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It's *Not* The 15th Birthday of Linux – and Why That Matters

Mar 19, 2009, 21:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Glyn Mody)

"When I actually read some of these birthday pieces, it turned out that they were celebrating the release of version 1.0 of Linux, which took place at 22.38 on 13 March, 1994. Fortunately, it seemed like I would not need to live through the last three years again. But then I was left with the perplexing question why people were marking this arbitrary event.

"Just how arbitrary it was can be seen from the consolidated Linux kernel history. This shows that on 16 January 1992 the kernel was at version 0.12, but became version 0.95 a couple of months later. Version 0.99 was released in December 1993, and there then followed the most extraordinary series of incremental updates, passing through 0.99.1, 0.99.12, 0.99.12a, 0.99.12z, 0.99.15a, 0.99.15j and finally Pre-1.0. Towards the end of this odyssey, there were updates every few days -- sometimes even several on one day.

"Clearly what was going on over these months was an almost obsessive honing of the Linux kernel. But the difference between version 0.99.14z, say, and version 1.0 is slight: it's not that the former was unusable, and the latter sheer perfection. Indeed, there is nothing extraordinarily special about version 1.0 compared to its immediate forebears, except for its numbering."

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