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Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 01:44 AM EDT

I asked Andy Tanenbaum if Groklaw could reproduce his web site's reply to ADTI's Ken Brown's attack on Linus, which we have linked to earlier, and he granted permission. I am glad to place it here, because this is part of the history of this story, and it completes Groklaw's picture. It is Groklaw's goal to have every significant event memorialized on this site.

First, there is his followup, posted on May 21, followed by his original response posted on May 20, 2004.

***********************************************

Ken Brown's Motivation, Release 1.2



Background


On 20 May 2004, I posted a statement refuting the claim of Ken Brown, President of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, that Linus Torvalds didn't write Linux. My statement was mentioned on Slashdot, Groklaw, and many other Internet news sites. This attention resulted in over 150,000 requests to our server in less than a day, which is still standing despite yesterday being a national holiday with no one there to stand next to it saying "You can do it. You can do it." Kudos to Sun Microsystems and the folks who built Apache. My statement was mirrored all over the Internet, so the number of true hits to it is probably a substantial multiple of that. There were also quite a few comments at Slashdot, Groklaw, and other sites, many of them about me. I had never engaged in remote multishrink psychoanalysis on this scale before, so it was a fascinating experience.


The Brown Book

I got an advance copy of Ken Brown's book. I think it is still under embargo, so I won't comment on it. Although I am not an investigative reporter, even I know it is unethical to discuss publications still under embargo. Some of us take ethics more seriously than others. So I won't even reveal the title. Let's call it The Brown Book. There is some precedent for nicknaming books after colors: The International Standard for the CD-ROM (IS 10149) is usually called The Red Book.


Suffice it to say, there is a great deal to criticize in the book. I am sure that will happen when it is published. I may even help out.



Brown's Motivation


What prompted me to write this note today is an email I got yesterday. Actually, I got quite a few :-) , most of them thanking me for the historical material. One of yesterday's emails was from Linus, in response to an email from me apologizing for not letting him see my statement in advance. As a matter of courtesy, I did try but I was using his old transmeta.com address and didn't know his new one until I got a very kind email from Linus' father, a Finnish journalist.


In his email, Linus said that Brown never contacted him. No email, no phone call, no personal interview. Nothing. Considering the fact that Brown was writing an explosive book in which he accused Linus of not being the author of Linux, you would think a serious author would at least confront the subject with the accusation and give him a chance to respond. What kind of a reporter talks to people on the periphery of the subject but fails to talk to the main player?


Why did Brown fly all the way to Europe to interview me and (and according to an email I got from his seat-mate on the plane) one other person in Scandinavia, at considerable expense, and not at least call Linus? Even if he made a really bad choice of phone company, how much could that cost? Maybe a dollar? I call the U.S. all the time from Amsterdam. It is less than 5 cents a minute. How much could it cost to call California from D.C.?


From reading all the comments posted yesterday, I am now beginning to get the picture. Apparently a lot of people (still) think that I 'hate' Linus for stealing all my glory (see below for more on this). I didn't realize this view was so widespread. I now suspect that Brown believed this, too, and thought that I would be happy to dump all over Linus to get 'revenge.' By flying to Amsterdam he thought he could dig up dirt on Linus and get me to speak evil of him. He thought I would back up his crazy claim that Linus stole Linux from me. Brown was wrong on two counts. First, I bear no 'grudge' against Linus at all. He wrote Linux himself and deserves the credit. Second, I am really not a mean person. Even if I were still angry with him after all these years, I wouldn't choose some sleazy author with a hidden agenda as my vehicle. My home page gets 2500 hits a week. If I had something to say, I could put it there.


When The Brown Book comes out, there will no doubt be a lot of publicity in the mainstream media. Any of you with contacts in the media are actively encouraged to point reporters to this page and my original statement to provide some balance. I really think Brown's motivation should come under scrutiny. I don't believe for a nanosecond that Brown was trying to do a legitimate study of IP and open source or anything like that. I think he was trying to make the case the people funding him (which he refused to disclose to me despite my asking point blank) wanted to have made. Having an institution with an illustrious-sounding name make the case looks better than having an interested party make the case.


Clearing Up Some Misconceptions


I would like to close by clearing up a few misconceptions and also correcting a couple of errors. First, I REALLY am not angry with Linus. HONEST. He's not angry with me either. I am not some kind of "sore loser" who feels he has been eclipsed by Linus. MINIX was only a kind of fun hobby for me. I am a professor. I teach and do research and write books and go to conferences and do things professors do. I like my job and my students and my university. If you want to get a masters there, see my home page for information. I wrote MINIX because I wanted my students to have hands-on experience playing with an operating system. After AT&T forbid teaching from John Lions book, I decided to write a UNIX-like system for my students to play with. Since I had already written two books at this point, one on computer architecture and one on computer networks, it seemed reasonable to describe the system in a new book on operating systems, which is what I did. I was not trying to replace GNU/HURD or Berkeley UNIX. Heaven knows, I have said this enough times. I just wanted to show my students and other students how you could write a UNIX-like system using modern technology. A lot of other people wanted a free production UNIX with lots of bells and whistles and wanted to convert MINIX into that. I was dragged along in the maelstrom for a while, but when Linux came along, I was actually relieved that I could go back to professoring. I never really applied for the position of King of the Hackers and didn't want the job when it was offered. Linus seems to be doing excellent work and I wish him much success in the future.


While writing MINIX was fun, I don't really regard it as the most important thing I have ever done. It was more of a distraction than anything else. The most important thing I have done is produce a number of incredibly good students, especially Ph.D. students. See my home page for the list. They have done great things. I am as proud as a mother hen. To the extent that Linus can be counted as my student, I'm proud of him, too. Professors like it when their students go on to greater glory. I have also written over 100 published research papers and 14 books which have been translated into about 20 languages. As a result I have become a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of the ACM, and won numerous other awards. For me, these are the things that really count. If MINIX had become a big 'commercial' success I wouldn't have had the time to do all this academic stuff that I am actually more interested in.


Microkernels Revisited


I can't resist saying a few words about microkernels. A microkernel is a very small kernel. If the file system runs inside the kernel, it is NOT a microkernel. The microkernel should handle low-level process management, scheduling, interprocess communication, interrupt handling, and the basics of memory management and little else. The core microkernel of MINIX 1.0 was under 1400 lines of C and assembler. To that you have to add the headers and device drivers, but the totality of everything that ran in kernel mode was under 5000 lines. Microsoft claimed that Windows NT 3.51 was a microkernel. It wasn't. It wasn't even close. Even they dropped the claim with NT 4.0. Some microkernels have been quite successful, such as QNX and L4. I can't for the life of me see why people object to the 20% performance hit a microkernel might give you when they program in languages like Java and Perl where you often get a factor 20x performance hit. What's the big deal about turning a 3.0 GHz PC into a 2.4 GHz PC due to a microkernel? Surely you once bought a machine appreciably slower than 2.4 GHz and were very happy with it. I would easily give up 20% in performance for a system that was robust, reliable, and wasn't susceptible to many of the ills we see in today's massive operating systems.


Correction


I would now like to correct an error in my original statement. One of the emails I got yesterday clarified the origins of Coherent. It was not written by Bob Swartz. He was CEO of the Mark Williams Company. Three ex-students from the University of Waterloo, Dave Conroy, Randell Howard, and Johann George, did most of the work. Waterloo is in Canada, where they also play baseball I am told, but only after the ice melts and they can't play hockey. It took the Waterloo students something like 6 man-years to produce Coherent, but this included the kernel, the C compiler, the shell, and ALL the utilities. The kernel is only a tiny fraction of the total code, so it may well be that the kernel itself took a man year. It took me three years to write MINIX, but I was only working at it only in the evenings, and I also wrote 400 pages of text describing the code in that time period (also in the evenings). I think a good programmer can write a 12,000 line kernel in a year.


If you have made it this far, thank you for your time. Permission is hereby granted to mirror this web page provided that the original, unmodified version is used.


Andy Tanenbaum, 21 May 2004
http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/brown/followup/

*********************************************

Some Notes on the "Who wrote Linux" Kerfuffle, Release 1.5



Background


The history of UNIX and its various children and grandchildren has been in the news recently as a result of a book from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution. Since I was involved in part of this history, I feel I have an obligation to set the record straight and correct some extremely serious errors. But first some background information.


Ken Brown, President of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, contacted me in early March. He said he was writing a book on the history of UNIX and would like to interview me. Since I have written 15 books and have been involved in the history of UNIX in several ways, I said I was willing to help out. I have been interviewed by many people for many reasons over the years, and have been on Dutch and US TV and radio and in various newspapers and magazines, so I didn't think too much about it.


Brown flew over to Amsterdam to interview me on 23 March 2004. Apparently I was the only reason for his coming to Europe. The interview got off to a shaky start, roughly paraphrased as follows:
AST: "What's the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution?"
KB: We do public policy work
AST: A think tank, like the Rand Corporation?
KB: Sort of
AST: What does it do?
KB: Issue reports and books
AST: Who funds it?
KB: We have multiple funding sources
AST: Is SCO one of them? Is this about the SCO lawsuit?
KB: We have multiple funding sources
AST: Is Microsoft one of them?
KB: We have multiple funding sources


He was extremely evasive about why he was there and who was funding him. He just kept saying he was just writing a book about the history of UNIX. I asked him what he thought of Peter Salus' book, A Quarter Century of UNIX. He'd never heard of it! I mean, if you are writing a book on the history of UNIX and flying 3000 miles to interview some guy about the subject, wouldn't it make sense to at least go to amazon.com and type "history unix" in the search box, in which case Salus' book is the first hit? For $28 (and free shipping if you play your cards right) you could learn an awful lot about the material and not get any jet lag. As I soon learned, Brown is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I was already suspicious. As a long-time author, I know it makes sense to at least be aware of what the competition is. He didn't bother.


UNIX and Me


I didn't think it odd that Brown would want to interview me about the history of UNIX. There are worse people to ask. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I spent several summers in the UNIX group (Dept. 1127) at Bell Labs. I knew Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and the rest of the people involved in the development of UNIX. I have stayed at Rob Pike's house and Al Aho's house for extended periods of time. Dennis Ritchie, Steve Johnson, and Peter Weinberger, among others have stayed at my house in Amsterdam. Three of my Ph.D. students have worked in the UNIX group at Bell Labs and one of them is a permanent staff member now.


Oddly enough, when I was at Bell Labs, my interest was not operating systems, although I had written one and published a paper about it (see "Software - Practice & Experience," vol. 2, pp. 109-119, 1973). My interest then was compilers, since I was the chief designer of the Amsterdam Compiler Kit (see Commun. of the ACM, vol. 26, pp. 654-660, Sept. 1983.). I spent some time there discussing compilers with Steve Johnson, networking with Greg Chesson, writing tools with Lorinda Cherry, and book authoring with Brian Kernighan, among many others. I also became friends with the other "foreigner," there, Bjarne Stroustrup, who would later go on to design and implement C++.


In short, although I had nothing to do with the development of the original UNIX, I knew all the people involved and much of the history quite well. Furthermore, my contact with the UNIX group at Bell Labs was not a secret; I even thanked them all for having me as a summer visitor in the preface to the first edition of my book Computer Networks. Amazingly, Brown knew nothing about any of this. He didn't do his homework before embarking on his little project


MINIX and Me


Years later, I was teaching a course on operating systems and using John Lions' book on UNIX Version 6. When AT&T decided to forbid the teaching of the UNIX internals, I decided to write my own version of UNIX, free of all AT&T code and restrictions, so I could teach from it. My inspiration was not my time at Bell Labs, although the knowledge that one person could write a UNIX-like operating system (Ken Thompson wrote UNICS on a PDP-7) told me it could be done. My real inspiration was an off-hand remark by Butler Lampson in an operating systems course I took from him when I was a Ph.D. student at Berkeley. Lampson had just finished describing the pioneering CTSS operating system and said, in his inimitable way: "Is there anybody here who couldn't write CTSS in a month?" Nobody raised his hand. I concluded that you'd have to be real dumb not to be able to write an operating system in a month. The paper cited above is an operating system I wrote at Berkeley with the help of Bill Benson. It took a lot more than a month, but I am not as smart as Butler. Nobody is.


I set out to write a minimal UNIX clone, MINIX, and did it alone. The code was 100% free of AT&T's intellectual property. The full source code was published in 1987 as the appendix to a book, Operating Systems: Design and Implementation, which later went into a second edition co-authored with Al Woodhull. MINIX 2.0 was even POSIX-conformant. Both editions contained hundreds of pages of text describing the code in great detail. A box of 10 floppy disks containing all the binaries and source code was available separately from Prentice Hall for $69.


While this was not free software in the sense of "free beer" it was free software in the sense of "free speech" since all the source code was available for only slightly more than the manufacturing cost. But even "free speech" is not completely "free"--think about slander, yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, etc. Also Remember (if you are old enough) that by 1987, a university educational license for UNIX cost $300, a commercial license for a university cost $28,000, and a commercial license for a company cost a lot more. For the first time, MINIX brought the cost of "UNIX-like" source code down to something a student could afford. Prentice Hall wasn't really interested in selling software. They were interested in selling books, so there was a fairly liberal policy on copying MINIX, but if a company wanted to sell it to make big bucks, PH wanted a royalty. Hence the PH lawyers equipped MINIX with a lot of boilerplate, but there was never any intention of really enforcing this against universities or students. Using the Internet for distributing that much code was not feasible in 1987, even for people with a high-speed (i.e., 1200 bps) modem. When distribution via the Internet became feasible, I convinced Prentice Hall to drop its (extremely modest) commercial ambitions and they gave me permission to put the source on my website for free downloading, where it still is.


Within a couple of months of its release, MINIX became something of a cult item, with its own USENET newsgroup, comp.os.minix, with 40,000 subscribers. Many people added new utility programs and improved the kernel in numerous ways, but the original kernel was just the work of one person--me. Many people started pestering me about improving it. In addition to the many messages in the USENET newsgroup, I was getting 200 e-mails a day (at a time when only the chosen few had e-mail at all) saying things like: "I need pseudoterminals and I need them by Friday." My answer was generally quick and to the point: "No."


The reason for my frequent "no" was that everyone was trying to turn MINIX into a production-quality UNIX system and I didn't want it to get so complicated that it would become useless for my purpose, namely, teaching it to students. I also expected that the niche for a free production-quality UNIX system would be filled by either GNU or Berkeley UNIX shortly, so I wasn't really aiming at that. As it turned out, the GNU OS sort of went nowhere (although many UNIX utilities were written) and Berkeley UNIX got tied up in a lawsuit when its designers formed a company, BSDI, to sell it and they chose 1-800-ITS UNIX as their phone number. AT&T felt this constituted copyright infringement and sued them. It took a couple of years for this to get resolved. This delay in getting free BSD out there gave Linux the breathing space it needed to catch on. If it hadn't been for the lawsuit, undoubtedly BSD would have filled the niche for a powerful, free UNIX clone as it was already a stable, mature system with a large following.


Ken Brown and Me
Now Ken Brown shows up and begins asking questions. I quickly determined that he didn't know a thing about the history of UNIX, had never heard of the Salus book, and knew nothing about BSD and the AT&T lawsuit. I started to tell him the history, but he stopped me and said he was more interested in the legal aspects. I said: "Oh you mean about Dennis Ritchie's patent number 4135240 on the setuid bit?" Then I added:"That's not a problem. Bell Labs dedicated the patent." That's when I discovered that (1) he had never heard of the patent, (2) did not know what it meant to dedicate a patent (i.e., put it in the public domain), and (3) really did not know a thing about intellectual property law. He was confused about patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Gratuitously, I asked if he was a lawyer, but it was obvious he was not and he admitted it. At this point I was still thinking he might be a spy from SCO, but if he was, SCO was not getting its money's worth.



He wanted to go on about the ownership issue, but he was also trying to avoid telling me what his real purpose was, so he didn't phrase his questions very well. Finally he asked me if I thought Linus wrote Linux. I said that to the best of my knowledge, Linus wrote the whole kernel himself, but after it was released, other people began improving the kernel, which was very primitive initially, and adding new software to the system--essentially the same development model as MINIX. Then he began to focus on this, with questions like: "Didn't he steal pieces of MINIX without permission." I told him that MINIX had clearly had a huge influence on Linux in many ways, from the layout of the file system to the names in the source tree, but I didn't think Linus had used any of my code. Linus also used MINIX as his development platform initially, but there was nothing wrong with that. He asked if I objected to that and I said no, I didn't, people were free to use it as they wished for noncommercial purposes. Later MINIX was released under the Berkeley license, which freed it up for all purposes. It is still in surprisingly wide use, both for education and in the Third World, where millions of people are happy as a clam to have an old castoff 1-MB 386, on which MINIX runs just fine. The MINIX home page cited above still gets more than 1000 hits a week.


Finally, Brown began to focus sharply. He kept asking, in different forms, how one person could write an operating system all by himself. He simply didn't believe that was possible. So I had to give him more history, sigh. To start with, Ken Thompson wrote UNICS for the PDP-7 all by himself. When it was later moved to the PDP-11 and rewritten in C, Dennis Ritchie joined the team, but primarily focused on designing the C language, writing the C compiler, and writing the I/O system and device drivers. Ken wrote nearly all of the kernel himself.


In 1983, a now-defunct company named the Mark Williams company produced and sold a very good UNIX clone called Coherent. Most of the work was done by three ex-students from the University of Waterloo: Dave Conroy, Randall Howard, and Johann George. It took them two years. But they produced not only the kernel, but the C compiler, shell, and ALL the UNIX utilities. This is far more work than just making a kernel. It is likely that the kernel took less than a man-year.


In 1983, Ric Holt published a book, now out of print, on the TUNIS system, a UNIX-like system. This was certainly a rewrite since TUNIS was written in a completely new language, concurrent Euclid.


Then Doug Comer wrote XINU. While also not a UNIX clone, it was a comparable system.


By the time Linus started, five people or small teams had independently implemented the UNIX kernel or something approximating it, namely, Thompson, Coherent, Holt, Comer, and me. All of this was perfectly legal and nobody stole anything. Given this history, it is pretty hard to make a case that one person can't implement a system of the complexity of Linux, whose original size was about the same as V1.0 of MINIX.


Of course it is always true in science that people build upon the work of their predecessors. Even Ken Thompson wasn't the first. Before writing UNIX, Ken had worked on the MIT MULTICS (MULTiplexed Information and Computing Service) system. In fact, the original name of UNIX was UNICS, a joke made by Brian Kernighan standing for the UNIplexed Information and Computing Service, since the PDP-7 version could support only one user--Ken. After too many bad puns about EUNUCHS being a castrated MULTICS, the name was changed to UNIX. But even MULTICS wasn't first. Before it was the above-mentioned CTSS, designed by the same team at MIT.


Thus, of course, Linus didn't sit down in a vacuum and suddenly type in the Linux source code. He had my book, was running MINIX, and undoubtedly knew the history (since it is in my book). But the code was his. The proof of this is that he messed the design up. MINIX is a nice, modular microkernel system, with the memory manager and file system running as user-space processes. This makes the system cleaner and more reliable than a big monolithic kernel and easier to debug and maintain, at a small price in performance, although even on a 4.77 MHz 8088 it booted in maybe 5 seconds (vs. a minute for Windows on hardware 500 times faster). An example of commercially successful microkernel is QNX. Instead of writing a new file system and a new memory manager, which would have been easy, Linus rewrote the whole thing as a big monolithic kernel, complete with inline assembly code :-( . The first version of Linux was like a time machine. It went back to a system worse than what he already had on his desk. Of course, he was just a kid and didn't know better (although if he had paid better attention in class he should have), but producing a system that was fundamentally different from the base he started with seems pretty good proof that it was a redesign. I don't think he could have copied UNIX because he didn't have access to the UNIX source code, except maybe John Lions' book, which is about an earlier version of UNIX that does not resemble Linux so much.


My conclusion is that Ken Brown doesn't have a clue what he is talking about. I also have grave questions about his methodology. After he talked to me, he prowled the university halls buttonholing random students and asking them questions. Not exactly primary sources.


The six people I know of who (re)wrote UNIX all did it independently and nobody stole anything from anyone. Brown's remark that people have tried and failed for 30 years to build UNIX-like systems is patent nonsense. Six different people did it independently of one another. In science it is considered important to credit people for their ideas, and I think Linus has done this far less than he should have. Ken and Dennis are the real heros here. But Linus' sloppiness about attribution is no reason to assert that Linus didn't write Linux. He didn't write CTSS and he didn't write MULTICS and didn't write UNIX and he didn't write MINIX, but he did write Linux. I think Brown owes a number of us an apology.


Linus and Me


Some of you may find it odd that I am defending Linus here. After all, he and I had a fairly public "debate" some years back. My primary concern here is trying to get the truth out and not blame everything on some teenage girl from the back hills of West Virginia. Also, Linus and I are not "enemies" or anything like that. I met him once and he seemed like a nice friendly, smart guy. My only regret is that he didn't develop Linux based on the microkernel technology of MINIX. With all the security problems Windows has now, it is increasingly obvious to everyone that tiny microkernels, like that of MINIX, are a better base for operating systems than huge monolithic systems. Linux has been the victim of fewer attacks than Windows because (1) it actually is more secure, but also (2) most attackers think hitting Windows offers a bigger bang for the buck so Windows simply gets attacked more. As I did 20 years ago, I still fervently believe that the only way to make software secure, reliable, and fast is to make it small. Fight Features.


If you have made it this far, thank you for your time. Permission is hereby granted to mirror this web page provided that the original, unmodified version is used.


Andy Tanenbaum, 20 May 2004
http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/brown/

  


Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI | 316 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here please
Authored by: Harry Clayton on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 01:59 AM EDT


---
Linux: There is no infringing code or Manuals.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: inode_buddha on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 02:00 AM EDT
One thing I must say, I didn't have any illusions about Tanenbaum myself. Also,
it's quite refreshing to read the way he writes; simple, honest, and to the
point. It cuts through the FUD like the fog dispersing in the morning. So, a
"thank you" to Andy Tanenbaum for this, and to PJ for running with it.

---
"When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price." --
Richard M. Stallman

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT, Links, etc. here please
Authored by: Harry Clayton on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 02:00 AM EDT


---
Linux: There is no infringing code or Manuals.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Samizdat
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 02:12 AM EDT
Here are more resources on ADTI, including a point-by-point review of the book. --mbp

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: renef on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 02:15 AM EDT
So who's gonna go down to Brown's office and ask him to retract his obviously
false statements to his face?

Maybe on camera with a group of Open Source heavyweights in the room with him?

That should shut him up.

RF

[ Reply to This | # ]

Brown is officially an idiot
Authored by: kawabago on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 02:29 AM EDT
His 15 minutes of fame are over and now he will disappear as quickly as he
festered. So forget about him.

[ Reply to This | # ]

About brown books and science
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 02:32 AM EDT
Those authors of The brown Book visited Mr. Tanenbaum planning to use him as a weapon of mass destruction against Linux. They tried to play the greed card ("think about all those lost book sales"). They thought that Mr. Tanenbaum would be a natural ally because of "Linux killed your Minix" thing.

But this has completely backfired into their face because Mr. Tanenbaum is a scientist. A scientist who stands for what science is all about: helping to find truth behind things and defendig what you have found out to be the truth.

They couldn't imagine that there might be something more desirable for him than commercial success. Because they don't understand what science is all about.

By trying to disturb and destroy they have strenghtend Open Source. Because they have brought us closer together.
Thank you Mr. Tanenbaum for standing up and speaking out. Thank you brown book folks for beeing so ignorant.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Writing the core of a kernel is easy
Authored by: Magpie on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 03:33 AM EDT
Back in the early 1970's I was a programmer in the company I
still work for. We did software (and hardware) projects for
clients. I was working on an early ATM machine and it had a
kernel (ie a piece of software that allocated CPU resources to
multiple programs - and handled various hardware devices)
designed and written by one of my more senior colleagues. I got
facinated with how it worked and studied it in more detail. As I
did so, I felt there were things I could do to make the design
more generic.

As this was before the days when microprocessors had been
developed, we used minicomputers on embedded system
projects. On the next project, a rather specialist
communications controller, I was chief software designer.
Over one weekend I wrote a kernel of my own design (in
assembler language) which was then used on the project. I had
used the conceptual ideas from the previous system I saw -
improved the areas I though lacked "elegance" - but all the code
was written from scratch and without any reference to the code
from the previous project.

Over the years that followed this sort of development happened
many times. I even remember us designing one for a PDP-11
(probably in the late 1970s) - and even as late as early 1990's
when I was the manager of a product centre making an
embedded device did a member of my team (at my instanstance
that it was easy) develop such a kernel for a 386 (clone) chip
based device in a couple of months. (Whether in the end this
was a sensible commercial approach is debateable, but thats
another story).

These pieces of software were the real core of the system.
They are nowhere on the scale of linux - mainly because there
was no disk - hence no dynamic loading of programs,
filesystems, swap file based memory management etc - but
just as importantly they are not all that hard to understand if you
know the basis of how the low level of the CPU works.

Given this sort of experience, it seems obvious that one person
could easily write the centre of linux in a very short time without
copying anyone elses code.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 03:39 AM EDT

This is great!

The more Kevin Brown and similar ilk (and yes, I place Darl and Blake of The SCO Group in that group) open their mouths, the less and less credibility they have (like they ever had any when this whole SCO vs. Anycompany got started).

In fact, it would not surprise me if some (now former) TSG employee or executive comes forward with very damning evidence regarding The SGO Group's activities of their "litigation business" scheme. Or some Microsoft employee/executive spilling the beans about their involvement, etc.

The SCO Group's antics over the last year or so have only kept my interest as I could not believe the amount of bull puckey they have been spewing regarding Linux.

However, for me now, this whole sordid tale gets even more interesting, as I do believe information about motivations, who paid who to do what, etc. will be coming to light, and the instigators will be punished or at least be so severely discredited it affects their business adversely.

Mr. Tanenbaum has helped shine teh light of truth on this whole Kevin Brown thing, doing the free/open source community a great service.

[ Reply to This | # ]

comment
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 04:08 AM EDT
Nice comment here

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tanenbaum's Reply
Authored by: Dizzy on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 04:35 AM EDT
Is a very good thing(tm) that Mr Tanenbaum write to clarify things and removing
some FUD that have been floating adroud. And letting those writings be
redistributed.

As some one pointed out Mr Tanenbaum is a scientist and does what a scienteis
do, Try to keep the facts correct and remove FUD. All "negative"
comments about Linus should be viewed form this possition. Ie getting in to an
argument, for exampel, about on which side to butter the bread, dont mean that
those involved hate eachother, just that they have diffrent ideas and
approches.

Many credits to mr Tanenbaum.

---
Dreams, Frear
Joy, Love And Hate
Will Forever Seal Your Fate

[ Reply to This | # ]

A technical comment
Authored by: Nick Jacobs on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 06:28 AM EDT
Of course we all applaud Tanenbaum's clear summary of the history.
Don't take everything he says as Gospel, though. Not unnaturally, he talks up Minix. For example:
"The core microkernel of MINIX 1.0 was under 1400 lines of C and assembler. To that you have to add the headers and device drivers, but the totality of everything that ran in kernel mode was under 5000 lines."
This is nonsense. MINIX 1.0 was written for an 8088 processor. That processor doesn't have a "kernel mode" that is distinct from "user mode". It just has one mode. The whole of the O/S and all apps run in the same mode, just like MS-DOS. That's really why Linux became instantly popular: it made use of kernel and user modes on the 80386, so that the kernel code was protected from user-written programs and user-written programs were protected from each other.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: parsnips on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 07:49 AM EDT
Mr. Tanenbaum got email from the guy who sat next to Mr. Brown on the
flight.

Think about that... there's NO PLACE these people can hide and nothing evil
they can do that the entire community won't know about. Big Brother in
reverse!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linus and Me
Authored by: papafox on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 08:20 AM EDT

Andrew Tanenbaum writes:

With all the security problems Windows has now, it is increasingly obvious to everyone that tiny microkernels, like that of MINIX, are a better base for operating systems than huge monolithic systems

The most widely used microkernel-based operating system in the world is WinNt/Win2K/WinXP. So much for microkernels leading to increased security.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Well... - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 08:31 AM EDT
    • Well... - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 08:47 AM EDT
  • You are incorrect - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 10:49 AM EDT
  • Linus and Me - Authored by: jasonlotito on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 10:49 AM EDT
SCO Contracts On Line by Onecle
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 08:29 AM EDT

SCO Contracts On Line by Onecle
http://contracts.onecle.com/alpha/6428.shtml

Source list approximately 45 SCO prime contracts covering
numerous aspects of SCO's business.

[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO Contracts On Line by Onecle
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 08:32 AM EDT

SCO Contracts On Line by Onecle
http://contracts.onecle.com/alpha/6428.shtml

Source list approximately 45 SCO prime contracts covering
numerous aspects of SCO's business.

From Yahoo Message board Message # 136425

[ Reply to This | # ]

More from Ken Brown
Authored by: geoff lane on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 09:06 AM EDT
See Patents and the Penguin.

Sadly I find myself unable to read the article in detail as I'll get too angry and spoil my Saturday. I shall restrict myself to wondering if the image of The Penguin on the ADTI home page is used with permission. Especially as the usual Linux Penguin is fully free for use.

Plus I notice that The Brown Book doesn't have an ISBN. A sure sign of a self-published book that doesn't have any proper commercial distribution deal.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 10:17 AM EDT
For clarity, you can allways refer to 'Opensource softeware as defined by the
OSI foundation"

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 10:21 AM EDT
Thank you, Mr. Tanenbaum for a very frank accounting of the Linux and Unix
history. Your article was straight to the point and very humorous (I laughed
many times throughout). As a non-programmer, software just seems to work for
me, so it seems magical. To read your accounting of the errors of various
developments of kernels and operating systems is to show me where the errors
have been made and perhaps corrected.

Thank you, Groklaw, for making this available for reading on a cool Saturday
morning.

Andy's points about the differences between a monolithic kernel and a
microkernel are very interesting. Is it possible to convert Linux to a
microkernel without disturbing the application programming interface?

Just a thought...

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: Yankee group suggests (?) SCO defy court
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 10:58 AM EDT
We've already had Blake Stowell suggest that SCO will produce "more evidence" in response to IBM's summary judgement motion (see comments in a previous story)

This despite 2 court orders, 2 granted motions to compel discovery, and 2 affidavits from SCO saying that they already have -- produced their supposed evidence.

We've also had Greg Blepp (SCO VP in Europe) suggest that SCO intends to bring more evidence out a piece at a time, not withstanding the last paragraph.

Now we have Yankee Group suggesting essentially the same thing.

I'm not sure whether Yankee is suggesting that SCO...

either (i) should...
or (ii) has already...
or (iii) will in future...

...defy the court orders (and by implication lie in the SCO affidavits saying that they had already produced)

Here is the quote:

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/technology/33928.html As Yankee Group analyst Dana Gardner told the E-Commerce Times: "IBM is saying, basically, 'Show us the error of our ways.' But SCO believes that it will lose leverage in the suit, and that any details that are released will allow for the code to be fixed."
I don't know abut you, but I have a major problem with this:

1. It is encouraging (?) or at least suggesting perjury or something very close to it in SCO affidavits (claiming they have produced everything)

2. It is encouraging (?) or at least suggesting defying nt one, but two court orders.

3. Whatever happened to mitigation of damages?


Of course, it's possible this Yankee analyst, might just be an ignorant fool, and she doesn't mean that...


I'm with IBM on this one... SCO had their chance, not once, not twice, but FIVE chances to produce the code evidence. They didn't. Therefore they haven't got any, or the court can draw that conclusions. Remember this sequence:

(1) SCO dumped all code for everything on paper with no specifivity on IBM

(2) SCO dumped all code for everything in electronic form with no specifivity on IBM

(3) SCO produced revised supplemental answers to interrogatories which contain no specifivity.

(4) SCO's January 12 production, on first court order.

(5) SCO's April 19 production, on 2nd court order.

(and this isn't even counting IBM's at least 2 requests before formal June 2003 interrogatories. Remember IBM, even on SCO's theory, was supposed to have a chance to cure any alleged breach)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 11:15 AM EDT
I honestly believe people do things like Ken Brown for the publicity. I will
not be buying any books and suggest that others do the same. Why should we
allow Ken Brown or ADTI to profit from their crap? Thanks Andrew for setting
the record straight (although most if not all of us knew it was bs).

[ Reply to This | # ]

ADTI Tax Returns
Authored by: dmscvc123 on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 11:25 AM EDT
http://documents.guidestar.org/2001/942/978/2001-942978968-1-9.pdf (2001)
http://documents.guidestar.org/2000/942/978/2000-942978968-1-9.pdf (2000)
http://documents.guidestar.org/1999/942/978/1999-942978968-1-9.pdf (1999)
http://documents.guidestar.org/1998/942/978/1998-942978968-1-9.pdf (1998)

The 2001 document isn't very informative other than that they got large
donations from unnamed donors. The 2000 tax return however shows these guys
paying themselves both as employees and as independent contractors. Also in 2000
one contributor gave $420,000, which is a huge amount for them. I didn't go
through the other filings, but there seems to be a trend in putting less and
less information in these filings each year.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 11:26 AM EDT
At site in wich the sell the book here there is also a possibility for write a review. Maybe a good place to rebute the peace.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 11:31 AM EDT
Just a little Limerick

There was a man named Ken Brown,
who couldnt write Ux on its own.
His logic was streigth and stringent,
if I cant, its th'impossible event.
As reward he was hired as clown.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ken Brown, "some sleazy author"
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 11:32 AM EDT
I like that. Succinct.

We should have Ken Brown also do a "study" of Abu Graib.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thank you, Andrew S. Tanenbaum
Authored by: grouch on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 11:33 AM EDT
"Professors like it when their students go on to greater glory."

This is an essential trait of a teacher. Whether trained in the educator
profession or an old graybeard instructing the novice or the blues man passing
on the tales, the teacher must be capable of hoping the student goes further. If
it were not so, we would have less knowledge with each generation.

This is the opposite attitude of those Brown defends. They want to hoard
knowledge to charge fees, not for its dissemination, but for its use without
disclosure. They abuse their economic status to extend the locks on knowledge
far beyond the reasonable grants that copyright and patent laws once provided.
They would, if permitted, take us through a regression to the days of nobles and
serfs, with information locked behind laws distorted by them to perpetuate their
privileged status.

Those who share knowledge, increase it for all. Tanenbaum considers Minix a
small work. Without it, we would not have Linux and therefore not have
GNU/Linux. That is just one sprout from little Minix. I suspect there are many
developers around the world who can trace their work to a genesis in Minix.

Wouldn't it be nice if every developer who used Minix to learn would let AST
know? The "mother hen" may not realize how big a flock there is.


---
------------
irc.fdfnet.net #groklaw
providing a place for transcribers, proofreaders and
backseat groklawyers to hang out

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: DannyB on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 11:45 AM EDT
We have multiple funding sources.
Is SCO one of them?
We have multiple funding sources.
Is Microsoft one of them?
We have multiple funding sources.


My interpretation of "multiple funding sources" means two sources...
1. SCO
2. Miocrosoft

---
The price of freedom is eternal litigation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

WARNING : Justin Orndorff is still researching as of 18th May
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 11:50 AM EDT
See below from Samba list, original is at
http://arkiv.netbsd.se/?list=samba@lists&a=2004-05&mid=220405

____________________________________________________________

Subject: [Samba] research inquiry
From: "Justin Orndorff" <raison__d_etre(-at-)hotmail.com>
Id:<Sea1-F66me2XepI5rwj0001970a@hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 11:43:37 -0400

Greetings,

I'm currently doing research into corporate contributions towards open
source projects, such as Linux. One of the recent Credits Files lists Mr.
Anton Blanchard as a contributor. Is Mr. Blanchard still an employee with
the company?

Also, does the company have any policies regarding open source contributions
by employees? If so, are there any differences between on and off the clock
contributions?

Thanks very much for your time and apologies for posting on your mailing
list. I did not find any other contacts on your website related to this side
of your business.

Best,
Justin Orndorff
__________________________________________________________

[ Reply to This | # ]

AdTI 990 Forms - Funding?
Authored by: PSaltyDS on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 11:57 AM EDT

I was considering the now famous Ken Brown fudging about funding while talking to AST:

[Quote]
Brown flew over to Amsterdam to interview me on 23 March 2004. Apparently I was the only reason for his coming to Europe. The interview got off to a shaky start, roughly paraphrased as follows:
AST: "What's the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution?"
KB: We do public policy work
AST: A think tank, like the Rand Corporation?
KB: Sort of
AST: What does it do?
KB: Issue reports and books
AST: Who funds it?
KB: We have multiple funding sources
AST: Is SCO one of them? Is this about the SCO lawsuit?
KB: We have multiple funding sources
AST: Is Microsoft one of them?
KB: We have multiple funding sources
[End Quote]

This made me wonder if an organization like that is legaly required to reveal funding. Then I saw this VERY interesting post on the Yahoo SCOX forum:

[Quote]
ADTI "990" tax returns
by: stats_for_all
05/22/04 10:08 am
Msg: 136494 of 136510

The ADTI is a 501c3 non-profit. As such, its past 3 years of tax filings are required by law to be available to the public. These are called "990" forms. The public can inspect these and recieve copies at the non-profits place of business.

I strongly suggest a Groklawer or Yahoo-ist from the Washington, DC area make a visit to the ADTI office and get the secretary to copy the 990 forms. (Emphasis added.) You may want to read up on non-profit reporting requirements first; In my (limited) experience, a smooth, professional, but sudden approach often results in a greater-than-required disclosure.

Conveniently, if the reporting year ended Jan. 1 (as is typical, in non-profits), the 2003 990 must be available by May 15. This is a good time to get documents.

If the non-profit was established after 1987, some additional information is also required to be disclosed.

Compensation, income and expenditures, as disclosed in the 990 forms may be inconsistent or unreasonable with the non-profit's stated mission. Sanctions and tax liabilities are an available remedy. This is most often used in cases, where compensation paid to insiders represents all or most of the expenditure, or when un-related business income is sheltered by the 501c3.
[End Quote]

Any of y'all live in the D.C. area???

:-)

---

"Any technology distinguishable from magic is insuficiently advanced." - Geek's Corrolary to Clarke's Law

[ Reply to This | # ]

Yet another single-handed kernel
Authored by: ssavitzky on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 11:58 AM EDT
Back around 1980 when I was working at Zilog, I wrote the kernel of a real-time operating system called ZRTS (Zilog Real-Time Software). There were a couple of other people on the project, of course, writing things like the device drivers and the file system. But the kernel was pretty simple, and only required one person to write. The key to any software project is to keep each of the main components simple enough for a single person to understand it completely. Otherwise the result is an unmanageable mess.

Details can be found in the chapter I wrote for Microprocessor Operating Systems, edited by John Zarrella (Microcomputer Applications, 1981).

---
The SCO method: open mouth, insert foot, pull trigger.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: Stunning coincidence of the day
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 12:06 PM EDT
http://contracts.onecle.com/sco/morgan.engage.2002.08.16.shtml
2. SCO and Morgan Keegan agree that, in the event Sun Microsystems and/or Microsoft enters into a substantial SCOsource licensing arrangement with SCO during the term of the engagement, that such an event would fall under provision 1(b) of our Engagement Letter. As such, the aggregate amounts paid under the license agreements would be subject to the Contingent Placement Fee, calculated as six (6) percent for a license with Sun and one (1) percent for a license with Microsoft.

Now go back and locate 1(b) of the engagement letter and find the 6% and 1% clauses: http://contracts.onecle.com/sco/morgan.engage.2002.08.16.shtml

1.b.i Cash equal to six (6) percent of the principal amount of equity financing (common stock, preferred stock and convertible preferred stock); plus

...

1.b.iii Cash equal to one (1) percent of the principal amount of senior debt provided, however, that Morgan Keegan shall not be entitled to such a fee with respect to senior debt sourced from commercial banks and other institutional lenders.

Why did SCO pay an extra 5% of the Sun license to Morgan Keegan???

Presumably it's to do with Sun's warrant to acquire shares in SCO:

http://news.com.com/2100-1016_3-1024633.html
But there's more to the relationship: SCO also granted Sun a warrant to buy as many as 210,000 shares of SCO stock at $1.83 per share as part of the licensing deal, according to a regulatory document filed Tuesday.


But SCO, according to their own SEC filings received ZERO BENEFIT from the sale of a stock warrant by other shareholders (principally Canopy) to Sun?


A STUNNING COINCIDENCE?

210,000 X $1.83 = $384,300 (money made by selling shareholders from the warrant)

Let's say Sun license fee ~ $8m (I think), and 5% of $8m ~= $400,000

What a lucky coincidence!

In short, it looks to me like

(1) SCO paid an extra "bonus" of $384,300 to Morgan Keegan, for reasons that I am not able to figure out (because SCO received no benefit from the sales of the warrant).

(2) Canopy and a few other selected shareholders, benefited, by almost exactly the same amount.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 12:35 PM EDT
"In 1983, a now-defunct company named the Mark Williams company produced
and sold a very good UNIX clone called Coherent. Most of the work was done by
three ex-students from the University of Waterloo: Dave Conroy, Randall Howard,
and Johann George."

In 1980, Dan Dodge and Gordon Bell, two graduates of the University of Waterloo
founded QNX Software Systems another Unix-like OS that used a micro-kernel
design and used message passing for interprocess communication. They pre-date
Minix by a few years.

The University of Waterloo must have a good CS department, to be able to produce
people that can think originally and write their own OS, without looking at or
stealing AT&T Unix soucre code.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Next up: SABOTAGE FROM WITHIN???
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 01:06 PM EDT
A logical extension of the MS attack on Linux would be to have a secret MS agent
within the OS community contribute code owned by others to Linux so when adopted
yet another round of litigation can be initiated. This time with REAL line for
line matching.

Are there mechanisms in place to detect bogus Linux contributions which are
intended to create copyright/patent disputes to keep the FUD ball rolling past
SCO?

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: Another example of OS writing.
Authored by: GrueMaster on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 01:38 PM EDT
With all of this compost being spewed by Mr. Brown, I decided to do a little
digging. A year ago, using OpenAFS, I mirored the University of Michigan's
Atari Public Domain repository. I have found several different OS's just for
the 8-bit atari, incluting one called MTOS:

M.ulti-T.asking O.perating S.ystem
M.T.O.S.
MT-OS
MTOS
Copyright (C) 1987 by Tom Hunt

(beta test version)
12-25-87
(Merry Christmas Atarians, from me to you!)

MTOS is a revolutionary new O.S for Atari 8-bit computers with 256k (or more).
It is actually a O.S. extention, since it works with the resident ROM based
Atari O.S., and with DOS. With MTOS installed, the multitasking environment is
made available to the Atari owner .

Basicly, it relies on other DOS' (Disk Operating System) to handle file I/O.
While I haven't had a chance to play with this yet, it is interesting to see,
especially on an old system like this.

Also, there is a copy of Minix for the Atari ST in this archive as well.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A question about 'microkernel'
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 02:08 PM EDT
I am a complete ignoramus about this subject. (I program single-chip
microcomputers in assembler.) The idea of a "micro-kernel" seems very
attractive. I am a believer in "divide and conquer" (no Pentium jokes
please) when it comes to problem solving. The old BBC computer (a UK product)
had a MOS (machine operating system) in ROM; the floppy disk drives were an
optional extra and had their own separate ROM for the file system.

With the BBC computer, you could dive into the MOS and change things because
everything worked via vectors stored in RAM which you could change to redirect
the program to your own code. I was thus able to produce a Mongolian word
processor. I would not have a clue how to do this sort of thing with M$ DOS.

I have a question concerning the 20% performance penalty incurred by a
micro-kernel compared to a monolithic kernel. What is this 20% of? I imagine
that the kernel uses very little of the processor resources compared to other
processes, particularly as most 80x86 processors are running graphical
programs.

I have a pile of Windows and Linux books about a metre high but I find
understanding anything very hard as everything seems to require that you know
two other things before you can understand it. Perhaps it is just the way my
mind works. I find M$ Word absolutely infuriating and judging by my M$ MOUS
book, I wonder if M$ really knows how some aspects work (or don?t work). Does
everything have to be so complicated?

What I would like to see is a completely modular system that you can build up to
make something that does just what you want without having an enormous quantity
of superfluous features. I have been doing a bit of work with my youngest son
who wants to make a word processor for children with special educational needs
(as we say in UK). Clearly this will do some of the basic things as M$ Word but
without not only the bells and whistles but also sans the full orchestra and
three-manual organ. This is supposed to work over a small network under Linux.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google Search on John Lions' Book of Unix
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 02:39 PM EDT
http://www.google.com/search?q=John+Lions+book&sourceid=mozilla-search&s
tart=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

This is the first Google entry

http://www.peer-to-peer.com/catalog/opsrc/lions.html#Highlights

"The Lions book", cherished by UNIX hackers and widely circulated as a
photocopied bootleg document since the late 1970's, is finally available in an
unrestricted edition. This legendary underground classic, reproduced without
modification, is really two works in one:

* the complete source code to an early version (Edition 6) of the UNIX
operating system, a treasure in itself!
* a brilliant commentary on that code by John Lions

I quote "NOTE--- As of May 13, 2000, SCO is giving away free source
licenses of UNIX 6th Edition"

Yes folks, SCO is giving away source code. Ya think they are suing because
someone stole code? Is the code the are suing about the same code that they GAVE
AWAY ?!? Hello?!?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: tredman on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 03:11 PM EDT
Back in about '93 or '94, right about the same time I was discovering Linux, I
was called upon by my employer to write an OS for an embedded application. They
wanted to do the entire thing in house, so buying/licensing an OS was out of the
question.

I did the bulk of the kernel in about 8-10 months using a 80386 with a limited
amount of memory. The device drivers in the kernel controlled things like an
LCD display, servo motors and air pumps. Because of the specialized
requirements, copying source from someplace was not an option because of the
very specific requirements of the project and the eclectic hardware that was
attached to the motherboard.

Now, I am a graduate of community college, with an Associate of Arts directed
towards Mass Communications. I dropped out of a 4-year university after a year
as a theatre major (lighting/sound/set design, not acting, BIG difference).
Before the embedded project, my only major software endeavor was a data
migration tool to transfer information from a System/36 midrange to a PC
application (basically EBCDIC to ASCII conversion, with a little sumtin-sumtin
on the end). My mini-OS was far from perfect, and after only six months, I had
realized that there were a ton of things I could do differently, but I am living
proof that you don't have to be a Ph.D. in Analytical Systems Design to write an
OS.

You DO have to be a pretty bright person to write a good one, though, and you DO
have to have alot of help from a bunch of people just like you to come up with a
broad finished product.

After all, the open source community does have the word "community" in
it.

Tim

[ Reply to This | # ]

Researching ADTI
Authored by: Graabein on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 03:57 PM EDT
First, sorry if this has been proposed before.

It occurs to me that the upcoming ADTI book by Ken Brown has been thoroughly
discredited amongst geeks and techs already. But what about the suits and the
mainstream press? What will the CEOs think when the book is published and they
read the reviews in the mainstream press?

That "where there is smoke, there is bound to be some fire"?

If so, Brown and the ADTI have succeeded.

According to this Wired report:
http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,52973,00.html the ADTI is funded by
Microsoft.

Perhaps this relationship could do with a little more light shed on it,
particularly in this period leading up to the publication of the new book? Is
there any way of getting hold of documents and public information that, once
collected and summarized, would expose the ADTI for what they are, even in the
eyes of the mainstream press?

The reason I raise this issue, is because when the ADTI published the report
mentioned in the Wired article, I got lots of worried questions from non-techies
about it. I'm sure most Linux geeks had the same experience.

Putting the focus squarely on the ADTI, and keeping it there, could go a long
way towards making even the mainstream press see the new book for what it is.

Could this be achieved in Groklaw fashion? Comments?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ken Brown on Google newsgroups
Authored by: BJ on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 06:08 PM EDT
I just googled newsgroups on 'Ken Brown Alexis de Tocqueville' and found at
least these two from 2000 and 2002:

http://groups.google.nl/groups?q=ken+brown+alexis+de+tocqueville&hl=nl&l
r=&ie=UTF-8&selm=dasada.qa2.ln%40hairy.machine.org&rnum=1
http://groups.google.nl/groups?q=ken+brown+alexis+de+tocqueville&hl=nl&l
r=&ie=UTF-8&selm=wlr.7077.01A1645F%40tiac.net&rnum=10

Has anybody seen these?
I'm going to read them now.

BJ


---
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[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: AdamBaker on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 06:14 PM EDT
Thanks PJ for now reprinting the full text of this.

After following the link in the original article and then reading the comments t
was clear that most readers had only read your summary which whilst it gave a
good flavour of the text, the full text included a lot of good points that you
didn't have room to cover.

I did wonder when the permission to republish text appeared on the later
revisions that wasn't in the original whether you would now include it. Qudos
too for waiting for permission not just assuming that such an open leter was
fair game to reproduce.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thank you Mr. Tanenbaum....
Authored by: MikeA on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 06:34 PM EDT
It is nice to see Mr. Tanenbaum's response to all this and people working together to set the record straight- I thought it was very well explained.

On a side note, I sent an email to Mr. Tanenbaum about the Justin Orndorff/Tocqeville "Research" posting on Yahoo, and he was gracious enough to send me a reply saying thanks. Considering how many emails he is propbably getting right now, it was a pleasant surprise that he even reads them all, let alone replies to, people like me.

Thanks.

---
Change is merely the opportunity for improvement.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Does Ken Brown remind you of anyone else
Authored by: Glenn on Saturday, May 22 2004 @ 09:30 PM EDT
Ken Brown = Rob Enderle?

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AdTI Site: Mostly dead links!!
Authored by: capouch on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 01:25 AM EDT
I decided to go over and have a look at the AdTI site after reading Dr.
Tanenbaum's latest missive.

My curiosity was piqued by all the dead links on the front page: almost all of
the list "research programs" which they conduct are dead, and if one
digs a bit beneath the surface of those that do lead to another page, other
questions arise, such as "Where's the beef?" with respect to the
Dunlop book--none of the links to articles which refer to it go anywhere,
either.

Beyond the questionable quality of their open source stuff, it appears that much
of their other work might be called "vaporware."

Seems sort of a one-pony circus.

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Teenage girl from West Virginia?
Authored by: Stephen on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 01:45 AM EDT

I didn't follow the bit about West Virginia:

My primary concern here is trying to get the truth out and not blame everything on some teenage girl from the back hills of West Virginia.

Can someone fill me in on the allusion Dr. Tanenbaum is making?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 02:30 AM EDT
5/25/2004 UPI (Untied Press Internal) Descendants of Alexis de Tocqueville, a
famous Washington, D.C., madam of the early 20th Century, filed suit today in
federal court against the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute to force the institute
to change its name.

James de Tocqueville, a grandson of Alexis de Tocqueville commented in a
released statement, "Her motto was 'always keep the customer happy'. She
always maintained very high standards; there were some things she just wouldn't
do. The institute does not adhere to her standards and is demeaning her
memory."

[ Reply to This | # ]

UserFriendly's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Steve Martin on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 07:16 AM EDT

Illiad chimes in on AdTI.

---
"When I say something, I put my name next to it." -- Isaac Jaffee, "Sports Night"

[ Reply to This | # ]

Homer didn't do it
Authored by: Michael57 on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 10:53 AM EDT
This reminds me of the discussion that Homer didn't write the stories of Troi
and Odysseus. As was explained by the person claiming this, it was done by a
different Greek author by the name of Homer.

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The reason ADTI, SCO seems credible to non-programmers
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 08:43 PM EDT
I am a programmer

Who believed SCO, ADTI, etc., regarding their general assertion that the Linux
development process is uncontrolled, and more or less anything can be inserted
into the code base by Joe Random Hacker? (or Indian/Chinese Communistic Islamo
Terrorists in some versions of the general assertion)

Answer: Laura DiDio and Tech Press

Who did?

Answer: Pretty much every programmer, engineer, serious techie etc., in the
world. Even the ones I know who only use and only ever use Windows, found the
Joe Random Hacker theory non-credible.


What is the difference?

Answer: Laura Didio has an arts background. So do many journalists, even I
assume in the tech press.


While I am NOT bashing arts people in general, I think the reason the Joe Random
Hacker theories seem credible to some arts background people -- is they simply
don't know how programs are put together.

Instead they seems to think "open source on the Internet" seems to
imply people just upload code to download kind of like the old napster.

(However anybody who knows anything about programming or engineering subjects,
knows to make a large program work, even badly and full-of-bugs, is extremely
hard and requires extreme coordination of each the individual elements).

Compare:

You publish a collection of short stories or essays.

(a) Some may contain factual or grammatical errors, typos, etc. The reader bears
with it and reads the rest.

(b) Some of the items may not fit with the theme of the rest of the book. Same
thing, the book is not "broken".

(c) Some "inferior" items may get included, but they don't
"break" the rest of the book in general. Sure they devalue the book as
a whole as compared if all the items were good, but the other items still work.

(d) There are little or no objective standards for what is good and what is
inferior

(e) Any standards for what is good and what is inferior, and what gets included
and what not, usually boils down t 1 person - the editor. In fact, the editor
and perhaps proof-reader may be the only person(s) who reads items before
publication

(f) It is easier (for somebody so inclined) to "steal" somebody else's
copyrighted work and label it as their own, rather than write an original work.
It even happens accidentally sometimes where a later infringer wrongly believes
reprint licenses have been granted (because an earlier infringer deliberately
stole or mislabelled a work).

(g) People (among those so inclined or by accident in some cases) fairly
frequently "steal" copyrighted works


With programming, particularly programming where it is open to view by many
people (this applies to open source, but even to proprietary source when code
reviews are done):

(a) Even if a slight error in any element can completely break the rest. Put it
this way, even the most bug-ridden programs have to be able to (i) compile, (ii)
link, (iii) run under some circumstances, and to achieve this, they usually have
to be 99.9% correct [correct is not the same as saying they do what they were
intended to do, but correct in a limited technical sense]

(b) Even minor logic or conceptual or design errors [this is the second
*different* element of correctness following from item (a)] can completely break
a program, so much so as to be useless.

(c) Inferior items in a large program, DO break the rest of the program so badly
as to make it useless.

(d) There is a minimum objective standard (compile, link, run) which as actually
pretty demanding. There are additional objective standards in whether it does
what it was intended. There are usually objective standards in reviewing code
(99% of good programmers will agree variable names should be meaningful, super
long functions are usually bad, etc). Subjective standards (e.g. style of
coding) are way down the list... of course in code reviews programmers talk
about those - but that's usually because the objective standards are largely a
given.

(e) Eventually there may be one person in charge of a project, but except in
very small teams, the code rarely goes direct from programmer X to the project
leader. Even without any code reviews (and in open source you'd expect plenty),
other programmers would be interfacing against the proposed new code.

(f) It's easier not to steal. Taking somebody else's code and revising it work
with the rest of your program, unless the code has been specifically designed to
be used that way, is HARDER (for any decent programmer) than writing new code.
Writing new code is easy (if time consuming). What takes the time is revising
code and fitting it all together to work together and keeping it working
together. This is why the maintenance cycle on code is always massively longer
than the initial development.

(I will concede there might be VERY rare exceptions, or exceptions which would
involve stealing an entire program, but I certainly don't concede that you could
grab a random module out of (say) Windows and stick into Linux - or vice-versa
for that matter).

(g) Every programmer I know, even programmers working in proprietary companies,
much prefer writing new code to revising somebody else's code.

This is why in so many projects, you have programmers re-invent the wheel,
rather use existing code or libraries.

Of course, some companies do choose to "steal" code, despite the
above.

...but if a person is doing this for fun? Where's the incentive?

It seems to me that would be all risk (getting caught) without even a potential
reward.

Analogy: That would be like swimming thru a sewer (the unpleasant task of
revising somebody else's code to work with yours) in order to rob a bank. But
when you get in the bank, you hope to make a clean gateway, but you also stand
up in front of the CCTV to make sure they get a clear photo of you (open source
is open to be read with anybody). And all along, you never intended to take any
of the bank's money. Instead you just want to leave some of another bank's money
lying around (the code that you stole from somebody else).

[ Reply to This | # ]

More Rat Sightings
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 08:18 AM EDT
When vermin infest a community, they cause serious damage and chaos.
This is the base situation with McBride, Anderer, John Thomas, and Brown.
Each of us can draw our own conclusions as to the motives for their attacks
on FOSS.

Personally, I observe a basic misunderstanding of FOSS and the software
development community by all these attackers. This misunderstanding is
compounded by base greed. They are shilling for someone.

Beyond the normal situation, I wonder about their personal and group
psychology. There is evidence of abnormal personalities prone to self
delusion and anti social behavior. Where is their moral compass?

It is the group psychology of evil to be drawn to the biggest action
around. At this time, the biggest action is Microsoft's all out attack on the
software community, and Microsoft appears to be drawing all the rats to it.
You see the "fixers", lying reporters, money launderers, and
influence peddlers.

I knew a girl who went out with a tobacco lobbyist for a time, and she said
this lobbyist had arguments to counter every scientific result with pseudo
scientific results. Beyond all reason, he had proposals for using tobacco tar
for possible health benefits. In my experience, the tobacco industry of the
Eighties is the most similar situation to how Microsoft is attacking FOSS.

It is vital at this point in history for the software community to recognize
the true nature of our enemies. These are asocial and antisocial people drawn
by Microsoft's $53 billion in the bank. They will do Microsoft's bidding for
a piece of the action. Microsoft is attempting to divide and conquer the
software community by targeting the GPL and those leaders who use it.

Brown's transparent lies will be repeated in other reports and quoted to
policy makers innumerable times. Repetition, money, loudness, and threat
will replace truth in all their minds.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 11:01 AM EDT
Hello,

I send an e-mail to ADTI and told them about the answers of Andrew S. Tanenbaum
this is what I got back:

'thanks. given that professor tanenbaum and mr. torvalds have each issued
revisions within 48 hours of their first statements, i think we will wait a bit
to make sure they've settled on what it is they want to say --

as well, i have yet to see either of them (or many email writers, for that
matter) comment on the actual report. brown quotes each of them --tanenbam from
their meeting, and the public record; torvalds, who declined to discuss in
person or by telephone, from the public record. i have yet to see either of
them disagree with brown's report on the facts.

of course, both tanenbaum and torvalds are welcome to their different
interpretation of events. and mr. torvalds has every right to update or revise
his version of events. they were "present at the creation." then
again, they are interested parties. it seems to me that careful reporters such
as brown have every right to offer a different interpretation -- based on the
facts.

we continue to await a single email which claims that a single sentence of Mr.
Brown's report is inaccurate. if we receive one, we will be happy to check it
out and post a correction, if appropriate, or post the author's comments without
a correction for public information and discussion if not.

there will be a reply on the adti web site in the coming days, if you're
interested.

thank you for corresponding --
Gregory Fossedal'


"Geertsema, Ebel" <ebel.geertsema@sogeti.nl> wrote:
Dear Gregory Fossedal,

With respect to your reaction, but the response of Professor Tanenbaum
about the interview, done by Ken Brown, says enough, see
http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/brown/

Regard,

Ebel Geertsema


>
> thanks for your note -- but, with respect, it's about a study you haven't
> read but say is false, and which you allege violates principles of
> Tocqueville without identifying them what principle the paper you haven't
> rade violates?
>
> if you find any errors in future or previous AdTI work, please point them
> out and we will be happy to issue a correction, if appropriate. in the
> meantime, i stand behind the forthcoming study and encourage you to obtain
> a copy and read it when issued.
>
> i will also be happy to correspond, but not unless you treat me with the
> respect i will treat you with.
>
> best wishes, Gregory Fossedal
> emeritus@adti.net
>
> "Geertsema, Ebel" wrote:
> Ls,
>
> You sinned against principles of Tocqueville by spreading a misleading and
> false study about Linux. Disgusting.
>
> Regards,
>
> E. Geertsema
>
>

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 11:02 AM EDT
Hello,

I send an e-mail to ADTI and told them about the answers of Andrew S. Tanenbaum
this is what I got back:

'thanks. given that professor tanenbaum and mr. torvalds have each issued
revisions within 48 hours of their first statements, i think we will wait a bit
to make sure they've settled on what it is they want to say --

as well, i have yet to see either of them (or many email writers, for that
matter) comment on the actual report. brown quotes each of them --tanenbam from
their meeting, and the public record; torvalds, who declined to discuss in
person or by telephone, from the public record. i have yet to see either of
them disagree with brown's report on the facts.

of course, both tanenbaum and torvalds are welcome to their different
interpretation of events. and mr. torvalds has every right to update or revise
his version of events. they were "present at the creation." then
again, they are interested parties. it seems to me that careful reporters such
as brown have every right to offer a different interpretation -- based on the
facts.

we continue to await a single email which claims that a single sentence of Mr.
Brown's report is inaccurate. if we receive one, we will be happy to check it
out and post a correction, if appropriate, or post the author's comments without
a correction for public information and discussion if not.

there will be a reply on the adti web site in the coming days, if you're
interested.

thank you for corresponding --
Gregory Fossedal'


"Geertsema, Ebel" <ebel.geertsema@sogeti.nl> wrote:
Dear Gregory Fossedal,

With respect to your reaction, but the response of Professor Tanenbaum
about the interview, done by Ken Brown, says enough, see
http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/brown/

Regard,

Ebel Geertsema


>
> thanks for your note -- but, with respect, it's about a study you haven't
> read but say is false, and which you allege violates principles of
> Tocqueville without identifying them what principle the paper you haven't
> rade violates?
>
> if you find any errors in future or previous AdTI work, please point them
> out and we will be happy to issue a correction, if appropriate. in the
> meantime, i stand behind the forthcoming study and encourage you to obtain
> a copy and read it when issued.
>
> i will also be happy to correspond, but not unless you treat me with the
> respect i will treat you with.
>
> best wishes, Gregory Fossedal
> emeritus@adti.net
>
> "Geertsema, Ebel" wrote:
> Ls,
>
> You sinned against principles of Tocqueville by spreading a misleading and
> false study about Linux. Disgusting.
>
> Regards,
>
> E. Geertsema
>
>

[ Reply to This | # ]

cyberspace declaration of independance
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 26 2004 @ 03:10 AM EDT
http://www.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html

Interesting, since it also briefly mentions DeToqueville.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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