Welcome!

Linux Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Trevor Parsons

Related Topics: Linux, Open Source

Linux: Article

Breaking News: Linus Torvalds Isn't the "Father of Linux," Claims Headline-Seeking Study

Institute challenges "parentage" of Linux

  • Read yesterday's immediate response by Linus Torvalds to this AdTI report - LinuxWorld Exclusive: Linus Discloses *Real* Fathers of Linux

    There are lies, damn lies...and then there are press releases.

    In the last-named category falls the following absurdity blasted out to the world on Friday by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI), founded in 1988 and devoted, according to its Web site, to keeping up the tradition of de Tocqueville's "omnicurious style of journalism."

    In keeping with LinuxWorld tradition we will allow our readers to make up their own minds, by bringing the news release here in full:

    Torvalds claim to "invent" Linux® probably false, says new study

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    May 14, 2004

    Washington, DC -- Popular but controversial "open source" computer software, generally contributed on a volunteer basis, is often taken or adapted from material owned by other companies and individuals, a study by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution finds.

    In one of the few extensive and critical studies on the source of open source code, Kenneth Brown, president of AdTI, traces the free software movement over three decades -- from its romantic but questionable beginnings, through its evolution to a commercial effort that draws on unpaid contributions from thousands of programmers.

    Among other points, the study directly challenges Linus Torvalds' claim to be the inventor of Linux.

    Brown's account is based on extensive interviews with more than two dozen leading technologists in the United States, Europe, and Australia, including Richard Stallman, Dennis Ritchie, and Andrew Tanenbaum.

    "The report," according to Gregory Fossedal, a Tocqueville senior fellow, "raises important questions that all developers and users of open source code must face.

    "One cannot group all open source programmers together. Many are rigorous and respectful of intellectual property. Others, though, speak of intellectual property rights -- at least when it comes to the property of others -- with open contempt."

    Brown suggests the invention of Unix is an integral part of the Linux story. "People's exceptional interest in the Unix operating system," he writes, "made Unix one of the most licensed, imitated, and stolen products in the history of computer science.

    "Over the years, many have envied the startling and pervasive success of Unix. For almost thirty years, programmers have tried to build a Unix-like system and couldn't. To this day, we have a serious attribution problem in software development because some programmers may have chosen to unscrupulously borrow or imitate Unix."

    Brown's study is part a book he is writing on open source software and operating systems. A series of excerpts from the book will be published at www.adti.net beginning on May 20.

    Naturally we shall bring you both Torvalds' own response a.s.a.p., along with the promised excerpt on Thursday.
  • More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

    Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

    Comments (22) View Comments

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    Most Recent Comments
    Paulus 10/31/04 04:30:56 PM EST

    It's quite old news, and Groklaw already covered it the last time: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20040517002423242&query=+Alexis...

    Here's the answer from some of the ppl Ken Brown claims to have spoken to:
    Tanenbaum: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20040522014416143&query=+Alexis...
    Stallman: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20040529153027629&query=+Alexis...
    Swartz and Perens: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20040611141310910&query=+Alexis...

    Justin 06/28/04 07:32:18 PM EDT

    Ken Brown is a liar because people.. ehm. M$ paying him money to do whoring business..

    Facon^Crest 05/28/04 11:40:44 PM EDT

    who give a damn if an individual uses a free software or a proprietary software, its a matter of choice. Linux didn't forced you to use and adapt it, it didn't force you to donate. Its there, its fashion and its free. So why make the trouble of making contradictive statements? Its already given out for free, its up to you to use it or not, but dont any judgementary opinions coz you dont understand it! CAN YAH DIG IT?!? SUCKA!!!!

    pay for software 05/25/04 08:41:39 AM EDT

    Linus can kiss my @ss for helping destroy an industry.

    ZerosAndOnes 05/19/04 12:45:52 AM EDT

    ADTI mission is in opposition to the article posted on Linus.
    Check out its mission statement
    http://www.adti.net/mission.html

    ps: Does anyone have rights over the binary number system

    WhoMe? 05/18/04 04:45:48 PM EDT

    I can't wait for AdTI's next press release discussing how Windows was merely an imitation of the Xerox Star. Yes, any time now, wait for it ...

    WhoBacksAdTItoWriteThisStuff 05/18/04 08:53:03 AM EDT

    If all this hokey stuff really is Microsoft working through paid shills, it is
    certainly would be a revealing admission they consider themselves pretty
    incapable of competing on merit. It shows a marked preference for subterfuge
    which appears to have earned a similar assessment of competency.

    anonymOus 05/18/04 08:49:21 AM EDT

    Hmm, I know this idea is not very popular but...

    No, Linus did not 'father' Linux when it comes to ideas initially, he does when
    it coems to code and to implementing those ideas.

    Going from there to claiming he stole them is way too far tho, at that time
    those ideas were well known and tought in schools and universities and had been
    for a while really. They were also widely documented in many books, including
    books from the peopel that this institute claims to have interviewed.

    I think it is important however to se that distinction. This argument is going
    to be repeated, and possibly by someone who does a better job at it

    I for one would be interested to hear what Linus himself has to say about it. I
    never caught him on being untrustworthy or lying, I do think I caught him a few
    times on not caring too much about such claims, and somehow my feeling says that
    he'd answer along the lines of 'I fathered the initial code, and we did the
    rest' and lay no claims to the ideas.

    sarose 05/18/04 02:06:30 AM EDT

    Kenneth who named linux.. who has contributed enormous time to build the first complete kernel compile from GNU tools. who annouced the first kernel? and for that who should be credited as a father linux?

    sarose 05/18/04 02:06:08 AM EDT

    Kenneth who named linux.. who has contributed enormous time to build the first complete kernel compile from GNU tools. who annouced the first kernel? and for that who should be credited as a father linux?

    Tyler Jensen 05/17/04 10:56:39 AM EDT

    Linus did imitate Unix as the press release charges, but the idea that imitation is "unscrupulous" is absurd. Word imitated Word Perfect. Excel imitated Lotus 1-2-3. Etcetera. I'm usually the first to question some of the more outrageous claims from the Linux community, so I feel compelled to blast such a transparent attempt to sully Mr. Torvald's name. Not even SCO has made such a claim. If Kenneth Brown wishes to make such claims, he definitely should be showing the evidence at the same time. To shamelessly make the claim only to sell more copies of his books or reports is unethical and immoral. At least SCO chose a forum sanctioned by the law in which to make it's claims. Unless Mr. Brown can back up his claims with evidence, he may very well find himself on the wrong side of the law.

    Sue Kenneth 05/17/04 09:07:55 AM EDT

    Who has heard of the Linux Mark Institute - couldn't it sue these AdTI idiots?

    Here's the LMI's mission:

    The Linux Mark Institute ("LMI") is an organization established on behalf of the Linux® operating system community for the specific purpose of providing a simple means of licensing or sublicensing the use of the Linux registered trademark for use in connection with software and computer products, and other miscellaneous products related to the promotion of Linux. LMI is not designed to generate profits for anyone which is why Torvalds has given LMI primary sub-license rights for the mark. Its purpose is to protect legitimate uses of the LINUX trademark without burdening Linus Torvalds or any one entity with the financial responsibility of protecting the LINUX community's use of the mark.

    SIR Linus 05/17/04 09:05:28 AM EDT

    Linus maybe needed an SIR - i.e., a non-profit that will work with Open Source developers to file Statutory Invention Registrations than can be used to prevent some of the patently silly behavior that's been going on recently.

    I understand the process is cheaper than doing a full blown patent so it may not be as unreachable as it seems.

    See: Types of Patents

    B.S. 05/17/04 09:00:57 AM EDT

    Alexis de Tocqueville was a jackass and the institute that bears his name doesn't seem much better.

    saden1 05/17/04 08:59:01 AM EDT

    The Alexis de Tocqueville Institute is just a laughingstock of an institute that wants to be taken seriously.

    True That (NOT) 05/17/04 08:56:36 AM EDT

    The AdTI?!! This was the group that told us first that closed source was more secure than open source, and then "Open source software, also described as free software, is the neutron bomb of IP" - eugh!

    13Echo 05/17/04 08:53:51 AM EDT

    I think many people fail to understand the value in free software in relation to the work that is involved in distributing it.

    Patrick Volkerding doesn't require that you buy Slackware to use it. Nevetheless, I send him a $40 "donation" every year or two because I value his work in putting it together, and I hope that it coaxes him to continue the effort into the future. He mentions that his work on Slackware has always been a profitable endeavor since day one, even if it is on a small scale compared to other software products out there.

    There are reasons for paying for something that's free. It's called "My ass is too lazy to download, compile, and configure an entire OS and its programs". Some people can't understand this concept because they've never understood anything other than traditional business models.

    spitzak 05/17/04 08:51:21 AM EDT

    People say free software isn't capitalism, but free software IS capitalism. Everybody writing it is writing for entirely selfish purposes. Not every reward is money. I would estimate 99% of free software is written to boost the writer's ego and to gain admiration, and perhaps even to advertise their talents and get paid. Maybe 1% is written by somebody literally thinking they are improving the world.

    The GPL is explicitly designed so that a persons creative efforts continue to belong to them, while still allowing maximum exposure and distribution and advertising.

    If free software was not capitalism, it would be public domain.

    Penance 05/17/04 08:47:47 AM EDT

    Perhaps then the de Tocqueville Institute will produce a report on how illegally maintained monopolies can hurt the computer industry?

    For the Record 05/17/04 08:29:09 AM EDT

    A famous Wired article called "Did MS Pay for Open-Source Scare?" 'outed' the AdTI a year ago. Here's the key passage:

    A Microsoft spokesman confirmed that Microsoft provides funding to the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution.

    "We support a diverse array of public policy organizations with which we share a common interest or public policy agenda such as the de Tocqueville Institution," the spokesman wrote in an e-mail.

    Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment on whether the company directly sponsored the debate paper. De Tocqueville Institute president Ken Brown and chairman Gregory Fossedal refused to comment on whether Microsoft sponsored the report.

    "It is not our policy to comment on supporters; I'm sure you can understand. From this you should not infer that information you have is correct or not correct; we just don't comment," Fossedal wrote in an e-mail.

    "These folks really need to be more straight-forward about this," security researcher Richard Smith said. "Not commenting makes it appear as if they have something to hide."

    Trailer435 05/17/04 08:25:51 AM EDT

    as Clinton would say, "it all depends on what the meaning of 'invent' is"

    MakeUpYourMind 05/17/04 08:24:23 AM EDT

    Interesting how the AdTI disses Linus yet in its release carefully respects the Linux trademark owned by...Linus Torvalds.

    @ThingsExpo Stories
    The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
    The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...

    ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

    Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
    An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
    Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
    Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
    The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
    "BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
    "There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
    Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
    The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
    The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
    Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
    IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
    Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world. The next @ThingsExpo will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, California. Since its launch in 2008, Cloud Expo TV commercials have been aired and CNBC, Fox News Network, and Bloomberg TV. Please enjoy our 2014 commercial.