Is Torvalds really the Father of Linux?
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Thread: Is Torvalds really the Father of Linux?

  1. #1
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Is Torvalds really the Father of Linux?

    I think someone is fishing for an excuse to sue linux.

    Source: News.com

    It's hard to imagine that Linus Torvalds could have launched Linux without directly using earlier operating system work, according to a report that has become controversial even before its scheduled publication Thursday.

    The 92-page report, from a 14-person Washington, D.C., think tank called the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, suggests more Linux credit should go to Minix. A Unix clone, Minix that was designed by Andrew Tanenbaum at Vrije University in Amsterdam for the study of operating systems and software, which Torvalds used before he embarked on Linux development in 1991.

    In an e-mail interview, Torvalds strongly disputed the study's conclusions.


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    According to the study, it's safe to argue that Tanenbaum, who had years of OS experience and who had seen the Unix source code, could create Minix in three years. "However, it is highly questionable that Linus, still just a student, with virtually no operating systems development experience, could do the same, especially in one-sixth of the time.

    "Why are the most brilliant business minds in the history of PC technology, with hundreds of millions of dollars in capital, licensing Unix source code, if it is as simple as writing it from scratch with little help or experience? Is it possible that building a Unix operating system really only takes a few months--and, oh by the way, you don't even need the source code to do it?" the study questioned.

    Gordon Haff, an engineer and analyst for analyst firm Illuminata, took a more measured view. "I think we can all stipulate that Linux is not a 'clean room' creation. Whether that makes it a derivative work is a question for the lawyers and the philosophers," he said. As for suspicions about Torvalds' rapid early progress, it should be noted "that the original product was quite primitive," he added.

    The study comes not long after several attacks on Linux--many of them spurred by Microsoft, whose Windows OS competes with Linux. More significantly, it arrives in the midst of a legal attack on Linux by the SCO Group, which argues Linux violates its Unix copyrights.

    Bolder words

    Although the new study raises more questions than it answers, in an interview author Ken Brown was bolder in his claims.

    "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, Tanenbaum said 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 and 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. But Unix, he said, did provide ideas: "Linux has always credited Unix. There has never been any question about the fact that Linux was very open about taking a lot of good ideas from Unix."

    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 denied it.

    "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?"

    Fueling the flames

    When the institute announced the pending publication of the report earlier this week--saying it "directly challenges Linus Torvalds' claim to be the inventor of Linux"--it immediately drew criticism from open-source advocates who suggested Linux foe Microsoft was behind the report.

    Microsoft indeed has provided funding to the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution for five years, a Microsoft representative said, without disclosing how much has been granted. Microsoft funds several public policy institutes, including the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute, the representative said.

    Brown declined to discuss his organization's funding sources, but said there are several and that its research is independent. "I publish what I think and that's it. I don't work for anybody's PR machine," he said.

    One area where Brown and Torvalds agree is that Torvalds shouldn't bear the title of Linux "inventor."

    "I'd agree that 'inventor' is not necessarily the right word" to describe his role in Linux, Torvalds said.

    The study also raises the issue that Torvalds saw Unix source code. This was available in annotated source code that John Lions, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, made available to his classes. The notes were widely distributed illegally afterward, and "many suspect that Linus also had the Lions notes," the report said.

    Not true, Torvalds said. "I've never seen the Lions book, although I've obviously heard of it. And no, no Unix source code either."

    Brown and his colleagues interviewed more than two dozen people for the book, but Torvalds "didn't get back to us" with requests for comment. Torvalds said he never received any e-mail from the institution.

    The Linux issue underlies Brown's concern that open-source software makes it easier for other countries to benefit from U.S. technological prowess. "How are you going to have an intellectual property economy if you can just rip off stuff?" he asked.

    Such political and business issues likely will get more attention in a book Brown plans to publish in coming months that will expand on the study.

    The study will be sold by an outside e-book seller, Brown said. Although his organization usually makes studies available on its own, outsiders have crashed its Web site twice in recent days after the institute published the Linux study press release, Brown said.

    The study is at times controversial, but in the end, it isn't revolutionary, Illuminata analyst Haff said: "It doesn't ultimately tell me anything surprising that would cause me to rethink the role of open source."
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
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  2. #2
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    Ms mittens, look at who is writeing the report before you post it

    the Alexis de Tocqueville group is funded by microsoft to write antilinux pressreleases, this is the same group that claimed that closed source softwear was inharently more secure, open source was anticapitalistic, and that if you use linux you are supporting terrorists....these guys are pure fud mongers and any "press release" from them must be look at as a ad from a marketing company.
    Who is more trustworthy then all of the gurus or Buddha’s?

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    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    I know who wrote the report and who backs them (heck, it says that right in the article). That's part of why I put it here. It is a question of ethics for this kind of "research". Heck, even the creator of Minix defends Torvalds. It's to create "discussion" and to point out what kind of crap can end up out there. And if some "newb" goes around claiming that he didn't create Linux, people will have some of the facts beforehand.
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
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    HeadShot Master N1nja Cybr1d's Avatar
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    sigh....I don't know how to say this....errrr, humm......yah uh.....eerrrr....ok here goes nothing:

    Linux,

    *Dark Vader voice*: I AM YOUR FATHER!




    SOrry....LOL someone had to say it

  5. #5
    Regal Making Handler
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    At the end of the day its all down to 1/0s open/shut on/off. How may ways are there to control electricity. The whole argument is BS
    What happens if a big asteroid hits the Earth? Judging from realistic simulations involving a sledge hammer and a common laboratory frog, we can assume it will be pretty bad. - Dave Barry

  6. #6
    AO French Antique News Whore
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    Some Notes on the "Who wrote Linux" Kerfuffle, Release 1.4 by Andy Tanenbaum

    http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/brown/

    Just read, Andy Tanenbaum himself tell that Todvalds is the father of Linux.
    -Simon \"SDK\"

  7. #7
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Seems the entire study is pure speculation anyway. Although when one thinks back, it sort of came out of no where in only a few months. L.T. either ripped it off or he's a damn genius. I prefer and support the later, but I wouldn't care either way. Linux is what it is, and should remain free to the people. Befits to society (in my opinion) may outweigh any risk to misuse it for weapons contol or fiscal threats to information based economies. Such is the United States.
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    Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and all the folks who were around pre-wargames own all. This was before computers became "the hip thing to get into", before it became some type of scene for children who like to give themselves labels for owning a computer. But even then all of these guys were being paid and had help around the office with certian things. K&R just took what already existed then took it to the next level as with what went on with the rest of *nix OS's.

    Lets face it there is no such thing as a original idea anymore. Its all been done. Many would beleave your surroundings, experiances, and interactions create who you are so that would mean that your only as original as the life you lead & the peaple around you?

    The most original idea I think was the wheel or the hammer and even that was cut and pasted from watching rocks falling and rolling down hills and maybe smashing things at the bottom.

  9. #9
    AO Guinness Monster MURACU's Avatar
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    The Linux issue underlies Brown's concern that open-source software makes it easier for other countries to benefit from U.S. technological prowess. "
    This is the part I love. It sounds like he belives that the whole world will stagnate if the US stops exporting its technology to us primitives. I think he said the same thing in his other interview. It kind os sums up as make opensource illegal in the US and that will stop its developpement in the rest of the world.
    \"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.\"
    \"The reason we are so pleased to find other people\'s secrets is that it distracts public attention from our own.\"
    Oscar Wilde(1854-1900)

  10. #10
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    I thought back in the 80s that everything had been done and there was no original thought anymore. Then e-bay came, music took a new turn to grunge, Doom came out, the Internet want public and changed the world, thus e-bay as mentioned, the human genome was mapped, Hubble saw things in space and proved people wrong or right, the wall came down etc etc etc...



    Muracu, this is the thought of a very narrow focused group, it doesn't represent the US. Our economy is pretty much based in information now, as is many. It makes sense to see Linux as a threat to that. Whether it has any real basis or not is to be seen. But if large companies go out of business because their customer base switches to Linux, it would hurt the economy. It's a far stretch but when you think about it. Many do turn to open source products when contracts are up, I know I do.

    He's probably not saying the whole world will stagnate, the US and other countried software comodities will stagnate.
    West of House
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