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Linux information sheet (non-monthly posting)

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Linus Benedict Torvalds

Jan 9, 1992, 7:10:44 AM1/9/92

This is a blatant plug for my own unix-like kernel, as I'm
always interested in more beta-testers. It should be self-explanatory,
although interested persons should note that version 0.12 (still beta)
will be out in a week or so. 0.12 will have some additional features,
most notably:

- real paging to/from disk (but gcc is /slow/ on a 2M machine)
- POSIX job control
- virtual consoles & pty's
- some 387-emulation

but no, it doesn't do X yet. It looks a lot like minix, if you are
familiar with that (but much better, of course :).

LINUX IS STILL IN BETA!! You are probably not interested in this
if you only know DOS - it helps /a lot/ if you have managed unix even a
little: used minix or similar. Reading C-source and understanding what
happens is another nice ability. Being beta also means it has many
potential bugs, so watch out (although 0.11 seems to have been
relatively stable).

This information sheet has been compiled by Robert Blum
(, but he has problems posting
it. Questions/suggestions about the SHEET should go to him, about Linux
either to me or to the mailing-list.

Linus (

PS. Sorry about the 100+ newsgroups (well, 8 I think) - I'm not certain
which groups would be best.


(last updated 13 Dec 1991)

LINUX 0.11 is a freely distributable UNIX clone. It implements a
subset of System V and POSIX functionality. LINUX has been written
from scratch, and therefore does not contain any AT&T or MINIX
code--not in the kernel, the compiler, the utilities, or the libraries.
For this reason it can be made available with the complete source code
via anonymous FTP. LINUX runs only on 386/486 AT-bus machines; porting
to non-Intel architectures is likely to be difficult, as the kernel
makes extensive use of 386 memory management and task primitives.

Version 0.11 is still a beta release, but it already provides much
of the functionality of a System V.3 kernel. For example, various
users have been able to port programs such as bison/flex without having
to modify code at all. Another indication of its maturity is that
it is now possible to do LINUX kernel development using LINUX itself
and freely-available programming tools.

2. LINUX features
- System call compatible with a subset of System V and POSIX
- Full multiprogramming (multiple programs can run at once)
- Memory paging with copy-on-write
- Demand loading of executables
- Page sharing of executables
- ANSI compliant C compiler (gcc)
- A complete set of compiler writing tools
(bison as yacc-replacement, flex as lex replacement)
- The GNU 'Bourne again' shell (bash)
- Micro emacs
- most utilities you need for development
(cat, cp, kermit, ls, make, etc.)
- Over 200 library procedures (atoi, fork, malloc, read, stdio, etc.)
- Currently 4 national keyboards: Finnish/US/German/French
- Full source code (in C) for the OS is freely distributable
- Full source code of the tools can be gotten from many anonymous ftp sites
(Almost the entire suite of GNU programs has been ported to Linux.)
- Runs in protected mode on 386 and above
- Support for extended memory up to 16M on 386 and above
- RS-232 serial line support with terminal emulation, kermit, zmodem, etc.
- Supports the real time clock

- A 386 or 486 machine with an AT-bus. (EISA will probably work, also,
but you will need an AT-bus hard disk controller.)
Both DX and SX processors will work.
- A hard disk implementing the standard AT hard disk interface--
for example, an IDE drive. SCSI drives are not supported yet.
- A high-density disk drive--either 5.25" (1.2MB) or 3.5" (1.44MB).
- At least 2 megabytes of RAM. (LINUX will boot in 2 Mb. To use
gcc at least 4 MB are required.)
- Any video card of the following: Hercules,CGA,EGA,VGA

In addition, LINUX supports
- Up to two serial lines
- A real time clock

- The MTOOLS package (reading/writing to DOS filesystems)
- The complete GNU filetools (ls, cat, cp, mv, ...)
- The GNU C compiler with GNU assembler, linker, ar, ...
- bison
- flex
- rcs
- pmake (BSD 4.3 Reno/BSD 4.4 make)
- kermit
- Micro emacs
- less
- mkfs
- fsck
- mount/umount

The LINUX binaries and sources are available at three
anonymous FTP sites. These are:

Although LINUX is supplied with the complete source code, it is
copyrighted software. Unlike MINIX, however, it is available for free,
provided you obey to the rules specified in the LINUX copyright.

Since LINUX's introduction to the public there has been a rapidly
growing mailing list, "". To subscribe to
this list, mail to "". If the
traffic in this lists increases further, there are plans to swap ( at
least partially ) over to comp.os.misc, so watch out for any LINUX
articles in this group. For the current status of LINUX, do "finger".

Work is underway on LINUX version 1.0, which will close some of the
gaps in the present implementation. Various people are currently working
- Math support/fp emulation in the kernel
- Page swapping (since paging is already implemented)
- A virtual filesystem layer
- POSIX job control (This is already alpha and will probably be
out with Version 0.12.)
- init/getty/login
- symbolic links
- Interprocess communication
- IEEE POSIX P1003.1 / P1003.2 compatibility
- SCSI support
If you want to help, join the mailing list.

Mika Matti Jalava

Jan 9, 1992, 5:39:00 PM1/9/92
In article <1992Jan9.2...@wpi.WPI.EDU> ent...@wintermute.WPI.EDU (Lawrence C. Foard) writes:
>Where can I ftp it from? I would very much like to try it on my 386.
>Does it work well enough for practical use?

These are parts of the output of
Try it for more information.

Linux can be gotten by anonymous ftp from '' (
in the directory '/pub/OS/Linux'. The same directory also contains some
Tupac-Amaru.Informatik.RWTH-Aachen.DE (
directory /pub/msdos/replace (
directory /pub/linux

There is also a mailing list set up ''.
To join, mail a request to ''.

Try it, I didn't have minix or any other *nix before but I really like
it. Actually I'm writing this using kermit from linux, I don't even
have any other OS on my HD (the one that is in my computer, as it is
only 20M, my 115M ESDI still doesn't want to work -> it sits on the


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