Linux History: a Look Back at 3 Decades of Linux (Infographic)

Here's a look back at (more than) 3 decades of Linux history: from the very beginning of Linus announcing Linux, to a few years ago. Every important event in Linux history.

We created an infographic that shows every important event in the history of Linux in a fun visual way. It's just a reminder and a fun look back at what made Linux what it is today and how it came to be this way.

This isn't the full history of Linux. There are lots of events we didn't include, so if you have any suggestions on what you'd add, leave a comment below.

Download a printable version of this Linux history infographic

It's available in PDF and PNG. These files are high quality and print-ready.

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linux history

So, here’s the history of Linux in written form:

1991 August – the Linux kernel is announced

Linus Torvalds, 21 years old at the time, announced that he is developing Linux. Here’s the famous email where he announced Linux:

Hello everybody out there using 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, and
I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions
are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them 🙂

Linus (

PS. Yes – it’s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs.
It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never
will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that’s all I have :-(.

1992 February – the first complete Linux distro was released

This is when MCC Interim Linux was released. Considered to be THE first complete Linux distro for the “average desktop user”

1992 August – SLS is released inspiring other distros

Softlanding Linux System (SLS) is another important Linux distro. One of the first Linux distros that was more widely used. It inspired other distros – Debian and Slackware were based on SLS.

1992 September – the SUSE company is founded

One of the first companies to market Linux to enterprises – offering software, support, and other Linux services to enterprises.

1993 March – the Red Hat company is founded

Similarly to SUSE, Red Hat is one of the first companies to target enterprises with Linux software and support.

1993 July – Slackware is released

This is a special Linux distro because it’s THE oldest Linux distro that’s still actively maintained and developed. You can still use Slackware today, and many people do. Slackware was based on SLS.

1993 July – Wine is released

We still use this software today – it’s one of the best ways to run Windows applications and games on Linux.

1993 August – Debian is released

One of the oldest Linux distros that are still active today. Ubuntu is based on Debian. Ian Murdock created Debian after being annoyed at the number of bugs SLS had and its poor maintenance. The name “Debian” comes from Ian’s then-girlfriend Debra and his first name.

1993 June – SUSE Linux is released

The SUSE company released the first version of SUSE Linux, which was based on Slackware.

1996 May – the Tux mascot was born

During a contest in 1996, Larry Ewing designed Tux which was later chosen as the official Linux mascot. Linus chose to have a penguin mascot because he was bitten by a penguin at a zoo. He wanted a clear association with Linux, something that can all make us think of Linux when we see it. And, mission accomplished – most Linux users today think of Linux any time they see a penguin.

1996 October – KDE is released

A desktop environment that’s still used and developed to this day. One of the most popular Linux desktop environments.

1997 August – GNOME is announced

Another DE that’s still used today – GNOME was initially announced in 1997, and later officially released in March of 1999.

2000 February – RHEL is released

Developed by Red Hat – RHEL is one of the oldest commercial Linux distros that’s still very popular and active to this day.

2002 March – Arch Linux is released

A popular Linux distro among developers, still used by many people today btw.

2002 March – Gentoo is released

The first version of “Gentoo” was released on March 2002. Before that, the distro was named “Enoch Linux”, which was originally released in December 1999.

2003 November – Fedora is released

A popular Linux distro that’s still being used today. Fedora Linux is what Linus Torvalds uses.

2004 October – Ubuntu is released

This is probably the most popular Linux distro today. It’s a great distro for beginners. It’s based on Debian.

2005 April – Git is released

Linus Torvalds created git – a version control system that’s very widely used today. It’s what most programmers use and prefer.

2006 August – Linux Mint is released

A very popular Linux distro, especially for beginners and Windows users. It’s based on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian, which was based on SLS.

2008 September – Android is released

The most popular OS for smartphones was released in September 2008. It uses a modified version of the Linux kernel.

2020 October – LinuxStans is born

We launched this website in October 2020.

20XX – the year of the Linux desktop

And surely, next year will finally be the year of the Linux desktop.

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