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Critique of Ken Brown's response

By Ta bu shi da yu in Op-Ed
Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 09:43:53 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

I hereby present a critique to K5 of Ken Brown's response to critics of his book, Samizdat.

The following quote gives a good introduction to the sort of response it is:

Linux is a leprosy; and is having a deleterious effect on the U.S. IT industry because it is steadily depreciating the value of the software industry sector. Software is also embedded in hardware, chips, printers and even consumer electronics. Should embedded software become 'free' too, it would be natural to conclude the value of hardware will spiral downward as well.

Does this remind anyone of the stance that Microsoft took that the GPL is "viral"?

Note: in the interests of attribution (which Ken Brown likes to talk about a lot), I cited all articles linked to on June 5th (Sydney, Australia for those across international date lines). I am unable to prevent any changes made to this website.

Critique of Ken Brown's introduction

The introduction is quite illuminating:

Samizdat is a series of excerpts from an upcoming book on open source and operating systems that will be published later this year. AdTI did not publish Samizdat with the expectation that rabidly pro-Linux developers would embrace it. Its purpose is to provide U.S. leadership with a researched presentation on attribution and intellectual property problems with the hybrid source code model, particularly Linux. It is our hope that leadership would find this document helpful with public policy decisions regarding its future investment in Linux and other hybrid source products.

So he's going to present his "facts" to the U.S. government? Well, when he finds some I wish him the best of luck.

The United States is the home of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, an internationally respected agency which contributes to the worldwide effort to protect and govern intellectual property. In addition, the U.S. government is one of the largest patent holders in the world, owning the rights to 20-30,000 patents. Annually, the U.S. government also contributes billions to hi-tech research and development because research and development supports our intellectual property economy. Therefore, it is in the U.S. government's best interest to fully understand the impact of Linux on the intellectual property foundation of our country, as well as the entire information technology (IT) sector.

This is arguable. The other day it passed a patent that gave Microsoft control over double-clicking a mouse. With so many patents, the U.S. Patent office is falling apart at the seams, and most people know it. The USPTO just can't research the concepts well enough to know that the patents submitted are trivial and already have prior-art.

I can't even agree with this statement of Brown's.

Next, we get his recommendations to the US government:

True Open Source vs. Hybrid Source

The Samizdat report recommends that the U.S. government should invest $5 billion in research and development efforts that produce true open source products, such as BSD and MIT license-based open source. Government investment in open source development will accelerate innovation. However, increased investment should be in true open source, open source without any stipulations, other than attribution and copyright notification, not hybrid source.

What other sorts of open-source are there apart from license-based ones? Anyway, apart from this, open source is not just the BSD or MIT license. As an example, Open Source is also defined by the FSF (who prefer "Free Software"), and is also defined here. It's a vast and ambiguous term, so when Brown redefines it he looks stupid. Keep this in mind, however lets take Brown's definition and apply it to the next paragraph anyway.

"Hybrid source code" is a phrase coined by former Tocqueville Chairman Gregory Fossedal. The term refers to any product with a license that attempts to mix free and proprietary source code at the same time.

While hybrid software appears to be the same as open source, it isn't. Hybrid source code can never be true intellectual property. The actual purpose of hybrid source is to nullify its value as private property, which makes the hybrid source model significantly different from true open source. Noone can ever truly accrue any value from owning hybrid source software, because everybody (and anybody) has the rights to every line of improvement in it. Worse, many argue that if hybrid source is used the wrong way, it can make other source code hybrid source as well.

The hybrid source model negatively impacts the intellectual property model for all software, and inevitably the entire IT economy.

Well, this much is pretty obvious. But no-one is arguing this point, in fact if proprietry code is introduced into Open Source software it gets rejected unless the project gets the original owner to open the code up with a different, compatible, license.

Which makes the next sentence laughable:

As long as the value of the IT economy is dependent on the preservation of intellectual property, it is counterproductive for the U.S. government to invest in Linux.

So far, it's been proven that the Linux kernel isn't contaminated. Only Brown and SCO are asserting that it's contaminated, and they haven't given one shred of evidence that it's polluted with someone else's intellectual property (IP).

Note to Ken Brown: speculation isn't evidence.

The next section comes under the heading "Linux is Inherently Unstable", which is pretty funny really, because Browns definition of "unstable" and most users definition is quite different. Brown is defining "unstable" as unusable due to IP pollution. Technical users define "unstable" as not of high-quality due to crashing, data loss, etc.

The disturbing reality is that the hybrid source model depends heavily upon sponging talent from U.S. corporations and/or U.S. proprietary software. Much of this questionable borrowing is a) not in the best interest U.S. corporations b) not in the best interest of IT workers in America c) at a serious expense to the investment community, an entity betting on the success of intellectual property in the marketplace.

Again with the "hybrid-source" definition of Open Source! The only "disturbing reality" is that this whole paragraph is incorrect.

Linux is a leprosy; and is having a deleterious effect on the U.S. IT industry because it is steadily depreciating the value of the software industry sector. Software is also embedded in hardware, chips, printers and even consumer electronics. Should embedded software become 'free' too, it would be natural to conclude the value of hardware will spiral downward as well.

What emotive and imprecise language - "leprosy" indeed. Actually, there are many companies out there using embedded Linux and finding it cuts their costs and increases their profit. It means they can actually compete in a free market! Brown's argument here appears to be that because existing companies are losing money as they have to compete better, Linux is like leprosy.

Let's look at his logic, however.

Assertion: Software is also embedded in hardware, chips, printers and even consumer electronics.
Assertion: Embedded software is becoming free (have removed the quotation marks myself because they aren't needed)
Conclusion: The value of hardware will spiral downward as well

In syllogistic logic, this is called an invalid and unsound argument. It's invalid because it's contradictory to have the premises all true and the conclusion false (you can't come to his conclusion via his assertions), and it's unsound because it's invalid and has an untrue conclusion.

In Samizdat, AdTI argues that the inherent instability of hybrid source development such as Linux is due in great part to its inability to provide a sound policy for originating source code without attribution or IP problems. Within two days of AdTI's release of Samizdat, OSDL(1: Open Source Development Laboratory ed: added by me, but it's in Brown's footnotes) member Linus Torvalds affirmed AdTI's concerns, announcing that Linux kernel contributions depend largely on `trust'. In an attempt to fix the system, Linus Torvalds announced an ambiguous policy(2 Under the enhanced kernel submission process, contributions to the Linux kernel may only be made by individuals who acknowledge their right to make the contribution under an appropriate open-source license. The acknowledgement, called the Developer's Certificate of Origin (DCO), tracks contributions and contributors. ed - also added by me, but this is part of the footnote) to promote better `trust'.

Yep, attribution has been tightened. This is a good thing, and Ken Brown and SCO are both to be congratulated that they pushed their individual (or corporate!) agendas to make them do this. Regrettably, neither have told us where the code is that has been purloined from existing proprietary code-bases.

Samizdat concludes that the root of attribution, IP misappropriation, and acknowledgement problems in Linux is ---in fact--- the trust model. Basically, Torvalds and other Linux advocates are admitting to using a `three monkeys' policy for software development: see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. Specifically, Torvalds and the Linux kernel management team accept blind source code contributions. Then, they ask for a certification. But the certification does not hold the contributor, the Linux community, or Torvalds legally accountable. Nor does it guarantee that the source is produced in a 'clean room'. Meanwhile users are left to just 'trust' Linux too, legally left to face the ramifications of any significant legal problems. This is a 'wishful thinking' policy, and is not a sound approach for software development. The reality is that, noone, including Linus Torvalds, can ever guarantee that code in the Linux kernel is free of counter ownership, or attribution claims. AdTI suggests that the U.S. government should buy and invest in software from a confirmable entity, not from an assortment of unconfirmable sources. AdTI is certain that inevitably, some unfortunate user of Linux will be facing an incalculable legal problem.

First of all (and sorry to keep harping on at this), but what misappropriation, attribution and acknowledgement problems are there?? Please Mr Brown, give us some examples if you're going to make a statement like "root of attribution, IP misappropriation, and acknowledgement problems in Linux is ---in fact--- the trust model."

Secondly, Brown appears to favour the BSD and MIT licenses. Yet why would they have more or less accountability in the attributions they supply than what is maintained in the GPLed Linux code-base?

Brown also makes the assertion that users will have legal problems. This sounds suspiciously like what SCO is doing when they sued companies like Lehman Brothers (who've basically told them to push off). Regrettably for Brown, he obviously doesn't understand IP laws very well. Hey, neither does SCO...

I found the sentence "Meanwhile, we should also very plainly ask, 'who[m] are we trusting?'" quite amusing. Clearly not Ken Brown, because I have no idea who[m] he is getting his funding from,

Brown flew over to Amsterdam to interview me on 23 March 2004. Apparently I was the only reason for his coming to Europe. The interview got off to a shaky start, roughly paraphrased as follows:

AST: "What's the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution?"
KB: We do public policy work
AST: A think tank, like the Rand Corporation?
KB: Sort of
AST: What does it do?
KB: Issue reports and books
AST: Who funds it?
KB: We have multiple funding sources
AST: Is SCO one of them? Is this about the SCO lawsuit?
KB: We have multiple funding sources
AST: Is Microsoft one of them?
KB: We have multiple funding sources

Tanenbaum, "Some Notes on the "Who wrote Linux" Kerfuffle, Release 1.5", '04

Anway, enough commentary on this aspect of the AdTI. Back to Ken Brown's article.

In a controversial section of Samizdat, I ask readers to pose some very hard questions about the origin of the Linux kernel. This is for a number of reasons, but especially because the same people that are selling the trust model cannot answer basic questions about what attribution, acknowledgement, and IP credit they may have owed ATT Corporation and/or Prentice Hall Corporation in 1991 when the Linux kernel was introduced.

Prentice Hall? Is he referring to Minix? If so, is he aware that Minix is a Microkernel, and Linux is a monolithic kernel? Does Ken Brown even know what the difference is?!?

As for the ATT Corporation, they aren't concerned, and there is no evidence that Linux has any code that they developed, apart from some POSIX stuff. That bit of code is part of a external standard anyway as the original Linux 0.01 used part of Minix for error codes. Hardly a huge IP issue).

The same community that sells `trust', is the same community that celebrates: the theft of ATT Unix source code in the late 70's, joked about the theft of Windows source code in February, and commenting on the Cisco source code theft in May wrote in Newsforge, "maybe the theft will be a good enough reason for Cisco customers to check out open source alternatives....(3: Commentary: If only Cisco code had been open source, May 17, 2004)"

What is this guy, some sort of troll? What a stupid comment. He's basically tarred everyone with the same brush... why not just say that all Linux coders joked about the Challenger disaster or September 11th? These are ungrounded and baseless accusations - unless of course he's referring to the "community" as the slashdot crowd and not the development crowd. If he's referring to the development crowd, however, then he might want to read the response on the ReactOS mailing list to people who even started talking about the leaked Windows source code.

Isn't fair (sic) to question the character and ethics of individuals that espouse contempt for intellectual property? Isn't fair to question their character, when the core of their business strategy is trust?

It is fair to question that. If Linux open source programmers had a nefarious scheme to steal code, however, don't you think they'd close the sources and not open the code to inspection by everyone? However, I'd like to turn this argument around and apply it to Ken Brown - I'd like to question who's funding his research and question the ethics of writing badly resarched FUD.

This concludes our critique of his introduction. Now let's look at the next section, entitled "Interviews for Samizdat".

Interviews for Samizdat

Ken Brown starts with a quote from Linux Insider. I was under the impression that when you quote a web-based article you should give the URL of the article, the date it was cited and the article's title. This is important (I can't believe I have to mention this to anyone) so that we can check the sources of information ourselves and verify:

a. what was quoted is correct (it is), and
b. the wider context in which it was written so that we can evaluate the claims of the person who quoted from the article.

So much for his big whinge about attribution problems in the Linux kernel! Perhaps before Brown criticises something he doesn't understand he could put his own house in order.

For the record, the link at the time of writing (June 5th, 2004) is at http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/33929.html and it's title is "Tanenbaum Disputes Methods of Controversial Report".

The next subsection under "Interviews for Samizdat" is "Reasonable Doubt".

Reasonable Doubt

Brown starts by praising the Linux kernel, but then disparages it in the same breath:

AdTI and Tanenbaum do agree on one point: the Linux kernel is an incredible, but conspicuous accomplishment. Noone seemed to be interested in critiquing it. So subsequently, AdTI decided to look into this, because we agreed it was no average feat. We collected evidence and looked at it a dozen different ways. Afterwards, we humbly concluded that the story in the public record about Torvalds and the Linux kernel is questionable. Thus, we published some of the facts we came up with, so readers could analyze the story for themselves.

Humbly? Nice choice of words, and a pretty big call from someone who's not a developer! He didn't critique the codebase, which is really the only way to tell if there is someone else's IP in the Linux sources. Anyway, enough sniping. Basically, the evidence collected appears to have been molded to fit Brown's ideas about Open Source, not the other way around. Your conclusion should be supported by your evidence, not you conclusion supports the evidence!

As many are aware, I interviewed Professor Tanenbaum, the author of Minix, a copyright protected property by Prentice Hall. On March 8, 2004, Professor Tanenbaum sent me the following e-mail:

To find out what Tanenbaum thinks of Brown, check his home page. I'll be frequently linking to it. Anyway, to continue:

To write Samizdat, I worked with (and quoted) many individuals directly or indirectly familiar with Linux development. AdTI will continue to interview people within the open source profession about open source. It would be skewed and bias to only quote people that are anti-Linux or anti-open source. I have done this for years, and will continue to do so, regardless of what a source thinks of my theories.

Very noble of him, I'm sure, though wouldn't it be better if he actually talked to the man who claimed to write Linux, Linux Torvalds, and who he is so suspicious of?

According to a followup written by Tanenbaum, Linus emailed informing him that he was never contacted by Brown:

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


"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.(4: Tanenbaum, Andrew. Interview with AdTI. March 8, 2004. ed - added by me, but taken word for word from Brown's footnotes)"

I met with Professor Tanenbaum not to write a treatise on software engineering, but to discuss the issue of software product rights and protection that he brought up in his email. In an interview with Tanenbaum, it became immediately noticeable that the professor was an animated, but tense individual about the topic of rights and attribution. He felt that well-known facts about Minix/Linux development should not have to be questioned. It was clear that he was very conflicted, and probably sorry that he sent the email in the first place.

That's right. Attack your subject. Tanenbaum wrote some fairly interesting things about him, saying he wasn't the "sharpest knife in the draw", and also noted that he appears to have not done any research on Minix. It appeared that he was fishing for an answer he liked.

Ironically, Professor Tanenbaum's recent comments only recapitulate many of the substantive contradictions regarding the early Linux kernel AdTI decided to discuss in Samizdat. I met with Professor Tanenbaum with the hope of resolving some of these inconsistent and contradictory accounts in the public record.

Funny, I didn't get that Tanenbaum was very conflicted at all. I got from Tanenbaum that he realised that Brown had no idea what he was talking about:

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

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

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

Question #1: Is it likely that a student (Linus Torvalds) with no operating systems experience, a non-Unix licensee, without any use of Minix or Unix source code, could build a functioning kernel in six months -- whereas it took you (Tanenbaum) three years to build Minix?

It seems that Brown doesn't believe that anyone is smart enough to write their own operating system. Well, I know he isn't, but he thinks that someone with "only one year experience of C" wouldn't be able to do the job. Let's focus on this now:

Question #1

Is it likely that a student (Linus Torvalds) with no operating systems experience, a non-Unix licensee, without any use of Minix or Unix source code, could build a functioning kernel in six months -- whereas it took you (Tanenbaum) three years to build Minix?

In Tanenbaum's recent posts(5), he argues (as he told me) that there are "others" that have created Unix clones or operating systems within the same constraints. Tanenbaum's argumentation only increased our doubt about the Torvalds story because the comparisons were too unbelievable. For us to accept Tanenbaum's argument, Linus Torvalds at 21, with one year of C programming, was Doug Comer, an accomplished computer scientist, or smarter than the Coherent team, and of course a better programmer than the good professor too.

Well, I have news for Brown. Version 0.01 of the Linux kernel was crap. It had no file permissions, which only got implemented when Linus nearly wiped the file-partitiion table from his hard-drive:

At one point, Linus had implemented device files in dev, and wanted to dial up the university computer and debug his terminal emulation code again. So he starts his terminal emulator program and tells it to use dev-hda". That should have been dev-ttyS1. Oops. Now his master boot record started with "ATDT" and the university modem pool phone number. I think he implemented permission checking the following day.

Really, the claims that he couldn't write an O/S are stupid. Any Uni student with a bit of nouse and some good ideas about Unix concepts could do this, it's just Linus decided that he didn't like Minix very much.

Tanenbaum told us about the Coherent project repeatedly, but it was easy to research that it was a completely different situation. It wasn't a solo effort, it was a team. Second, the timeline was wrong. Tanenbaum told us it took two years, then corrected himself on his own website writing it took six years.

Indeed. He got his timeline slightly wrong... but really this proves nothing, as Tanenbaum pointed out on the same page Brown refers to:

In 1983, a now-defunct company named the Mark Williams company produced and sold a very good UNIX clone called Coherent. Most of the work was done by three ex-students from the University of Waterloo: Dave Conroy, Randall Howard, and Johann George. It took them two years. But they produced not only the kernel, but the C compiler, shell, and ALL the UNIX utilities. This is far more work than just making a kernel. It is likely that the kernel took less than a man-year.
So the team didn't just focus on the kernel. They had to make all the utilities that go with an operating system! Linux just ported the GNU tools and got it all working. So Brown is correct about the Coherent team working under different conditions. Regrettably for Brown, however, this only makes his initial argument weaker.

Either way, it wasn't six months. On his website, it seems now Tanenbaum is comparing the inventors of Unix, Dennis Ritchie, and Kenneth Thompson to Torvalds. This comparison if anything should demonstrate why AdTI was just not very convinced by the professor. Both Ritchie and Thompson had exceptional familiarity with MULTICS-- and then wrote UNIX from scratch. Completely different from Linus, who says he started with nothing and had no experience. Another reason this is interesting is because the Ritchie, Thompson kernel was 11,000 lines of code over a number of years, and the Torvalds kernel was 32,000 in under a year.

Yes, let's look at the argument. Firstly, Brown states that Dennis Ritchie and Kenneth Thompson had extensive MULTICS understanding. True, but then again they wrote on a PDP-11 (from memory) which took large amounts of time to compile anything and was, at any rate, using a completely different architecture.

Brown also fails to note that 0.01 of Linux was released to the Internet and he started reincorporating contributed code almost immediately. This fact has never been in dispute, and it certainly doesn't take away the fact that Linus did in fact write the O/S kernel from scratch! As for the lines of code submitted - so what? More hardware was supported than older architectures, and this happened mainly because a larger pool of people had easy access to x86 machines, peripherals and documentation. With more people and more hardware that they want to support, I'd suggest you get more lines of code. I mean, Brown hasn't even bothered to seperate the lines of code that make up the core O/S (process managment, memory management, file management, etc) and the lines of code needed to manipulate hardware (device drivers)! So much for in depth analysis that backs up his assertions.

Another problem with Tanenbaum's logic is that he only presents examples of people that were Unix licensees, had Unix source code, or who were exceptionally familiar with software development. He cannot provide one example reasonably comparable to the Torvalds case.

Maybe because this wasn't asked? According to Tanenbaum, "He kept asking, in different forms, how one person could write an operating system all by himself. He simply didn't believe that was possible. So I had to give him more history, sigh." Then he went over the history of Unix and how people developed things.

In case anyone is getting lost here, let me briefly summarise Brown's argument. Linus Torvalds, a young university student with only one year's experience in C programming and operating system research, would be unable to achieve what more experienced programmers were able to do in far more time - even though they worked with a different platform and were still inventing how Unix should work (sorry, I added this last bit - I couldn't help it!).

Issue #2: Why do accounts continually assert that Torvalds "wrote Linux from scratch"?

(note how this changes from "Question" to "Issue"? Either it's poor editting, or he's trying to make a point. You decide.)

Brown starts by stating a little bit of stupidity:

Presumably, Professor Tanenbaum was not in Linus Torvalds's apartment at the time Linux was, to use a phrase recently (but only recently) disclaimed by Torvalds, "invented." Yet Tanenbaum vehemently insists that Torvalds wrote Linux from scratch, which means from a blank computer screen to most people. No books, no resources, no notes -- certainly not a line of source code to borrow from, or to be tempted to borrow from. But in a number of interviews AdTI completed with various individuals about operating system development, almost everyone reported that it is highly unlikely that even a pure genius could start from a blank computer screen and write the early Linux kernel. Suppose he could, would he?

OK, let me be anal about wording. What do you mean by "most people"? If you mean "most people" as in the general, non-technical, public, then sure. So why are we even mentioning them? they have nothing to do with technology (as indeed evidently Mr Brown has had little experience in development and is talking out of his hat). If we're talking about technically proficient developers, then duh! of course they're going to have ideas take from existing technology.

The last line "Suppose he could, would he?" is completely speculation. Ironic, actually, since Brown is accusing Tanenbaum et al. of speculation themselves. In other words it's a stupid argument and Brown is clutching at straws.

Let's continue.

In fact, everyone reported to me the opposite, that it only makes perfect sense to start with someone's code, or framework, which is the common practice among programmers.

Furthermore in almost every interview with experienced computer science professionals, almost all said that they personally had a copy of the Lions notes, an illegal distribution of Unix source code. Even Tanenbaum admits to teaching from the Lions notes. Linus says he started with nothing. In a recent ZDNet interview(6), he denies having the Lions notes. This is also unbelievable to AdTI. The story is too amazing----everybody that I met knew Linus intimately enough to confirm he wrote the kernel from scratch--- had an illegal copy of the Lions notes---- but Torvalds, was never---even near the Lions notes.

Non-attributed sources. Speculation. "The story is too amazing" - so what? Quantum Theory and Chaos Theory are too amazing, but does this mean they don't exist? Evidently it would be amazing to someone who's never created an O/S before. Does this mean that it didn't happen? Nope. Then he says that he can't believe that Linus didn't have a copy of the Lions handbook. So? Speculation, in fact interestingly enough I wonder how close to libel this is. It is possible (and even likely!) that he never read the Lions book. If he did read it, the kernel would have looked quite different, I suspect. This is my own little bit of speculation, and quite useless. Perhaps this in itself proves the stupidity of such comments.

Brown also asserts that the Lions handbook is "illegal"... sorry? I wasn't aware of that! UNSW (a Sydney university, btw) never stopped selling it in the bookstore, in fact I think I remember seeing it in the Co-op Book store at one point.

Meanwhile, an associate of mine asked Richard Stallman, who started with the Mach Kernel, why his GNU team could not build a kernel as fast as Torvalds. Mr. Stallman provided AdTI with a credible, believable set of reasons why building a kernel was not a simple task. We thank Mr. Stallman for his forthrightness and honesty. We included this interview to provide another perspective for readers to understand the magnitude of the Torvalds story. To accept the Torvalds story, Torvalds would also have been light years ahead of a team that built the very compiler he needed to make the kernel work.

Yes, well, not only is GNU/HURD a completely different type of O/S (it's a Microkernel), but it had a different development environment. Stallman wanted to keep the team small and focused on engineering to a specific spec with clean code, so he reduced his pool of volunteers. There's really nothing wrong with this, but it does lead to slow development. Proof of this is that HURD is still in alpha stage, whereas Linux has gone through thousands of iterations.

The more I read this article of Brown's, the more I had to shake my head. I mean, just look at the ridiculousness of what Brown says! He asserts "to accept the Torvalds story, Torvalds would also have been light years ahead of a team that built the very compiler he needed to make the kernel work."

First of all, the GNU team that writes gcc is very different to the GNU team that writes HURD. People should also be aware that writing a compiler like gcc is arguably harder that writing an operating system. Try to remember that gcc has been ported across O/Ses and architectures, and it has to support several different and tricky C & C++ standards. It's really not surprising that gcc takes a lot longer to develop! Secondly, I refer you, the gentle reader, to this article with Stallman. In it, Stallman states,

"The actual words I used were quoted correctly, but [author Kenneth Brown] deliberately confuses his terms, like 'Linux.' He confuses the Linux kernel, which I had nothing to do with, and the GNU OS project, which I launched," said Stallman, who characterized such mistakes as "deliberate."

Next, Linus Torvald's character is questioned:

We also included this interview to resonate the character of Mr. Torvalds. The GNU team contributed their GCC compiler, a complicated product with over 110,000 lines of code to the Linux project. Without the compiler, it is very likely that the Linux project would not have succeeded. The GNU team only asked that the product be called GNU/Linux, a very simple request for helping to make him famous. But Torvalds silently, but deliberately let the naming idea die.

This is absurd. Nowhere in the GPL does it state that you have to call Linux this, and Torvald's couldn't be bothered doing it. While I think it was a bit silly of him not to, I'd hardly call him immoral. Incidently, a note to Ken Brown: Linus Torvalds never actually named Linux, and even a cursory search with Google would pull up that the naming controversy went on for years and was really pretty stupid really. Kind of like Brown's work, I guess. (sorry, couldn't resist).

Question #3: If Linux was based on Minix, doesn't it owe rights, attribution to Prentice Hall? Does it owe attribution or rights to anyone else?

Of all the arguments, this is the most stupid.

Question #3

If Linux was based on Minix, doesn't it owe rights, attribution (sic) to Prentice Hall? Does it owe attribution or rights to anyone else?

How much `inspiration' did Linus get from Minix? AdTI argues clearly enough to credit the Prentice Hall product. Not in conversation either, but within the copyright and/or the credits files of the kernel. Quite noticeably, however, there is not one acknowledgement of Minix anywhere in the Linux kernel. Almost daily, we receive new contradictions from people on this point. In a published interview between Eric Raymond and Linus Torvalds, Raymond brandishes how Torvalds basically derived Linux from Minix. But recently in a ZDNet interview last month, Torvalds insisted that he didn't start with Minix, but did get ideas from Unix(7).

I'll just copy and paste from earlier in this document: Minix is a Microkernel, and Linux is a monolithic kernel. Does Ken Brown even know what the difference is?!?

The only thing that Linus might have taken from Minix was a list of error codes, but even then it doesn't matter. Basically, the error codes followed the POSIX standard, which anyone can use.

What is anybody suppose to believe?

Ken Brown doesn't know what he's talking about?

The larger issue is that Minix was a copyrighted product, for academic use only. The Minix license insisted from 1987 to 2000 that any commercial use of Minix for any reason, required permission of Prentice Hall. The Linux kernel was released in Fall 1991, well within the Prentice Hall proprietary license period. On the point of the license issue, Tanenbaum would just nervously repeat that he succeeded in getting Prentice Hall to change the license to BSD, so the topic was irrelevant. AdTI asks readers to ask why? Why did the license issue matter to Tanenbaum?

Blah blah. Please, Mr Brown, show us the code where Linus Torvalds infringed copyright.

Tanenbaum insists that we are wrong to bring any of this up, but ironically, he comments on his site, "...but Linus' sloppiness about attribution is no reason to assert that Linus didn't write Linux(8)." AdTI is not suggesting that readers believe that Prentice Hall is going to sue. The point of the paper is to magnify potential problems associated with this type of software development. AdTI insists that development such as this is an accident waiting to happen; something that will seriously impact both Linux users and developers. For example, in the case of Minix/Linux, AdTI argues that hypothetically, a copyright infringement case could easily erupt, if someone was determined to prove that Linux was an unauthorized derivative product of Minix.

Well, it wasn't. Minix uses a microkernel, not a monolithic kernel. Linux is not an "unauthorized derivative product of Minix". I really think the creator of this product would know better than Ken Brown does! You might want to also note that Tanenbaum says that "When distribution via the Internet became feasible, I convinced Prentice Hall to drop its (extremely modest) commercial ambitions and they gave me permission to put the source on my website for free downloading, where it still is."

The final reason why AdTI decided to focus on this issue is because we learned that in fact, Prentice Hall took all of this very seriously and had previously sued a programmer for unauthorized development of Minix.

To ask a pointed question: Brown doesn't represent Prentice Hall, so why is he so concerned? Also, to risk sounding like a broken record: Linux is not a derivative of Minix.

I'll cover the next bits briefly as I'm gettting tired of reading this crap.

Follow Up With Torvalds

AdTI contacted Torvalds employer OSDL to interview him for clarification. Without any facts, Tanenbaum goes as far to post that AdTI did not try to contact Linus, but this is contradicted by the attached post. The OSDL contact person tells AdTI that if Linus doesn't get back to us, he is not interested in being interviewed. AdTI has no problem publishing a report, whether sources do, or do not want to talk with us.

Why did he contact his employer? Why not just contact him directly? It's not like he couldn't find his contact details - he does, after all, accept and coordinates patches to the Linux kernel. Plenty of people know how to contact him directly, so why doesn't Ken Brown?!?

It is actually possible that Linus Torvalds never received Brown's email. Certainly Brown didn't try very hard to contact him, and it makes me suspect a hatchet job by Brown.

For years, Linus is (sic) credited with being an inventor. AdTI argued the claim was false. Coincidently in a recent interview, Linus decided (decided?! - ed)he was not the inventor of Linux commenting in a ZDNet story, "I'd agree that 'inventor' is not necessarily the right word...(9)"

So in other words, Ken Brown is attacking Linus for claims he never made. To restate it another way, and to make it clear how ridiculous Brown's comments are: others made the assertion that Linus is an inventor and yet Brown is attacking Torvalds for allowing people to call him this, while in the same breath he admits he claims not to be an inventor.


Other Issues

AdTI publishes its work for all audiences. It is written so that even if a group of elementary school children asked Tanenbaum the same questions AdTI did, they would see the very contradictions we reported.

Simplistic answers for a problem as complicated as IP law are stupid. Just look at the SCO case and how mucky this is! There are basically hundreds of lawyers on both sides arguing over IP law, with thousand of pages of legal notes, opinions and court documents.

Besides which, based on what Brown has put forward so far, I don't see what he is seeing at all. The only thing I see is the contradictions in Brown's own arguments.

Vrije University is a very cool place. AdTI encourages anyone that spends any time in Amsterdam to visit. At the good professor's recommendation, AdTI spent a number of hours talking with Vrije university computer science faculty. They were great fun and extremely helpful. For that, we are also very grateful.

The way I hear it, Ken Brown was just looking for people who could give him ammunition against Linux. Think of this as you will, it's purely speculation on my part.

Professor Tanenbaum did not convince AdTI that Linus Torvalds wrote the Linux kernel from scratch. We are sorry if this has caused any inconvenience to Professor Tanenbaum or anyone else.

So Brown admits that he went to Amsterdam with a specific agenda. It's a fair conclusion to make from this statement, otherwise this apology wouldn't have been necessary. Interesting.


There is far too much boasting about stealing, reverse engineering, and illegal copying espoused by some within the open source community.

Where is he getting this info from?!? Who's boasting about stealing stuff?

What a stupid statement.

If the theft of the Lions notes had not become such a banner waving incident, our research team probably would have never been inspired to write Samizdat. The purpose of Samizdat is to demonstrate how and why the hybrid model encourages these types of activities.

Banner-waving event? News to me. Brown's whole case rests on the "theft" of the Lions notes - good grief. Also, research team? This whole thing seems like a one man operation to me! I believe that Brown is misrepresenting himself, I'm rather afraid.

AdTI argues the best way to solve this problem is to create a more substantive pool of true, free open source code. For example, Vrije University would be an excellent candidate for research and development dollars to produce more open source. To this day, Linux is siphoning resources from proprietary software companies. Encouraging this activity would be a significant mistake for the U.S. government.

Garbage, for all the reasons I noted above.

Unix is one of the greatest achievements in the history of computer science. Like other great inventions, the existence of a robust intellectual property model enabled Unix investors, developers, and users to reap significant rewards. We should support both invention and innovation.


However, building a product that starts with the accomplishment of others and announcing it as completely your own work product, is not invention, nor is it innovation. Innovation can only work properly if innovators properly credit the work of others, especially if the innovator has decided to introduce the product into the marketplace for commercial gain.

From this I assume that he's saying that Linus Torvalds claimed he wrote the entire Linux operating system himself. If so, this is a completely unfounded, baseless accusation, as Torvalds never claimed this. What is certain is that Linus did initially create Linux, and he does contribute vast amounts of code and does the patch coordination. Basically, Brown is accussing Torvalds of code theft!

Brown had better watch out, this is getting close to libel. He could be sued a lot of money, should Torvalds feel the urge.

Nevertheless, AdTI concludes that U.S. Government investment in true open source development would significantly bolster the IT industry sector; and conversely, investment in hybrid open source will deteriorate it.

Kenneth Brown's qualifications

Kenneth Brown is president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution and director of its technology research programs. He is the author of numerous research papers and popular articles on technology issues, including the 2002 report, "Opening the open-source debate," one of the first papers to raise serious questions about the security of open- and hybrid-source computer software, a point recently raised by the president of Symantec Corporation.

Ah yes, Symantec Corporation. Actually, John Thompson, president of Symantec Corporation, wasn't talking about code attribution of IP concerns. He was talking about the inherent security of Linux. But read the article yourselves, which I'll quote part of here:

Symantec CEO John Thompson has hit out at "the myth" that Microsoft's operating system is inherently less secure than the open-source alternatives, which he likened to a "dead-end alley". However, he still had few kind words for the software giant.

Interesting that Brown brings this up, isn't it? Ken Brown should really first try to understand what people are saying first, then comment on it.

He is reportedly "not the sharpest knife in the drawer," but nevertheless is able to converse with many intelligent people, and is accepted at fine restaurants and hotels around the world.

I have to admit that I doubled over with laughter when I first read this! This is a direct quote from Andy Tanenbaum when Brown interviewed Tanenbaum and displayed a remarkable level of ignorance. It looks like the criticism is getting to him!


It looks to me like Ken Brown is on the backfoot after having released his book. Brown's credibility has been seriously damaged by all the criticism leveled at him by developers and founders of major software projects and organisations like GNU, Minix and Linux. Not only this, but he's now a high-visibility player - mainly thanks to slashdot and their love of controversial figures.

Lastly (thanks to John Thompson for pointing this out to me), one thing that stands out when you read Brown's rebuttal is that he does not address the issues Tanenbaum and others raised concerning his (Brown's) professionalism. Instead, he relies on ad hominem attacks on these critics. I think that epitomizes his general approach to his subject.


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What sort of knife is Ken Brown?
o A knife so blunt it couldn't cut butter 88%
o Swiss Army knife 1%
o Machette 10%

Votes: 59
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Slashdot
o Google
o ZDNet
o Ken Brown's response to critics of his book, Samizdat
o here
o 1
o 2
o push off
o getting his funding from
o 3
o read the response on the ReactOS mailing list to people who even started talking about the leaked Windows source code
o Linux Insider
o http://www .linuxinsider.com/story/33929.html
o home page
o a followup written by Tanenbaum
o Tanenbaum
o 5
o wiped the file-partitiion table from his hard-drive
o 6
o this article
o pretty stupid really
o 7
o 8
o 9
o SCO case
o inherent security of Linux
o Andy Tanenbaum
o John Thompson
o Also by Ta bu shi da yu

Display: Sort:
Critique of Ken Brown's response | 202 comments (142 topical, 60 editorial, 0 hidden)
I don't care.. (1.50 / 6) (#2)
by Psychopath on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 08:25:01 AM EST

..about another zealot, whatever he might stand for. Why should we give attention to every clown coming around and claiming to know something? (I don't know you Ta bu shi da yu, of course.)
The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain. -- Karl Marx
Are you talking about me, or Ken Brown?!? (nt) (none / 1) (#3)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 08:30:05 AM EST

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Mr Brown (none / 2) (#15)
by Psychopath on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 11:10:53 AM EST

..not you, as I tried to emphasize.
The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain. -- Karl Marx
[ Parent ]
Cool :-) (none / 1) (#16)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 11:14:31 AM EST

You had me worried for a moment there!

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
grin (none / 1) (#134)
by eudas on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 02:20:56 PM EST

though, if the shoe fits.. ;)

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Oi! (nt) (none / 0) (#202)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 10:04:50 AM EST

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Brown's rebuttal (3.00 / 9) (#12)
by John Thompson on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 10:56:14 AM EST

One thing that stood out for me on reading Brown's rebuttal is that he does not address the issues Tanenbaum and others raised concerning his (Brown's ) professionalism. Instead, he relies on ad hominem attacks on these critics. I think that epitomizes his general approach to his subject.

Good point. (none / 2) (#13)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 11:00:01 AM EST

I'll add this to the conclusion.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Problems with adding this to your conclusion (none / 2) (#124)
by jeroenb on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 05:12:50 AM EST

Can you be sure that the poster of this snippet, that you've almost entirely copied into your work, is the original author of this text? It seems like you are trusting this to be the case, but I'm not sure that's a good way to handle inclusions of derived works into your own. Just because you credit him, doesn't necessarily mean that's the end of it for you. Especially if you intend to publish them.

In fact, I think that you've just opened yourself up to unavoidable future litigation based on possible misappropriation of related copyrights.

IANAL ofcourse, but perhaps you can read some reports on these issues just be sure, this one is supposedly pretty good.

"The mouse, I've been sure for years, limps home from the site of the burning ferris wheel with a brand-new, airtight plan for killing the cat." -J.D. Salinger
[ Parent ]

Thank you Mr Brown. (none / 0) (#125)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 05:37:32 AM EST


AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Ken Brown is a moron, (3.00 / 13) (#23)
by pb on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 01:45:01 PM EST

a fact that he makes abundantly clear every time he opens his mouth. He has had preconceived notions from the beginning, and has asked pointed questions to all involved (well, almost all; he forgot to interview Linus!). They (notably Tannenbaum and Ritchie), on the other hand, have tried to disabuse him of his notions with 'facts', which he has ignored in the course of his 'research'. This is just more of the same.

Because of this, some people are now calling AdTI "the think tank that didn't". It's sad, really.
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

Sad? (2.50 / 4) (#25)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 01:52:15 PM EST

I think it's hilarious! "Think tank that didn't" - that cracks me up.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Hey, nice idea! (2.50 / 4) (#54)
by vadim on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 04:19:25 PM EST

Think tank that didn't
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
Didn't what? (none / 1) (#95)
by rustv on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 12:37:15 AM EST

Didn't think or didn't tank?

"Don't tase me, bro." --Andrew Meyer
[ Parent ]
Think. (nt) (none / 0) (#99)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:04:54 AM EST

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
P.S. Forgot to add, tank is not a verb. (none / 0) (#100)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:05:26 AM EST

Well, not unless you use it as slang.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Geography? (3.00 / 4) (#60)
by KrispyKringle on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 06:29:50 PM EST

AdTI: 3) Have you ever discussed the Minix/Linux migration or any other topic with Professor Tannenbaum in Finland? What are your thoughts about his decision to create Minix based on Unix, regardless of the efforts by ATT to restrict its use?

Dennis Ritche: Since you've visited him, you know that Andrew Tanenbaum was and is at VU in Amsterdam.


[ Parent ]

So in other words... (none / 1) (#70)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 11:45:08 PM EST

... Brown didn't get what he wanted from Tanenbaum - and in fact he got criticised quite severely by him - so now he's fishing for answers from other Unix celebrities so he can attach Tanenbaum AND Torvalds! Unbelievable.

What a stitch-up job this whole debacle has been.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

there's another way to look at this (none / 0) (#162)
by ethereal on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 11:07:41 PM EST

Which is that he asked an incorrect question on purpose, in order to take down someone else's credibility if they don't remember that Tanenbaum is in Amsterdam, not Helsinki. It's a clever tactic, but kind of transparent.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Not likely (none / 0) (#182)
by KrispyKringle on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 01:48:17 PM EST

Because either way, he looks like an idiot. If the person doesn't catch him, what's he gonna say? ``I intentionally did this and so-and-so didn't notice?'' Makes him sound petty. ``I accidentally did this and so-and-so didn't notice?'' Makes him sound stupider than whoever he's picking on.

Anyway, considering that he apparently did no background research and really just posed the wrong questions in an obviously single-minded effort to get a certain response, I don't think we should expect that he would know where AST is located.

Thing is, I was never really paranoid enough to think this was a ``paid hatchet job''. Microsoft has better things to do, and SCO hasn't got the money (I don't think). Perhaps SCO is capable of this, but it's so transparently stupid that it would be a waste of effort--but then again, they did declare the GPL to be un-Constitutional. I still don't think MS would be behind this, but I have to wonder what could possibly possess the vaunted ``AdTI'' to publish such a piece of shocking stupidity.

[ Parent ]

more "open source" zealotry (1.00 / 32) (#45)
by foon on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 02:57:21 PM EST

It seems like every time anyone here opens their mouth about Mr. Brown's work, all they can do is whing endless about how "stupid" he seems and how he is much less of a computer genius then open-source "hackers", and therefore his findings regarding the IP background of software these people wrote cannot possibly be true.  This is basically the gist of Tannenbaum's rant, which you all love.  Of course it is typical to rely on this kind of character assasination when there is no reasonable argument against his findings themselves.  

It is obvious from the anti-copyright views of members of the community, and the slipshod way in which commercial code has been added over the years, that they could easily have simply copied the whole thing from other sources.  Mr. Brown has simply rigorously documented this record for the whole world to see.  Rather than attacking him, maybe advocates of open-source who do not support the communistic rollback of all intellectual property rights should look in the mirror, realize the damage they are doing to our way of life, and switch back to the proven commercial, closed-source model.

Heh. (none / 3) (#47)
by vadim on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 03:05:06 PM EST

Oh enlightened one, please explain us how commercial code was integrated into Open Source software, and where's the evidence of that.
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
Findings? What findings? (3.00 / 7) (#55)
by FlipFlop on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 04:24:40 PM EST

Of course it is typical to rely on this kind of character assasination when there is no reasonable argument against his findings themselves.

Indeed, that's exactly what Brown is doing. Despite his extensive 'research' he hasn't come up with any evidence that Linux was not an original work. Instead he relies on character assassination and speculation to make his point.

How do you expect anyone to respond to Mr. Brown's facts when he hasn't presented any? Instead, his critics are left to respond to his character assassination and speculation. That's the level Mr. Brown has brought the debate to.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

This is a pity bite. (2.75 / 12) (#57)
by it certainly is on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 04:33:45 PM EST

Please take strength from this pity bite and try and perform better trolls in future. For example, intentionally fall over in a crowded street and troll people into asking if you're OK.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

lol! (none / 2) (#73)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 12:11:54 AM EST

At the risk of responding to a troll, what's to like about Brown's work?

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Better troll than Brown's (none / 1) (#126)
by Arevos on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 05:42:29 AM EST

A much better troll than Ken Brown managed. You should see about getting a job at the AdTI; you are obviously much more skilled at such work than the current trolls residing there.

[ Parent ]
Newsflash (none / 0) (#135)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 03:30:56 PM EST

In order to write effectively and accurately on a technical subject one must have at least some basic familiarity of the principles of the subject. This is equaly true for "policy papers" as it is for technical manuals. It is clear that Brown lacks this.

He might as well be dispensing medical advice with the disclaimer - "I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV".

[ Parent ]

Keep the dream alive (none / 1) (#136)
by stpap on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 03:40:11 PM EST

Keep trolling buddy... we're with ya...

Troll, def:
 An outrageous message posted to a newsgroup or mailing list or message board to bait people to answer. Trolling is a form of harassment that can take over a discussion. Well meaning defenders can create chaos by responding to trolls. The best response is to ignore it.

[ Parent ]

-1, PBPR (2.60 / 5) (#51)
by it certainly is on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 03:30:01 PM EST

Much as I agree with your sentiment, I can't abide point-by-point rebuttals. A more coherent, forward thinking, insightful commentary is here.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

I went FP (none / 2) (#52)
by BlackStripe on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 04:08:22 PM EST

because I think it will start a good discussion, even among those who don't read the whole thing (probably most of us). That being said, your link goes to a better and more readable critique, so while I very much appreciated this one I think it would be nice to have the author reference the piece you mentioned within the actual article, so that it doesn't get lost down in the comments.


[ Parent ]

Good point. (none / 1) (#62)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 08:51:46 PM EST

Regrettably, I'd already pushed this piece to voting before I saw this comment (I'd gotten most of the spelling and gramatical mistakes winkled down), otherwise I would have added the link.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Fair enough (none / 0) (#61)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 08:49:42 PM EST

However, point-by-point rebuttals have their place so I think that this isn't more or less lucid than the groklaw piece - mainly due to the fact that I'm writing in a slightly different form.

Thanks for your comment though, I do appreciate it even though you voted -1.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

I'm a fan of your work here, (2.75 / 4) (#64)
by it certainly is on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 10:23:22 PM EST

which is why I'm so disappointed by a PBPR. The reason being that a PBPR is not only aesthetically displeasing in the narrative, but it forces a debate entirely on the words of the text being PBPR'd, entirely on the issues of that text. Given that almost all of the issues raised by that text are false issues, why debate on false grounds? Why not just highlight the inaccuracy in a general style, then go on to discuss more pertinent issues -- like where Brown gets his funding, who stands to benefit, who stands to lose out, what would drive a man to be ridiculed by his sources as a man who knows nothing except the agenda he is forced to stick to by his paymasters.

If you had discussed that instead, I would have been +1FPing this article. As it stands, the only thing I agree with is the general sentiment of your work.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

So go ahead and do it (none / 0) (#67)
by FlipFlop on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 10:41:39 PM EST

Why not just highlight the inaccuracy in a general style, then go on to discuss more pertinent issues...

This is a discussion site. If you think something is missing, feel free to add it.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

I understand (none / 0) (#69)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 11:30:29 PM EST

I still think it's a valid piece in that I do actually discuss various issues. The thing is, as this is a discussion site I'd appreciate it if people bring up further issues and debate it in the comments under the story.

I guess at the end of the day, however, I did PBPR because I wanted to highlight how ridiculously stupid Ken Brown has been on this whole debate.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

+1fp PROOF we need an Open Source Mafia n/t (2.50 / 6) (#58)
by RandomLiegh on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 05:31:42 PM EST

Thought of the week: There is no thought this week.
Indeed. (none / 0) (#74)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 12:22:35 AM EST

When the code is so open, it's very hard to make baseless accusations of code-stealing that stick.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
For some, a C compiler and an OS is all you need (2.50 / 6) (#65)
by lukme on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 10:31:10 PM EST

After working a few years as a software engineer, I had the distinct pleasure of working with someone I knew from graduate school at Penn State.

When he was shown a system that was developed within the company I was working for, he asked who's tools did you use. He didn't believe the person who told him that the C compiler and UNIX as the OS were the only tools used. The funny thing was this guy got his BS and Masters degrees from PSU's computer science department, and had started a PhD in CS there as well.

It just goes to show, you can get a degree, but not an education.

It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
A question: (none / 3) (#66)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 10:40:08 PM EST

Has the aforementioned "company you worked for" gone defunct due to such reckless and spendthrift utilisation of the firm's resources? A company model launched on the principle of syndicalism?

This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
Yes and No (none / 2) (#92)
by lukme on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 10:35:55 PM EST

The company he worked for is doing much better (his company and the company I worked for were co-contractors for a .com.).

The company I worked for was bought by the .com, and when the bubble burst, most of us were laid off. Eventually, the .com divested the company back to the origional owners.

Funny thing was that everyone at my level in the company knew selling the company was a bad move on the part of the owners of the company. I had heard a majority of the transaction was in stock, furthermore, they had to go into debt to buy the company back.

It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
I just sent an email to the AdTI president (3.00 / 12) (#68)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 11:07:06 PM EST

We'll see what happens. Here is what I wrote:

Subject:     Samizdat criticisms
Date:         Sun, 06 Jun 2004 12:56:05 +1000
From:         ta bu shi da yu <deepcover@nospam.mpx.com.au>
To:            emeritus@nospam.adti.net


I understand that you are the president of AdTI. I haven't read the Samizdat book yet (and probably won't), however would you allow me to make some quick comments on Mr Brown's existing comments?

Firstly, Ken Brown hasn't addressed any concerns of Andrew Tanenbaum, Eric Raymond, Linus Torvalds or Dennis Ritchie. For most technical users, it appears that he has an agenda and has not incorporated or interpreted facts in evidence correctly. Some of the issues I believe that he needs to address are:

  • Define what he means by "Open Source" and "Hybrid Source" as in his response to criticism of his work he seems to be confused by the definition of Open Source. In fact, he redefines the industry accepted terminology and in doing so displays ignorance

  • Obvious confusion between a MicroKernel and Monolithic kernel. So that you can better understand the immense differences between the two, let me briefly explain what they are:

    1. A monolothic kernel runs all devices and core operating system components (like memory management and process management) in "kernel space". Kernel space is an area where code has full access to all parts of the system. If any of these parts play up, then the operating system becomes unstable and you are (usually) forced to reboot. A monolithic kernel also runs all it's tools (like say, for instance, your word-processor) in "user space". If a program runs umuck, you can just end it and your operating system should still run perfectly. User space programs request access to Kernel space areas via things called "system calls", and it's part of the job of the operating system to manage these calls effectively.
      Linux and Windows 2000/XP are both classed as monolothic kernels

    2. A micro-kernel runs all device drivers and most core operating system components in user space. It passes information from module to module via "message-passing". The advantage of this method is that if a user-space component plays up then the system won't crash, and all you need to do is to (usually) restart the module. Unfortuneately, due to the overhead in passing messages between components, micro-kernels have traditionally been far slower and more inefficient than monolithic kernels, which is why they are as popular in today's computing world.
      MINIX, L4 and GNU/HURD are all classed as micro-kernels

  • Lack of response to critic's issues. For instance, Andrew Tanenbaum asks who he is being funded by, however there was no response given other than AdTI is funded by multiple sources. He was also informed that Linux is not a derivative work of MINIX by Andrew Tanenbaum, yet he doesn't believe him.

  • Ken's continual assertion that Linux is a derivative work of MINIX. As Andrew Tanenbaum, creator of MINIX, has already told him - Linux is not a derivative work of MINIX because they are so completely different.

  • Assertions are made by Ken that proprietary commercial code is included in the Linux kernel, yet no examples are given. Ken claims that AdTI has done a detailed analysis of claims that the Linux code-base is polluted (and thus says that Linux is "hybrid-source" technology) - this is a pretty big claim, and it's currently being disputed in court at the moment (SCO vs IBM). It would greatly strengthen the credibility of Ken's argument if he could point out specific lines of code where code contamination has occured.

  • Ken's response to the critics of Samizdat is filled with speculation. Some examples are his insistence that Linus Torvalds couldn't create an operating system from scratch - apparently it's just "too amazing" to consider, and that Linus Torvalds did in fact have the Lions commentary. I would suggest to you that the last bit of speculation is running very close to libel, and you might want to consider changing your tack here as it would be well within Torvalds rights to sue for libel here. Ken's comments directly effect the reputation of the man, and regrettably they are unfounded and baseless accusations.

  • Ken believes that it is too hard for a university student to create an operating system in a year. In his response to critics of Samizdat he compares the development of Linux to the development of GNU/HURD. Regrettably, Ken has failed to take into account other reasons why it's taken so long for GNU/HURD to get to a usable stage. When Richard Stallman decided to build GNU/HURD he made a management decision to reduce the pool of contributors to increase code quality. While there is nothing wrong with this, it does lead to slow development time, especially when people aren't being paid for their work. Linux, on the other hand, was released straight away at 0.01, and anyone could contribute to the code. Linus has been able to maintain quality code because he is the main "patch" coordinator (in other words, he's the guy who reviews and incorporates/rejects proposed code changes to the Linux kernel). Ken also compares Linus's work to the work of the original UNIX team. It would be good for Ken to consider that UNIX concepts were still under development and the developers had only MULTICS to base their operating system on. Also, like the Coherent team (which I'll get to in a minute) they had to create all tools and compilers from scratch, and hardware that was far different to the hardware Torvalds developed on. Ken also compares the effort of the small Coherent development team to Torvalds work. Regrettably, the comparison is invalid because he neglects to take into consideration that the Coherent team built their own system tools, compiler and kernel from scratch.

  • Fundamental misunderstanding about how code is developed. For instance, Ken says that after a year the UNIX team had 11,000 lines of code and Torvalds had 32,000 lines of code. What Ken doesn't do is analyse that code himself. I would suggest he count the number of lines of code for device drivers (these control peripherals like printers, monitors, etc) and then count the number of lines of code created for the underlying kernel resource management (like virtual memory, file system peripherals, process management, etc) and then come back with his findings. I say this because Torvalds built to an x86 architecture, which anyone could get their hands on and had thousands of peripherals, and Ritchie & Thompson were developing on an ancient PDP-7 and later on a PDF-11 which had only a limited number of peripherals. Also, the Intel x86 architecture is not the "cleanest" architecture to work on, so many hacks and workarounds needed to be developed to work around it's fundamental strangeness. The x86 architecture, by the way, has many, many features that the PDP-x series didn't have and so obviously more code needs to be produced to implement the architecture's full functionality. Also, please consider that Ritchie & Thompson were a much smaller team than the team who developed the Linux kernel. Literally hundreds of people contributed patches which were incorporated into the kernel when it was first released. It stands to reason that if more people developed the Linux kernel than did the original UNIX, then more lines of code were generated.

  • Misunderstanding about the different between an operating system and an operating system kernel. I really believe that Ken should take a refresher course in Introduction to Operating Systems (usually any good IT course would teach him this). The operating system consists of all the things that go to make up a full functioning computer system. This includes compilers, drivers, the kernel, operating system maintenance utilities, services and applications that actually do useful things. The kernel is the part of the operating system that lies between the hardware and applications, and manages access to computer resource like CPU time and memory. In other words, the kernel is part of the operating system, the operating system is not part of the kernel! I point this out to you because Ken introduces the concept of the compiler, and attacks Linus for not attributing naming rights to GNU, whos compiler he ported and used to build the Linux kernel. When Ken attacks the name of Linux, is he referring to the kernel (which is Linus' own work, obviously along with others), or is he referring to the operating system? This is never made clear.
    As an aside, it is ironic Ken even brought up the compiler and GNU tools, because it undermines his assertion that Linus could never have developed such a high-quality operating system in such a small period of time. Linux was initially built with MINIX utilities, then the GNU tools were ported and the Linux kernel was built with these. As Linus didn't have to focus on the compiler - which is, strangely enough, a much harder piece of software to write than a kernel - or the system tools he was able to do much more rapid development than those teams who needed to build the system tools from scratch.

  • Entering into the whole GNU/Linux vs Linux naming debate was a bad idea. If you want to know how stupid this really is, check out the following link on wikipedia at:
    This has been discussed to death, and clearly Ken hasn't done any research on this issue. I don't feel the urge to comment on this any further, however, as it was a useless debate before, and it's a useless debate now.

  • It's concerning that Ken found it so hard to contact Linus Torvalds directly. It's not hard to find his contact details, as he is quite freely accessible through newsgroups and the Linux kernel mailing list. Instead of contacting his employer, I would have thought he'd have contacted the man directly. Perhaps an explanation of why he didn't do this is in order, if only to answer Andrew Tanenbaum's question that "What kind of a reporter talks to people on the periphery of the subject but fails to talk to the main player?"

Overall, I find Ken Brown's response to his critics dissatisfying. Much better research could have and should have been done if he was going to come out with outrageous statements like "Linux is a leprosy" and "resonate the character of Mr. Torvalds". The last statement is especially regrettable because he is questioning the character of a man who he's never met, and who he's misrepresented in the public eye.

In conclusion, I would like to ask you (AdTI) to reconsider your stance on the Linux kernel. I feel that with the unfounded fear, uncertainty and doubt that Ken Brown is spreaing around it behoves you well to set the record straight and correct Ken's various misconceptions and inaccuracies about computing technology and the Open Source movement. This goes doubly so because apparently Ken is advising the U.S. government about Open Source.

I thank you for your time and hope to hear a response from you soon.


AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".

Yahoo! auto-response (2.50 / 4) (#72)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 11:49:03 PM EST

Subject:   Yahoo! Auto Response
Date:      Sat, 5 Jun 2004 19:56:10 -0700 (PDT)
From:      emeritus@nospam.adti.net
To:        ta bu shi da yu <deepcover@nospam.mpx.com.au>

thank you for your interest.  

i will respond to you personally at the earliest opportunity --

Gregory Fossedal
Senior Fellow


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AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

Reply from Gregory Fossedale, president of AtDI (3.00 / 7) (#81)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 08:21:11 AM EST

Subject:        Re: Samizdat criticisms
Date:             Sun, 6 Jun 2004 03:58:57 -0700 (PDT)
From:            emeritus@nospam.adti.net <emeritus@adti.net>
Reply-To:       emeritus@nospam.adti.net
To:                ta bu shi da yu <deepcover@nospam.mpx.com.au>

Thank you for your reply.

I am, as you may know, compiling a report on any alleged inaccuracies in Brown's "Samizdat" report.  Some questions you bring up are dealt with in some detail in Mr. Brown's paper.  Others are unclear to me -- you say there is "obvious" confusion between kernels &tc., but, forgive me, Brown's confusion isn't obvious to me.

Still others, the majority, seem to consist of a difference of opinion with his recent remarks, choice of what to comment on, &tc., on which, of course, you are entitled to your opinion, as are Prof. T. and others.  But I suppose should respect Brown's right to his opinion, apparently based on substantial research.  Do you agree?

In the meantime, I'd like to keep your note on file for other material we may produce regarding the surrounding debate -- complaints and argumentation from people.  I trust I may use your words, and if you do or do not mind having your identity disclosed, please let me know.

A question -- may I forward your note to Mr. Brown so he may answer these criticisms for me directly?  If you prefer, I will remove your name &tc. and make it a blind review.  RSVP.

Finally -- please, of course, if you do wish to question any parts of Brown's report, I would greatly benefit.  For your simplicity and more so mine, please quote him and then tell me why the statement is factually incorrect.  Right now I am sitting on a lot of messages from people that wish to debate him, advise him on helping his credibility, usw., but very few that say "Brown says Unix was licensed to the University of Helsinki in 1991, but this is inaccurate," &tc.

Gregory Fossedal

[rest of my reply quoted below and snipped to save space - see parent comments]

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

My reply to Gregory Fossedale (3.00 / 8) (#82)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 08:23:35 AM EST

Subject:     Re: Samizdat criticisms
Date:     Sun, 06 Jun 2004 22:17:18 +1000
From:     ta bu shi da yu <deepcover@nospam.mpx.com.au>
To:     emeritus@nospam.adti.net
References:     <20040606105857.31121.qmail@web107.biz.mail.yahoo.com>


I do agree that Mr Brown is entitled to his opinion and I would never dream of taking away his freedom of speech. However, I also think there is a thing called objective truth and I don't believe that this has been uncovered in his investigation.

I stand behind my comments. I am happy for you to use my name, and I am prepared to acknowledge any inaccuracies (though I don't think there are any, to the best of my knowledge). Please don't blind copy it.

The confusion Mr Brown is having with microkernels and monolithic kernels may not be obvious to a non-technical person, however I'm not quite sure how to explain in simpler terms than I have already! The best person to ask for a complete definition would be either Andrew Tanenbaum or Richard Stallman, however I am a bit of a fan of Eric Raymonds clear writings so he would probably be able to explain the differences to you in simpler language.

So, no, I don't mind you keeping this email on file at all. I trust you won't misrepresent me and you will use the facts and my email to speak the truth. If you do decide to use my email (which I am more than happy for you to do!) then I ask you to tell people who sent it (just mention my name). If you could also please quote each point I made in full. You don't have to quote each one of the points, but each point is complete in it's own right, so it would be misrepresenting me if you only quoted part of the point I made.

I understand your concerns about people not responding to the report directly, however I did actually purchase the eBook from your website for $8. Unfortuneately I run Linux (which fulfills all my needs more than adequately - you should try it some day!) I am totally unable to view it. Regrettably, because of the eBook license, I am unable to copy it to another computer and view it there. Perhaps if you were to review the license and loosen the terms of use I would be able to read it and comment better on it.

Lastly, it's OK to forward my email to Mr Brown. Please, however, make him aware that I am not a developer and more of an enthusiast who enjoys reading C code and operating system theory. Any technical questions I would be happy to try to answer (if I can), however should I not know something I will have to refer him to more knowledgable sources.

I appreciate your prompt reply,


AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

Yahoo! auto-response (none / 2) (#83)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 08:26:32 AM EST

Subject:     Yahoo! Auto Response
Date:     Sun, 6 Jun 2004 05:17:27 -0700 (PDT)
From:     emeritus@nospam.adti.net
To:     ta bu shi da yu <deepcover@nospam.mpx.com.au>

thank you for your interest -- and especially, if you are writing to participate in AdTI's review of "Samizdat."

if you wish to report an inaccuarcy in "Samizdat," please take the survey at:  http://adti.net/ysurvey/survey.php?s_id=2

i will try to respond to all emails -- but i will respond first to emails from people who have taken the survey.

Gregory Fossedal


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AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

Why bother doing adti:s work? (none / 2) (#116)
by joib on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 03:57:03 AM EST

You're picking the low-hanging fruit before they are ripe.

I mean, by pointing out trivial stuff like the confusion between microkernels and macrokernels, spelling mistakes etc., Mr. Brown just gets free help in making his report look professional.

Face it, I, you or anyone else is not going to make Mr. Brown see the errors in his ways. That report will be released no matter what.

I'd prefer to wait until the report is released (so they can't correct it very easily), and then ridicule it (publicly, not sending mail to adti) for the trash journalism it is. All the easier to shoot it down when it's full of trivial mistakes.

[ Parent ]

I'm pointing it out to the general public. (none / 1) (#121)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 04:54:42 AM EST

Besides, they're scraping the bottom of the barrel as it is. Anything else they claim is only going to be more stupid (if that's possible).

Besides, I was interested to see what response I'd get.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

P.S. (none / 2) (#123)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 05:03:36 AM EST

I forgot to add: I haven't actually told him anything that isn't obvious or anything that hasn't been pointed out (in some cases several times!) before. I doubt they're going to learn from my criticism.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
&tc.? Honestly? (3.00 / 8) (#97)
by rustv on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 12:59:03 AM EST

Ummmm.... maybe you should tell him that "&tc." is about the dumbest possible way to write it.

The term "etc." is short for etcetera, a.k.a. "et cetera", which more or less means "and others".

The ampersand "&" is derived from the term Et, which means "and". The letters were merged together for convenience, much like the "at sign", @, which is what they got when they smooshed together "at".

So anyways, you can write "etc.", or "&c.", but you should never write "&tc.", which means "ettc.", which is stupid and meaningless.

In conclusion, Gregory Fossedal, president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, can't have an orgasm unles he kills a dog.

That's just what I heard somewhere.

"Don't tase me, bro." --Andrew Meyer
[ Parent ]

Interesting (none / 1) (#102)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:22:28 AM EST

I actually never knew any of this stuff. I actually thought the &tc. thought it was the guys email client stuffing up!

This is what comes of trying to look smarter than you really are. Perhaps a symptom of a larger problem at AtDI?

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

Micro/monolitic kernels and GNU/Linux naming (none / 3) (#177)
by Trepalium on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 02:56:33 PM EST

I don't believe that a microkernel needs to run most of itself in user space, only that the individual components are in separate address spaces, and only communicate with each other via message passing of some sort. Minix, for example, runs in x86 'real mode' where memory protection isn't possible. Everything is run in 'kernel mode', even user tasks. There are plenty of other microkernel OS's that run on similar machines without an MMU.

The biggest difference between micro and monolithic kernels, IMO, is that it's so much harder to get a microkernel RIGHT. It's difficult to design the message passing mechanism in a way that doesn't limit you. It's difficult get adequate performance. And even if you do have a good design, being a microkernel doesn't always give you any extra stability because they tend to be so much more complex. Just because it's theoretically possible to restart a microkernel process doesn't mean it's feasable. What do you do if your disk driver fails, and you need to reread it from the disk? And did you remember to design in the fact the virtual memory manager can't be swapped out? etc.

As for GNU/Linux, Ken Brown misrepresented the issue completely. RMS never asked Linus to rename his kernel to GNU/Linux, but to rather support him in his efforts to get distributions to call themselves GNU/Linux. Furthermore, Linus decided to put his kernel under the GPL because of the fact he used the GNU compiler and utilities to build it. In a way, that was his thanks and recognition to the GNU project.

[ Parent ]

AdTI is just a front group for the highest bidder (3.00 / 6) (#78)
by FlipFlop on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 01:27:41 AM EST

Other fine works from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution:
  • Public comment in favor of the Microsoft antitrust settlement. Authored by Ken Brown himself.
  • Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy: A Critical Examination. A report criticizing the EPA's environmental policies. The President of the Tobacco Institute sent a memo to his Executive Committee explaining how AtDI filed the report with the EPA (as if it were a purely charitable act), how some politicians were citing the study, and how the press was covering the story.
  • Outsourcing and the global IP "devaluation". Another Ken Brown article that blames open source and weak intellectual property protections for the outsourcing of IT Jobs.
  • Opening the Open Source Debate. Yet another Ken Brown report claiming that open source software will make the United States vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

As for Mr. Brown's assertion that

Linux is a leprosy; and is having a deleterious effect on the U.S. IT industry because it is steadily depreciating the value of the software industry sector.

I must ask what effect a monopoly has on the industry? Microsoft has stomped out almost of all of its competitors. New avenues of development would have opened up had Microsoft not killed off the companies that were developing them. Open source is giving those avenues of development new opportunities.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't

even if he's correct (none / 2) (#85)
by khallow on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 12:13:12 PM EST

Even if Mr. Brown is correct and Linux is "depreciating the value" of the industry, then how is that bad? IMHO the software industry should be devalued, if it's so easy. That's a reasonable argument from economic efficiency since now the industry would supposedly reflect its longterm value.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

After reading this... (none / 3) (#79)
by epepke on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 01:39:55 AM EST

I get the distinct impression that there's no reason I should care about what Ken Brown says, except that some people criticize him, and he lashes back, and that somebody lashes back against him, which is important exactly how?

People are going to use Linux if they want to, and they're going to avoid using it if they want to, and they are going to say nasty things about it if they want to. But from page 1, the Brown comments don't seem to me to make enough sense to be worth bothering with. Maybe there's some political value in pointing out that they don't make any sense, but surely, this could be done more precisely.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

Yes, but it's a think tank. (2.60 / 5) (#80)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 02:03:31 AM EST

It makes lots of noise, and politicians listen. I decided to make some noise back.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
It matters because politicians will cite him (2.80 / 5) (#87)
by FlipFlop on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 01:42:25 PM EST

I get the distinct impression that there's no reason I should care about what Ken Brown says

Perhaps I'm just cynical, but it seams to me politicians make decisions based on where they get their campaign funds and who gives them the best media coverage. After making a decision, politicians take research like Mr. Brown's and use it as an excuse to justify their votes.

You should care because the next time you hear a politician cite research from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, you will be ready to challenge that politician's credibility.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

Your sig, remixed 4wbt style! (1.20 / 5) (#84)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 10:32:36 AM EST

AdTI: Thinking that tanks.

The Big F Word.
Oh man, I'm phuxor'd... (2.80 / 10) (#86)
by QillerPenguin on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 12:35:33 PM EST

> insists that Torvalds wrote Linux from scratch, which means from a blank computer screen to
> most people. No books, no resources, no notes -- certainly not a line of source code to borrow
> from, or to be tempted to borrow from. But in a number of interviews

Oh, shit! I wrote a while back a tiny OS for the Atmel 2313, nothing much, but I did use ideas from several books, including Tannenbaums's books and other books like "Make Your Own Operating System" and the like. This includes a tiny kernel, a teeny-tiny shell, and a few miniscule utils. Fairly Unix-y...

However, I did start with a blank screen (well, a vi session), and from a few of my own notes, no books or resources in front of me, wrote:

int main(void)
{     for( ;; ) /* infinite message loop */

It turns out that NT4 starts out its kernel source code the exact same way! Ah fuck, now I've stolen from Microsoft. And looking back at the Lyon's book, yikes, so did AT&T in early Unix! Oh holy shit, I'm really in trouble now.

And I was gonna GPL all the code...

"All your Unix are belong to us" - SCO, 2003.

Ken Brown misunderstands economic s as well (3.00 / 9) (#89)
by kamil on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 04:30:51 PM EST

Ken Brown also misunderstands economics.

>Linux is a leprosy; and is having a deleterious effect on
>the U.S. IT industry because it is steadily depreciating the
>value of the software industry sector. Software is also
>embedded in hardware, chips, printers and even consumer
>electronics. Should embedded software become 'free' too,
>it would be natural to conclude the value of hardware
>will spiral downward as well.

Anyone who studied economics would know that the exact opposite would occur.
Operating system software and Computer hardware are what economists call perfect complements, meaning that for every computer sold an operating system is sold as well. Since the goods are perfect compliments one may treat both the goods as one bundle with a total price for the purpose of microeconomic analysis. This means that if the price of OS software falls, the cost of a computer (hardware and OS) will drop. Since the price of computers dropped the quantity of computers demanded will increase and therefore a increase in demand for computer hardware at the no change in price. A Computer hardware company may now adjust the price of computer hardware to the changed market conditions to be even more profitable.

A computer hardware companies, consulting firms and non operating systems software companies should support efforts to reduce the price of operating systems to maximize profit and shareholder value. Many companies such as Intel are doing exactly this.

Interestingly Microsoft was the beneficiary of this effect when they supported efforts of the clone makers who tried to clone and eventually commoditize IBM PC market, the profit on computer hardware decreased with its price while the price, profit and quantity of OS sold by Microsoft increased substantially.

IBM at the time also tried to commoditize subcomponents of computer hardware for the same reasons.


Tanenbaum's own words (3.00 / 6) (#90)
by ibuckyourfutt on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 09:01:16 PM EST

Just today, Tanenbaum posted up his own point-by-point rebuttal.

And it seems to be a bit more lucid than this one.

I'd hope so! (none / 0) (#91)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 10:00:16 PM EST

Tanenbaum knows far more about O/Ses than I ever will...

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
What's with the slash? (none / 0) (#165)
by p2sam on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 02:11:01 AM EST

I hate it when people write a slash between O and S when they refer to an Operating System. Either use the standard convention dot (.) abbreviation, or none altogether.

[ Parent ]
Force of habit I suppose. (none / 0) (#171)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 03:08:08 AM EST

It's not that big a deal.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
I blame OS/2. (nt) (none / 0) (#175)
by Trepalium on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 02:36:24 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Some comments (2.87 / 8) (#94)
by epepke on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 10:53:28 PM EST

That's a good response.

Leprosy (i.e. Hansen's Disease) actually isn't very contagious. Long-term association seems to be required for contagion.

As for being surprised that a student could do 10,000 lines of code a year, well. I've been known in burst mode to produce 3,000 lines of code over a long weekend, but just for things like LISP interpreters that I know extremely well, and it's well known that as you get into a code the rate drops. I've been working on a project, very much part-time when I do not have a gig, since about November last year, but due to insufficient backups, I lost much of the November and December work. Anyway, at present it consists of 34,000 lines of code. When working full-time, I've been known to do a bit better; after 6 months, SciAn had about 50,000 lines of code.

10,000 lines a year doesn't even involve working up a good sweat, least of all when it is something as simple as a monolithic kernel.

I'm afraid what we're seeing here is the bludgeoning of the competent by the profoundly and proudly incompetent, who are so incompetent that they can't even imagine a product as other than coming from some magical entity, such as a corporation. It's a trend I've seen for some time now, and it is one of the ideas in the movie Brazil. The ineffectual morons of society feel threatened by the very existence of people who can produce, and they do their best to use social mechanisms to bludgeon them. They usually succeed.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
http://adti.net/ysurvey/survey.php?s_id=2 (none / 0) (#93)
by sllort on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 10:44:45 PM EST

Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
Why do you care? (none / 1) (#96)
by QuantumG on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 12:46:12 AM EST

To ask a pointed question: Brown doesn't represent Prentice Hall, so why is he so concerned? Also, to risk sounding like a broken record: Linux is not a derivative of Minix.

One could ask you the same thing. You do not represent Linus Torvalds, so why are you so concerned? If Linus wants to pony up and sue Brown for slander, good on him. If he just wants to have a bit of a belly chuckle at Brown's incompetence, that's cool too, but I really don't think Linus needs any help doing so.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.

Why do I care? (none / 1) (#98)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:03:32 AM EST

Because the Prentice Hall business doesn't effect him, but it does effect me as I use Linux.

Besides which, I dislike stupidity.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

That's dangerous (none / 2) (#101)
by epepke on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:08:11 AM EST

Disliking stupidity is probably tantamount to being an evil terrorist or something. And caring about things you aren't being paid to care about is, like, standing up for the Jews when you aren't a Jew. Or something.

Excuse me while I go take my Soma and return to being a Productive Citizen™

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Or something. (none / 1) (#103)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:25:45 AM EST

I'll stand up for the Jews if they're being persecuted. Same with the dispossesed, the disabled, and the defenseless.

Besides which, it's not dangerous to criticise something because it's stupid. It's dangerous to stop something that's stupid, which I'm not doing here.

By the way, why do you care that I care? I mean the fact that you posted in the first place is a bit of a self-defeating argument, isn't it?

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

chill (none / 0) (#104)
by QuantumG on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:29:22 AM EST

he was being sarcastic.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Sorry. (none / 0) (#106)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:40:02 AM EST

My humour-meter was experiencing malfunctions. It's a Monday, after all.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
To be fair (none / 1) (#115)
by epepke on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 03:21:39 AM EST

So many of Kuro5hin attendees have popped out of the proverbial uterus so recently they're still pink, they probably think of Soma primarily as a brand of muscle relaxant. In spite of the recent movie of Brave New World with Leonard Nimoy which they probably haven't watched or even care about because it doesn't have teenies with navel-rings in it.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Excuse me? (none / 0) (#150)
by trezor on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 05:36:05 AM EST

    In spite of the recent movie of Brave New World with Leonard Nimoy which they probably haven't watched or even care about because it doesn't have teenies with navel-rings in it.

I didn't even know about this until you mentioned it. And that has absolutely nothing to do with naval rings.

Is it worth watching?

Richard Dean Anderson porn? - Now spread the news

[ Parent ]
Crikey! (none / 0) (#108)
by epepke on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 02:03:41 AM EST

I agree with you. It's called irony. It is a sign of intelligence. Try it; you'll like it.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Irony? what's that? :-) (none / 0) (#109)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 02:19:23 AM EST

Sorry, it was a Monday morning when I wrote that. I must have forgotten to turn off my irony detector.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Dammit! (none / 0) (#111)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 03:08:50 AM EST

OFF, I meant OFF! Gah!

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Dammit x 2! (none / 0) (#112)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 03:09:19 AM EST

ON, I meant ON! Gah!

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Relax and have an Ativan or an Inderol [n/t] (none / 2) (#114)
by epepke on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 03:17:45 AM EST

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Linus should sue as soon as the book is published. (3.00 / 4) (#105)
by alizard on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:35:45 AM EST

If it is published, I mean. Perhaps the "book" has already served its purpose in the mainstream media by spreading FUD, and publishing it would only increase ADTI's exposure.

IANAL disclaimer.

If the book is as described, it looks to me it is planned to be actionable libel intended to discredit Linus Torvalds personally, the Linux development team, and Open Source in general. In fact, the public allegations of Mr. Brown may already be well past the threshold where legal action is practical.

Perhaps a few members of the IBM legal team might be willing to spend a day or two in court on a pro bono basis to represent Mr. Torvalds?

I don't think it'll take more time than that, given that everybody who provided information for the book has essentially publically called Ken Brown a liar.

It is time to make an example of ADTI in the way that IBM and the people at groklaw have been trying to make one of SCO. The difference is that making an example of ADTI will be a lot easier. Can any parties that paid ADTI to attack Open Source be subpoenad or made co-defendants? As I said, IANAL, but if this is posssible, this would be a good thing. Who would be willing to pay somebody to lie about the original creator of Linux? I think the public ought to know. (OK, we probably do, but proving this in court would be even better.)

If for no other reason, ADTI should be sued for , hijacking and dragging through the mud not only the good name of Linus and... us... but for dragging through the mud the name of one of the best-known commentators about early America as well, Alexis de Tocqueville.

Perhaps Mr de Tocqueville has descendants who might be interested in defending their family's name as well. Sticking de Tocqueville's name on a lobbying firm masquerading as a legitimate academic instutition who is apparently for sale to the highest bidder seems wrong to me. Is it actionable? Good question.

Yheir mission statement claims that they exist to follow the principles of Mr. do Tocqueville and perpetuate his "omnicurious" journalistic style. Isn't it strange that their site has been up at least since December 2003 (BTW, on FreeBSD) and that the page labeled Tocqueville's works is still under construction as of when this was posted?

From what I've heard about de Tocqueville, lying wasn't a journalistic principle he supported.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico

Foot meet bullet, bullet meet foot (3.00 / 6) (#120)
by CaptainZapp on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 04:48:49 AM EST

Perhaps the "book" has already served its purpose in the mainstream media by spreading FUD, and publishing it would only increase ADTI's exposure.

Yup, sure hit the mainstream press in Switzerland as seen in this article in the Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

Since they have one of the most clue ladden it (and media) sections in the entire German speaking world they are quite respected in this regard.

Their conclusion - elopquently laid down - is that Mr. Browns essay is a joke and - in my interpretation - stop short from calling him a fraud.

So much for FUD in the mainstream press.

BTW: For those wanting a good laugh, or for those not too fluent in German here's the Fishs translation.

[ Parent ]

For posterity: the translated article (none / 1) (#122)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 05:01:31 AM EST

I copied this into a comment because the translation made me laugh :-)

Of dwarves and giants
The crime film-alga-laminated of software engineering

With the announcement of a book, in accordance with which the emergence can be explained by open SOURCE software alone by theft of mental property, the American Alexis de Tocqueville institution in the InterNet provides for discussions.

S. B. As a dwarf, then described themselves one of the sizes of the science, the English physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton. As a dwarf on the head of a giant owe it its farsightedness to others. It answers to the reproach central of realizations of its optics to have stolen. The picture of the Wissenschafter as a dwarf on shoulders of giants had invented Newton however not, is it a quotation or the quotation of a quotation, like the American science sociologist Josef K. Merton in its book "on the Shoulders OF Giants" states. For the search for the inventor of this history of the dwarf on the shoulders of the giant Merton designs "a manual by the labyrinth of the gel honouring SAMNESS" (sub-titles). OTSOG, the acronym, which was in-patriated for "on the Shoulders OF Giants", is probably the shortest possible formula, in order to describe the function mode of modern science: Not the self discussion of vereinsamter spirit sizes, but the dialogue of emsiger dwarves.

In a time, in which innovations must being sufficient less for the requirements of intellectual probity than rather the defaults of the Immaterialgueterrechts, in a time, in new ideas only the attention public as patent, copyright or trademark law to find, in so a time it must appear suspicious that dwarves and giants step with one another into relationship, without money is in the play. It is suspiciously, if computer programmers leave the fruits of its head work other one free of charge, programs gives away, which do not only use themselves, but also analyzes, criticizes, to transform and finally further-gives away leaves. Criticism and change are possible, because these programs in the source text, in a form changeable understandable of humans and are present. Open SOURCE often commodity (OSS) stands contrary to during decades the usual practices of the software business and is a direct threat of companies, which live mainly on the sales of software.

Microsoft gave innumerable studies in order in the past two, three year, which should prove that their own software, whose interior life for the public is not observable is superior in technical regard of the open SOURCE competition. That succeeded not quite. Because Microsoft software would not have not also its advantages, but because it is difficult to represent these advantages in one of Microsoft gesponserten study as objectively measurable. It has the appearance, as if the argument would have shifted in recent time on an ideological level.

With these arguments Microsoft support has Polit PR found with the Alexis de Tocqueville institution (AdTI), a conservative Think tank, which uses itself in accordance with self-advertisement since 1988 for the spreading of democracy and liberalism, in accordance with American medium reports however above all operates. AdTI is to have lobbyiert for the requests of the tobacco industry; in accordance with "Wired" also Microsoft ranks among the sponsors of this institution. A first study of the AdTI tried to build an axle before two years between OSS and terrorism (NZZ of 14. 6. 02). In a current study under the title "Samizdat: And OTHER Issues Regarding the <Source> OF open SOURCE code "tries to arouse AdTI managing director Kenneth Brown the impression that OSS is the result of European restaurant espionage and damages the American computer industry.

Robber pistol

The OSS Community is in accordance with AdTI a gang of thieves and cheats, who recent history of software engineering above all a crime film-alga-laminated: "it is by Reverse engineering, theft by coworkers or rem-Brandt-moderate copying, Plagiieren is with the software developing in the open SOURCE movement the pride of many."

Brown planned to examine the history from Unix to "the most frequently copied, licensed and stolen software in the history of the computer science". With these historical Exkursion makes Brown a sensational discovery: Linus Torvalds is not at all the inventor of Linux, Linux is rather a copy of Unix. Thus it means in the report of medium, which announces the "Samizdat" book. In the book, which circulates in several versions with different length in the InterNet, still is however not officially available, Linux more carefully than a product is described, "its invention is so disputed that its origin does not appear accessible many as the healthy human understanding and scientific consideration".

Beyond the healthy human understanding and scientific consideration now thus Brown makes itself to regenerate the history of Unix and Linux. Its history is a simple history: First Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie in the service of AT&T from that did not create anything out the Unix operating system, then a Computerwissenschafter has Linus Torvalds named Andrew Tanenbaum Unix in detailed work for many years in simplified form as Minix copied for instruction purposes, finally came and copied Unix and Minix and called the result Linux. In order to support its thesis, Brown sent by E-Mail questions to Ritchie and traveled to Amsterdam, in order to interviewen Tanenbaum. Both have the contact in mind with Brown, which was noticeable by small foreknowledge and awkward leading questions, unpleasantly, both from the book, which calls them as source, dissociated itself.
A play as start

Unix is not a computer program, but a collection of computer programs. Unix calls less a concrete software rather an architecture, in which many loosely coupled components form a whole. This architecture is the result of a philosophy, which evaluates things such as simplicity and reusability of codes highly. The history of Unix begins, when Ken Thompson would like to bring the play "space Travel" in the research department of AT&T on a PDP-7- minicomputer to running. Unix does not develop in the vacuum, Thompson uses ideas, which he with earlier software development projects for instance in connection with the Compatible time sharing system (CTSS) or Multics know learned. That already the first Unix programmer let himself be inspired from strange ideas, is - states like Mike Gancarz in his book concerning the "Unix Philosophy" (1995) - no historical matter of minor importance, but coining/shaping event and durable model: to ", ingenious programmers write good software property programmer <klauen> ingenious software. . . A good idea divided with others is as much worth as two ideas, which one keeps for itself." Eric Raymond, prominent Linux programmer and propagandist, seizes this faith set in such a way: "no problem should have to be solved ever twice."

Into an anti-trust-action complicated, AT&T did not have interest in the seventies to commercialize Unix. The software was transferred for a symbolic price to interested Wissenschafter. Soon there was no more Unix, but a jungle of Unix derivatives. With a court complaint AT&T wanted to bring also far remote Unix derivatives at the beginning of the nineties back under control. AT&T lost this process.

Richard Stallman, lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (WITH), felt the aggressive kind, with which AT&T Unix began to marked out, as attack on the academic liberty. 1984 it initiated a software project named GNU. The three letters mean "GNU is emergency Unix" and designate a collection of operating system modules, programming tools and application programs, which are developed in accordance with the model of Unix, but no AT&T code use. As the software, which was developed in the context of the GNU project, the legal accessories, the GNU Public Licence (GPL) are at least as important. It is to guarantee that the software concerned remains always free. Despite its abhorrence opposite the GPL is not itself Brown too unfortunate to call also Stallman against Torvalds into the witness box. Because however Brown Linux as Kernel and Linux cannot keep apart as GNU based operating system, he is able to gain few from the discussion with Stallman. Stallman dissociates itself later from the quotations, which Brown of it shows in "Samizdat".
Goal intake

Ken Thomson, Dennis Ritchie and Andrew Tanenbaum, highly decorated Wissenschafter, which gave numerous impulses to software engineering, must give themselves in commercial computer science with a Nebenrolle contently. Fails Stallman, a highly gifted programmer, who created central of components of a Unix similar operating system in work for many years, when it concerned to write a operating system Kernel. What this giants remained malfunctioned - the creation of an efficient, complete, variously applicable operating system, which no copyrights or patents hurt and which threaten the dominating the market products of Microsoft seriously -, is to have created a young student from Finland, who wanted to convert the realizations from an introduction lecture on a cheap PC? Brown assumes fraud, theft, espionage. Perhaps but Linus the dwarf saw the goal only as the first, because he established himself, instead of wanting to precede the giants, on its shoulders.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

Picachu Engrish Post Second! (nt) (none / 2) (#132)
by CheezyDee on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 11:27:12 AM EST

[ Parent ]
That's what that acronym is! (none / 1) (#140)
by glor on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 07:24:21 PM EST

... a software project named GNU. The three letters mean "GNU is emergency Unix" ...

Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

Actually it's quite funny (none / 0) (#154)
by CaptainZapp on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 10:37:36 AM EST

I never actually noticed that, but the fish has a severe problem when you translate a text, which contains sentences (or words) in the target language

In the original German text it was something like GNU (GNU is not Unix). Now, the german word not translates to emergency in English.

That's also the reason that MIT (the university) got translated to WITH.

I'm also not quite convinced that a "Robber Pistol" (Raeuberpistole) makes a helluva lot of sense in English.

[ Parent ]

sigh (2.40 / 5) (#107)
by the77x42 on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 02:03:31 AM EST

yup, closed source is to open source like the riaa is to napster. like the government is to the mob. like capitalism is to communism. like bush is to nader. like tobacco is to marijuana. like private contract work is to unions. like immigrants are to refugees. like rusty is to tex big balls. like the ny times is to k5.

"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

Like... (none / 0) (#110)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 02:20:26 AM EST

...rmg is to SaintPort. I get your point!

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
not really... (none / 0) (#119)
by the77x42 on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 04:46:18 AM EST

i'm more pointing out the comparison to profit driven, self-serving entities and other who want to distribute everything to the masses regardless of the ramifications.

The contraversial comparison I made would be between the government and the mob... who is the Linux and who is the Microsoft?

"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

[ Parent ]

like Zeus is to Prometheus (none / 1) (#130)
by speek on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 09:19:08 AM EST

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Like Dubya is to the intellect. (nt) (none / 0) (#131)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 10:37:25 AM EST

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Extremely stupid name. (2.85 / 7) (#113)
by Shubin on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 03:09:55 AM EST

Do you know what 'samizdat' actually means ?
It can be translated into something like 'My Own Publishing'. It means if you are printing a book at home, on your own printer, generally because this book is forbidden, or you know it will be forbidden, but you want to see it on paper. It's a word from pre-internet time. Samizdat exists only where there is no freedom, and definitely can not be a way "to present facts to the U.S. government". In fact, to any government. It's like a brand name used where no brand name applies. Always use foreign words with care !

stupid choice indeed, but whose is the samizdat? (none / 0) (#138)
by David Chappell on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 06:00:39 PM EST

I had assumed the book's title was some obscure reference to liturature.  But if one parses it as a Russian word, it appears to mean "self issued".

I transliterated it into the cyrillic alphabet and did a Google search.  It turned up a number of interesting links such as this article on Pravda's website:


It is entitled "Historian of samizdat Vakhtan Kipiani: samizdat played a unique role in the collapse of the Union".  It is an interview.  In it, Mr. Kipiani quotes a definition of samizdat devised by one Vladimir Bukovsky: "I write it myself, I distribute it myself, I serve the prison time for it myself."  Mr. Kipiani asserts that samizdat in the Ukraine was a "forrunner to the independent press."

It appears from this article, that samizdat refers to the products of individuals, some of whom have formed small publishing organizations, who have something to say which traditional channels cannot or will not publish and of which powerful interests stronly disapprove.  It appears that some of these enterprising individuals went on to become respected journalists or literary figures.

I don't see any way Mr. Brown's book can be considered samizdat.  Can he be trying to brand GPL software as "samizdat"?  If so, what is he trying to suggest?

[ Parent ]

alternate reading: (none / 0) (#163)
by ethereal on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 11:18:28 PM EST

I took it as an allusion that the Open Source development philosophy has, at its heart, a tradition of "rebel" writing that doesn't pay heed to the existing rules. So (to Mr. Brown) Linux 0.01 was a samizdat, the Lions book (Lyons? No one seems to agree on the spelling of this guy's name) was a samizdat, etc.

The implication being that Open Source is dangerous and on the fringe, not to be trusted. He's using samizdat as a derogatory term.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

The reason (none / 0) (#184)
by Quila on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 10:59:06 PM EST

When the Lyons book was yanked, people published it and passed it on samizdat style. Since this book with UNIX source code in it was floating around, with people supposedly stealing the code by reading it, it's his way to say Linux was stolen right in the title.

[ Parent ]
The other thing that Brown forgets (2.80 / 5) (#117)
by richarj on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 04:10:57 AM EST

Is that many new operating systems are being written from scratch each year. Normally they start out as crap software, some get lost upon the way but eventually some emerge from the quagmire to become useful products. Some of these OS's are written by companies, some by individuals or groups. If you go often to a website like osnews Then you will see all of these things spring up from time to time.

Just a small smattering of these OS's

  • Skyos First released SkyOS version was v0.1 released on 15th, Decemeber 1997. (Features: 16bit real mode, simple (very, very simple) gui, no user tasks).
    SkyOS is mainly (99.9%) an austrian one man project.

    Today however this product (version 5.0) could destroy the American Software market (Snigger) all for only $30
  • menuet.os MenuetOS is a fully 32 bit assembly written graphical hobby operating system, distributed under GPL license. Menuet supports 32 bit x86 assembly programming as a faster and smaller system footprint. First Release 16. 5.2000 0.01 basic works ok, compatible propably only to my own PC :) This is GPL imagine what more developers could do with this, perhaps they could destroy The American Software Industry.
  • QNX QNX the software I would use to run my nuclear powered neutron accelerator gun on, seriously this is commercial software that it used in places where crashing is NOT ALLOWED like nuclear power stations or medical monitoring equipment. unfortunatley I cannot find QNX's heritage, I do believe it is some sort of UNIX but very heavily modified. Are these guys also a threat to The American Software Industry? Or is it actually part of the American Software Industry. Which leads us to the question when Brown talks about the American Software Industry, who is he talking about?

Frankly if this Brown guy had a clue he should be advocating nuclear war against India

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty
QNX (none / 1) (#128)
by twickham on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 07:49:39 AM EST

QNX(to canadians its apparently pronounced qunics) is a microkernel OS that is currently in version 6.X(neutrino kerenel). It comes from what I heard a basic kernel that was developed by students at the University of Waterloo and grew into the commercial QNX2 kerenl(which was kinda crap... non protected and 64K page flipping nonsense). And then on to the QNX4.XX kernel series. Its also one of the best OSes Ive developed devices driver on ever(and Ive written in NT/9X/DOS, linux, QNX).

[ Parent ]
Translation (none / 3) (#118)
by CaptainZapp on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 04:27:27 AM EST

"Linux is a leprosy; and is having a deleterious effect on the U.S. IT industry because it is steadily depreciating the value of the software industry sector."

If Free Software reaches critical mass then certain software companies can't rip off their customers with an innane 85% margin.

This leaves them less money to pay us for nasty (while not necessarilly truthful) hack jobs.

This is bad, since I have to sell a couple of my SUV's and can't afford the daily lunch at Sans-Souci.


Reenactment of what you're doing (2.78 / 19) (#127)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 06:44:13 AM EST

Whatchya doin',
Tom Sawyer?
 |       Reckon I be feeding
         this ol' troll, Huck.
  O        _n_
 <|>        O . ,    Heeeed myyy wordsss!  
_/|________/L/\__  .  / _______
                 |  ,  |
                 | /V\ |
                 ||  o|| 

Hey. (none / 0) (#129)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 08:33:28 AM EST

I was wondering why you voted -1.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
How open source improves quality of paid software: (none / 3) (#137)
by simul on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 04:31:12 PM EST

Open source provides an opporunity for consumers to choose a system which gives them full responsibility over their own system, as opposed to paid sowftware, which allows them to give up responsiblity to a third party.

Why would anyone take such risks? Only if the reward (savings in dollars) is greater than the risk (no one to reliably turn to if their is a failure, except your own organization).

So how can open source become popular? It's clear that in some markets, the cost of paid software is greater than the cost of having an in-house full-time open source developer. For example, if you own 10,000 servers in a server farm. You can pay microsoft a million dollars in yearly licensing fees for your software. Or you can hire 2 full-time open source developers to maintain and contribute code.

If microsoft bulk-priced their software correctly, this would not occur. Recently, Microsoft has (too late) announced new "web hosting versions" of their server operating system.

Companies, in order to compete with open source software must produce ever higher quality products at lower prices, even if they currently hold an effective monopoly in order to compete with open source. Most notably, open source forces companies in otherwise monopolistic positions to innovate or lose market share.

By breaking up monopolies and providing incentive to innovate rapidly, open-source is doing a great service to the global community.

Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks

youre forgetting one Point (none / 2) (#197)
by dudsen on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 12:09:52 PM EST

Closed source companies don't often take any economical responsability when their products fail.
I the real world working with an propritary vendor and and opensource one, isn't that much difenrent you still have to look at the history of the company/community and evaluate wheater or not you dare to trust them to keep updates comming out when you needs them.
You dont get safety just because it's Closed Source! If the resources are not there they are not there.
The big diferrence between opensource and closed source is how easy it is to handle the situation where the oridginal developers lacks the resources.
Width closed source you are looking at an lawsuit or an total migration to an diferent system.
With OpenSource you can save the product if you wants to.
For lage organisations that is an important issue.
you dont need inhouse developers only when you are choosing OpenSource, you need them when "of the rack" one size fits all soluition is not going to get the job done, there is an huge market for inhouse development based on closed source systems, it's simply an myth that inhouse development are an opensource related issue.

[ Parent ]
How does one go about hiring Mr Brown? (2.57 / 7) (#141)
by Tatarigami on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 08:17:15 PM EST

I think I might need the assistance of an insightful novellist journalist like Mr Brown. I manufacture oranges, through an innovative (and secret) process of giving tennis balls a coat of red paint and injecting them with juice. Recently I was alarmed to realise that a group of people near me are growing oranges and giving them away at no cost. Their oranges are comparable to mine in quality and they seem to have no interest in making money.

Even more worrying: although they're willing to give me all the oranges I want and they'll let me sell them if I put some work into them myself like, I don't know, painting them blue, they say I have to give away the original orange tree seeds for free at the same time.

Now, I work hard on my oranges, and think I deserve to profit from that work even if no-one wants my product.

I think Mr Brown can help me out by writing a book telling people that free non-tennis-ball oranges make you impotent.

Corrections -- invalid and unsound (none / 1) (#146)
by onemorechip on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 02:34:31 AM EST

Let's look at his logic, however.

Assertion: Software is also embedded in hardware, chips, printers and even consumer electronics. Assertion: Embedded software is becoming free (have removed the quotation marks myself because they aren't needed) Conclusion: The value of hardware will spiral downward as well

In syllogistic logic, this is called an invalid and unsound argument. It's invalid because it's contradictory to have the premises all true and the conclusion false (you can't come to his conclusion via his assertions), and it's unsound because it's invalid and has an untrue conclusion.

Hold on a second, I agree it's an invalid argument but that's not because "it's contradictory to have the premises all true and the conclusion false". Such a contradiction would mean the argument is valid. This particular argument is an invalid argument, a non sequitur, precisely because it is possible for software to be embedded in devices, and have that software available for free, without having the prices of those devices "spiral downward" -- something obvious to anyone who realizes that there are many factors other than embedded software that determine the price of a hardware device.

What about the second part of the criticism: "it's unsound because it's invalid and has an untrue conclusion"? Are both of these traits necessary for unsoundness? If so then a valid argument is sound even if it has a false conclusion, and an invalid argument is sound as long as it has a true conclusion. "Soundness" defined in that way doesn't seem like a very high standard. Furthermore if invalidity is required for unsoundness, then it seems sufficient to prove invalidity. If having a false conclusion is required then we can't conclude it is an unsound argument without proving the conclusion false, something that has not been done.

I recall the definition of a sound argument as one with a valid syllogism and no false premises, so an unsound argument would be one that is either based on an invalid syllogism, or has at least one false premise, or both.

The argument given by Brown is an unsound argument consisting of a true premise, a second premise that may be true in certain contexts (the embedded software developed at the company I work for does not come to us for free -- we have highly paid programmers developing it, and I do not foresee this model ever changing -- but there are other devices, such as my Zaurus, that run free embedded software), and a non sequitur in place of a valid syllogism.

I did my essay on mushrooms. It's about cats.

Opposite is true. (none / 0) (#176)
by phriedom on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 02:45:01 PM EST

I think we could prove Brown's assertion wrong without resorting to any syllogistic logic. The fact is that reducing the cost of operating systems INCREASES the value of things that use operating systems.

This is a basic economic law, and can't be argued. One could argue as to where it is appropriate to apply it, but not that it is untrue.

First let me define Compliment. Compliments are things that are usually bought/consumed/used together. Ketchup and fries, gasoline and autos, software and hardware.

IF price is a major factor on demand, AND a Compliment is a significant portion of the overall price of the combined system, THEN reducing the price of the Compliment will increase the demand on the product in question. If free-range beef tenderloin were $.99/lbs., then demand (and value) for chicken and hamburger would go down, but the demand (and value) for steak sauce would go up. There might be an increase in demand for barbeques also, and whatever people usually eat with steak, like potatos maybe.

And to get specific, if the cost of the operating system goes down, the demand for applications and hardware goes up. This is why IBM is investing so heavily in Linux, because it makes selling their servers easier if the buyer doesn't have to pay a Microsoft Tax.

Linux doesn't destroy the value of IP, it destroys the value of COMPETING IP. It raises the value of complimentary IP.
I don't ask for much, I just want a lot of it.
[ Parent ]
The word you wanted was "complement" (none / 2) (#193)
by curien on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 12:58:10 PM EST

A complement is something that goes along with another (eg, complementary angles). A compliment is when you say something nice about someone.

All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
[ Parent ]
You have much to learn, grass-a-hoppa[n/t] (none / 0) (#151)
by epepke on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 06:06:32 AM EST

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

This is what I get for going away for a few days? (none / 0) (#155)
by codejack on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 01:14:48 PM EST

I can't believe this got voted up! Not because of the content (it's pretty good, if somewhat narrow-minded), but because you shouldn't even be dignifying this guy with a response.

Having said that, I have some compliments and some complaints:
  1. Kudos for standing up to what we all (well, everyone who matters) agree is a jumped-up hatchet man's attempt to spin history, although you might want to go back and start with the authors of elementary school history books and work your way up.
  2. You make some excellent points about the comprehension level (negative, apparently) Mr. Brown has of IP & Patent law, computers in general, formal logic, and critical thinking.
  3. You are missing the point, which is that a company implementing software which later turns out to be illegal (i.e. if Linus Torvalds had ripped off System V code, just to pick an example at random), they can be held liable, retroactively, for any license fees due, which can, in turn, be manipulated by the company holding rights to the code, not naming any names (cough, SCO, cough). That's OK, though, because apparently Mr. Brown missed his point, too.
  4. This is my fault, really, for not being around while this was in editing, but the whole thing really ought to be MLP.

And that's our show! Tune in next time when I will demonstrate emergency epidectomy surgery using nothing but a shovel, a small bucket of Scotch, and trhurler. Good night, and may all the demons of Torluch chase you through the nether-hells for all eternity!

Please read before posting.

It's not even that good, IMO. (none / 2) (#169)
by Trepalium on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 02:43:46 AM EST

Andy Tanenbaum summed it up better himself, and in far fewer words. In fact, his closing statements cuts right to the heart of the matter. "I'll bet he [Ken Brown] dismisses the widely reported claim that Mozart wrote three symphonies and performed for the King of England when he was nine on the grounds that 9-year-olds don't normally do this sort of thing."

Frankly, I'd take Mr. Tanenbaum's word over Ken Brown's word any day. Andy Tanenbaum is a respected author in his field. Ken Brown is a lobbyist for hire -- basically a mercenary.

[ Parent ]

I was just being polite (none / 0) (#174)
by codejack on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 11:18:53 AM EST

Ken Brown gives a bad name to mercenary lobbyists.

Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
its important that linux be restricted (none / 3) (#156)
by phred on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 02:26:49 PM EST

There are many reasons why linux users need to be licensed and the source closed, but the most important is copyright and forgery. Right now the governments of the world can insist that software not be able to do everything, the current edge of this issue is currency forgery. With commercial software, sales of photo editting software can be mandated to include modules to prevent currency forgery. A good example of a problem here is open source printer drivers coupled with "the gimp," this is a combination that should probably be outlawed.

Most likely the next step will be programmer licensing and the gcc / gpp source tree and its copyright be commandeered by the US copyright office and the appropriate EU and WTO offices who deal with intellectual property, and an official list of approved compiler / development software be produced. Sure it'll push rogue programmers to the underground sites, but as NAT is introduced into ISP's, you'll see precious little opportunity for anonymous P2P systems and the world leadership can regain control over the anarchy that is the current domain of digital networking. Comments welcome!

Okay, sure. (none / 2) (#168)
by Trepalium on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 02:29:31 AM EST

Any and all portable storage devices had better go, too. We all know they're ONLY used to transport illicit copies of copyrighted works. And next we'll need to outlaw typewriters and printers because they can be used to reproduce copyrighted materials. Each person will be alloted 1 (one) red Crayola crayon per year. It is only to be used with government approved red glossy paper. Anyone caught writing with any other instrument or on any other type of paper will be executed. HAND.

[ Parent ]
hehe (none / 1) (#173)
by phred on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 08:49:36 AM EST

imroy, who rated me a zero, must have really believed me

I did a bigger post earlier, here, I was pretty proud of that one because of the formatting. I even took it to a new account on slash where I promptly began my slide to a -1 default. (as an aside, I behaved for a bit and am back to positive karma. I was genuinely impressed that moderators there give a rats ass about -1 folks.)

Whats interesting is that although of course its a bullshit post today, I'm wondering if this will hold true through the next decade or two. Clearly unrestricted digital access isn't popular with everybody.

[ Parent ]

Mandatory lobotomy (none / 1) (#181)
by cpghost on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 11:15:28 AM EST

A storage device that definitely requires administrative control is the brain. With its incredibly large capacity, it is able to store illegal copies of songs, movies, books, ... which are all protected by WIPO laws. The only way to enforce the 1-luser:1-copy ratio, is to EITHER force every individual to destroy all their CDs, burn all their books... OR they can undergo surgical lobotomy to have the memory removed.

This reminds me of a scene in Farenheit 451 where people memoized books that were banned by govt. When will we be forced to be living books?

cpghost at Cordula's Web
[ Parent ]
I'm confused... (none / 2) (#157)
by creativedissonance on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 03:04:13 PM EST

...did anyone actually read this entire article?

If so, I'm impressed!

flip flops

ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
I don't know about anybody else, but... (none / 0) (#189)
by Daniel Baumgarten on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 04:59:01 AM EST

I did!
Daniel Baumgarten
Editor, One Trick Pony humor magazine
[ Parent ]
Hearening to hear :-) (nt) (none / 0) (#190)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:13:51 AM EST

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Heck, even heartening! (nt) (none / 0) (#191)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:14:12 AM EST

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
"Hybrid" source (none / 2) (#158)
by molo on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 05:00:39 PM EST

I think you are missing something.. Brown is saying that non-MIT/BSD licensed opensource code is the problem ("Hybrid source").  This means GPL code.  It "destroys IP".  They consider it "proprietary" because businesses can't use it and keep it closed.  That is what they are saying when the call it a hybrid of proprietary code and open code.

This is obviously a big push to make the GPL out-of-favor and push the business-friendly BSD/MIT licences.

Not that I blame businesses for liking BSD and MIT code (the company I work at uses it extensively) -- it provdes more freedoms than GPL code .. but the attack here is to remove people's freedom to create GPL-licensed code.

They advocate that the US Government produce BSD or MIT licensed code.  That would be fine with me, since everyone could use it for any purpose.  I think they object to projects like SELinux, which is NSA developed and a derived work of Linux, hence GPL licensed.  They want to be able to reap those benefits -- and I don't blame them.  But to marginalize the GPL and take away authors' rights is not an appropriate approach.

Its plainly obvious that this is the SCO/MS party line.  This is also why I will license end-user works as GPLed and libraries and general purpose code as BSD.


Whenever you walk by a computer and see someone using pico, be kind. Pause for a second and remind yourself that: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." -- Harley Hahn

Government developed code (none / 2) (#167)
by Trepalium on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 02:23:16 AM EST

Frankly, code developed by any government agency is not supposed to be put under any license. It's supposed to be public domain. The funniest thing about this is that the government has bypassed this requirement for a long time by contracting out such work to outside companies who don't have such a restriction on them.

[ Parent ]
Can you find a source for that? (none / 0) (#194)
by curien on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:01:35 PM EST

I'm a government employee who develops software for in-house use. We don't release our code publicly (which would be implicit if it were public domain).

All God's critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
[ Parent ]
Federal government can copyright its own work (none / 1) (#198)
by FlipFlop on Sun Jun 13, 2004 at 02:38:44 PM EST

The law regarding the U.S. Federal government is:

Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise

In Minnesota, the law says:

A state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision may enforce a copyright or acquire a patent for a computer software program or components of a program created by that government agency without statutory authority.

Whatever that means. The law also says:

The revisor of statutes shall:

copyright any compilations and or supplements in the name of the state of Minnesota.

You will have to check the law yourself for your own state.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

No, he is right (none / 1) (#159)
by GenerationY on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 08:03:44 PM EST

Linux is a leprosy; and is having a deleterious effect on the U.S. IT industry because it is steadily depreciating the value of the software industry sector.

We'll all know when Linux is ready for "prime-time" because we will be getting urgent letters from our pension fund administrators.

Who the fuck is Ken Brown? (nt) (none / 1) (#160)
by Danzig on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 08:44:07 PM EST

You are not a fucking Fight Club quotation.
rmg for editor!
If you disagree, moderate, don't post.
Kill whitey.
WTF? (1.14 / 7) (#161)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 11:00:07 PM EST

How did this make FP?  Are you all on crack?  This reads like a line-by-line rebuttal to an Adequacy article!  And the topic is SOOO Slashdot.


I love it when people ask this question. (2.60 / 5) (#164)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Tue Jun 08, 2004 at 11:34:35 PM EST

Well, you see, people write up a story and submit it to the editing queue where they ask for feedback on spelling/gramatical mistakes, misconceptions that need fixing or wrong assertions. Then they put the story into the voting queue. Users then read the story and if they like the story then they give it a vote of +1 - move to section, or if they really like the story then they give it a vote of +1FP - move to front page. If they don't like they give it a vote of -1 - dump it.

If the total of all the votes added together equals -20 then the story gets dumped from the queue, and if it reaches +95 then the story either gets to section post (or to the front page if enough people really liked it).

So, this is how my story got to the front page. HTH.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

35,238 (1.00 / 6) (#166)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 02:19:41 AM EST

That's exactly how much lower my k5 UID is than yours.  Thanks for your explanation.

[ Parent ]

Yeah? (none / 0) (#170)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 03:06:11 AM EST

At the risk of getting canned, I'm a dupe account. Incidently, you miss the point.


AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]

*yawn* (none / 0) (#185)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 01:16:11 AM EST

At the risk of getting canned, I'm a dupe account.

So am I.

Incidently, you miss the point.

I feel no inclination to address your point if you don't address mine.

[ Parent ]

Sorry? (none / 1) (#187)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:30:59 AM EST

You had a point?

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
His "point" (none / 0) (#192)
by kjb on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 12:39:22 PM EST

is at the top of his head.

Now watch this drive.
[ Parent ]

8,986 (none / 2) (#178)
by pwhysall on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 04:28:36 PM EST

That's exactly how much lower my UID is than yours.  Thanks for your explanation.
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
[ Parent ]
Anyone can write their own OS... (none / 2) (#172)
by gordonjcp on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 04:18:55 AM EST

I nearly did. Many, many years ago, when winters were longer and summers were hotter, and the rivers ran clearer and computers were generally a lot simpler, I wrote a simple task scheduler for the Z80 cpu. It ran on a ZX Spectrum (and, by a long and weird chain of events, found its way into an important automotive product). Then I wrote some hooks to the Microdrive ROM - wow, I had mass storage. Then I wrote a screen driver to get 40 chars per line (42 and a bit of smash actually - 256/6). I stuck with the ROM-based keyboard routines, but toyed with fitting 16K (yes kilobytes) of CMOS memory, and a small boot rom that could be switched out, in place of the BASIC rom. I didn't get that far though. I did build a parallel printer port, and wrote a driver for that, which could either print text or bitmap graphics, including screendumps (albeit slowly).

So - we have task scheduling, a couple of drivers, and a "shim" to give a cohesive API to the ROM routines. Tell me that's not an Operating System. A fairly crude, simple-minded one, but nevertheless one that took only a couple of weeks of evenings and weekends to write, in Z80 assembler, when I was about 15 or so.

If anyone wants to patent the process of hand-hacking a shitty OS together really quickly in spare time under intense chemical propulsion, my teenage past self claims prior art.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

Probably the biggest misconception about GPL (none / 2) (#179)
by Armada on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 02:09:18 AM EST

is the one that get's pushed the most.

"Free" as in "speech", not "beer".

"free speech" if you're comparing it to the first amendment, is not something that can be censored. In effect, GPL is "speech" that can be censored by denying someone selling rights of a bumper sticker saying, "Shit happens".

So in effect, GPL is a negative copyright, preventing any entrepreneurs, including yourself, from profiting on your own work.

This is why I will never release any of my security auditing tools in GPL (anymore), only BSD. Sorry, but I want to be able to reuse my code when I get hired at a place that is willing to pay me large sums of money to do so.

I would venture to guess that there are way more violations of the GPL out there than one would think, and nearly 90% of them are being done by the person who originally licensed their work as GPL.

I know I'm guilty of it. I won't make that mistake again though. Nor will I ever get caught for violating it, because as much as GPL supporters vehemently defend it as better than a BSD license, not a single one of them, including Stallman himself, is going to villify themselves by demanding the creator abide by the GPL for reusable code.

IMHO, the GPL issue will end up being tested someday, and exactly for this reason.

A misconcepted misconception! (none / 1) (#180)
by hairyian on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 07:45:53 AM EST

Talk about a misconcepted misconception!

If you write some code (you are the copyright holder) and release it under license X, you can still release it under license Y.

If you release code under the GPL, there's nothing stopping you from using /your own code/ in any way you like since you're still the copyright holder. So, if you want to 'donate' or even 'sell' your code to your employer you can do - it's up to you to determine the terms of use.

The only complication is that if someone takes your GPLd code and makes a derivative work of it, they own the copyright to the code that they wrote. Now, the only terms they have to provide you for using /their/ code is under the GPL, unless you ask them nicely.

Releasing something under the GPL doesn't nullify your ownership of the code.

[ Parent ]

Incorrect. (none / 0) (#186)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:30:23 AM EST

If someone takes your GPLed code, you still have the right to reincorporate that code back into your codebase.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Not quite incorrect (none / 0) (#188)
by epepke on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 03:49:08 AM EST

You can incorporate someone else's code, released under the GPL, into a GPL project. However, you can't take such code and sell it under a proprietary licence. You can do that, however, with code that you develop and release under the GPL. It's called dual licensing. Version 1 was more explicit about this, but the right still exists under version 2.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
So then... (none / 0) (#195)
by Armada on Fri Jun 11, 2004 at 10:02:27 PM EST

Suppose I wrote a portion of the linux core code in 1997 and wanted to "sell" it to SCO. Can I?

[ Parent ]
Yep. (none / 1) (#196)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sat Jun 12, 2004 at 12:49:10 AM EST

However, those people you have sold the code to under the GPL still have the right to use it under that license. Neither you, nor SCO, can take away that right.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
No-one is stoping you from reusing your code (none / 1) (#183)
by iserlohn on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 08:40:16 PM EST

If you wrote the code, you can release it under multiple licenses. No-one is stoping you from reusing your code in closed projects. However, the code that is released under the GPL allows other people to use and modify it freely, as long as they abide by the GPL and relase their contributions under the same license.

If you are accepting other people's contribution to your program (which is GPLed), and those people are not willing to assign copyright to you, then no, you don't have the right to use their work in a closed project. And they have their right to do so, because how they license their code is their business. But, you aren't losing any of your own work under the GPL, since the code is written by you. You just don't get to close the code that other people that contributed to your project.

:: Ultimate Control Dedicated/VM Servers 20+ OS selections
[ Parent ]

OSS vs Commercial Model (none / 2) (#199)
by iserlohn on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 07:48:24 AM EST

The biggest difference betwen the OOS model and the commercial model is how they maintain value.

OSS - Value is created through the act of programming. Maintained by building a community of users and developers, which may contribute or fund further development.

CM - Value is created through the act of programming and maintained by an artifical and limited monopoly.

:: Ultimate Control Dedicated/VM Servers 20+ OS selections

Proprietary Software = USA Economy? (none / 2) (#200)
by Golden Hawk on Wed Jun 16, 2004 at 04:53:49 AM EST

This one seems pretty logical to me.  The US is slowly morphing into a nation of money changers, who profit from phantom services rather than genuine work.

If they don't want the gravy train of free money to stop, they really should be fighting Linux and the GPL.

I think Ken Brown's major misconception is that he thinks the USA actually /deserves/ this wealth.

Or perhaps his major misconception is that he believes the USA's support or opposition to the GPL/Linux will actually make a difference on the world stage.  Unlikely.
-- Daniel Benoy

still it's bad news... (none / 0) (#201)
by wakim1618 on Mon Jul 12, 2004 at 04:07:55 PM EST

I guess that many of the policy wonks who advise politicians who make the actual laws will now cite Brown (regardless of how wrong he is) as an authority on the subject. And many of these guys don't care to inform themselves any more than Brown did - just enough to have arguments for their pet ideas.

If I wanted dumb people to love me, I'd start a cult.

Critique of Ken Brown's response | 202 comments (142 topical, 60 editorial, 0 hidden)
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