History of Linux on Magazine Cover Disks
I have worked with “Free Software” or “Open Source” technology for some quarter of a century. Being one of the people seeing why it is so important and pushing it early on, helping found the ACCU and then in 1994 a collaborative venture with the UKUUG (Now known as FLOSS UK) to start a Linux Special Interest group.
You can still find scans of those early printed newsletters on the UKUUG archive. The first issue shows just how far we have come in that time. There was an earnest discussion on the SIG producing its own CD ROMS of selected Linux software. Remember at the time unless you worked for a big company or University the Internet was something at the end of a SLOW phone line. And PCs were only just starting to get CD ROM drives, but not writers, they came a few years later.
Because of this problem with getting Linux to a keen public I persuaded several computer magazines at the time to give over most and in some cases all of the space on their cover CDs (also a new development at the time) to getting Linux out there.
- The sadly now defunct Linux-FT release on Computer Shopper magazine in March 1996 and a slightly updated version again in Personal Computer World magazine May 1996
- A year later (and a name very much still around) Red Hat Linux 4.1 on the cover of PCW.
- And lastly, taking over the entire 600MB CD space, a special cut down edition of SuSE Linux 5.2 made it onto the cover of PC Plus magazine.
A big gamble of trust on their part but one that was well rewarded in that the magazine sold out fast!
This established an important trend. Until fast broadband became so common a magazine cover disk was a fast and risk free way for the modem connected masses to try out new releases of Linux as they came out. The way that Open Source software works, the more people trying something, and fixing it if it is not quite right for them is how we have come so far 25 years later.