Does the first version of Linux developed by Linus Torvalds have a GUI (not necessarily Iconic but something simpler like Midnight Commander)?

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    Note that what you call "iconic" is pretty much the definition of a graphical user interface; mc is a text user interface, or TUI. Jun 2, 2019 at 4:13
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    Linux today does not have a GUI so I don't understand what you mean.
    – pipe
    Jun 2, 2019 at 10:47
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    @JohnDoea The downvote button literally says "does not show any research effort" so you might take that into consideration before asking.
    – pipe
    Jun 2, 2019 at 22:13
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    @JohnDoea No, Linus Torvalds wrote a kernel. The userland was originally Minix, but soon replaced with GNU. The kernel doesn't even have a direct user interface; it relies on the tools such as init, bash and other processes to provide a user interface. Yet a kernel is essential in a operating system.
    – vidarlo
    Jun 2, 2019 at 23:56
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    To extend the reference of @vidarlo : Are you familiar with the distinction between Linux and GNU/Linux? Jun 3, 2019 at 5:48

1 Answer 1


Note, Linux is only a kernel, like msdos.sys in DOS or krnl386.exe in Windows.

No. It had no GUI, it was purely command line.

In Linus' initial statement, roughly with the release of the Linux kernel 0.0.1, we said, he ported bash and gcc to it. He ported probably also the most important GNU tools (make and fileutils (today part of coreutils)).

I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

Note: This initial mail looks a little bit self-advertising and flamish with the eyes of the today, but it is better to not see that post from the current culture.

Although X11 was ported to it in a few years, roughly in 19931. It was a huge work, much bigger than writing the kernel itself, but having the kernel made the X11 port possible.

The today obsolete SVGAlib appeared roughly also in that year1.

1I did not find a reference on the net for that, except my remembers.

  • 67
    Self-advertising and flamish? But Linus even says that it's just a hobby that won't be big and professional (boy was he mistaken, but that's another subject). If anything, he seems more humble than usual.
    – forest
    Jun 2, 2019 at 6:53
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    @forest: Yeah, I don't see what's at all self-advertising and flamish about the quoted part, at least. It's a lot more friendly than at least 95% of his emails in the past 20 years, and I'd consider it reasonable form for announcing a related project of interest on a mailing list I moderate. Jun 2, 2019 at 13:10
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    The kernel doesn't offer a command line interface (nor a GUI), unless you count that of the boot loader passing parameters when chaining to the kernel (and I pretty much doubt that interface was in place in the early releases either). The kernel does hardware and kernel-internal initialization, then passes control to an init program (whether sysvinit, systemd, Upstart, or something else) that is supposed to get the system to a "useful" state. Try passing init=/bin/sh to the kernel on a modern system some time, and you'll probably get a moderate likeness to the early Linux systems.
    – user
    Jun 2, 2019 at 13:36
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    "It depends on the definition of GUI". No-one ever called a VT100 character interface, not even one that presented menus rather than command lines, a "GUI".
    – dave
    Jun 3, 2019 at 1:24
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    @donbright - The "G" in GUI standard for graphical. A VT100 command line is at best a TUI. Jun 3, 2019 at 8:03