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A History of Free and Open Source - Introduction ~ by Peter H. Salus
Monday, March 28 2005 @ 08:46 AM EST

Historian Peter H. Salus is writing "A History of Free and Open Source", and I'm delighted to tell you that he is going to be publishing it in serialized form here on Groklaw. We thought that, with ADTI back with its Grim Fairy Tales, it would be useful to tell the FOSS story truthfully and in a scholarly way, so readers now and historians in the future can rely on the facts. Here's the first installment, the Introduction, and I know you will enjoy it. Look for the next episode on the 6th or 7th of April and every Wednesday or Thursday after that.

Dr. Salus is the author of "A Quarter Century of UNIX" and several other books, including "HPL: Little Languages and Tools", "Big Book of Ipv6 Addressing Rfcs", "Handbook of Programming Languages (HPL): Imperative Programming Languages", "Casting the Net: From ARPANET to INTERNET and Beyond", and "The Handbook of Programming Languages (HPL): Functional, Concurrent and Logic Programming Languages". There is an interview with him, audio and video,"codebytes: A History of UNIX and UNIX Licences" which was done in 2001 at a USENIX conference. Dr. Salus has served as Executive Director of the USENIX Association.

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

The daemon, the gnu, and the penguin

A History of Free and Open Source

~ by Peter H. Salus

Preface

The activities of a distributed and unorganized band of scholars led to the conceptual revolution that produced the modern world. For example, Copernicus (1473-1543) observed the heavens and recorded his measurements. In 1563, Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) noted that Copernicus' figures weren't quite right, so, from 1577 to 1597, Tycho recorded extraordinarily accurate astronomical measurements. In 1599 Tycho moved from Denmark to Prague, where Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was his assistant, until he succeeded him in 1601, when Tycho died.

Copernicus established heliocentricity. Tycho found that circular orbits just didn't work, and devoted decades to better measurements, which Kepler later used to determine that the orbits were ellipses, not circles. (In 1610, Galileo [1564-1642] pointed out that one could observe phases on Venus, and that therefore Venus must be nearer the Sun than the Earth was.) And, Newton (1643-1727) showed us the force (gravity) that held everything in place.

Poland. Denmark. Austria. Italy. Germany. England. Despite the Papacy, the 30 Years' War, turmoil in the Netherlands, in France, and in England, thought moved in print and in correspondence. Though countries were at war and religions were in conflict, scientific exchange of ideas and sharing of data persisted.

During the Renaissance it could take months for findings to reach those interested in other countries. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries lengthy epistles between scholars were distributed to others beyond the addressees. Scientific journals followed. Thanks to the progress of communications media, it now takes seconds where it once took decades for an idea or a discovery to proliferate. The fact is undeniable: Invention and scholarship have been the motor driving the development of civilization and culture.

The revolution of knowledge has led us to exploration and discovery. The computer, the Internet, and the Web have led to a similar revolution. While certainly no computer user, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Isaac McPherson (13 August 1813), wrote:

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it.

My aim is to show how the advent of the computer and the Internet have given rise to the expansion of the academic/scholarly notions of sharing, and how this in turn has brought us free and open software, which will bring about a major change in the way we do business.

This effort is more than a history of Linux, of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the Internet, software licensing, and myriad other topics. It will contain a number of histories within it, which (I hope) will serve as an antidote to the cloud of FUD stirred up by those who fear that change will mean that their businesses will fail (certainly more a sign of lack of imagination and flexibility than of anything else).

On the contrary: change yields opportunity. But change also requires adaptability. We are embarking on a new business model, which will change the way we do business as much as mass production and global electronic communication did over the 19th and 20th centuries.

Since 1990, there has been an insistent drumbeat of anti-FSF FUD. Since 2000, this has focused on Linux. Some examples of this are:

  • On June 1, 2001, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, told the Chicago Sun-Times: "Linux is cancer."

  • On October 15, 2002, Darl McBride, CEO of The SCO Group, said: "We are more committed to Linux than ever before."

  • On March 4, 2003, Blake Stowell, SCO director of Public Relations, said: "C++ is one of the properties SCO owns."

  • On May 14, 2004, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution issued a press release in which it revealed that its Director, Ken Brown, had discovered that Linus Torvalds had not "invented" Linux.

  • On August 26, 2004, Kieran O'Shaughnessy, director of SCO Australia and New Zealand, told LinuxWorld: "Linux doesn't exist. Everyone knows Linux is an unlicensed version of Unix."

The remarks are noise. But though ludicrous, statements like these make businessfolk fearful. They then hug Windows the way a different Linus clutches his blanket. My goal here is to show a wider audience just what went into the creation of open source and its worldwide network of contributors and users over the past 50 years.

Over four centuries have passed since our static heliocentric universe was replaced by a dynamic one. Today, the business model that has persisted since the late eighteenth century is being replaced. Here's how it's happening.


  


A History of Free and Open Source - Introduction ~ by Peter H. Salus | 172 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
A History of Free and Open Source - Introduction ~ by Peter H. Salus
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 09:13 AM EST
This is really interesting: a bit of history that I have never read about.
Looking foward to reading the book.

Sef

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here, please...
Authored by: jbeadle on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 09:20 AM EST
If any...

-jb

[ Reply to This | # ]

O/T, links, other stuff here, please...
Authored by: jbeadle on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 09:22 AM EST
Please make links clickable like so...

<a href="http://www.example.com">your words here</a>

Thanks,
-jb

[ Reply to This | # ]

A History of Free and Open Source - Introduction ~ by Peter H. Salus
Authored by: feldegast on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 09:25 AM EST
"We are more committed to Linux than ever before."

this is possibly true, but it's what commitment they have to Linux that is the
key....maybe stamping it out or consuming it and claiming it as theirs?

---
IANAL
The above post is (C)Copyright 2005 and released under the Creative Commons
License Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use

[ Reply to This | # ]

A History of Free and Open Source - Introduction ~ by Peter H. Salus
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 09:29 AM EST
Wow, this is the kind of artical that I keep coming to Groklaw for.

BT

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • I agree - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 12:15 PM EST
    • I agree - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 04:37 PM EST
  • Re Newton - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 12:43 PM EST
A History of Free and Open Source - Introduction ~ by Peter H. Salus
Authored by: mlwmohawk on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 09:47 AM EST
The second to last sentence: "Today, the business model that has persisted
since the late eighteenth century is being replaced."

A lot of things suddenly make so much more sense. Colonialism, emperialism, and
capitalism are all institutions based on a power structure that forces an
authoritarian control over lives or property.

Open source and globalization are forcing more "cooperative"
behaviors. Maybe we need a new word, because it isn't communism or socialism,
but it isn't cut throat capitalism or facism either.

Cooperatism?

We are learning -- relearning? -- or is it finally realizing that we can all
work together and still compete, can still be economically viable. This is how
science has worked since the dawn of man. Perhaps more ominously for the pure
capitalists out there, the *only* way in which business can exist in a peaceful
world.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland. Denmark. Austria. Italy. Germany. England?
Authored by: ossworks on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 09:57 AM EST
<pre>
Poland. Denmark. Austria. Italy. Germany. England. Despite the Papacy, the 30
Years' War, turmoil in the Netherlands, in France, and in England, thought moved
in print and in correspondence. Though countries were at war and religions were
in conflict, scientific exchange of ideas and sharing of data persisted.
</pre>
Huh? Maybe you mean:
<p>
This was a time when there was little distinction between church and government
and the time of the Thirty Years War when a complex series of military and
political events that swept Poland, Denmark, Austria, Italy, and Germany. In
spite of these obstacles, the idea of free exchange of scientific data and
theory persisted.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How do user groups figure in?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 10:09 AM EST
DECUS, SHARE, and other computer user groups in the 60's were set up as
clearinghouses for DEC and IBM software, with great success for those
manufacturers. Terms for software eligible for submittal were slightly
different (DECUS stuff had to be in the public domain, SHARE was slightly more
complicated). How do these figure into Salus's history of open source? They
seemed to work pretty well despite the nonexistence of the GPL.

[ Reply to This | # ]

new business model only for certain industries
Authored by: LouS on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 10:12 AM EST
First of all, thank you - I look forward to reading the rest of the
installments.

One minor nit to pick: This reads as if the new business model will
happen in all industries, which I don't think you mean. E.g., if I get a
car's design documents when I buy a car, it does not enable me in any
practical way to make a revised car, or even to hire someone else to do
so for me, because it is so expensive to make a "one-off" car from a
design. So, an "open design" car movement is unlikely.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A History of Free and Open Source - Introduction ~ by Peter H. Salus
Authored by: SilverWave on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 10:48 AM EST
This is what I come to Groklaw for!

Great article...

Looking forward to the rest.


---
"They [each] put in one hour of work,
but because they share the end results
they get nine hours... for free"

Firstmonday 98 interview with Linus Torvalds

[ Reply to This | # ]

a bit OT
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 10:56 AM EST
I'm wondering what the world of FOSS would be if the gift from Linus had not
been given.
FOSS would still be a great idea but how much ,then, of an impact could it be?

[ Reply to This | # ]

A History of Free and Open Source - Introduction ~ by Peter H. Salus
Authored by: Groklaw Lurker on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 10:57 AM EST
Peter H. Salus' book "A Quarter Century of Unix" is one of the most
insightful and interesting books I've ever read. Even after a decade or more, it
occupies a revered place on my bookcase. I can think of no one more likely to
produce the definitive work on the history of FOSS than Dr. Salus. We are
fortunate indeed to have him as the biographer of the FOSS movement.

Thank you Dr. Salus, for the contributions you've already made to FOSS and those
contributions that are yet to come.

GL




---
(GL) Groklaw Lurker
End the tyranny, abolish software patents.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linus and Lucy
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 11:26 AM EST
What follows is some of the text from my favorite Peanuts cartoon. I hope it's
use here is considered fair use(Peanuts copyright United features Syndicate)

Panel :Linus reading book:
Lucy:Gimme that book it's MY book.

Panel:
Linus watches TV:
Lucy:I don't wanna watch that show I wanna watch MY show

Panel:
Linus listens to radio:
Lucy: I don't wanna listen to that program I wanna listen to MY program

Panel:
Linus Listens to record
Lucy:I don't wanna listen to that record I wanna listen to MY record

Panel:
Linus: Allright, I'll go out and look at the stars

Panel
Linus Looking at an absolutely INCREDIBLE view of THE STARS

Lucy runs out after him and SCREAMS

"I don't want to look at those stars...I wanna look at MY..."

Panel:
Lucy looks off with a beaten look
Linus just looks at her

last Panel:
Lucy shown walking "off stage"
Lucy:*Sigh*




[ Reply to This | # ]

A History of Free and Open Source - Introduction ~ by Peter H. Salus
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 11:33 AM EST
Sounds internesting. Here's a white paper that I really enjoyed reading. Found
it quite awhile back.

The Origins and Future of Open Source Software a whitepaper by Nathan Newman.

http://www.netaction.org/opensrc/future/

-shift_back

[ Reply to This | # ]

Salus repeating FUD
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 11:58 AM EST
"Despite the Papacy ..." This is listed first and foremost as an impediment to science? This is a rote repetition of convenient anti-Catholic rhetoric, and better should be expected of you.

Let's not turn this into a big, noisy, pro/con Catholic/Christian/religion thread! But please educate yourselves a little bit. See this link for a good, well-researched essay on the Church and Gallileo – not the Church's best moment, but hardly what it's usually made out to be by anti-Catholic agitators.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Minor Nit
Authored by: snorpus on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 12:00 PM EST
FUD, FOSS, and other acronyms aren't well known outside the computing community. Hopefully, the finished product will contain a glossary or other means of clarifying such terms.

Otherwise, an outstanding beginning; I especially like the larger historical context. I'll be making the paper (book?) one of the required outside readings in the Introduction to Information Science course I'll be teaching this fall.

---
73/88 de KQ3T ---
Montani Semper Liberi
Comments Licensed: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

[ Reply to This | # ]

When will we have a PJ book?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 03:03 PM EST
I think a journalist investigation book about microsoft market strategies would
be well accepted by the market,

don't you think so?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Couple of Questions
Authored by: rm6990 on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 03:40 PM EST
Here are a few questions for Peter H. Salus or PJ, whomever wishes to answer
them.

1) Does the Creative Commons license PJ normally use apply to this work? I
wouldn't mind making a PDF of it when it is finished for redistribution.

2) Is it going to be made into an actual book? I wouldn't mind buying a copy if
it is.

3) About how long is this going to be?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Licence Terms
Authored by: sjgibbs on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 03:56 PM EST
Would PJ or Dr Salus care to elaborate on the licence terms under which the book
will appear on Groklaw? and the print edition? Can we assume Creative Commons,
per Groklaw?

Also, could you clarify whether this a draft version or a final edit? Some
comments, above, assume the former.

SJG

[ Reply to This | # ]

Go Dr Salus
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 04:31 PM EST
If the rest is like the introduction I will be reading it.

crazyEngineer.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stowell's quote
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 10:11 PM EST
On March 4, 2003, Blake Stowell, SCO director of Public Relations, said: "C++ is one of the properties SCO owns."

Wow, he really said that? That's breathtaking! Does anyone have the source?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tycho Brahe - fix possibly needed
Authored by: macrorodent on Tuesday, March 29 2005 @ 05:16 AM EST
Copernicus established heliocentricity. Tycho found that circular orbits just didn't work, and devoted decades to better measurements, which Kepler later used to determine that the orbits were ellipses, not circles.

But apparently Tycho Brahe himself did not believe in the heliocentric system! To account for the observations that did not fit the classical geocentric model, he tried to patch it:

Tycho developed a system that combined the best of both worlds. He kept the Earth in the center of the universe, so that he could retain Aristotelian physics (the only physics available). The Moon and Sun revolved about the Earth, and the shell of the fixed stars was centered on the Earth. But Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn revolved about the Sun. He put the (circular) path of the comet of 1577 between Venus and Mars. This Tychonic world system became popular early in the seventeenth century among those who felt forced to reject the Ptolemaic arrangement of the planets (in which the Earth was the center of all motions) but who, for various reasons, could not accept the Copernican alternative.

(From http://galileo.rice.edu/sci/brahe .html)

[ Reply to This | # ]

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