Thursday, May 20, 2004

The World Is Flat

The buzz this week in the Linux community is about a 92 page study by Ken Brown, president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, that claims Linus Torvalds didn't write Linux. He goes further in claiming that no single individual could ever write an operating system alone. Makes me wonder what hundreds (thousands?) of CIS grad students really did for their class projects.

This has to rank up there with claims that the Holocaust never happened, the moon landings were faked, Kennedy was assassinated by Castro, and that the world is flat. The fact that the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution has, at least in the past, been funded by Microsoft is at the very least highly suggestive. I also think it's interesting that they they call themselves an "Institution." Some folks would suggest that an Institution is the right place for Brown.

Andrew Tanenbaum, who was at Bell Labs while much of the original Unix work was being done, is now a Professor of Computer Science at Vrije Universiteit in Holland. He has written a brilliant, informative, and scathing article about being interviewed by Mr. Brown for this report, and about the history of Unix, Linux, Minux, BSD in general. Highly recommended for anyone interested in this history. Although backing Torvalds' claims of doing independant development, he does take a few shots at Torvalds of his own.

Groklaw also has two excellent dissections of Brown's claims here and here. Network World also has an excellent short history of Linux.


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