Sender: use...@udel.edu (USENET News Service)
Organization: University of Delaware
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1992 11:05:25 GMT
Can smebody, in a few wrds, tell me wha linux is?
I've seen it mentined in info minix a few times.
Thanx, Jan Ever van Grootheest
Mail System (MMDF)
From: torva...@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Torvalds)
Subject: Re: Linux?
Date: 21 Sep 92 12:33:12 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki
In article <1992Sep21.110338.21...@udel.edu> S90405...@hsepm1.hse.nl writes:
>Can smebody, in a few wrds, tell me wha linux is?
>I've seen it mentined in info minix a few times.
[ This should be in comp.os.linux - see the Follow-Up. If you have
c.o.minix, but not c.o.linux, you should contact your newsfeed
Linux is a unix-like OS for the 386 - it's *not* available for any other
architecture (and it currently doesn't work even on PS/2 (ie MCA)
machines). Like minix, it comes with full source code, and is
copyrighted. Unlike minix, it's freely re-distributable under the GNU
copyleft (ie it doesn't cost you anything if you have ftp access).
Linux has some ties the the minix community: I originally used minix for
linux developement, and the standard filesystem is still mostly
compatible with the original minix fs (ie you can mount the same
partitions both from minix and linux). That's about the only thing
minix/linux have in common any more, but it may make a transition
The best way to get a picture of linux is probably to read comp.os.linux
for a while, and/or ftp to 'tsx-11.mit.edu' (pub/linux) or
'nic.funet.fi' (pub/OS/Linux) and try it out. Documentation isn't too
hot (if you are timid about that, you should probably get minix or
coherent), but it's possible to set up a linux system even with very
limited unix knowledge.
Linux runs in full 32-bit protected mode, giving each process a 3GB
process space (1GB used for virtual kernel memory). It supports paging
to disk, shared libraries etc, and runs about everything from gcc to
X11r5. 2MB physical RAM minimum, with >=4MB preferred for good
Linux supports virtual filesystems: the standard kernel understands the
minix fs, DOS disks (non-stacked), and a ext-fs format, giving 255 char
character names and bigger partitions than the minix format. There are
also patches for a xenix-filesystem mode as well as for actual emulation
of some xenix binaries (but this isn't part of the standard kernel).
Additional patches include tcp/ip (which will be in the next major
release, probably next week), a soundblaster driver and a CDROM fs.
There is some work going on to use linux as the base for the FSF
single-server (ie not Hurd, but a simpler unix-server) on top of
mach-3.0, but this is so far only in it's infancy. Additional info from
the newsgroup and ftp-sites.
I'd also suggest you check out "comp.os.coherent" and "comp.unix.bsd"
for other alternatives to DOS - while I obviously think linux is the
best of minix/linux/coherent/386bsd, there are those who disagree:
Minix is good for education (source, the book), coherent for simpler
home use (easier installation, manual), linux for hacking (source,
completeness) and 386bsd for people who simply want "the real McCoy"
(source, compatibility). Linux and 386bsd are both freely
distributable, although under different conditions, while minix and
coherent are commercial (although cheap: $169 v $99 USD).