The whole history of Linux. Part II: corporate ups and downs

    We continue to recall the history of the development of one of the most significant products in the open source world. In a previous article, we talked about developments that preceded the advent of Linux, and told the story of the birth of the first version of the kernel. This time we will focus on the period of commercialization of this open OS, which began in the 90s. / Flickr / David Goehring / CC BY / Photo changed

    The origin of commercial products

    Last time, we stopped at SUSE, which in 1992 was the first to commercialize a Linux-based OS. She began releasing products for business customers based on the popular Slackware distribution. Thus, the company showed that open source development can be engaged not only for fun, but also for profit.

    One of the first to follow this trend was businessman Bob Young and US developer Marc Ewing. In 1993, Bob createda company called ACC Corporation and began selling open-source products. As for Mark, in the early 90s he was just working on a new Linux distribution. Ewing named the Red Hat Linux project after the red headgear he wore constantly while working at Carnegie Mellon's computer lab. A beta version of the distribution was released in the summer of 1994 based on the Linux 1.1.18 kernel.

    The next release of Red Hat Linux took placein October and received the name - Halloween. It differed from the first beta by the availability of documentation and the ability to choose between two kernel versions - 1.0.9 and 1.1.54. After this update came out approximately every six months. The development community responded positively to this update schedule and willingly participated in its testing.

    Of course, the popularity of the system did not go past Bob Young, who hastened to add the product to his catalog. Floppy disks and disks with earlier versions of Red Hat Linux went like hot cakes. After such success, the entrepreneur decided to meet Mark personally.

    The meeting between Young and Ewing resulted in the appearance of Red Hat in 1995. Bob was appointed as its CEO. The first years of the company were difficult. To keep the company afloat Bob had to withdraw funds from credit cards. At some point, the total debt reached $ 50 thousand. However, the first full release of Red Hat Linux on the kernel version 1.2.8 corrected the situation. The profit was colossal, which allowed Bob to pay the banks.

    By the way, it was then that the world saw a well-known logo with a man who holds a briefcase in one hand and the other holds his red hat.

    By 1998, Red Hat's annual distribution revenue was over $ 5 million. The figure doubled the next year, and the companyconducted an IPO with a valuation of several billion dollars.

    Active development of the corporate segment

    In the mid-90s, when the Red Hat Linux distribution took its niche in the market, the company relied on the development of the service. The developers introduced a commercial version of the OS, which included documentation, additional tools and a simplified installation process. And a little later, in 1997, the company launched those. customer support.

    In 1998, together with Red Hat , Oracle, Informix, Netscape, and Core were already engaged in the development of the enterprise Linux segment . In the same year, IBM took its first step toward open source solutions - the corporation introduced WebSphere, based on the open-source Apache web server.

    Glyn Moody, author of Linux and Linus Torvalds books,believes that it was at that moment that IBM embarked on the path that led it 20 years later to the acquisition of Red Hat for $ 34 billion. One way or another, since then, IBM has increasingly become closer to the Linux ecosystem and Red Hat in particular. In 1999, the companies joined forces to work on IBM corporate systems based on Red Hat Linux.

    A year later, Red Hat and IBM came to a new agreement - they agreed to promote and implement Linux solutions of both companies in enterprises around the world. The agreement covered IBM products such as DB2, WebSphere Application Server, Lotus Domino, and IBM Small Business Pack. In 2000, IBM began translatingall of their server platforms under Linux. At that time, several resource-intensive projects of the company worked on the basis of this operating system. Among them was, for example, a supercomputer at the University of New Mexico.

    In addition to IBM, Dell began to collaborate with Red Hat in those years. Largely due to this, in 1999 the company released the first server with Linux OS preinstalled. In the late 90s and early 2000s, Red Hat entered into agreements with other corporations - with HP, SAP, Compaq. All this helped Red Hat to gain a foothold in the enterprise segment.

    The turning point in the history of Red Hat Linux was 2002-2003, when the company renamed its main product in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and completely refused to distribute its distribution free of charge. Since then, it has finally reoriented to the corporate segment and, in a sense, has become its leader - now the company owns about a third of the entire server market.

    But with all this, Red Hat did not turn away from free software. The successor of the company in this area was the Fedora distribution, the first version of which (released in 2003) was based on the 2.4.22 Red Hat Linux kernel. Today, Red Hat strongly supports Fedora development and uses the best practices of the team in its products.

    / Flickr / eli duke /CC BY-SA

    Start of competition

    The first half of this article is almost entirely devoted to Red Hat. But this does not mean that other developments in the Linux ecosystem in the first decade of the OS did not appear. Red Hat largely determined the development vector of the operating system and many distributions, but even in the corporate segment, the company was not the only player.

    In addition to her, SUSE, TurboLinux, Caldera and others worked here, who were also popular and “grew” with a loyal community. And such activities did not go unnoticed by competitors, in particular, Microsoft.

    In 1998, Bill Gates made statements in an attempt to downgrade Linux. For example, he claimed that "he never heard from clients about such an operating system."

    However, in the same year, Microsoft ranked Linux among its competitors in its annual report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission . Then there was a leak of the so-called Halloween documents - notes of a Microsoft employee in which they analyzed the competitive risks from Linux and open source software.

    Confirming all Microsoft concerns, in 1999, hundreds of Linux users from all over the world went to corporate offices on the same day . They intended to return money for the Windows system preinstalled on their computers as part of an international campaign - Windows Refund Day. So, users expressed their dissatisfaction with the monopoly of Microsoft OS in the PC market.

    The unspoken conflict between the IT giant and the Linux community continued to escalate in the early 2000s. At that time, Linux occupied more than a quarter of the server market and consistently increased its share. Against the background of these reports, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was forced to openly recognize Linux as a major competitor in the server market. Around the same time, he called the open OS the “cancer” of intellectual property and, in fact, opposed any development with a GPL license.

    We in  1cloud  collected OS statistics for the active servers of our clients.

    If we talk about individual distributions, the most popular among 1cloud clients is Ubuntu - 45%, followed by CentOS (28%) and Debian with a slight lag (26%).

    Another area of ​​Microsoft’s struggle with the development community was the launch of Lindows based on the Linux kernel, whose name copied Windows. In 2001, Microsoft filed a lawsuit in the United States against an OS development company demanding a name change. In response, she tried to invalidate Microsoft's right to one of the English words and its derivatives. Two years later, the corporation won the dispute - the name LindowsOS was changed to Linspire. However, the developers of the open OS made this decision voluntarily in order to avoid claims from Microsoft in other countries distributing their operating system.

    What about the Linux kernel?

    Despite all the confrontations of corporations and harsh statements about free software from leading managers of large companies, the Linux community continued to grow. The developers worked on new open distributions and updated the kernel. Thanks to the proliferation of the Internet, it has become easier to do. In 1994, the Linux kernel version 1.0.0 was released, and two years later, 2.0. With each release, the OS supported work on an increasing number of processors and mainframes.

    In the mid-90s, Linux, already popular among developers, developed not only as a technological product, but also as a brand. In 1995 passedThe first Linux Expo exhibition and conference, which featured community-renowned speakers, including Mark Ewing. A few years later, Expo became one of the largest events in the world of Linux.

    In 1996, the world first saw an emblem with the famous penguin Taks , who still accompanies Linux products. It was painted by programmer and designer Larry Ewing based on the famous story of the “ferocious penguin” who once attacked Linus Torvalds and infected with a disease called “penguin”.

    In the late 90s, one after another, the release of two important products in the history of Linux - GNOME and KDE. Thanks to these tools, Unix systems, including Linux, got convenient cross-platform graphical interfaces. The release of these tools can be called one of the first steps towards the mass market. We’ll talk more about this stage in the history of Linux in the next part.

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