be very successful. An idea is thought of by someone who has a certain need. That person would then write a small piece of code that does the basic functionality and shows the potential for a more complete work.

The code is released under GPL and published on the Internet. Others who have the same need get interested; if they are developers they can look at the code and give help and feedback to the maintainer, and if they are only users they can test the often-released software and provide feedback and bug reports.


Copyright © 2002 by Free Software Est - Amman, Jordan. All Rights Reserved.