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Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From.
Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 11:19 PM EDT

This is so funny. Yet another "history" of Linux.

I'm deep into writing an article on the Apple-Psystar litigation, to rebut some of the absolute nonsense I see being written about it, but I have to take a brief detour to share something with you, so you can laugh too. I put in News Picks a couple of days ago the farewell letter of ex-hedge fund manager, Andrew Lahde, who is one of the few who predicted the current Wall Street meltdown, and one of the things he suggested was that great minds get together and come up with a new "system of government that truly represents the common man’s interest....This forum could be similar to the one used to create the operating system, Linux, which competes with Microsoft’s near monopoly."

This seems to have seriously twisted someone's neurons in a bunch, and here's part of Dennis Byron's response on Seeking Alpha:

Linux was created by IBM, HP (HPQ) and other former IT systems monopolists that realized that Microsoft was taking their systems monopoly away from them. IBM, HP, Digital Equipment (now part of HP), etc. had banded together for this purpose in the early 1980s while Linus Torvalds, the nominal creator of Linux and who now works for one of the groups IBM, HP, etc. put together for its trust-like purposes, was still in short pants. Ten years later, the consortium chose a small piece of software code, "forked" by Linus from some other code while he was in college, to complement the still ongoing technical development effort by IBM, HP, etc. to come up with "one Unix." What is today called Linux is the result of that one-Unix effort.
Isn't that hilarious? To be fair, those Wall Street dudes are likely under a lot of stress nowadays. If he needs a job, maybe he should write a column with "Paul Murphy", who also comes up with his own histories on the birth of Linux. I see a match. Or he could write for ADTI, methinks. They tried to allege that Linus forked Minix, but it's a lie. Anyway, Linus already confessed. The father of Linux is the Tooth Fairy.

It is sooooooo hard for traditional businessfolks to comprehend that people would write software on purpose because they want to, without an economic goal, and without the help and direction of the Big Boys. But they did. It is more than hilarious to contemplate the mental picture of Richard Stallman being a secret enterprise operative. That's who started the ball rolling in the '80s, by the way, not IBM, not HP, not any corporate entity. See what happens when you don't call it GNU/Linux? It leads to serious confusion as to the birth of the software the world is adopting.

I also find it hilarious to imagine any corporate counsel inventing the General Public License, the GPL, which was deliberately designed to keep greedo corporations and even individuals from being able to ruin the community's work.

And it worked! Thank you, Mr. Stallman.

To this very day corporations struggle to see anything good in the GPL, and they try to step over and around it at every turn, like Queen Elizabeth coping with puddles threatening her delicate slippers. Yes. All of them struggle with it. Some eventually come through it, some finally adopt it, but they never, ever in a million years would have released one byte of code under the GPL if they could have avoided it. Nevah. Let me tell you what really happened.

Here's what really happened, from David A. Wheeler's book Secure Programming for Linux and Unix HOWTO, Chapter 2's "History of Unix, Linux, and Open Source/Free Software":

2.1.2. Free Software Foundation

In 1984 Richard Stallman's Free Software Foundation (FSF) began the GNU project, a project to create a free version of the Unix operating system. By free, Stallman meant software that could be freely used, read, modified, and redistributed. The FSF successfully built a vast number of useful components, including a C compiler (gcc), an impressive text editor (emacs), and a host of fundamental tools. However, in the 1990's the FSF was having trouble developing the operating system kernel [FSF 1998]; without a kernel their dream of a completely free operating system would not be realized.

2.1.3. Linux

In 1991 Linus Torvalds began developing an operating system kernel, which he named "Linux" [Torvalds 1999]. This kernel could be combined with the FSF material and other components (in particular some of the BSD components and MIT's X-windows software) to produce a freely-modifiable and very useful operating system.

As you can see, there are no corporate helpers or pushers in its infancy or even the teen years. Here's Richard Stallman's own history of the GNU project. Might as well go to the source. He was actually there, so he doesn't have to make up anything. Later, there came the parasites, as Stallman famously called Caldera, and in better cases the enablers of certain features they wanted and those who certainly helped in marketing. And some, like IBM and Novell, have stood up like men to protect the code in court. But they were not there in the beginning.

Not even SCO tried to claim anything like that. Here. Read SCO's complaint for yourself. According to SCO, IBM first got involved in Linux in the year 2000. By then, Linux was in the 2.4.x series. Not that much of what SCO wrote turned out to be true. Just saying not even SCO claimed that IBM or HP was there at the beginning. It's fanciful. Like I say, it's hard for business types to believe that software didn't come from Microsoft heaven on stone tablets to us mere mortals, but it didn't. GNU/Linux comes to you from a large group of volunteers who provided the world with a lovely gift. And they made sure no one could abscond with it. That's the part some find so hard to swallow, but if you're a programmer or an end user, no doubt you see the benefit to you. If all you live for is money, you should probably be a hedge fund manager instead.

Speaking of SCO, it had a very ambivalent attitude toward the GPL, back when it was Caldera, the Linux company. That's what caused Stallman to call Caldera a parasite back in 2001. Here's where the former CEO of Caldera, now The SCO Group, Ransom Love partially agreed with Microsoft's Craig Mundie in 2001 that the GPL was bad for business. And his was a Linux company. Yes. Ironies abound in life, do they not? He decided a BSD-like license would be better going forward for most things. Business guys who are used to proprietary ways tend to feel that way because they want to close off the code and keep the competition out. Rob Landley wrote about the Caldera license effort at the time:

Richard Stallman created the GPL to fend off the monopolistic practices of AT&T and Xerox in the 1980's, and it works just as well against Microsoft in the 1990's. This is what it was DESIGNED for. As Eric Raymond said, it's a "stake in the ground they can't pull out". The GPL doesn't just put stuff in the public domain, it nails it there so it can't be removed.

The GPL is a very effective immune system for open source projects, defending them from proprietary embrace and extend attacks. The GPL is what makes Linux a threat to Microsoft, not the merits of the code itself or the amount of effort going into its development. That's just a contributing factor. Linux* couldn't BE a threat without the GPL.

Microsoft has recognized this, and it's about time we do too.


But the GPL is also an enabler of a new model of development. Red Hat, a company that not only distributes GPL code, and protects it and understands it, but also makes a very nice living from it, explained it best in their amici brief in the Bilski case:

The open source model produces software through a mechanism of collaborative development that fundamentally relies on communication of ideas by large numbers of individuals and companies. To understand this model, it is helpful to understand how software is made. Software begins as plain text "source code." Programmers write and edit source code in human-readable programming languages that allow specification of software features and behavior at a high level of abstraction. Software is commonly distributed in machine- executable "object code" form, produced by "compiling" the source code of the software. 2 Since object code consists of unintelligible strings of 1s and 0s, software is effectively unmodifiable unless one has access to its source code.

A good example of an open source project is the Linux operating system kernel, which is one of the most commercially-important open source programs and which is a core component of Red Hat's flagship product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.3 The Linux kernel contains several million lines of source code. A worldwide community of hundreds of contributors, including many employees of Red Hat, collaborate via the Internet in developing and improving the Linux kernel.

Open source uses a combination of technological and legal means to facilitate collaborative development and commercial exploitation. Typically, an open source package originates as a community-based project that makes its software publicly available in source code form, under licensing terms that grant very broad, royalty-free copyright permissions allowing further use, copying, modification and distribution. The Linux kernel, for example, is licensed as a whole under the GNU General Public License, version 2, the most widely-used open source license. In making source code available and conferring broad copyright permissions, open source differs significantly from traditional proprietary software. A vendor of proprietary software generally develops the software entirely in-house and provides only object code to the user under severely restrictive licenses that allow no rights to copy, modify or redistribute that code. Such vendors retain the source code as a trade secret.

The open source development model has proven to be highly effective in producing software of superior quality. Because there are many developers working as collaborators, innovation happens rapidly. Because of the many who volunteer their time, and the availability of the source code under royalty-free licenses granting generous modification and distribution rights, the cost of producing and improving software is low. Software bugs and security problems are quickly identified and remedied. Moreover, because users have access to the source code, those users can diagnose problems and customize the software to suit their particular needs.

The open source development model originated in the early 1980s. From that time to the present, open source software has been in a constant state of innovation.

It's scientific sharing of knowledge, and yes, it leads to better code. The other path leads to Vista. Use whatever you want to. Lots of folks want better code, and in that group there are many who also connect the dots and understand the value of freedom for the code, so that no one can kidnap it and run for the proprietary border with it.

By the way, speaking of corporate views of licenses, scroll down a bit, on that Love story, and you will find this:

Editor-in-chief Robin Miller reported on the Open Source Initiative board's vote to grant the OSI Certification Mark to two licenses, the Apple Public Source License, version 1.2, and IBM's Common Public License, version 0.5.
Yes, the eternal corporate quest to get a license, any license, any license in the world, as long as it isn't the GPL.

That same year, Love put out a press release [PDF] that reflects his struggles with the license. It announced that Caldera would release under the GPL AIM performance benchmarks, the UNIX Regular Expression Parser, along with two UNIX utilities awk and grep:

Caldera International, Inc. (Nasdaq: CALD) today announced it will Open Source the AIM performance benchmarks and the UNIX Regular Expression Parser, along with two UNIX utilities awk and grep. These technologies will be released under the GPL (Gnu General Public License). In a related move, Caldera will also be making the Open UNIX 8 source code available to members of its developer program who request it. Information about the Caldera developer network is available at These announcements reflect the continued intention on the part of Caldera to progressively contribute source code and to provide ongoing support to the Open Source community. Caldera expects to release further components of the UNIX intellectual property in coming months.

The AIM performance benchmarks are industry-standard server benchmarks acquired from the former AIM Technology. By Open Sourcing the benchmarks, companies may use them to establish independent validation of internal benchmarking. For example, Caldera can independently establish scalability and stability comparisons between Open UNIX 8 and other platforms. Although the sources will be released under the GPL, the use of the AIM Benchmark trademark in connection with these programs will be restricted based on published guidelines to assure the integrity of these tests as industry standard references.

The UNIX Regular Expression Parser is a library function from Open UNIX 8 used by a number of standard UNIX utilities for complex pattern matching of pieces of text. By Open Sourcing this, along with the awk and grep utilities, Caldera begins a process of making some of the original UNIX utilities, upon which the GNU/Linux system was modeled, available as reference sources. This gives the Open Source community an opportunity to reference these implementations and incorporate the best of both source streams into future GPL implementations of these tools.

“Many in the Open Source community have asked Caldera to GPL these technologies,” said John Terpstra, vice president of technology for Caldera International. “We have now delivered these utilities and benchmarks. We have chosen the GPL license to directly support corresponding GNU projects.”

The Regular Expression library and tools will be made publicly available on SourceForge this week at In coming months, Caldera will Open Source other UNIX tools and utilities, including pkgmk, pkgadd, pkgrm, pkginfo, pkgproto and more, as well as the Bourne shell, lex, yacc, sed, m4 and make. The licenses under which these technologies will be Open Sourced will be decided based on community and business needs.

“We are very pleased to offer much of the UNIX source code that laid the foundation for the whole GNU/Linux movement,” said Ransom Love, CEO of Caldera International. “In each case, we will apply the right license – GPL, Berkeley, Mozilla, Open Access, or other license – as appropriate to our business goals.

“Our intention is to steer the middle course in the public debate – it’s not a case of free or Open Source versus proprietary, but both, as the situation warrants. We believe the industry is evolving to a model where source code is freely available, innovation is nurtured at the grass roots, and businesses, such as Caldera, can add value as both product and service companies.”

Open Access to Open UNIX 8

The Caldera Open Access license is intended to give customers the ability to both reference and modify the source code. However, the initial release of source code will be read only, giving customers and software developers a significant reference as they develop applications for Open UNIX 8. In the future, customers and developers will be allowed to change the source code as long as they return the changes to Caldera. This will allow Caldera to maintain a standard business quality platform.

Open UNIX incorporates some proprietary third party technology which means source code for certain third party modules will not be available due to licensing restrictions.

“Over time the licensing and delivery of our Open Access sources will evolve and improve,” explained John Harker, vice president of product management. “Our immediate goal was to provide basic source reference access following the model of SCO’s source products by simply eliminating the license fee. We’re looking at ways to make this as streamlined as possible.”

The Open Access license is free, but will require a signed license agreement. Delivery of the sources in CD form will require a nominal media payment. Further details will be available when the sources are released in October of this year.

Open Source

From its inception, Caldera has shared technology with the Open Source community. Technologies that have been Open Sourced include Webmin – a Web-based administration tool, LIZARD – the award-winning Linux Installation Wizard, Linux Unattended Installation (LUI), Linux Installation Administration (LISA) and Caldera Open Administration System (COAS). Please visit to download Caldera’s technologies that have been open-sourced.

Well, well, they wanted programmers to see their code, then, and use it as a reference? Hmm. It makes a simple soul like me wonder how the same company can later sue anyone for "misusing" their methods and concepts. But the dream of mixing free software with closed off proprietary is a dream that dies hard.

The Caldera dream was to distribute the GPL code they got for free and fully formed, and then build proprietary junk on top, in a kind of subversion of the intent of the GPL. That concept of a blend of what nowadays Microsoft calls "mixed source" still lives, and Microsoft is dreaming the dream. But if what you want is the best code, developed faster than the proprietary model ever can, you'll look for GPL'd code, because the license guarantees that modifications are incorporated so we all benefit.

Caldera used to make publicly available the documentation to OpenLinux, which was also released under the GPL by Caldera, and while they've removed it from the Internet, I quoted from it back in 2003 -- and yes, I think there is a connection to my article and its disappearance thereafter -- and here's part of the history section:

"Linux was started in the early 1990s as a small research project by a Finnish college student named Linus Torvalds. Soon after Linus started his project, hundreds of others began to participate in its development via the Internet. A cooperative venture grew in which thousands of people were working together to create a new operating system. The inclusion of the GNU utilities from the Free Software Foundation (see and the release of Linux under the Gnu General Public License (GPL) furthered the spread of this work. The GPL provides that the source code to the software is released with the product and that no one can restrict access to it. Software licensed under the GPL license is sometimes referred to as Open Source software. With this type of software, anyone can examine and extend the source code, but all such work must be released for public use. Other licenses provide for inclusion of source code with its associated software, but to date the GPL is the most common Open Source license."
Unbelievable to some. Enraging to others. But that's really how it happened.

So, yes, the "history of Linux" Byron offers is very silly. So many histories. So much defending of Microsoft's proprietary ways. But since Byron wrote what he wrote, and Google will collect it, I deliberately wrote this article so that when folks search for a history of Linux and come across his silly stuff, hopefully they'll find this accurate information too.


Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From. | 185 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: Tufty on Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 11:31 PM EDT
Summary in title

Linux powered squirrel.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic here
Authored by: Tufty on Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 11:32 PM EDT
Off tropic as well

Linux powered squirrel.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspick comments
Authored by: Tufty on Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 11:34 PM EDT
Subject in title please, spam in the bin

Linux powered squirrel.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Twisted neurons
Authored by: Tufty on Sunday, October 19 2008 @ 11:39 PM EDT
I came here just after reading an article, in the Grauniad (see, some of us
still use the newspapers, albeit online despite fretting about lost readers).
The article was about the MOD declassifying UFO reports. Going from the
surreality of that to the opening of this article really made my neurons tilt!


Linux powered squirrel.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From.
Authored by: jonrober on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 12:28 AM EDT
Wow, that's.. broken. I *think* I can see his thread of argument, but it hurts.
Dennis Byron is basically using "Linux" to mean the general desire of
various companies to have a *NIX that they have some influence with to use for
their own purposes. He then wraps that in hints of conspiracy and confusing
cause and effect, acting as if Linux were a thing some companies came together
to make rather than a thing which drew them some companies to use and contribute
to. So there's, under it all, some vague hint of some small sense of reality,
then twisted really out of shape into the absurdity and totally redefining Linux
from a piece of software into a shadow initiative.

And of course he also uses the wonderful tactic of saying that he has no problem
with a letter other than one certain point, but of course then that one certain
point makes him wonder about everything else. Bleh.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The most important skill for a trader
Authored by: ailuromancy on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 12:38 AM EDT

For any giving stock, a small number of people understand the business, keep track of the market and have a real understanding of the true value of the stock. As a result, the vast majority of investors do not know any of the above.

The real value of shares is what people will pay for them. As the majority of investors are ignorant, the price is set by ignorant people. To be a successful trader, you must have access to outstanding quantities of ignorance. George Byron demonstrates that he is as close as it is possible to get to his source of ignorance.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why should we care?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 01:55 AM EDT
Occasionally you run these correction articles on Groklaw and I think that they
are good, but in this particular one and several in the past I have to ask
"why should I care". I have no idea who this guy is. I don't see
anything spectacularly interesting about his views. Getting small scale lucky
in the stock casino^H^H^H^H^Hmarket is hardly a reason for fame (Buffet etc. are
obviously a different case).

Sometimes it's worth correcting false information, but that's mostly where it's
already out there. When nobody is reading the information surely it's better to
print an article showing the truth and then to merely link from the wrong
article to the right one. If trying to educate someone who's possibly doing
this by mistake they a private letter to them first might be an idea. If we
know someone is cheating, then wait to discredit them until there are multiple
false articles so that the concentration can be on the person who is telling
falsehoods rather than the falsehoods themselves.

Am I missing something with this guy? Is he really well known in important
business circles? Has he been telling such strange stories before?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reinventing History
Authored by: stomfi on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 02:14 AM EDT
Back in the days when print media was the only way of disseminating information,
people used to write books and papers with their own version of history.

Fortunately for our generation, the Internet means that the discerning reader
has another tool to find out what really happened, like did Bill Gates invent
the personal computer OS or did we read on Groklaw he actually built his
offering using big chunks of Digital Research, UNIX, BSD, ARPA, and Netscape

Sometimes people who don't know how to craft search terms for library look ups,
get mixed up like this person did. I remember reading a popular book about Linux
that stated that tty was the name of a popular CRT terminal company, when only
the oldies who had used teletypewriters to communicate with UNIX before the
invention of the CRT terminal, knew any better.

In the olden days, Kings and Queens, political parties, and religious
organisation were the only ones with enough money to rewrite and distribute,
using paid minions, their own versions of history, and there was no-one to
counter them except in times of economic or social turmoil when a new power
would arise.

These days we have large companies with economic socio-political aspirations
doing the same thing during times of relative stability, so it is really
wonderful we have a mechanism that enables community bloggers like Groklaw to
show us the "real" histories.

Of course we are once again in a time of economic turmoil, where the strategies
of those who make money by manipulating the hearts and minds of the people to
get them to cooperate with their plan, whether in banking, profit shares, or
product marketing, are causing a lot of strife.

Things like using the Open Source development model, the GPL, and Creative
Commons, show us alternative ways of cooperation that benefit both rich and poor
community members, as long as no-one uses manipulative techniques, like
rewriting history, to promote one organisation's offerings over anyone else's.
To control this we have bloggers like Groklaw to inform us that it is happening.

The new copyleft patent free Free Market capitalist economy is born from the
ashes of the former monopolistic one.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why is there open source software?
Authored by: kawabago on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 02:44 AM EDT
Why is there open source software? Why not ask 'Why is there Science?' Why do
scientists share their work instead of hording it greedily to themselves? It is
because the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Seeking Alpha isn't taken seriously by anyone
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 04:20 AM EDT

It's supposed to be a finance/investment site, but it hasn't much of a reputation among investors, either. Its chief skill seems to be in publicising itself.

Unfortunately, writing rubbish seems to be an effective way to do that. As a result of this comment in Groklaw, a lot more people will have found out about it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's a known troll
Authored by: schestowitz on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 04:54 AM EDT
And I wrote about it <a
t;several times before</a>, in case you are interested.

Roy S. Schestowitz, Ph.D. Candidate in Medical Biophysics | GNU/Linux | PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E

[ Reply to This | # ]

Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From.
Authored by: DeepBlue on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 05:39 AM EDT
See what happens when you don't call it GNU/Linux?

Why stop there why not OpenOffice/XSystem/GIMP/SAMBA/GNU/Linux etc, etc??? Linux is the kernel - the heart of the system and it is logical to refer to it as that or by the distribution name.

All that matters is whether they can show ownership, they haven't and they can't, or whether they can show substantial similarity, they haven't and they can't.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Um, Mitch Kapoor?
Authored by: jplatt39 on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 06:30 AM EDT
I'm sorry, but I actually find that "No corporate help" a little
simplistic the same way I find this story's argument pathetic. The reality is
that from its start the GNU Project has enjoyed the support of powerful
individuals in the Computer Industry who understand both its goals and its

These people are framing the debate in a revisionist view of ownership and the
Market: to the extent we ignore that before IBM got interested -- corporately
proceeds of the sale of Lotus 1 2 3 helped make GCC, tar and other tools
available to small businesses which could not afford both UNIX operating systems
and the development tools available for it at the time while paying programmers
who were necessary to keep their businesses running (yes I am speaking of
specific firms who I have no business naming here. I'm sure other people have
worked for such companies).

In terms of the rhetoric of the times, Free Software Foundation may have been
"revolutionary" but it was actually evolutionary: others were doing
it. And it's the "Free Marketers" in this case who are the real

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: ka1axy on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 07:03 AM EDT
Byron isn't quite specific enough in his article for anyone to figure out what
the h*ll he's blathering on about. Why would a consortium of companies with
souce code licenses to UNIX need anything from anyone?

Perhaps he's referring to the POSIX effort, which was focussed towards building
a specification. In _Just for Fun_, Linus mentions he tried to make Linux POSIX

But Byron has clearly been smoking something...I'm having trouble seeing IBM,
DEC and HP needing to ask a Finnish college kid for help writing a single
version of UNIX.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • POSIX? - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 09:45 AM EDT
Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From.
Authored by: dahnielson on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 07:05 AM EDT
Linus should send George a signed copy of "Just for fun".

[ Reply to This | # ]

If he finished Hurd
Authored by: A Nonny Mouse on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 07:47 AM EDT
Then RMS may have a point. GCC and all those wonderful tools aside, without a
kernel it is going nowhere

So Linux it is

[ Reply to This | # ]

Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 08:13 AM EDT
I did laugh! The picture you suggested of Richard
Stallman as a corporate agent or shill, well that
made me laugh out loud, drawing you can imagine what
looks from others.

It made my morning, and redefined the absurd!

[ Reply to This | # ]

My story
Authored by: philc on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 08:24 AM EDT
I came to FOSS at the hands of Microsoft. Over Microsoft's formative years when
they redefined the term ruthless, my friends and I worked for several startup
and small companies that were crushed by Microsoft which they then bought for
pennies on the dollar. Microsoft took the software and buried it. There was a
lot of exciting and innovative software that quietly died.

It became obvious to me that the only way for software to survive was to use a
FOSS license.

Considering what Microsoft thinks about GPL, I was correct.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Getting one thing right
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 08:41 AM EDT of the things he suggested was that great minds get together and come up with a new "system of government that truly represents the common man’s interest..."
It would take more than just "great minds" to pull that off, but I, for one, would support such a notion.

It isn't just the US that needs that either.

Monopolistic Ignominious Corporation Requiring Office $tandard Only For Themselves

[ Reply to This | # ]

"there are no corporate helpers or pushers in its infancy or even the teen years. "
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 08:58 AM EDT
Actually not quite correct. Jon "Mad Dog" Hall was very proud that he
got DEC to give Linus an Alpha system before IBM gave him a PowerPC machine. As
a result the IBM system sat in the closet while Linus did the first port of
Linux to the Alpha. I heard Jon tell the story first hand, but you can find
mention of it at Wikipedia.

Not "here'a a pay check" support, but those machines were not cheap,
so still significant support for those days.

The "Seeking Alpha" account is a good indicator of the intellectual
acumen of Dennis Byron if anyone is looking for financial & investment


[ Reply to This | # ]

SCO's Theories On The Origin Of Linux
Authored by: sk43 on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 09:42 AM EDT
SCO has put forward no less than three theories of its own regarding the origins of Linux.

  1. SCO, Second Amended Complaint [108]:
    However, as is widely reported and as IBM executives knew, or should have known, a significant flaw of Linux is the inability and/or unwillingness of the Linux process manager, Linus Torvalds, to identify the intellectual property origins of contributed source code that comes in from those many different software developers. If source code is code copied from protected UNIX code, there is no way for Linus Torvalds to identify that fact.

    As a result, a very significant amount of UNIX protected code and materials are currently found in Linux ...

    Got it. UNIX code was contributed by others, unbeknownst to Torvalds.

  2. SCO, Declaration of John Harrop [199]:
    In 1991 a Finish college student named Linus Torvalds began composing an operating system. In his classes, Mr. Torvalds had been studying an operating system that one of his professors (having received an educational license to do so) based on and derived from UNIX.

    Mr. Torvalds posted the material about the operating system on the Internet for comment. The development of the operating system thereafter became in effect a group project in which Mr. Torvalds and his delegates made final determinations about which suggestions from numerous third parties, many of whom are anonymous, to incorporate. The kernel of the operating system that resulted came to be known as Linux.

    Got it. Torvalds was a student of Tanenbaum (even though Tanenbaum taught at a different university in a different country) and the UNIX code came from Minix via an educational source code license.

  3. SCO, Reply Memorandum in Support of Motion for PSJ on CC 6-8 [930]:
    Linus Torvalds, who does not own any UNIX copyrights, used the copyrighted manuals for the UNIX-derivative operating system developed by Sun, a UNIX licensee, to develop the Linux kernel.

    Mr. Torvalds was not the copyright holder to the UNIX source code when he included material from UNIX in Linux ...

    Got it. UNIX source code was included by Torvalds himself from Sun manuals.
Well, something like that.

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"Created By"
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 11:19 AM EDT
From Dennis Byron's response:
"Created by" is not an accurate way in technical terms to describe the development of any software for a variety of reasons, but I will leave it be for purposes of this blog.
I would wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. Writing software isn't, or shouldn't be, drudgery. It is very much a creative process. As is writing prose, poetry, whatever.

Monopolistic Ignominious Corporation Requiring Office $tandard Only For Themselves

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Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 01:18 PM EDT
very strange that "they" attempt to rewrite
Linux history while the key players are still walking
around. Who is BTW that new butthead from the FSF? Where's
Richard Stallman? And most important where are his
old audio lectures from the past?

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Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 05:53 PM EDT

The GPL is what makes Linux a threat to Microsoft, not the merits of the code itself or the amount of effort going into its development. That's just a contributing factor. Linux* couldn't BE a threat without the GPL.

Microsoft has recognized this, and it's about time we do too.


I'm not sure what all your "Amen" is in response to, but to the extent that is in agreement with the notion that it's "not the merits of the code itself," I think you've blown it.

It is very, very much "the merits of the code." Things of Linux quality don't occur every day, and it's not a given that just anyone can make something like Linux "come together." The GPL is a substantial part of the equation, true, but by no means all of it.

I really do wish that your worship of Stallman, and your spats with Linus, didn't get so much in the way of how you perceive things, and what you write

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Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 20 2008 @ 06:13 PM EDT
well stated except for one point:

"like Queen Elizabeth coping with puddles threatening her delicate

I do believe you will find HRH quite at home in her Wellies and plaid tweed.
There is a lot more to Scotland after all, than a few puddles, its bloody damp.

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Without arguments you have to try to change the facts
Authored by: chribo on Tuesday, October 21 2008 @ 03:45 AM EDT
I'm taking courses in applied ethics (advanced studies of applied ethics) where
I have to write a master thesis. I've chosen to discuss whether there is a moral
obligation to open the source code or to promote FOSS.

Doing some research I
found ethicist arguing that FOSS is morally favorable over closed source and
some who argue it is not decidable. Despite of all the FUD I found no paper --
apart from infamous Kenneth Brown (you remember, Alexis Tocqueville Institute)
-- who offers proper arguments to show that FOSS is morally less favorable than
closed source software. (Literature hints are always welcome!)

If you have no
arguments because the facts are against, you have to change the facts. This is
what Brown has done and what Byron is doing now on a even lower level. But
nobody seems to use rational arguments against FOSS (there are some for sure,
but I don't make them strong here).

- chribo

PS: Byron? I hope in no way
related to Lady Ada Lovelace nee Byron.

PS2: I didn't mess up the markup
myself ...

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Not Funny!!! - Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 21 2008 @ 11:48 PM EDT
I suggest he read Linus Tovald's book Just for the Fun of It. If his reporting
is so in-accurate, how can one trust him to give good advice?

No PJ, the article did not make me laugh. I found myself inexplicably quite
angry. Sorry, guess I'm in a sour mood.

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Where Linux came from - the Full Story...
Authored by: TemporalBeing on Wednesday, October 22 2008 @ 12:47 PM EDT
There's several ways to get the full story. I highly recommend reading Linus'
book - Just For Fun - as it really does give the history of Linux's origin and
is a joy to read as well.

And if you want a source to confirm stuff with, use the Linux Kernel Mailing
List (LKML). It's full of the history from the time it went public.

And no, this is not why it should be called "GNU/Linux". Please don't
go there. Linux is Linux, with or without the GNU utilities, etc. The GPL is
what enabled it, but Linus had another license on Linux prior to the GPL; so
while it's the GPL that has aided it over the years, Linus likely would have
done it with or without the GPL.

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Want to Laugh? Another Tall Tale About Where Linux Came From.
Authored by: xtifr on Saturday, October 25 2008 @ 05:39 PM EDT

Linux was created by IBM, HP (HPQ) and other former IT systems monopolists that realized that Microsoft was taking their systems monopoly away from them. IBM, HP, Digital Equipment (now part of HP), etc. had banded together for this purpose in the early 1980s while Linus Torvalds, the nominal creator of Linux and who now works for one of the groups IBM, HP, etc. put together for its trust-like purposes, was still in short pants. Ten years later, the consortium chose a small piece of software code, "forked" by Linus from some other code while he was in college, to complement the still ongoing technical development effort by IBM, HP, etc. to come up with "one Unix." What is today called Linux is the result of that one-Unix effort.
Actually, if you change that first word to "POSIX", and generally assume that UNIX is a standard (POSIX, SUS, etc.), not a code base, then it's not so far off the mark.

I mean, you have to distinguish (even if SCO doesn't want to) between Unix (an open standard) and, e.g., SYSV, a particular implementation of that standard. It's confusing because before the Novell deal, "Unix" did refer to the code base, but since the Open Group took over the trademark, many years ago, "Unix" has been nothing but a standard.

Of course, it's also a little funny to say that Linux "forked" the standard, if standards are really what's being referred to in this paragraph, and not code-bases. On the other hand, a typical "Linux" system isn't really POSIX-compliant unless you, at a minimum, set "POSIXLY_CORRECT" in your environment. And even then, it has to be a GNU/Linux system, and not, for example, a Busybox/Linux system.

Which brings up my main complaint about the quoted article and all-too-much other coverage of the free.libre operating system ecosystem, even by supporters: it gives too much credit to Linus and not enough to the GNU project. Most of the work of meeting actual operating system standards was done by GNU. While I'm not one to argue about terminology, I find the kernel (easily replaceable by one from BSD or Sun) to be the least important part of what's usually called a "Linux system". As far as I'm concerned, I'm running GNU with some random kernel I got from somewhere. I'll happily replace the kernel, but you'll take my GNU away when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. But to return to my main point, referring to (GNU/)Linux as a "fork" of the standard seems misleading, but may not be technically incorrect.

What it sounds like is that this guy heard a more-or-less accurate description of what happened (less accurate mainly in its failure to mention GNU), and misreported it. So the question becomes: was the misreporting purely accidental, partly-accidental but influenced by his pro-MS, anti-FLOSS prejudices, or deliberately misleading and incorrect? I'm inclined toward the middle point-of-view, but I don't think that excuses much. :)

Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for it makes them soggy and hard to light.

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distorted but true
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 26 2008 @ 03:05 AM EDT
He's lost the names:

"Open Software Foundation"
"The Open Group"
"X Consortium"

With those names, his story is pretty much true.
The popular open/free unix-like environment is
really built upon the standards that were indeed
forged by a bunch of vendors just as described.

Linux and that whole GNU project thing are just
a nice implementation of the standards. One could
substitute *BSD or, as of a few years ago, OpenSolaris.

BTW, had gcc not been so darn convenient, the *BSD
camp would have continued to maintain their compiler.
Back in the early 1990's when Linux and 386BSD were
getting off the ground, gcc was not anything like the
complex beast it is today. It was entirely rewritable.

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