Desktop Wars
 Which Linux innovations?
Author: Hans J Micheelsen (
Date:   06-27-01 16:49


I'm just wondering. M$ defends its right to innovate and everybody says that M$ never innovated anything. But if somebody asks me; "Now which innovations have been done in Linux?", what should I then answer.
Can anybody give a list of innovations done under Linux and under open source?

Hans J Micheelsen

 RE: Which Linux innovations?
Author: barfalamute (
Date:   06-27-01 19:45


 RE: Which Linux innovations?
Author: nobody (---.NMSU.Edu)
Date:   06-28-01 08:46

Multiple platform ability. In my opinion a major Linux innovation is it's abiltiy to run on basically on all hardware platforms. The "Write Once Run Anywhere" mantra of Java now belongs to Linux. Who would have thought that Linux would become a major IBM mainframe operating system? Linux pretty much makes Java's "Write Once Run Anywhere" irrelevent; now PHP, Perl, Rexx, or any other programming language becomes "Write Once Run Anywhere" through Linux. I would say that is a great innovation. An innovation that Microsoft wishes it could kill. Think about the differences between Microsoft and Linux. Microsoft wants to destroy all other operating systems in favor of their's. But Linux adapts. Linux can take other operating systems and make them better. Case in point....IBM's VM/ESA and zVM operating systems. Linux isn't replacing IBM's operating is just making it better. That is pretty innovative.

 RE: Which Linux innovations?
Author: Myddrin (
Date:   06-28-01 12:41

Well, recently, the concept of the in kernel server (implemented in TUX 1.0) has been borrowed by MS for IIS 6.0 according to C|NET.

Some of the GUI work that KDE and GNOME are doing are pretty innovative. In particular, Nautilus's UI and MP3 preview features. In KDE their work with audio CD's threatens to make ripping a CD as easy as coping files... something no one else seems to have done.

Going back, Emacs made a big splash as a scriptable IDE, something that also has been *ahem* borrowed by MS... VB 6.0 is moderately scriptable, but not to the same level as Emacs.

Then of course the whole project management of thousands of developers world wide in a vast collaboration is pretty innovative (in a evolutionary way). While such projects exsited before, I don't think any are on the same level as the kernel, KDE or GNOME.

 RE: Which Linux innovations?
Author: Mike Hoskins (
Date:   06-28-01 15:58

Yeah, Samba is mainly a Linux innovation. You know, M$ did not invent SMB, aka the Lan Manager protocol or NetBIOS. If I'm not mistaken, IBM did. SAMBA, especially 2.0, really is an innovation.

BTW, Tux was not the first kernel HTTP daemon for Linux. Khttpd was earlier. Tux 2.0, though, adds MANY features and annihilates it in performance, especially on SMP boxen.

I think the kernel-level firewalling capabilities, especially when you consider IP masquerade, is a REAL innovation.

I also think Immunix StackGard is another REAL innovation:

MOSIX is another, but it was sorta available for BSD machines, first.

IPv6!!! The entire IPv4 protocol in the kernel. IBM's wristwatch Linux. Reiser-FS. Kernel-level RAID. The frame buffer. Kernel modules! The development of Perl, Python, PHP, GCC, GLIBC, Apache, XFree86, etc., are all *primarily* Linux products/innovations. You can also add Wine, VMWare, DOSEMU, Willows, and Win4Lin. Then there's the licensing scheme, the GPL, for GNU, FSF, and Linux -- Linux was an OS (the first?) that used GPL. Linux is a free (both senses of the word) POSIX compatible Unix, too.

I'm just getting warmed up. There are literally HUNDREDS of innovations in Linux and in its surrounding products. BTW, Linux maybe didn't actually INVENT any of these, but these projects are popular today, because of Linux, and FreeBSD/OpenBSD/NetBSD, as well.

The fact that there really is OS competition is the most major innovation of Linux, today.

 RE: Which Linux innovations?
Author: Bubba (208.224.46.---)
Date:   06-30-01 13:00

I agree about kernel level firewalling. That is a great innovation!

 RE: Which Linux innovations?
Author: DJ (
Date:   07-01-01 22:14

Linux did a lot, and a lot happened around it. I think you ask the
wrong question. It is far easier to say what M$ did definitely NOT invent.


MS-DOS - actually written by someone else. It's original name
was "QDOS" - Quick & Dirty Operating System. The original author
did not think it was any good, and so sold it to Bill Gates, who changed
it into "MS DOS - Microsoft Disk Operating System" and he then
sold this 1980 for lots of $$$$ to IBM who shipped the first PC's to the world.
And thus the "Wintel" saga began .... MS and IBM later sepparated,
for various issues, one of them being Microsoft's treason against OS/2,
which IBM and Microsoft had jointly developped, Microsoft went away and
came out with Windows NT ...

BAT Files - shell scripts in UNIX, invented 30 years ago.
IBM Mainframes new batch jobs even before that, however, those
were not necessarily scripts as we know them today, but still,
they were around ages before MS.

Windows NT - written by the same guy who wrote the DEC/VMS
operating system 20 years earlier, with a bit of POSIX in it and
an ugly GUI on top (the first NT GUI's looked like the old ones
from Windows 2.x and 3.x which in turn looked like early versions
of the "Common Desktop Environment" (CDE) found on lots of UNIX
versions ... Boy, was NT U G L Y back then ! )

GUI - invented by XEROX, about 30 years ago.

Icons (e.g. in Windows GUI) - invented by XEROX, about 30 years ago, later
copied by APPLE, Microsoft and all others ...

Drag and Drop - invented by XEROX I think ... or maybe APPLE ?
Anyway, not a M$ "invention" either.

Trash can - Invented by APPLE

Sound Events (e.g. when emtpying a trash can) - Invented by APPLE

Context sensitive Help - Invented by APPLE

HyperText (e.g. the Links within the help texts that lead to other texts, etc.) -
also invented by APPLE.

Desktop concept in GUIs - invented by XEROX, about 30 years ago,
also copied first by APPLE, MS, and all the rest ...

Windows Shortcuts - see above. Also let's not forget about the
symbolic links and hard-links in all UNIX-like systems. As far as I know
those things showed up early on in the UNIX world, so that invention
is also around 30 years old, just like UNIX itself.

Task Manager - "ps" and "top" and "kill" in UNIX, invented around 30 years ago.
Window's "Task Manager" has a GUI, the UNIX ones not necessarily
(there are add-ons and front-ends around), but the principle is the same.

Task Scheduler - "cron" and "at" commands in UNIX, invented ages ago.
And they are far more powerful than that crap from M$.

Multi-Tasking - invented 30 years ago. This was the reason UNIX got
invented, because the creators were trying to develop a system that
could run multiple programs at the same time. The result was UNIX
and all the other OSes that followed.

TCP/IP - In Windows, if you look under the networking protocols, you will
find a category "Microsoft", and in there you will find "TCP/IP", which
could make you believe that it was MS who invented it, right ?
Wrong, TCP/IP was also invented in the early 1970's for the ARPA project,
that later became today's Internet. No M$ invention here either.

Mouse - invented by some Swiss guys at the polytechnic university
in Zuerich (ETH Zuerich), also about 30 years ago. Some of those guys later
founded the well-known company LOGITECH, and guess what,
they are still selling mice and doing quite fine. The first mouse was a
clunky wooden box on wheels made by some students ... and not by M$.
They just copied the idea and then called it "MS Mouse".

Visual BASIC - BASIC itself is a very old language, I think it is from
the mid-60's and was originally intended to run on those big hulking
ENIAC-style machines they had back then. Programming those machines
was rather complicated, you had to program your stuff directly in binary
code (stuff like "0010010100100 10110 1110101 1011010111")
using punching cards or by setting registers. So a simple language
that resembled the English language was more than welcome.

Visual C - C is one of the oldest programming languages around,
I think it must be around 40 years - it started somewhere in the 60's too.
Became very prominent from the 70's on, because it was so easily
portable, people used it to write their UNIX OSes for lots of systems with it.
The Linux Kernel is also written in C, and this is the main reason why
Linux can run on lots of different systems, ranging from "Big Iron" machines
like IBM Mainframes, standard PC's, Mac's, Amiga's, Atari's,
PDA's, Palm-Size devices, and now even a wrist-watch.
MS' newest invention "C# " is also based on C, so nothing new,
just a recycling of ideas other people had before (e.g. with C++).

JAVA - Microsoft tried to kidnap it, but we all know that it got
developed by SUN and IBM, about 5+ or so years ago.
Nothing new either, and not invented by M$.

NetBIOS - a dinosaur of the networking protocols,
but lives on thanks to Microsoft, as they are still using this
pile of junk in their networking code. Was invented in the 70's I think.

SMB - invented by IBM - very very old protocol.
Microsoft still uses it to some part, e.g. to share drives and printers
and they integrated it into their networking too, e.g. every Windoze
machine usually has TCP Port 139 open because of this, even
if nothing is being shared.

KERBEROS - invented by some UNIX gurus in Berkeley and the MIT
I think .... Microsoft kidnapped the standard, so the original protocol and
Microsoft's version are not compatible. Microsoft "invented" Kerberos
for use in Windows 2000, as a replacement for the insecure mechanisms
that were used in NT before that.

WAV - WaveForm audio files. The first time I saw these was
with the first SoundBlaster from Creative Labs, back in 1989.
There were lots of other formats around back then, e.g. VOC and
some others. Microsoft then later declared that WAV from now
on was THE Standard for audio files in Windows 3.1 and 3.11
(Windows 3.0 did not support any soundcards yet, you had
to configure everything via shaky DOS programs).
And so all manufacturers like Creative, AdLib and Roland
adapted, and all the other soundfile standards disappeared.

AVI - originally invented by INTEL. Was made the standard
video file format in Windows 3.x in the late 80's. Other formats
disappeared, e.g. the FLI and FLC animation formats used
by AutoDesk and some other companies. AVI formats used
on IBM's OS/2 were very often incompatible with the Windows
version and vice versa, so you very often could not play the files
from one OS on the other one. "action" on Linux can play them both ;-)

HTML - originally invented at the CERN research site in Geneva, Switzerland.
The standards for WWW, HTTP and HTML got invented there, around 1990
(imagine, there were N O web pages in the Internet before that, everything
was more or less in text mode before the WWW ! No Browsers !!! ).
The HTML protocol is standardized, but Microsoft again kidnapped the
standard, so that now very often pages need to written twice to make
sure they look identical and work at all on Netscape and MSIE.

.... you see, the list could go on and on. I think I should stop here ;-)
Sorry for the long post, but it had to be said for once.
M$ indeed did never invent A N Y T H I N G as you can see.


 RE: Which Linux innovations?
Author: Mark Veltzer (
Date:   07-02-01 07:03


GCC is the ONLY compiler in the world that supports many input languages and many CPUS
as targets.

GCC currently supports the following inputs: C,C++,Objective C,Ada, Java, Fortran and others
GCC support about 160 types of targets architectures (Visual C++ suports 2).
GCC is about 10 M for download (Visual C++ is about 2 CD's - it is true that it comes with a UI
but hell!!!! I could put 2 full linux systems with 1200 applications on two CDS).
GCC runs on every platform (windows and dos included).

You may say: "What? A compiler ? This is a techno innovation ?!?" And as a programmer
I'm telling you it is the greatest innovation in the computer industry I have heard of up to date
(greater than the entire web....).

You may ask: but what does this give you ? Well, imagine you're in a computer software store
in 5 years. You say "Ok, I'll have this CPU and that operating system...". Sound like a dream ?
It's not. It's already a reality if you're using Linux or BSD. Those OSs are portable thanks to GCC
which means that hardware manufacturors are competing on a level playing ground over Linux
or BSD clients (I would buy whatever hardware that gives me the best money/performance
ratio - hell - I can even buy a Mac - It runs Linux). This type of competition among hardware
manufacturors is something which has NEVER happened in the computer industry and which
the hardware manufacturors don't want to happen. It will. It does. GCC did it.


P.S. I'm not talking about Intel compatibles here in case you've missed the point. I'm talking running your machine on a CPU that's so different from Intel that the Intel looks like a bloody joke...


 RE: Which Linux innovations?
Author: Scott Marlowe (170.207.105.---)
Date:   07-02-01 14:51

The single greatest innovation from Linux, imnsho, is that it has been slowly unifying a fragmented unix universe via the gnu software tools and libraries.. Where once you had to write for ONE flavor of Unix and then port to the other flavors, often a laborious process, you can now write an application for "Gnu" flavoring, and expect it to run with little or no modification on other flavors of Unix.

The other innovation is allowing school children the chance to learn a real, multi-tasking unix operating system before they've even graduated from junior high school. The kind of power Linux represents is awesome, and I wish I'd have had it when I was in primary school.

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