Richard Stallman (RMS) started GNU in 1983, as a project to create a complete free operating system. In the text of the GNU Manifesto, he mentioned that there is a primitive kernel. In the first GNUsletter, Feb. 1986, he says that GNU's kernel is TRIX, which was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
By December of 1986, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) had "started working on the changes needed to TRIX" [Gnusletter, Jan. 1987]. Shortly thereafter, the FSF began "negotiating with Professor Rashid of Carnegie-Mellon University about working with them on the development of the Mach kernel" [Gnusletter, June, 1987]. The text implies that the FSF wanted to use someone else's work, rather than have to fix TRIX.
In [Gnusletter, Feb. 1988], RMS was talking about taking Mach and putting the Berkeley Sprite filesystem on top of it, "after the parts of Berkeley Unix... have been replaced."
Six months later, the FSF is saying that "if we can't get Mach, we'll use TRIX or Berkeley's Sprite." Here, they present Sprite as a full-kernel option, rather than just a filesystem.
In January, 1990, they say "we aren't doing any kernel work. It does not make sense for us to start a kernel project now, when we still hope to use Mach" [Gnusletter, Jan. 1990]. Nothing significant occurs until 1991, when a more detailed plan is announced:
We are still interested in a multi-process kernel running on top of Mach. The CMU lawyers are currently deciding if they can release Mach with distribution conditions that will enable us to distribute it. If they decide to do so, then we will probably start work. CMU has available under the same terms as Mach a single-server partial Unix emulator named Poe; it is rather slow and provides minimal functionality. We would probably begin by extending Poe to provide full functionality. Later we hope to have a modular emulator divided into multiple processes. [Gnusletter, Jan. 1991].
RMS explains the relationship between the Hurd and Linux, where he mentions that the FSF started developing the Hurd in 1990. As of [Gnusletter, Nov. 1991], the Hurd (running on Mach) is GNU's official kernel.
These are all the announcements made over the years. Most of them were either sent to the gnu.announce news group or Hurd interest mailing lists.
- hurd-flash15 -- Release 0.2 announcement (complete GNU system)
- hurd-flash14 -- Release 0.2 announcement (Hurd)
- hurd-flash13 -- Test release announcement (Aug 96)
- hurd-flash12 -- Test release status (Jul 96)
- hurd-flash11 -- Binary image available, Apr 96 This and NetBSD boot flopies should be enough to get a working GNU/Hurd system!
- hurd-flash10 -- New Snapshot, Apr 96 -- NFS and lots else works!
- hurd-flash9 -- News Flash, Nov 95 -- ftp works!
- hurd-flash8 -- New Snapshot, Jul 95 -- ext2fs support
- hurd-flash7 -- New Snapshot, Apr 95
- hurd-flash6 -- News flash, Nov 94
- hurd-flash5 -- News flash, Sep 94 -- gcc runs!
- hurd-flash4 -- News flash, Aug 94
- hurd-flash3 -- News flash, Jul 94 -- emacs runs!
- hurd-flash2 -- News flash, May 94
- hurd-flash -- News flash, Apr 94 -- it boots!
- hurd-announce2 -- GNU Hurd announcement, Nov 93
- hurd-announce -- GNU Hurd announcement, May 91
- History 1997-2003 -- personal view of Marcus Brinkmann about Hurd development in 1997-2003.
An Incomplete GNU Hurd Timeline
- 1997: GNU Hurd 0.2.
- 2002: GNU MIG 1.3, libio-based glibc, GNU Mach 1.3, Hurd L4 starts, work on the transition from cthreads to pthreads starts, Hurd installation party in Heidelberg, Toronto Hurd User Group meeting, Presentation at EpX in Paris (slides).
- 2003: Crosshurd, LinuxTag 2003.
- 2005: Hurd/L4 at Libre Software Meeting.
- 2007: FOSDEM, the critique and position paper, libchannel for GSoC, IPv6, Hurd/L4 abandoned, Hurd on Xen.
- 2008: Five successful GSoC projects, Hurd/Viengoos.
- 2009: GSoC unionmount translator, Start of Device Drivers in Userspace. 66% of the Debian packages build.
- 2010: Arch Hurd, Initial Nix port, DDE, Thesis: Generalizing mobility for the Hurd, Hurd article in LWN, procfs, Talk: It's about Freedom, GSoC: Debian Installer, Hurd/Viengoos on hold. 68% of the Debian packages build.
- 2011: GNU Hurd 0.401, xkb, Hurd in xkcd, Graphical Debian Installer, on FOSS Factory, Lots of attention from the press brought lots of rumors, Talk at GHM in Paris (video), slab allocator, Continuous builds with Nix, improved build system, GSoC: Java. 70% of the Debian packages build.
- 2012: Half the Linux 2.6.32 network drivers build with DDE, Continuous testing with Nix, improved debugging, memory mapping with red-black tree, switch to pthreads finished, live-filesystem-debugging report.
- 2013: Talk at FOSDEM, Debian GNU/Hurd 2013.