The Collaborative Nature of Linux

When developers unite, beautiful things are created.

I don’t know how long ago it was that I learned about Linux. Maybe it was when I joined the robotics club my freshman year, or maybe it was late in my high school career. It feels like Linux has always been a part of my life, in one way or another.

For those of you who do not know, Linux is a large group of operating systems (OS), the main program that runs on a computer. Windows is the OS most people use when they log onto a computer; macOS is what runs on Apple’s Mac lineup. The name “Linux” comes from the Linux kernel, which is just a fancy term for the part of the OS that manages stuff behind the scenes.

Multiple things differentiate Linux from other OSs, though. For starters, even though MS Windows runs the commercial computer market, most servers, PoS systems, smart-devices, and even cell phones run on some “distribution” of Linux. Android, the OS that runs on a majority of smartphones, is even Linux-based! As of late 2017, the top 500 supercomputers in the world run Linux!

Even more remarkable is that it wasn’t made by some giant corporation looking to make money. It was made by this man in this room:

The guy above is Linus Torvalds, the original creator of the Linux kernel. He didn’t have to make the Linux kernel. He wanted to.

The most remarkable thing about Linux, though, is that if just Linus worked on it, it would likely have never taken off. The most important aspect of Linux, like any other open-source project, is that people collaborate to make it better!

The many developers of the Linux kernel subscribe to a mailing list to stay in the loop, said developers clone the code in its current state and edit it how they see fit, they submit those changes to code maintainers, then Linus vets the final product. Practically every other open-source project works in this way; just take a look at GitHub and GitLab for countless examples of large and small projects like this.

Collaboration is one of the key reasons that technology continues to advance. The Firefox web browser, the Typescript programming language, and countless other web and computing projects, are open-source. Free, open-source software (FOSS) is quite possibly the main reason the Internet as we know it continues to thrive…and yet it’s just a bunch of geeks using their free time to make passion projects, working together to create the very fabric on which the world rests its data.

In a way, you could say this is one of the best kinds of love someone can have. A love for making something upon which others can expand, simply for the joy of creating and sharing these projects with others. That said, Happy Valentine’s Day.

(Yep, that’s what I’m going with.)

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