In this post, we look back at the year in Linux — celebrating 30 years of Linux and open-source awesomeness with a rundown of the history of Linux. We’ll also cover the notable news aroundLinux this month, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 Beta andLinux kernel 5.14 EOL.
Read on for more!
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History of Linux: 30 years of Linux
In 2021, Linux turned 30 years old! Linus Torvalds, a Finnish computer science student, created Linux back in 1991. He started it as a hobby as he wanted to make a Unix like operating system for the new 386 processors at the time.
He even mentioned in his original email that it was just a hobby and he didn’t plan for it to become anything professional like GNU. Well, surprise… you did a great job, Linus, and we’re super happy you took on that little project!
When Linux first arrived, there was a steep learning curve and it was mostly a hobby for enthusiastic engineers and computer science students who could contribute by developing code. It quickly became a platform for one of the largest communities for opensource contributors.
As open source was pretty new at the time, it was exciting to download the OS, test the features, write new features, and then share those with the opensource community to be tested and then rolled into the new product.
This meant that anyone could contribute to the product, which was basically a free UNIX like distribution. Linus started his work with a few files written in C.
Today, the Linux kernel contains about 23.3 million lines of source code, not including comments.
It started out as just a kernel, meaning you could boot up a machine and do a few things on it from the command line.
Back then, Linux had about 100 developers working on it, all donating their time to build it.
Today, over 15,000 people contribute to the Linux kernel. Linux is still very small in the desktop world, at around 2% market share, but 96.3% of the world’s top 1 million servers run on Linux.
90% of all cloud infrastructure and about 85% of all smartphones are based on Linux as well. Also, about 25% of professional developers use Linux as their primary operating system.
Linux now runs most of the technology we see and use today, including some unexpected things.
In addition to public and private servers, Linux runs in NASA, space robots, gaming consoles, and the Large Hadron Collider — the world’s largest and highest energy particle collider. It also runs Roku and smart TVs as well as many other entertainment and smart devices.
My first exposure to Linux was in college in 1999. I took an Introduction to Shell Scripting course and Fedora was installed on the lab servers because it was free and easily scalable. I’m passionate about Linux because it’s changed how the world processes information, and it’s changed my life personally by allowing me to share that passion for growth within a community.
Without Linux, we wouldn’t have technology interwoven into the world we know today.
The Linux Operating system will continue to serve as an outlet for innovation for years to come. It embodies what it means to democratize technology skills as a free open source solution available to everyone.
It’s spirit of innovation and adaptability resonate with everything we do here, giving Linux a very special place in our hearts. Here’s to 30 more years of Linux!
2021 Linux updates and releases in review
Zooming in to focus on the last year, 2021 was a big year for some major kernel updates and new distribution releases.
Kernel versions 5.12 and 5.14 were released this year — both with lots of new drivers and performance and support improvements. Now, they are both end of life and Long Term Support kernel 5.15 has been released as the new LTS Linux kernel.
Ubuntu released several versions this year including versions 20.04 Long Term Support, 20.10 and 21.04 which are based on kernel 5.11 and include better hardware support and gnome shell enhancements.
Ubuntu 21.10 was released in August which is based on the 5.13 linux kernel which added even more hardware support for processors and GPUs. Although 5.13 went end of life in September, Ubuntu 21.10 will be supported through the beginning of 2022 with the new 22.04 long term support release slated for that time frame as well. You can find details on Ubuntu releases at ubuntu.com/about/release-cycle.
Fedora released version 34 back in April with a brand new logo! Updates include the new gnome 40 desktop which was redesigned to make interaction more intuitive. Also included is BTRFS compression by default to reduce write amplification and save space as well as improvements to swap based actions and systemd-oomd enabled by default which enables better out of memory handling that results in less resource shortages.
Fedora supports each release for about 13 months, so you still have some time to test this new OS before the next release. You can download it at fedoraproject.org.
Debian released project Bullseye, or Debian 11 in April. It was based on Linux 5.10 long term support kernel. Updates included over 11294 new packages totaling over 59,551 total packages. Other updates include more support for printers and scanners without needing drivers, ExFAT file system support, more encryption for passwords of local system accounts, and more details in the systemd journal logs.
The next stable Bullseye version, 11.2, is slated to be released on December 18, 2021. You can find more information on releases at release.debian.org.
Check out this month’s free ACG courses for a smorgasbord of cloud learning, including How to Get a Linux Job and Linux Operating System Fundamentals. Create a free account and dive in. No credit card needed!
December 2021 Linux news roundup
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 Beta is now GA
Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 9 Beta is now GA. It’s based on upstream kernel version 5.14 and was designed for demanding hybrid multi-cloud deployments. Supported hardware architectures include Intel/AMD64, ARM 64-bit, IBM Power LE, and IBM Z.
This version has updates for simplified automation and management, including enhanced web console performance metrics which makes it easier to detect performance bottlenecks and deliver this data to common reporting tools. Live kernel patching functionality is now available through the web console, and several improvements have been made to the image builder that allows you to build RHEL 8&9 images from a single build node.
There are also improvements to security and compliance including smart card authentication in the web console, additional security profiles, more details in the SSSD logs to better analyze performance and configuration issues, integrated openssl 3 with new security ciphers for encryption, and IMA digital hashes and signatures. It also includes an update to disallow users to log in as root through SSH.
There is also improved container development with more UBI container images and it now ships with cgroup2 and Podman. Other than the long list of updates, there won’t be many surprises for users in regards to learning how to do new administrative tasks.
Per Red Hat, if you’re familiar with RHEL8, you’ll feel right at home. If you’d like to check it out, sign up for a free developer account and download it at redhat.com.
Linux kernel 5.14 is EOL, 5.15 Released
Linux kernel 5.14 was released back in August with a multitude of new features including better hardware support as well as updated drivers for graphics cards, secret memory spaces, and core scheduling to help eliminate modern CPU vulnerabilities.
5.15 has now been released and has now been designated as a Long-Term Support kernel.
Updated features include an improved NTFS3 driver that enables more features and better performance for NTFS file systems which allows you to support NTFS like a native Linux file system. Temperature monitoring support was added for AMD CPUs, as well as a new audio driver for the Van Gogh APU.
If you haven’t heard of an APU before, it stands Accelerated Processing Unit and this is basically a set of processors that act as a CPU as well as a graphics processing unit, which are commonly found on gaming consoles, so you’ll appreciate this update if you’re running something like Steam Deck which supports Linux.
Additional updates were made to the Intel Alder Lake processors, Intel Discrete graphics, and Apple M1 chip support, as well as improvements and optimizations for EXT4 and BTRFS file systems. Users are encouraged to download the latest stable kernel, 5.15.5, at kernel.org.
That’s all for this year! May your sources remain open and your code compile. Keep being awesome, cloud gurus!
Jeremy Morgan also contributed to this post.