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A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI
Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 05:23 PM EDT

Linus, always pragmatic, sees the need to protect against future SCO's by making a small tweak to the patch submission process. I see that he is putting in place a method that will be open and obvious even after we are all dead and gone, and it should calm down corporate types who think in old-fashioned, proprietary terms. Smart. It's a crying shame watching Linus having to learn the dark side's wicked ways so as to route around them, but to his credit, he is learning and applying his brains and skills to the task. He has begun a discussion of a proposal, which you can read on LWN. When corporations and proprietary dudes get involved, you need to plan for their low-down, icky tricks. Linus says this:

"People have been pretty good (understatement of the year) at debunking those claims [by SCO], but the fact is that part of that debunking involved searching kernel mailing list archives from 1992 etc. Not much fun."

Truthfully, Linus, I've found it a lot of fun, personally, not to mention an education. He proposes a tweak to make the archives info more accessible.

His modestly and honest openness is such a contrast to the AdTI folks. If you go to their site, and I hope you don't, you will see links to articles (here's one) that present their view, but you won't find a link to Andrew Tanenbaum's rebuttal. Smarmy, indeed. Note that Linus is quoted as stating firmly that he never read the Lions book, and here is the story on Minix, starting with the AdTI view:

"'It's clear to me, at least from quotes from Tanenbaum, that Linus started from Minix...He just sat down with Minix and wrote this product. By definition, that is not an invention,' Brown said. 'If you sit down with the Ford blueprints and build a Chrysler and don't give Ford any credit, that's not invention.'

"In an interview conducted for the study, Brown quoted Tanenbaum as saying that Minix 'was the base that Linus used to create Linux. He also took many ideas from Minix, including the file system, source tree and much more.'

"If Linux is a derivative work of Minix, that makes Linux vulnerable to charges of intellectual property infringement by Prentice Hall, which published books on Minix, as well as the Minix source code, but restricted its use until 2000, the study said. 'Arguably, Prentice Hall has lost out on tens of millions of dollars' because of lost book sales, the study said.

"But Torvalds argued that he and other Linux developers have given proper credit.

"'Linux never used Minix code...We never credited anybody else's code, because we never used anybody else's code,' Torvalds said. . . .Minix, he said, was simply a platform on top of which Torvalds did his programming work.

"The study suggested that Torvalds might have gradually replaced Minix code with Linux, but Torvalds says that did not happen.

"'I didn't "write the Minix code out of Linux," Torvalds said. 'I was using Minix when I wrote Linux, but that's in the same sense that you are using Windows when you write your columns. Do your articles contain Windows source code because you use Windows to write them?'"

So now they want us not to be able to use ideas we know about. What a wonderful world they have in mind, eh? And a publisher could get tens of millions of dollars from a programming book? Puh-lease. Anyway, they strike out again, because Linus never read that book.

I am not providing a link to AdTI in this article, unlike earlier ones, because they are telling journalists like Stephen Shankland that "outsiders" have crashed their site. They obviously were not set up for the kind of traffic sites like Groklaw and Slashdot can create, and probably they imagine a malicious motive for what was likely just large numbers of people interested in reading what they wrote.

Here's a bit of what Linus suggests:

"So what I'm suggesting is that we start 'signing off' on patches, to show the path it has come through, and to document that chain of trust. It also allows middle parties to edit the patch without somehow 'losing' their names - quite often the patch that reaches the final kernel is not exactly the same as the original one, as it has gone through a few layers of people.

'The plan is to make this very light-weight, and to fit in with how we already pass patches around - just add the sign-off to the end of the explanation part of the patch. That sign-off would be just a single line at the end (possibly after _other_ peoples sign-offs), saying:

Signed-off-by: Random J Developer

"To keep the rules as simple as possible, and yet making it clear what it means to sign off on the patch, I've been discussing a 'Developer's Certificate of Origin' with a random collection of other kernel developers (mainly subsystem maintainers). This would basically be what a developer (or a maintainer that passes through a patch) signs up for when he signs off, so that the downstream (upstream?) developers know that it's all ok:

Developer's Certificate of Origin 1.0

By making a contribution to this project, I certify that:

(a) The contribution was created in whole or in part by me and I have the right to submit it under the open source license indicated in the file; or

(b) The contribution is based upon previous work that, to the best of my knowledge, is covered under an appropriate open source license and I have the right under that license to submit that work with modifications, whether created in whole or in part by me, under the same open source license (unless I am permitted to submit under a different license), as indicated in the file; or

(c) The contribution was provided directly to me by some other person who certified (a), (b) or (c) and I have not modified it.

"This basically allows people to sign off on other peoples patches, as long as they see that the previous entry in the chain has been signed off on. And at the same time it makes the 'personal trust' explicit to people who don't necessarily understand how these things work. "The above also allows for companies that have 'release criteria' to have the company 'release person' sign off on a patch, so that a company can easily incorporate their own internal release procedures and see that all the patches have gone through the right channel. At the same time it is meant to _not_ cause anybody to have to change how they work (ie there is no 'extra paperwork' at any point). "Comments, improvements, ideas?"

Here is what AdTI has on their site today:

"Linus Torvalds and his peers, wrote Wired magazine last November, 'don't have the institutional resources to ensure that a programmer isn't guilty of plagiarism.' In a path-breaking study, AdTI's Kenneth Brown reviews the origins and development of Linux -- in light of repeated expressions of contempt for intellectual property rights by Torvalds and some (but by no means all) open source programmers."
Neat strategy. First get the media to print what you want said as a fact -- and we all know how hard *that* is -- and then quote it. The same article makes much of Linus' alleged absent-mindedness. Want to bet that handy paragraph comes up at trial in the form of some questions to Linus? And the article says Linus looks like a supply clerk. To whom? Not to me. And look at the photo they managed to include on page 2. Would they do that to Bill Gates or even Darl McBride?

About those alleged "expressions of contempt for intellectual property", while I haven't yet read the book, I have read Martin Pool's review, and he mentions three such expressions listed in the book:

"AdTI has a consistent pattern of asking people for comments on hypothetical scenarios and applying those comments out of context to Linux. It allows him to give the impression that Bloch, or Tanenbaum, or Richie is saying 'Linux is X', when they said no such thing.


'Sometimes a little theft is necessary'.

'There is theft everywhere and the open source community should not be singled out.'

'The samizdat exchange was outright theft but it was necessary.'

"Quotes supposed to be from open source programmers, but not attributed. Did they just make them up? Perhaps we should attribute thoughts to 'Factions within the AdTI' on whether wife-beating is 'sometimes OK', 'happens all the time', or 'is absolutely necessary'?

I thought you might be interested in the fact that when I went to Google and searched for the three phrases he "quotes" about theft, none of them resolve to anything. Nobody said them in a way that Google can find. From what we have seen, the AdTI style of research includes posting questions on public boards and maybe they found somebody somewhere who said that privately, but they don't tell you who or where, and for sure I can't find it. Something smells funny here.

A clue for you. We don't need "institutional resources", actually, you old-fashioned types. We have community resources. Our software is superior to yours in many ways, because those resources are superior. We just do things differently than you do. Let me suggest you do this: Ask Sun or Microsoft or any proprietary software company to "ensure that a programmer isn't guilty of plagiarism." See what happens. Actually, I have Sun's "Binary Code License Agreement" and "Supplemental License Terms for Sun Java Desktop System", dated December 2003, and here is what it says about that:


"5. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. TO THE EXTENT NOT PROHIBITED BY LAW, IN NO EVENT WILL SUN OR ITS LICENSORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOST REVENUE, PROFIT OR DATA, OR FOR SPECIAL, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES, HOWEVER CAUSED REGARDLESS OF THE THEORY OF LIABILITY, ARISING OUT OF OR RELATED TO THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE SOFTWARE, EVEN IF SUN HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. In no event will Sun's liability to you, whether in contract, tort (including negligence), or otherwise, exceed the amount paid by you for Software under this Agreement. The foregoing limitations will apply even if the above stated warranty fails of its essential purpose."[Emphasis added]

Lots of protection and guarantees of no plagiarism there. Not.

No offense to anyone, but are all those outsourced coders in India or Eastern Europe or wherever proprietary companies can find cheap labor really more trustworthy than Linus and his contributors? No? Then stop singling Linux out as if that problem were unique. No one can guarantee 100% that no one plagiarized code, but the open process means any proprietary company can take a look at the code -- which is 100% open to the public -- and see if anyone stole their code and put it in Linux. As you have seen despite their bizarre allegations in the media, SCO has yet to successfully do that in court, and no other company that I know of has ever done so either. It's an issue in your imagination, not in the real world. But because it appears to be stuck in your imagination, like an old song, Linus is making a tweak to show you what he and his team already do know, that there is no unique problem with the code.

I'll have more to say about that word, samizdat. It's one more thing that AdTI got wrong.


A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI | 318 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Errors and Typos
Authored by: wepprop on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 07:13 PM EDT
Go here...

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT Comments / Links
Authored by: James on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 07:23 PM EDT
Go here

[ Reply to This | # ]

A PJ Statement I Disagree With
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 07:27 PM EDT
PJ said:

"We don't need "institutional resources", actually, you
old-fashioned types.
We have community resources. Our software is superior to yours, because
those resources are superior."

I have to disagree with the above blanket statement. There are many
proprietary software products that are superior to open source alternatives
(or that have no open source alternative at all). And vice versa. This is
because resources vary from project to project, whether proprietary or open


Mark Wilson

[ Reply to This | # ]

A: Because he's a programmer and not a comedian
Authored by: moogy on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 07:33 PM EDT
Q: How did Linus miss the obbvious? It clearly should have
been: "Signed-off-by: Random C Developer"

On the serious side... I think that once again with AdTI, the
major media, and getting the real information to them, will
be the real solution.

Mike Tuxford - #Groklaw
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you,
then they fight you, then you win. --Gandhi

[ Reply to This | # ]

Various background information
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 07:34 PM EDT
The analyst quoted in the Stephen SHankland zdnet story (Gordon Haff) has written and
spoken quite a bit about Linux. One of his more recent pieces is Open Soiurce
Incivility which is available in its full form here:

He's also written a faitrly anti-SCO piece:

He also founded the Dartmouth Review with Greg Fossedal (of ADTI fame).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 07:43 PM EDT
I know PJ said she'd talk more about samizdat later, but having some familiarity with the process and knowing people who were engaged in it, I hope I can add something. The word "samizdat" is Russian, but it's a word that was coined for that phenomenon -- it means "self-publishing." In these days of digital media of various kinds being freely and easily distributed, this may be hard for people to believe, but what people in the former Soviet Union did was to pass around manuscripts by re-typing them. That's right, if somebody gave you something to read that was likely to be subject to censorship, you'd read it and then type up another copy. Passing along the one you got and the one you typed would double the "press run".

Samizdat was anti-censorship, it had nothing whatsoever to do with appropriating and distributing copyrighted content. It was a way of distributing literature which otherwise would never get published. To equate it with theft or copyright infringement is not just to misunderstand the situation completely, it is insulting to all those people who quite literally risked their lives in the cause of freedom of speech. How many of you would copy and pass around a CD if getting caught could mean 20 years in a Siberian prison camp?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Break your own story!
Authored by: LarryVance on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 07:46 PM EDT
If you are really concerned with being reactionary. Then don't be reactionary.
Produce your own story. Publish the real story of the origins of linux and the
involvement of others that contributed. Do not spend your efforts on refuting
something that you know is a lie.

Generate guest editorial comments and submit them to the news media.

Tell the story of GRokLaw.

Create positive press.

Do it the Clinton way. Act like there is nothing wrong and that you are in the
drivers seat. (not that I like Clinton or believed in any of the evil that he
purpetrated or in which he was involved)

Larry Vance

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 07:49 PM EDT
I'll have more to say about that word, samizdat. It's one more thing that AdTI
got wrong.

Doesn't have anything to do with code, unless you're the flakes at AdTI.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI
Authored by: a1pha on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 08:20 PM EDT
Sounds like they're trying to get either Tannenbaum and/or
Prentice/Hall to jump on the Lawsuit bandwagon, doesn't
it? Typical MS way, use pawns to attack.

Trech Gwlad, nac Arglwydd

[ Reply to This | # ]

The FOSS community and the press.
Authored by: hardcode57 on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 08:41 PM EDT
There's a paragraph in the above that reflects a problem that our community
needs to address.

We have a problem in the open source community, and that is dealing with the
press. And it's our fault, not theirs. We expect journalists to go and find out
all the facts that relate to a story. Except in the specialised (and over
glamourised) case of the investigative reporter, THAT IS NOT THEIR JOB. When a
journalist reports on a controversy, his/her job is to report both sides of the
argument as put to them, and as they understand it. If they report some FUD as
fact, and we haven't made them aware, in a way that they understand, where the
failings of the opposition's case are, that is _our_ _fault_. Let's look at the
paragraph in question.

'First get the media to print what you want said as a fact
-- and we all know how hard *that* is -- and then quote it.'
OK, if it is easy to get a reporter to report our opinion as fact, why don't
_we_ do it? Where are our reports and executive summaries? How often does
someone from our community issue a press release? Even a new product is as
likely to be release as an item on Slashdot with a link, then allowed to
circulate our community by word of e-mail.

'The same article makes much of Linus' alleged absent-mindedness. Want to bet
that handy paragraph comes up at trial in the form of some questions to Linus?'

So? The reporter wrote what he saw, and made it sound endearing. Linus is a big
boy, and if the question comes up in court, he can deal with it.

'And the article says Linus looks like a supply clerk. To whom? Not to me. And
look at the photo they managed to include on page 2. Would they do that to Bill
Gates or even Darl McBride?'

Neither Gates nor McBride would let them use such a picture, which is kind of
the point. And there's nothing wrong with being a supply clerk: it's just
ordinary, which is very much the point of the story. The article is about how a
very normal seeming, endearingly absent minded guy has achieved great things
through powers of leadership at odds with his appearance.

This was intended to be a sympathetic piece, and if the author got a couple of
facts wrong, it's up to us to educate him. Politely. So that he'll want to

Journalists are no different as a whole from the rest of the world. There are
brilliant ones, who do great work, there are atrocious ones who do poor work,
there are one's who manage to develop a career beyond that warranted by their
abilities though a total lack of integrity, and there are the overwhelming
majority who just want to do the best job they can while getting home before the
kids' bedtime. They don't give a damn about who is right or wrong, not because
they are amoral, but because it's not their place to make that judgement. What
they want to do is to report what both sides are saying accurately. They welcome
our help.

If journalists receive a press release saying something, and which referrs to a
couple of apparently independent authorities, and get no contrary press release,
how are they to know that the release is a lie? And if they get releases from
either side, and one is well mannered, professional, and contains a couple of
quotes that sum up what the sender is trying to say, and the other is long
winded, technical, and difficult to quote from, what do you think is going to

Most of all, if a journalist writes a friendly article, and gets abused for it
because he didn't say exactly what we want to hear, do we really expect him to
write a more friendly one next time?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Maybe not a coincidence
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 08:45 PM EDT

Something almost slipped under the radar recently. Wolf, Greenfield lawyers were back giving quotes warning about problems with open source. Could it coincide with the AdTI FUD just by coincidence? Or is there a campaign going on to misinform political leaders and manufacture press and research to provide cover?

I mean Steven Henry and Ed Walsh as quoted here. The best overview of their history is in messages 133029 to 133032 on the Yahoo Finance SCOX board here. (Go there and type the numbers is the box "Msg #:".)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not good at following directions
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 08:46 PM EDT

"If you sit down with Ford blueprints and build a Chrysler ..."'re apparently not doing a good job of reading blueprints. One would think you'd have a Ford if you built a car using their blueprints. :) Then again, advanced skills such as "reading" and "comprehension" don't seem to be the forte of the AdTI.


[ Reply to This | # ]

OT - We've done a pretty good job on ADTI
Authored by: blacklight on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 08:57 PM EDT
I don't know how much time it took for Ken Brown to knock off his opus, but the
groklaw community skewered both him and ADTI within 48 hours.

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing ADTI being featured (and destroyed) in a news
show investigation. In the meantime, we can put pressure on Microsoft by turning
ADTI into their liability, and we can track down every journalist who over used
ADTI as a source of quotes. Without a source of funds and without a soap box,
ADTI is not going to get very far.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This is all happening as it should
Authored by: Briareus on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 09:13 PM EDT
"Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you
place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him
no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has
been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces."
--from "The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude" by Étienne de la Boétie
in the early 1550s.

With that in mind, consider:

A monolithic software corporation, feeling it's pedestal weakening as its
installed customer base grows both in tech savvy and frustration from the
inherent and expensive security vulnerabilities, works from both in front of and
behind the camera to thwart its antithesis: A global community of innovators and
testers loosely united in skill and overall philosophy.

Lesser but similarly stagnant and slothful corporations in the industry take up
their own efforts, sensing the sea change. A new system of collaborative
organization and problem solving antiquates some of the more profitable aspects
of the closed loop model. There is anxiety. Informal yet coherently timed
efforts are undertaken at various places across the industry to stem this tide.
Something must be done, shareholders are screaming, what happened to our market
share, do something do something.

But as has been said before, this isn't about fighting a worldwide army of
like-minded programmers, this is about fighting the weather.

It's a fight that can't be won because there are too many factors, too many
variables, too many microclimates, and in THIS case, too many brilliant and
motivated minds. It's been said that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.
Just as the body suffers infection to later build up its immunity, so does this
collaborative innovation suffer mass and loosely choreographed FUDing only to
respond with more solid documentation of the course of coding evolution. Immune
systems are wonderful things, and this one will add to the overall virility of
NOT JUST the Linux project, but also any other open collaborative project wise
enough to pay attention to what's happening.

So take heart, this is all happening as it must. When the history of this period
is written it may just be seen as something akin to the medieval monarchies,
whose death throes lingered long past the days when the kingdoms held any
relevence for the people on the streets.

I for one am simultaneously enraged and repulsed by the machinations we all see,
but I'm heartened by this larger understanding.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why ADTI and SCO seem credible to some
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 09:16 PM EDT
I posted this in a previous story, but actually meant to post it here. Please
forgive my error.

One other point I'll just add, before the meat of this post. No procedures can
ever be 100% watertight. SCO's (and ADTI's to some extent) position appears to
be that because Linux procedures are not 100% watertight, there must be an

However, that is not the legal standard. The legal standard, is SCO have to
prove not that an infringement could theoretically have taken place, but rather
(a) that already has, and (b) the infringement involve something which actually
belongs to SCO.

Anyway, here is my main point:

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
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).


You publish a collection of short stories or essays.

(a) Some may contain factual or grammatical errors, typos, etc. The reader
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
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

(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

(f) It is easier (for somebody so inclined) to "steal" somebody
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,
link, (iii) run under some circumstances, and to achieve this, they usually
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
a program, so much so as to be useless.

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

(d) There is a minimum objective standard (compile, link, run) which as
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

(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
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
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

...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

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
lying around (the code that you stole from somebody else).

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI
Authored by: Steve Martin on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 09:16 PM EDT

"If Linux is a derivative work of Minix, that makes Linux vulnerable to charges of intellectual property infringement by Prentice Hall, which published books on Minix, as well as the Minix source code, but restricted its use until 2000, the study said.

Okay, someone please explain to me how Prentiss-Hall has intellectual property rights to code that Andrew Tanenbaum wrote and holds copyright rights to. I'm confused.

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

Let's call it what it is: hate propaganda
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 09:16 PM EDT
The unattributed quotes show that AdTI is simply churning out hate propaganda.
Fortunately for us it is of quite poor quality, but we must assume MS will
eventually find more competent propagandists.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Old-fashioned" vs. Just Plain Old
Authored by: snorpus on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 09:23 PM EDT

I'm sure you didn't mean it that way, but "old-fashioned" could be interpreted to mean those of us who were programming in the "good old days", before Unix evolved from Multics.

I think you'll find that some of the most ardent supporters of free software are your members that might be considered "old-fashioned", or just plain old.

I think our "old-fashioned" ideas are more in touch with FOSS than anything I've seen come out of AdTI.

73/88 de KQ3T ---
Montani Semper Liberi

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where is Al Frankin when you need him
Authored by: kberrien on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 09:34 PM EDT
If only Al Frankin was a Open Source fan. He could write a sequal, Lying Proprietary Software Developers, and the Lying Think Tanks and Analyists who lie for them.

I'm starting to see the same dirty tricks we see in politics entering into play.

But, unlike politics I think it'll have little effect. What Sun, MS and their ilk just won't admit - A cheaper, better product will always move forward in the market. I doubt the CFO of Autozone, or Dymler Crysler could give a damn if Linus wrote Linux, or if it was a infinate number of monkeys.

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A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 09:36 PM EDT
The authentication needs to be done using GPG (GNU Privacy Guard) or PGP (Pretty
Good Privacy). This will prevent anyone in the future from inappropriately
placing code in the kernel.

These two programs provide an excellent means of determining the authenticity of
the author.

Moreover, the origins of all code submissions can easily be tracked and
catalogued using some open source software some friend of mine and I have been
working on.

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Why Proprietary SW will Never Become Public
Authored by: jldill22 on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 10:13 PM EDT
In my view one of the biggest impediments to making proprietary SW source code
public, is the violations of other persons' IP (copyright and, in limited cases,
trade secrets and patents) that would thereby be disclosed.

My guess is that a ton and a half of this goes on because nobody can know it
occurred. I do not think it happens by reason of corporate policy, but because
programmers, who have, or had access, to other people's code simply reuse it
because of "why reinvent the wheel" combined with "because its
proprietary, no-one will know."

Hence the standard EULA warranty disclaimer of liability for third party IP
claims. These disclaimers do not prevent a lawsuit by the IP owner against the
SW vendor. If MS has many claims against it now, consider how many claims might
be made against it if its source became generally available.

It is a source of serious amusement to me to hear assertions by proprietary SW
vendors that a Linux user gets no viable imdemnity from his vendor when you
consider the contents of every proprietary EULA that I have ever reviewed. But
my guess is that such vendors desparately need the standard disclaimer re third
party IP claimes, because otherwise contingent claims might mean that such
vendors are really bankrupt.

At least with open source, if no prompt claim is made you can be reasonable sure
that no viable claim can be made. I include SCO's claims in this principle.

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Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 10:33 PM EDT

You are perforing a valuable service to the Open SOurce Community, however I
think you have misdirected your anger towards Sun.

I think you will find very similar language in the license agreements of the
MAIN ENEMY and as weel as in licenses by IBM, Novell and other allies of Open

I hope you continue to use you research and anlitical skills to uncover the
truth, not to forment unsupported conspiracy theories.

There are enough of those without the rational people among us fueling more.

I would point out that as far as I can recall, Sun, Novell and IBM have never
been adjutcated as stealing other people's intellectual property and all have a
record of dedicating their intellectual property to the community.

On the the hand Microsoft has repeatedly been found gulity of stealing other
people's intellectual property and violating the laws of the USA and other

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The problem with open software
Authored by: Tordenskjold on Sunday, May 23 2004 @ 10:54 PM EDT
In regard to the following: "No one can guarantee 100% that no one plagiarized code, but the open process means any proprietary company can take a look at the code -- which is 100% open to the public -- and see if anyone stole their code and put it in Linux." This neatly sums up one of the main problems facing the open software community: The code is public and therefore submittable to all kinds of scrutiny. In litteraly millions of lines of code, the chance of finding a routine that looks 'suspiciously' like a similar routine in another ('owned') program are frankly pretty good. Making it stick in court by claiming infringement becomes the next step - witness SCO's legal expenditure. The question that begs answering is, how many code snippets, routines, and sections in proprietary (closed) code is copied from somewhere else and therefore infringing on someones IP? We may (will) never know, because by its very nature, this code is not available to the general public. Without this information, it is all too easy for the likes of SCO and AdTI to make wild claims about buccaneering practices by open software coders, since these claims can't readily be refuted. Wheather open software is more or less IP-infringing than closed software is at the heart of the proprietary side's media campaign and needs to be addressed factually. I agree with the many postings here that the open software needs to start some sort of media counter-campaign. Right now, the other side owns the media - and, let's not forget - the media is where most of future judges/jurors are going to get their initial information regarding these issues. It's all about perception...

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A word about the Wired article
Authored by: josmith42 on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 12:02 AM EDT

PJ, I think, perhaps, you were a bit hard on the Wired article. I remember reading the article back when it was first published, and I thought then, as I still do now, that it was an enjoyable read. I thought they portrayed Linus in a very positive light, albeit not a completely accurate one, perhaps. And, yes, they did get the "institutional resources" thing wrong, but that was before Groklaw took the world by storm and showed what the FOSS community is really capable of.

As far as ADTI quoting it, I believe that was a result of Ken Brown searching the internet for a quote that would support his theory, and he happened to find it in that article. I don't believe Gary Rivlin intended his article to be used as a FUD generator. He was writing an article about Linus, not the legalities of Linux, and unfortunately ADTI used his words in an unintended way (I would think, anyway).

Just my $.03

Forty-two: the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything.

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Keep the focus on AdTI
Authored by: Graabein on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 12:31 AM EDT
The AdTI wants the world to focus on their FUD. So far, they're not doing a too
shabby job of it.

What we want is for the world to focus on the AdTI itself. As someone else said
earlier in this thread: "They are lying liars". I know that, you know
that, we all know that.

The mainstream press doesn't know that. Not even all of the mainstream tech

How do we move the focus on to the AdTI itself and firmly keep it there?

The facts, all the facts and nothing but the facts. IOW, document how the AdTI
is funded by Microsoft and acting as nothing but Microsoft's proxy. Discredit,
discredit and discredit. Then discredit some more.

Getting into arguments over who said what to whom and all the other FUD in
Brown's book is just playing into their game and elevating their FUD to
something that actually merits debate.

It doesn't, people, it's all just a bunch of propaganda, as has been shown

This is where the ballgame's at, not even dignifying the AdTI's FUD with
replies, instead only discussing the AdTI itself, its funding and its shady

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The Wired Photo
Authored by: Dave on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 12:56 AM EDT
I don't get it...what's wrong with the photos in the Wired article? Linus
looks, in a word, sexy!

I'm not at all concerned about Linus' media coverage. Compared to Bill and
Darl, he comes off as smarter, a better programmer (than Bill anyway...I don't
think has anyone claimed Darl has ever written a line of code), a better leader,
more scrupulous, more charismatic, more altruistic, more interesting,
humbler...and better looking!

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OT: Do your articles contain Windows source code because you use Windows to write them?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 02:05 AM EDT
Hmm, most likely yes, consider what wonderful things keep on being found in


Anonymous Coward

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You lot are missing the point I believe.
Authored by: Franki on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 02:20 AM EDT
Think about it guys,,

Watch some law shows on telly.
Quite often, a lawyer will say something that they know has no chance of getting
though unchallanged and as soon as it is challanged, they withdraw the comment.

Why you might ask? well because it puts a possibility into the minds of the jury
that wasn't there before.

Now replace the Jury with CIO/CTO/CEO and the general non tech public, and
replace the nasty lawyer with M$/SCO/ATDI.

It doesn't matter if they are analysed to death as being inept FUDers by the
tech community, their whole goal is just to put the thought of "IP
litigation" into the minds of those that make the decisions.

It's a short term goal, because when the claims fade from recent memory and
nobody has suffered because of them, and the OSS uptake has continued unabated,
people will forget.

But short term is all these guys have known, and a short term winfall is better
then none at all in their minds.

Thats why it's such a bad thing regardless of how ineptly it is carried out. We
hear that Linux and free software/OSS takeup has continued unabated, but what we
don't know, is how much stronger that uptake would have been had these perverse
dishonest lawsuits not come into play.



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A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 03:11 AM EDT
This (in my experience) is standard procedure in industry, having to sign off on
design forms, have code reviewed, etc. It's only surprising that it hasn't come
to open source before.

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PJ. Will. You. PLEASE. Stop. Feeding. The. Trolls.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 03:45 AM EDT
k thnx lol.

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Closed source - the best defense agains infringment & plagiarism claims
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 04:25 AM EDT
Sometimes I thimk, that closed source vendors use their development model
because it provides an inherent protection against the patent infringment (if it
is "internal use" of the patented method) and plagiarism claims...
BTW. Would it be possible to check eg. the Windows code for stolen code?
Last time they started to make their code available for some governments. Has
anybady checked the legality of their code?

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ADTI Hosted by Geocities
Authored by: figures on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 05:07 AM EDT
Following a post from http-equiv on the neohapsis mailing list

A traceroute shows going to Geocities

Even looking at the Yahoo hosting packages... 35GB a month is gonna cause you
problems in you're slashdotted or grokked!

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A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 07:18 AM EDT
PJ wrote: "So now they want us not to be able to use ideas we know about.
What a wonderful world they have in mind, eh?"

This isn't exactly correct. And that's what makes it even more rediculous. The
Linux/Unix thing is about not using ideas we know about. This is more like:

If you have to pound a nail into a wall. You can't use a hammer because it was
created by someone else. You have to create a new hammer, and it better not bear
any resemblance to the traditional hammer and also, you can't use our hammer to
make your new hammer.

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A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 08:08 AM EDT
Q: How many AdTI researchers does it take to replace a lightbulb?

A1: None. They ask an uncredited source if a lightbulb has even been stolen,
then blame Linus.
A2: None. There are no researchers at AdTI.
A3: None. There are no lights on at AdTI.

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A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI
Authored by: mrness on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 09:15 AM EDT
No offense to anyone, but are all those outsourced coders in India or Eastern Europe or wherever proprietary companies can find cheap labor really more trustworthy than Linus and his contributors?
PJ, many open source developers are from India and Eastern Europe. Just because a developer work for outsourced projects, doesn't mean it does only that. It isn't a capital sin to win a buck, you know.

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AdTI has a long history of anti FOSS propaganda
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 09:46 AM EDT
Has it been already published at Groklaw?,1411,52973,00.html,1367,53124,00.html

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AdTI Claim
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 09:49 AM EDT
Brown claims that Linus could not have writen an operating system in 6 months.

How many lines of code were there in the first release?

How many lines of code would he have had to write a day to produce that much
code in 6 months?

How many lines of code can a really good programer (who is also going to school)
produce in a day?

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  • AdTI Claim - Authored by: mbp on Tuesday, May 25 2004 @ 09:18 PM EDT
A de T -- shame to misuse his name
Authored by: Steve on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 10:45 AM EDT

It's a shame to see the ADTI misusing Alexis de Tocqueville's name in pursuit of their narrow agenda.

Alexis de Tocqueville was a Frenchman who toured the US around 1830, observing the customs and manners of the new republic's citizens. His penetrating insights into the uniquely American way of resolving tensions between the community and the individual are an incredible treasury of information in practical Republic-building.

One element of De Tocqueville's genius was in showing how the Americans channeled their work ethic and desire for gain via social means. Morality and religion acted as buffers on unchecked greed in the America described by de Tocqueville.

The ADTI's America is a caricature, where work ethic is for suckers and gain is all that matters, where gain is a zero-sum game, and where the technical requirements of copyright and patent outshine the reason they were created -- "to promote the progress of science and useful arts."

Go read de Tocqueville on Project Gutenberg. Good stuff.


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An open post to PJ - Please no flames before you read this 2x
Authored by: BigTex on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 10:47 AM EDT

I am not going to critique your wiritng style nor your passion. However I have
noticed a trend in your posts over the last several months. Your normally
"objective", "unemotional" and "balanced" approach
to disputing FUD which has earned you much respect and given the FOSS community
a voice that is not dismissed as evangelical, has changed to become a bit more
"shrill" and "unbalanced".

This is not the Inquisiton Part 3 where those that do not believe the same as us
need to be shouted down and burned at the proverbial stake. Rather I believe
that you can continue to most effectively serve the cause of the Open Source
community by not being dismissed by the mainstream as another one of those folks
who is "against proprietary software in any form". Open source and
closed source can and do co-exist in this market. There should not be a need to
say "we are better than you" when both development processes serve
different purposes.

PJ, You have done more to effectively dispell the SCO/MS FUD efforts than
anyone else in recent history. PLEASE don't become "marginalized" and
"dismissed" by the mainstream media by being perceived as a FOSS
Zealot. We have enough Zealots...we don't have enough people like you!


Rob Barney

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Wrong Car Analogy
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 10:47 AM EDT
'If you sit down with the Ford blueprints and build a Chrysler and don't give Ford any credit, that's not invention.'

In fact, this is almost what car/electronics/etc makers do. They buy examples of their rivals' stuff and take it apart to find out all the good ideas they can. Obviously they do not simply copy the rival design: they try to improve on it. There is nothing wrong or infringing in this.

A famous case is when Ford UK (I think it was) took one of the first British Minis apart to find how it could be sold so cheap. They found that it was being sold for less than it cost to make, and complained to BMC (the Mini's makers then) that this was unfair! In fact BMC had made an error in their own cost calcs.

I take Linus' word that he did not look at Minix in this way. In his case it is like a Chrysler employee using a Ford to get to meetings about designing Chryslers.

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OT: Microsoft pays $12 million in hush money to Opera Software
Authored by: belzecue on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 11:03 AM EDT
I remember viewing Opera's proof of these shenanigans a long time ago. Good to see they didn't let it slide.

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More Linus Photos
Authored by: rand on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 11:56 AM EDT
ADTI apparently hasn't used these in any article yet but you have to wonder why
they even keep them on their public server. In deference to PJ the actual URLs
aren't posted here, but if anyone wants to check them out and/or mirror them,
try the /images/ subdirectory at -- torvalds.2.jpg and

Both show Linus with a beer bottle, one shirtless and chugging away. Really
flattering. Don't be surprised if they show up in a future "article".

carpe ductum -- "Grab the tape" (IANAL and so forth and so on)

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AdTI's Gregory Fossedal Dartmouth College Neo-Con
Authored by: voxclamatis on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 05:26 PM EDT
Well, it certainly makes sense, now.

As AdTI loudly proclaims here:

Chairman Fossedal is the enterprising Dartmouth College undergrad (in 1980) who
started the Dartmouth Review -- the country's oldest continual neo-conservative
"independent" college newspaper. The "Review" has been the
proud parent of such luminaries on the new Right as Dinesh D'Souza (google him
if you don't follow right wing philosophers).

It is a shame that a group such as these who have trafficked for so long on
their "intellectual honesty" and willingness to fight "political
correctness" should fall into this unseemly and tawdry line of work. After
looking at the Democratic Century Fund, AdTI, Ernest Martin Hopkins Institute
(another reference to those Dartmouth roots), and spending too long with Google,
the situation looks shameful indeed. Fossedal has whored himself to the moguls
of capitalism under the banner of "free-market economics". Now he
simply orchestrates a bunch of band-mates who sing the tunes called by their
corporate sponsors.

But do not underestimate the word-smithing abilities of this crowd. They are
all articulate, bright, educated. And they love nothing better than a war of
words where fulminating opponents speak carelessly. Dissecting such victims is
just "what they do."


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contempt for intellectual property
Authored by: technoCon on Monday, May 24 2004 @ 06:29 PM EDT
couple things:

1) it appears that the Dark Side has utter contempt for the intellectual
property of Linus and all other Linux contributors. They even say that GPLed
code constitutes a destruction of intellectual property despite the careful
legal work by the legal types who drafted the GPL to make sure that GPLed code
remains the property of Linus, et alia.

2) the Dark Side seems to think that software, despite being copyrighted, is not
governed by copyright law but is protected by copyright law. If I write a
program that performs some function and copyright that software, according to
the Dark Side's legal theory, any functionally equivalent program is an
infringement thereof. This theory probably doesn't have any legal basis, but it
serves the purposes of FUD.

I think I finally understand why SOFTWARE PATENTS are important. Suppose I am
awarded a patent for a program that adds two integers and returns their sum.
Does patent law say that I can sue if you write a functionally equivalent
program? If so, it behooves all of us to get very good at searching for prior

3) Microsoft has a long history of stealing its business-partners' ideas. Could
a public-spirited ambulance-chaser round up these victims to patent the
ripped-off ideas? Or provide prior-art to overturn Microsoft's patents that
build on them?

Obviously, I am not a lawyer, I'm just trying to think like one so as to
anticipate the Dark Side's next moves.

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A Tweak to the Patch Submission Process and a Word on AdTI
Authored by: jccooper on Tuesday, May 25 2004 @ 01:37 AM EDT

The ADTI quote is a wonderful example of non-sequitur argumentation. The proposition (Linus didn't "invent" Linux) is correct* and the premise (infringement would be bad) is also correct. However, the proposition doesn't imply the conclusion that Linux is in trouble, since copyright infringement only happens when there's actual copying. But they can get you if you're not paying attention--or have been deliberately confused about how "intellectual property" works.

I almost expect them next to ask when Linux stopped beating its wife. (The classic example of another logical fallacy: the loaded question.)

[*] Actually, it's mostly non-sensical. It's almost like asking "what's the value of 0/0?" It is true because one doesn't invent software, so certainly Linus didn't invent Linux or anything else.

It is certainly true that Linus didn't invent the concept of the Unix-like operating system (that honor belongs to others). But using an idea isn't copyright infringement--a fact that's explicitly stated in the law. Building an interoperable system without copying isn't copyright infringement either, but reverse engineering, which also is explicitly allowed. And building a system to public specifications isn't copyright infringement either, it's just plain okay.

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