Linked by David Adams on Wed 29th Oct 2008 21:04 UTC, submitted by irbis
Linux Would the internet as we know it exist without Linux? "Absolutely not", says Rich Menga. "Where Linux shines the most is in its server applications". In the 1990's "There were thousands of Mom n' Pop ISPs that operated out of a garage and the vast majority of them were all running Linux. Windows couldn't do it back then and neither could MacOS. What would you have used that you could afford? Netware? Lotus Domino? HP-UX (that requires those refrigerator-sized HP servers)? Linux was literally the only OS out there that had the right price (free), ran similar to a Unix and could use existing computers of the time to connect customers. The internet as we know it today predominantly runs on Linux. There's an extremely high probability that the internet connection you're using right now is connected through a Linux server - and routed through many other Linux servers along the way."
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by karl on Thu 30th Oct 2008 02:15 UTC
karl
Member since:
2005-07-06

Ok If we change the title from "Would the Internet exist without Linux ?" to "Would the Web(WWW) exist without Linux ?" maybe we come to something a little closer to what really happened....

Although Tim Berners-Lee may have created the hyper- text transfer protocol on his NeXT machine, there were probably, in the early days of the web boom, more mom & pop ISP's running linux on cheat 486 platforms than there were manufactured NeXT units.

The *big* difference between the web and the internet which most people simply cannot even remember was that there was no advertising back in the day. People talk about the www dating back to Tim Berners-Lee's work in 1991, and technically this is true-but that which we know today as the web actually dates back to Oct 1994 when hotwired started running web advertising. And once the advertising began the WWW became something interesting to the commercial world- and hence the explosion of small ISP's and the www revolution which has so shaped the last 14 years (almost to the day-Oct.27 1994 was the day that hotwired ran those web ads.)

FreeBSD 1.0 came out towards the end of 93, NetBSD predating it by a matter of months. Yet at that time Linux had far better hardware support for the crop of cheap 486 boxes which dominated the market back then. By the time web advertising took off there were probably 10 times as many Linux servers as there were *BSD-based servers. Sun also played a role-but it was surely rather small- Sun hardware was not cheap, and even used was just as expensive as DIY 486 PC's.

Timing is what makes innovation what it is. And it was the availability of Linux, cheap 486 PC's, and forward-thinking entreprenuers -ISP's and web hosts doing web advertisement that created the synergy which got the ball rolling to become the web we know. Could it have happened differently, sure-but that is what actually happened. Did Linux single-handedly create this innovation ?-surely not -if it were not for all the great Free Software (apache, BIND, sendmail, perl etc.) this would not have happened-but that is what Linux has been about since it's inception-a distribution is a collection of great FOSS software-Linux made apache what it is today and apache helped make Linux what it is today.

One can surely say that it was FOSS software which enabled the innovation which we know nowadays as the Internet (WWW). But Tim Berners-Lee did his work creating http on a proprietary operating system NeXTSTEP. Prior to the birth of the of web there were multiple propietary networks (Compuserver, Prodigy, AOL). Only once the existing academic network became available to the general public, ie. became Open, did Tim Berners-Lee work become really significant. And only when the the propietary networks gave way to the open Internet(and this primarily to enable universal email) did the World Wide Web revolution become that which has changed our lives so much in that last 15 years.

Linux, in the first instance, was the the right tool for the right job at the right time in this story.

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