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Seven Wonders of the Linux World

Date: 2007-11-03 00:00:00 -0400

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Today I want to write about some of the biggest wonders on the Linux world, this are my thoughts, and they may differ from yours, and they could even change in my mind after reading what you think the 7 Linux world Wonders should be, so please read this post, and the comment about it.

  1. The Linux kernel

  2. The Linux Kernel is Linux itself for lots of people, without it, Linux would have never exists, it is the core of the Linux Operating System, (GNU Linux). We have it thanks to Linus Torvalds who posted at comp.os.minix
    I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since April, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things). I’ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months […] Yes - it’s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT portable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that’s all I have :-(. […] It’s mostly in C, but most people wouldn’t call what I write C. It uses every conceivable feature of the 386 I could find, as it was also a project to teach me about the 386. As already mentioned, it uses a MMU, for both paging (not to disk yet) and segmentation. It’s the segmentation that makes it REALLY 386 dependent (every task has a 64Mb segment for code & data - max 64 tasks in 4Gb. Anybody who needs more than 64Mb/task - tough cookies). […] Some of my “C”-files (specifically mm.c) are almost as much assembler as C. […] Unlike minix, I also happen to LIKE interrupts, so interrupts are handled without trying to hide the reason behind them.
    via: Wikipedia. Today we have the kernel as being the core of lots of devices such cellulars, iPods, super-computers, and the list keep growing.
  3. The X system

  4. X should also be considered as a Linux Wonder, if it wasn’t because of X Linux could have never achieve the success it has by today, even replacing Windows in lots of homes, and enterprises. From Wikipedia
    The original idea of X emerged at MIT in 1984 as a collaboration between Jim Gettys (of Project Athena) and Bob Scheifler (of the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science). Scheifler needed a usable display environment for debugging the Argus system. Project Athena (a joint project between Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), MIT and IBM to provide easy access to computing resources for all students) needed a platform-independent graphics system to link together its heterogeneous multiple-vendor systems; the window system then under development in Carnegie Mellon University’s Andrew Project did not make licences available, and no alternatives existed. The project solved this by creating a protocol that could both run local applications and call on remote resources. In mid-1983 an initial port of W to Unix ran at one-fifth of its speed under V; in May 1984, Scheifler replaced the synchronous protocol of W with an asynchronous protocol and the display lists with immediate mode graphics to make X version 1. X became the first windowing system environment to offer true hardware-independence and vendor-independence. Scheifler, Gettys and Ron Newman set to work and X progressed rapidly. They released Version 6 in January 1985. DEC, then preparing to release its first Ultrix workstation, judged X the only windowing system likely to become available in time. DEC engineers ported X6 to DEC’s QVSS display on MicroVAX. In the second quarter of 1985 X acquired color support to function in the DEC VAXstation-II/GPX, forming what became version 9. Although MIT had licensed X6 to some outside groups for a fee, it decided at this time to license X9 and future versions under what became known as the MIT License. X9 appeared in September 1985. A group at Brown University ported version 9 to the IBM RT/PC, but problems with reading unaligned data on the RT forced an incompatible protocol change, leading to version 10 in late 1985. By 1986, outside organizations had started asking for X. The release of X10R2 took place in January 1986; that of X10R3 in February 1986. X10R3 became the first version to achieve wide deployment, with both DEC and Hewlett-Packard releasing products based on it. Other groups ported X10 to Apollo and to Sun workstations and even to the IBM PC/AT. Demonstrations of the first commercial application for X (a mechanical computer-aided engineering system from Cognition Inc. that ran on VAXes and displayed on PCs running an X server) took place at the Autofact trade show at that time. The last version of X10, X10R4, appeared in December 1986. Attempts were made to enable X servers as real-time collaboration devices, much as Virtual Network Computing (VNC) would later allow a desktop to be shared. One such early effort was Philip J. Gust’s SharedX tool. Although X10 offered interesting and powerful functionality, it had become obvious that the X protocol could use a more hardware-neutral redesign before it became too widely deployed; but MIT alone would not have the resources available for such a complete redesign. As it happened, DEC’s Western Software Laboratory found itself between projects. Smokey Wallace of DEC WSL and Jim Gettys proposed that DEC WSL build X11 and make it freely available under the same terms as X9 and X10. This process started in May 1986, with the protocol finalised in August. Alpha-testing of the software started in February 1987, beta-testing in May; the release of X11 finally occurred on September 15, 1987. The X11 protocol design, led by Scheifler, got extensively discussed on open mailing lists on the nascent Internet that were bridged to USENET newsgroups. X therefore represents one of the first very large-scale free software projects
    Then the XFree86 and the X.Org came to be popular with Linux in 1993 like Wikipedia says.
    XFree86 originated in 1992 from the X386 server for IBM PC compatibles included with X11R5 in 1991, written by Thomas Roell and Mark W. Snitily and donated to the MIT X Consortium by Snitily Graphics Consulting Services (SGCS). XFree86 evolved over time from just one port of X to the leading and most popular implementation and the de facto steward of X’s development.[12] In May 1999, the Open Group formed X.Org. X.Org supervised the release of versions X11R6.5.1 onward. X development at this time had become moribund[13]; most technical innovation since the X Consortium had dissolved had taken place in the XFree86 project.[14] In 1999, the XFree86 team joined X.Org as an honorary (non-paying) member[15], encouraged by various hardware companies[16] interested in using XFree86 with Linux and in its status as the most popular version of X. By 2003, while the popularity of Linux (and hence the installed base of X) surged, X.Org remained inactive[17], and active development took place largely within XFree86. However, considerable dissent developed within XFree86. The XFree86 project suffered from a perception of a far too cathedral-like development model; developers could not get CVS commit access[18][19] and vendors had to maintain extensive patch sets.[20] In March 2003 the XFree86 organization expelled Keith Packard, who had joined XFree86 after the end of the original MIT X Consortium, with considerable ill-feeling.[21][22][23] X.Org and XFree86 began discussing a reorganisation suited to properly nurturing the development of X.[24][25][26] Jim Gettys had been pushing strongly for an open development model since at least 2000.[27] Gettys, Packard and several others began discussing in detail the requirements for the effective governance of X with open development. Finally, in an echo of the X11R6.4 licensing dispute, XFree86 released version 4.4 in February 2004 under a more restricted license which many projects relying on X found unacceptable.[28] The added clause to the license was based upon the original BSD license’s advertising clause, which was viewed by the Free Software Foundation and Debian as incompatible with the GNU General Public License.[29] Other groups saw further restrictions as being against the spirit of the original X (OpenBSD threatening a fork, for example). The license issue, combined with the difficulties in getting changes in, left many feeling the time was ripe for a fork
    The first time I saw X it looked like this, From that time to the new looking Compiz, and Looking Glass the windows Desktop has evolved a lot, thanks to the help of thousands of developers and volunteers around the world.
  5. The file system

  6. The File system of Linux is so stable, and secure that almost never make your disk need de-fragmentation, you have lots of options to choose as File system when installing Linux. Like:
    • Ext2
    • Ext3
    • Reiserfs
    • VFS
    There are others but these are the most common to Linux Distributions.
  7. Remote administer tools

  8. Another wonder of Linux is the possibility we have to administer it remotely, we can do it using GUI like VNC but the real good thing is that we can use console (less consuming bandwidth) command to administer it, and we can do it securely by using ssh this way you can have your servers miles away in great Data Centers and administer them as if you were at the console.

  9. Stability
  10. Maybe one of the most commented Linux features is its stability, it is know that some servers or workstations have run for 1 year or even more with no need to be rebooted, a real difference to other Operating Systems out there, you can install software, make changes to configurations, kill applications with no need to reboot the system at all.

  11. Security tools
  12. Linux has a lot of security tools, like:
    Netfilter/Iptables
    Which lets you configure real complex firewalls and have control on every single packet that comes in, goes out or pass through your Linux machine, it is one of the most important tools in security
    SELinux
    Which is a kernel level implementation to prevent that some software of packages, may act to harm the system, they will have its right reduced.
    A Linux kernel integrating SELinux enforces mandatory access control policies that confine user programs and system servers to the minimum amount of privilege they require to do their jobs. This reduces or eliminates the ability of these programs and daemons to cause harm when compromised (via buffer overflows or misconfigurations, for example).
    OpenVPN
    With OpenVPN you are able to create different types of VPNs with Linux machines, it is also compatible with Windows so they can be part or the VPN, it is easy to create a VPN as you may see.
    There are a lot of other tools to put here, if you have any suggestions, I will update this section.

  13. freedom
  14. Maybe the most important Linux Wonder is its freedom in all means it is Free as in beer and Free as in Freedom, so you are free to use it, free to distribute it, free to change it, and of course free to contribute!. This Free to change it and to contribute with it, is what make it big, and shows how people working together for a common goal can make great things!.

Conclusions

I think Linux is not only an Operating System, it is also a Philosophy, a way of life, it is about doing things together, to help each other, and asking nothing for that but the satisfaction of having helped someone.

I am sure this list can be made different and can be improved a lot, hope you can help with your comments to make this post better.

Please comment about this, tell everybody your thoughts, this is what a community is about. :)

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