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How Linux got to be Linux: Test driving 1993-2003 distros

A unique trait of open source is that it’s never truly EOL (End of Life). The disc images mostly remain online, and their licenses don’t expire, so going back and installing an old version of Linux in a virtual machine and getting a precise picture of what progress Linux has made over the years is relatively simple.
We begin our journey with Slackware 1.01, posted to the comp.os.linux.announce newsgroup well over 20 years ago.
Slackware 1.01 (1993)

Slackware 1.01
The best part about trying Slackware 1.01 is that there’s a pre-made image in Qemu’s 2014 series of free images, so you don’t have to perform the install manually (don’t get used to this luxury).

 $ qemu-kvm -m 16M -drive if=ide,format=qcow2,file=slackware.qcow2  -netdev user,id=slirp -device ne2k_isa,netdev=slirp  -serial stdio -redir tcp:22122::22Many things in 1993’s version of Linux works just as you’d expect. All the basic commands, such as ls and cd work, all the basic tools (gawk, cut,


 

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