25 years ago, a young unknown programmer wrote on a niche discussion group that he had been working for some time on a new, free operation system. He claimed that he was doing it “just for a hobby”, and it wiould be “nothing professional”. This message was addressed to a Usenet group of Minix developers.
Now, after the quatter of century, few people remember about the existence of Usenet, an on-line discussion system, an ancestor of Internet forums. Almost nobody know what Minix is as well. But the “hobby” mentioned in the message became a passion and a profession for thousands of programmers around the world. And now, 96.3 percent of the top 1 million web servers are running Linux, the operating system that was thought to be just a hobby.
Internet, as we know it, populated with billions of websites, that are backed with unbelievable amount of data, being processed in every moment, needs free and stable operating system. Without Linux, a non-commercial project started by Linus Torvalds “just for fun”, World Wide Web would be expensive, slow and completely controlled by companies with big investment capital (forget about Wikipedia).
Free, unrestricted access to every bit of human knowledge now is just around the corner. Without Linux it could exist in mad dreams only. The idea to make human knowledge open to everyone is older than Linux and hopefully will outlast even when Linux will be outdated. However today, since 25 August is increasingly treated as Linux’s birthday, this idea has the face of a smiling penguin, Tux, an official mascot of the most popular operating system in the world.
Today, when we are learning, doing research and making new discoveries, we are not only standing on the shoulders of these old giants that lifted Isaac Newton. We are standing on the shoulders of the penguin.