MCC Interim Linux
|Company / developer||Owen Le Blanc|
|Source model||Free and open source software|
|Initial release||February 1992|
|Latest release||1.2+ / 23 April 1996|
|Update method||None (manual)|
|Supported platforms||Intel 386|
|Kernel type||Monolithic (Linux)|
|Default user interface||Command line interface|
MCC Interim Linux was a Linux distribution first released in February 1992 by Owen Le Blanc of the Manchester Computing Centre (MCC), part of the University of Manchester. It has the distinction of being the first Linux distribution capable of being independently installed on a computer.
The MCC first made Linux available by anonymous FTP in November 1991. Le Blanc's irritations with his early experiments with Linux, such as the lack of a working fdisk (he would later write one), the need to use multiple FTP repositories to acquire all the essential software, and library version problems, inspired the creation of this distribution.
Le Blanc claimed he referred to the distributions as "interim" because "...they are not intended to be final or official. They are small, harmonious, and moderately tested. They do not conform to everyone's taste -- what release does? -- but they should provide a stable base to which other software can be added."
Prior to its first release, the closest approximation to a Linux distribution had been H J Lu's "Boot-root" floppy disk images. These were two 5¼" diskette images containing the Linux kernel and the minimum tools required to get started. So minimal were these tools that to be able to boot from a hard drive required editing its master boot record with a hex editor.
The first release of MCC Interim Linux was based on version 0.12 of the Linux kernel and made use of Theodore Ts'o's ramdisk code to copy a small root image to memory, freeing the floppy drive for additional utilities diskettes.
He also stated his distributions were "unofficial experiments", describing the goals of his releases as being:
- To provide a simple installation procedure.
- To provide a more complete installation procedure.
- To provide a backup/recovery service.
- To back up his (then) current system.
- To compile, link, and test every binary file under the current versions of the kernel, gcc, and libraries.
- To provide a stable base system, which can be installed in a short time, and to which other software can be added with relatively little effort.
Indeed, no attempt was ever made to distribute it with a wide range of software or even the X386 windowing system.
Soon after the first release came other distributions such as TAMU, created by individuals at Texas A&M University, Martin Junius's MJ, Softlanding Linux System and H J Lu's small base system. These in turn were quickly superseded by Debian and Slackware, the oldest surviving distributions.
The 1.0 distribution of MCC Interim pointed out that Debian was "five times the size of MCC, and quite comprehensive", and the final distribution encouraged users to switch to Debian by providing transitional support.
As discussed in an email dated 23 April 1992, the boot and utilities disk pair included:
- The GNU shell/file/text utilities
- Linux Online - The History of Linux
- "MCC Interim Linux". Retrieved 2 April 2013.
- Joinson, Robin. "MCC Interim Release". Retrieved 2007-07-19.
- A Short History of Linux Distributions by Joe Klemmer [LWN.net]
- MCC's anonymous FTP site featuring versions 0.97-p2-12 to 2.0+
- MCC Interim Linux at ibiblio
- Manchester Linux User Group's feature on the 15th anniversary of MCC Interim Linux, including image files for use with the QEMU emulator.