Here is chapter 20 of our ongoing book, The Daemon, the GNU and the Penguin, by Dr. Peter H. Salus. For earlier chapters, go to our permanent Salus Book page, which has the Table of Contents and all the earlier chapters.
Dr. Salus has a message to share with you:
To my faithful Readers:
The next chapter will concern the BSDs after
the BSDI suit. The one after that will
continue with the development of Linux
companies and distributions.
At that time, I will be on a five-week
writing hiatus: we are moving, which will
disrupt my books, papers and computers,
and we will be in the Bay Area for
The saga will continue with new vigor in
Peter H. Salus
So, with that introduction, here is Chapter 20,
"Proliferating Penguins, Part I."
The Daemon, the GNU and the Penguin
~ by Dr. Peter H. Salus
Chapter 20. Proliferating Penguins - Part I
From the early 1980s on, the big gripe about
Unix was that it had split and resplit, that there
were just too many variants. The fact that they
had a common base was irrelevant to the critics
-- and many (if not most) of those critics were
selling VMS or MVS or DOS or...
Following Linus' postings of 1991, there soon were
what we have come to call "distributions." And, rather
than utilizing ftp, they came on CD-ROM.
The first of these was Adam Richter's Yggdrasil (in
the Old Norse Edda, Yggdrasil is the "world
ash," from a branch of which Odin/Wotan made his
spear). Yggdrasil alpha was released on 8 December
1992. It was called LGX: Linux/GNU/X -- the three
components of the system. Recall that Gilmore, Tiemann
and Henkel-Wallace formed Cygnus in 1989. Richter
spoke to Michael Tiemann about setting up a business,
but was "definitely uninterested in joining forces with
Yggdrasil beta was released the next year. Richter's
press release read:
The Yggdrasil beta release is the first UNIX(R) clone
to include multimedia facilities as part of its base
configuration. The beta release also includes X-windows,
networking ... an easy installation mechanism, and
the ability to run directly from the CD-ROM.
The beta was priced at $50; the production release was
SuSE was formed in 1992 also, as a consulting group (SuSE
was originally S.u.S.E., which
stood for "Software-und-System-Entwicklung," Software
and System Development), but did not release a
Linux distribution for several years. The next distribution
-- and the oldest still in existence -- was Patrick
Volkerding's Slackware, released 16 July 1993, soon after
he graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead. It,
in turn, was the basis for SuSE's release "Linux 1.0" of
SLS/Slackware in 1994. (SLS was "Softlanding Linux System,"
Peter McDonald's 1992 distribution, on which parts of
Slackware were based.) SuSE later integrated Florian La
Roche's Jurix distribution, resulting in a unique
distribution: SuSE 4.2 (1996).
The next year, Mark Bolzern was trying to sell a Unix database
from Multisoft, a German company. He encountered difficulties
because it was relatively expensive to set up the Unix
system. Then he came across Gnu/Linux and realized that
he now had a real solution. He convinced Multisoft to
port Flagship (the db) to Linux and "that was the first
commercial product released on Linux," Bolzern said.
"People were always having trouble installing Linux,"
he continued, "and then Flagship wouldn't run right
because something had changed." Bolzern decided that
what was needed was a release that wouldn't change
for a year, so he "picked a specific distribution of
Slackware" and "the name Linux Pro." Soon he was
selling more Linux than Flagship: "we're talking
hundreds per month."
And when Red Hat came out, Bolzern picked that up.
Mark Ewing had set up Red Hat in 1993. Mark Ewing has
said: "I started Red Hat to produce a development
tool I thought the world needed. Linux was just
becoming available and I used [it] as my development
platform. However, I soon found that I was spending
more time managing my Linux box than I was developing
my software, and I concluded that what the world
really needed was a good Linux distribution..."1
In 1993, Bob Young was working for Vernon Computer Rentals. He
told me: "I knew the writing was on the wall for my future
with that company." He continued:
Red Hat the company was legally incorporated in March of 1993 in
Connecticut under the name: ACC Corp. Inc. It changed its name
to Red Hat Software, Inc. in early 1996, and changed its name a
last time to simply Red Hat, Inc. just before going public in
June of 1999.
In 1995 Red Hat packaged Linux, some utilities and initial support
for $50. Also in 1995, Bryan Sparks (with funding from Ray
Noorda, former CEO of Novell) founded Caldera and The Apache
Foundation released Apache, which would become the most widespread
Web server. But Red Hat soon became the most popular Linux
release. This was unexpected: Linus had said that he
expected Caldera to be the top supplier, because it was
"kind of a step beyond," in that it was targeting the office
market. "I think what's interesting about Caldera is
they based their stuff on Red Hat and then they added a
commercial kind of approach."
ACC Corp. Inc. bought the assets, including all copyrights and
trademarks (none were registered at the time) relating to Marc Ewing's
sole proprietarship business venture in January 1993. Marc's Red Hat
project was not incorporated but was run out of Marc's personal
checking account. Marc received shares in ACC Corp, Inc. in return
for the Red Hat name and assets.
When Red Hat became a "success," Bob Young and family moved
from Connecticut to North Carolina (Ewing lived in Durham).
It was the end of July 1996. Just in time for Hurricane Fran,
the first hurricane to visit Raleigh since hurricane Hazel in 1954.
Yes, "the" hurricane Hazel that is the only hurricane to make it
to southern Ontario still categorized as a hurricane that I know of.
(Before abandoning this, I should point out that Young is from
Hamilton, ON, and attended the University of Toronto. During the
night of October 18, 1954, "Hurricane Hazel pelted Toronto with
rain and killed 81 people. On one street alone, Raymore Drive,
35 neighbors were drowned." Environment Canada, Canadian
Hurricane Centre, Storms of 1954.)
ACC, Young's company, sold Linux/Unix software and
books. Young had been introduced to the Unix world in 1988,
when he was with Vernon Leasing and Rentals, and began publishing
New York UNIX as well as catalog sales. This led to
his being the founding editor of Linux Journal, a post
he held for two issues in 1994, before "splitting the losses"
with Phil Hughes, who is still the publisher of LJ.
In the summer of 1995, I was approached by Lisa Bloch, then
the Executive Director of the FSF, as to the feasibility of
a conference on "Freely Redistributable Software." I was
enthusiastic, but had my qualms about profitability. Richard,
at our meeting, was quite understanding: FSF would bankroll
the affair, but he hoped we could turn a small profit.
Lisa and I put together a committee (Bob Chassell, Chris
Demetriou, John Gilmore, Kirk McKusick, Rich Morin, Eric
Raymond, and Vernor Vinge) and we posted a Call for Papers
on several newsgroups.
Thanks to "maddog" (Jon Hall), Linus agreed to be a keynote
speaker, Stallman was the other. We had a day of tutorials
and two days of papers. February 3-5, 1996 at the Cambridge
Center Marriott. Everything ran smoothly. By the end, I
was a nervous wreck. And the FSF ended up making a tiny
Glyn Moody, Rebel Code (Perseus Publishing,
2001), p. 97.
Dr. Salus is the author of "A Quarter Century of UNIX" (which you can obtain here, here, here and here) and several other books, including "HPL: Little Languages and Tools", "Big Book of Ipv6 Addressing Rfcs", "Handbook of Programming Languages (HPL): Imperative Programming Languages", "Casting the Net: From ARPANET to INTERNET and Beyond", and "The Handbook of Programming Languages (HPL): Functional, Concurrent and Logic Programming Languages". There is an interview with him, audio and video,"codebytes: A History of UNIX and UNIX Licences" which was done in 2001 at a USENIX conference. Dr. Salus has served as Executive Director of the USENIX Association.
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