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Linux Containers: Article Exclusive: Linus Discloses *Real* Fathers of Linux Exclusive: Linus Discloses *Real* Fathers of Linux

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  • Linus Torvalds Isn't the "Father of Linux"

    "Ok, I admit it. I was just a front-man for the real fathers of Linux, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus."

    Thus begins a characteristically Torvaldsian e-mail to LinuxWorld News Desk sent by Linus Torvalds in response to our invitation to comment on the sensationalist claims this morning that he isn't, after all, the inventor of Linux.

    "They (for obvious reasons) couldn't step forward to admit that they had gotten bitten by the computer bug, and had been developing a series of operating systems on their own during the off season. But when they started with Linux (which they originally called Freax - they do feel like outsiders, you know, and that's a whole sad story in itself), they felt that they could no longer just let it languish in obscurity. They started to look for a front-man, and since Santa Claus is from Finland and thus has connections to Helsinki University, and the tooth fairy claimed 'He's got good strong teeth,' I got selected."

    "Since then," Torvalds continues, "I've lived a life of subterfuge, always afraid that somebody would find out the truth. I'm actually relieved that it's over, and that the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute has finally uncovered the lie. I can now go back to my chosen profession, the exploration of the fascinating mating dance of the common newt."

    In a PS he adds:

    "Btw, did you know that newts have more offspring if you play the harmonica to them during their mating rituals? It's true."

    And in a PPS:

    Btw, I do believe that somebody took over

    I don't think the Alexis de Tocqueville institute ever had humor (they certainly used to take themselves very seriously), but their site today is filled with jokes.

    Maybe they forgot to pay their DNS registration fee, and some enterprising person decided to play a joke on them? Or maybe their clocks are running a month-and-a-half late?

    Or is it really unintentional?


  • 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.

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    Most Recent Comments
    Dale Wilcox 05/18/04 08:24:12 AM EDT

    I find it amazing how the uninformed can relate history to the informed and believe it to be the truth

    Mike Porter 05/18/04 08:16:58 AM EDT

    My sister had a Moose once....

    Mike 05/18/04 07:57:56 AM EDT

    Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretty nasti...

    Sarath 05/18/04 07:56:35 AM EDT

    Linus, You just gave them what you deserved!
    Best Wishes.

    Santas helper 05/18/04 07:49:36 AM EDT

    Who says Santa is not from Finland? Have You met him? Are You reliable?

    Newton 05/18/04 07:43:29 AM EDT


    Santa 05/18/04 07:39:46 AM EDT

    Linus claims that Santa Claus is from Finland, that is not true! So Linus is probably not telling the truth about his claimed invention of Linux either.

    Tzutzu 05/18/04 05:49:29 AM EDT

    For such a childish accusation a story with Santa and Fairies is the perfect answer. They cannot understand nothing at higher level anyway.

    I just wonder if the stork would have been more appropriate.

    Well done Linus! It shows that you have kids and know how to talk to one!

    gambler 05/18/04 05:33:02 AM EDT

    > Oh.. let's just agree that santa claus is Skandinavian, ok boys?

    No, Santa was born in Finland and is still living there happily, don't you even dare to question that fact.

    Hellstorm 05/18/04 05:20:47 AM EDT

    So the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus have stolen source code from SCO? If this is true, how trustworthy is Santa Clause. He says he only give x-mas presents to fair children. But he is unfair. How can this be? And the Tooth Fairy! Actually he did not exchange the teeth, she just stole all of it! In this case I can no more believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. I demand that we search for other people who do this two jobs. Maybe the easter rabbit can do it? I mean he also has to work only once a year. Its no problem for him to do the christman job. If Linux is a lie, at least Christmas shouldn't be one.
    I will make a petition for the matter. Who wants to support me? Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy must be stopped!

    Christopher Korn 05/18/04 05:08:41 AM EDT

    REALLY good linus ;)

    i hope you're right and the page has been hacked. or they are getting payed a lot to write this. but this is not the place to discuss conspiracies.

    best wishes. chris

    Kenneth 05/18/04 04:26:41 AM EDT

    Hi, this is Kenneth. I am a greedy man and M$ has offered a good price. Had no choise.

    Sorry to disappoint you fokes.

    Pseudonym 05/18/04 04:00:03 AM EDT

    Exactly. The original "study" is correct in that Linus didn't invent very much at all, but they fail to acknowledge that this is completely beside the point. Linus constructed the Linux kernel from scratch. Like all people who progress humanity, he only did so by standing on the shoulders of giants.

    For what it's worth, Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile, either, but even decades later, we'd hardly accuse him of theft. Moreover, he built cars that existing drivers would already know how to drive by making them look like the cars that were there beforehand.

    The situation is similar to what Darrel Huff in How to Lie with Statistics refers to as "the semi-attached figure". If you can't prove something, prove something else and pretend they're the same. So, for example, you say your toilet cleaner "kills germs faster" and strongly imply, though never right-out say, that this has something to do with your family's health even though it probably doesn't.

    Worst of all, this kind of thinking completely ignores how human progress happens. It's the myth of the genius all over again. Progress happens on the fringes of what we already have. When you get down to it, every work is a derivative work (except in the legal sense of the term). Einstein couldn't have come up with the idea of relativity without centuries of work by smart physicists and mathematicians before him.

    Hell, Unix is just a castrated version of Multics, right?

    Troels Arvin 05/18/04 03:59:41 AM EDT

    This discussion is ridiculous. Santa Claus lives in Greenland, of course.

    JoeBuck 05/18/04 03:58:11 AM EDT

    The de Tocqueville people say they are going to quote people like Dennis Ritchie and Richard Stallman. What those Ritchie and Stallman almost certainly told them is that Linux is a faithful re-implementation of Unix and thus not highly original or ground-breaking; also that Linus is often given credit for functionality that is not in the kernel (you know, the whole GNU/Linux flamewar). And all that's true. The problem is that the de Tocqueville people don't get that this is perfectly legitimate; the Posix standard that specifies the behavior of Unix-like systems is a public standard, the code is all original and there were no patents in the way.

    Rosco P. Coltrane 05/18/04 03:57:02 AM EDT

    Good! At last some proper justice meted out of this Linus wannabe programmer poser guy. The de Tocqueville Institute is right to expose such frauds, being funded my Microsoft who, as we all know, is the true father of MS-DOS...

    rogerd (402) 05/18/04 03:54:00 AM EDT

    Linus would have a pretty good libel case.

    justsomebody 05/18/04 03:52:57 AM EDT

    Damn, Linus has become newt lover and Santa Open Source hero, tooth fairy still has a slight problem with a role of father.

    And AdTI?? Well, we have to be thankfull, without them (and M$) this wonderful joke wouldn't get out.

    So... Thanks AdTI and thanks to our dear sponsor M$, hope they will start to be more aggressive in comedian bussines. It suits them more than computer bussiness

    I just wonder how expensive this joke was for M$, more or less than LOTR?

    cavebear42 05/18/04 03:51:11 AM EDT

    all hail Linus. It's a good job that he has a sense of humour.

    Fred 05/18/04 03:34:04 AM EDT

    Is there anyone who have noticed that AdTI´s site is down??
    Hehe ;)

    Hans-Christian Andersen 05/18/04 03:33:41 AM EDT

    >> Linus commented on 17 May 2004:
    >> How did you know?!?

    Oh, well, you know. We scandinavian geeks know these things. Our geek underground secret agency here in Copenhagen has been keeping an eye on you since you were born... *scene cuts out and X-Files tune begin playing*


    math 05/18/04 02:33:19 AM EDT

    Hehe, adti site is down... wonder why?!

    math 05/18/04 02:27:35 AM EDT

    Oh.. let's just agree that santa claus is Skandinavian, ok boys?

    halouver 05/18/04 01:13:04 AM EDT

    I Knew It!!!! I knew that Santa Claus an the Tooth Fairy were real!!! YES YES YES!!! I knew it!!!

    Doug Dinsdale 05/17/04 11:27:08 PM EDT

    It's pretty cool to find out that some of these supposedly make-believe creatures have been sighted, and doing real work at that. Now, has anyone seen those MIT rocket scientists?

    Linus 05/17/04 11:06:16 PM EDT

    "No wait, Linus. We should tell them the real truth. Might as well now that all this is happening.

    It was Bill Gates...


    There, I said it... now we all know the truth."

    How did you know?!?

    ItsASecret 05/17/04 11:04:56 PM EDT

    Linus & The Iraqi Information Minister now share the same lack of credibility...So I suppose that Linus' testimony in the upcoming SCO, IBM, Novell, Auto Zone. Daimler-Chrysler suits will be viewed as statements made by a TOTAL IMPOSTER !!! Why bother to even show up? ...and we were counting on your "expert" testimony!

    DJ 05/17/04 10:53:35 PM EDT

    I don't buy it. We all know that Al Gore created Linux.
    Well, at least Al knows...

    RH 05/17/04 09:27:46 PM EDT

    >>>> Santa Claus was definitely Swedish
    >>Santa Claus live in the North Pole, North Pole is in Canada!

    Santa Claus is Canadian? Well, then, it's no wonder he dresses like a Mountie...

    Santa Claus 05/17/04 09:19:43 PM EDT

    Now that is has been unveiled the original creator of the Linux Kernel, (no other than me), i want:

    *Changes in the Copyright file to take credit of all the work.

    * 4,000,000,000 US$, or this year lots of children aren't going to have their ThinkGeek presents.


    All your code are belong to Santa.

    PS: i also own the Unix rights. Muhahaha.


    _V_ 05/17/04 09:16:54 PM EDT

    Warning: off-topic
    > Santa is from Finland|Norway|Sweden|Canada
    Wrong again. Santa Claus is a lot more international.

    You can add to that list of countries: Turkey, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Spain (ask any dutch child; Sinterklaas a.k.a. Sint Nicolaas a.k.a. Saint Nicholas a.k.a. Santa Claus lives in Spain) and the United States of America.

    Bill Stewart 05/17/04 09:09:04 PM EDT

    Terry Pratchett's Discworld books report a bit more information on the Tooth Fairy than what they tell us as kids. Faeries are similar to elves - nasty, brutish, and short. They steal your sheep, sour your milk, enchant your children, and generally need to be placated if you want to avoid trouble. So when one of them sneaks around at night pulling out kids' teeth, we're supposed to think that that's a _good_ thing? Not...

    amomynous 05/17/04 08:08:19 PM EDT

    Funny that for all their railing against FOSS software, is served from FreeBSD [netcraft].

    I would think for all their MS schilling, they would go with their own recommendations.

    Weeble 05/17/04 07:52:23 PM EDT

    Linus Torvalds must have been a VERY good boy that year. ;)

    butch 05/17/04 07:50:39 PM EDT

    >> Santa Claus was definitely Swedish

    Santa Claus live in the North Pole, North Pole is in Canada!

    Hans-Christian Andersen 05/17/04 07:44:30 PM EDT

    No wait, Linus. We should tell them the real truth. Might as well now that all this is happening.

    It was Bill Gates...

    Yes... it was Bill Gates who invented Linux... its true. You see, one night young Bill was on a drugs & drink-fueled bender and had a small quarrel with Steve Balmer about their operating system. Something about a monolithic or micro kernel... or something. After that, everything was a blur. However, the next morning he woke up drooling over a keyboard and as he looked up to see what was on screen, there it was... to Bill's horror was the familiar blinking of the cursor... and a bash prompt.

    Bill Gates shrieked, terrified of his own creation. "It's a monster!", he moaned as he realized the economic disaster it would be to actually release a stable, powerful and viable operating system. How would he make his billions through bad support, ridiculous licencing schemes, untimely and often irrelevant patches and slight incremental updates every 3 or 4 years... when when... Bill shuddered at the thought... when it actually works?! Stevie will hate me, he thought to himself ashamedly.

    Fortunately for Bill or for Linus (or both actually), he happened to be walking on the pavement alongside that of Bill's hotel room window where he was staying in Helsinki at the right time. Bill's head popped out from his window and he shouted to Linus from above, "Hey you! How would you like some source code to the most awesome operating system ever?" "Operating system?", replied Linus. "Yes!" This struck Linus as being the oddest thing ever, but ok, whatever. "Whats your name, stranger?" retorted Bill. "Linus." "What? Linux?" "No..." Oh nevermind, thought Linus. And with that fell a floppy disk from the window. On it was written, "Linux".

    There, I said it... now we all know the truth.

    M.A. Smith 05/17/04 07:30:43 PM EDT

    >> Fact, and this is undisputable, is that Santa Claus is from *Norway*.

    Wrong again. Santa Claus is undoubtedly from Sweden. You Norwegians love taking all the credit for everything Scandinavian, like lefse and lutefisk (well, you can take the credit for lutefisk), but no more!

    Santa Claus was definitely Swedish.

    Terje A. Bergesen 05/17/04 07:23:05 PM EDT

    I am shocked. Not at the fact that Santa and Tooth did the work, that has been kinda obvious for some time... Have you seen some of the comments in the original kernel source?

    The shocking part here is Linus' claim that Santa is from Finland. That is a completely bogus claim with no merit whatsoever. A finnish TV program with two "comedians" claimed this many years ago, and more and more people have started to belive it.

    Fact, and this is undisputable, is that Santa Claus is from *Norway*.

    If you finns wants to have some mythical figures, please go and make up som of your own. Don't steal other countries citizens.

    Burns 05/17/04 07:12:52 PM EDT


    No, the ad company runs a windows server...

    I think that is is first time I have seen an ad /.ed rather than a site ;)

    Superman 05/17/04 07:08:05 PM EDT

    [quote]SLIGHTLY OFF TOPIC BUT VERY FUNNY* the right...the banner ad for showed up with a 404 not found error...but they run Windows....on a Linux site?[/quote]

    Umm the error is not from the linuxworld webserver, its from the sys-con boxen. Look closer.

    walterbyrd 05/17/04 07:06:16 PM EDT

    Something I ripped from groklaw:
    Parody of press release
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 17 2004 @ 08:02 AM EDT

    I say "parody" but the only valid interpretation for the original PR[1] seems to apply to Windows just as well.

    [1]- That being that Linus re-implemented a lot of very good ideas, and that he and others have also come up with useful ways to solve other problems not addressed in the classic implementation of Unix.

    Microsoft claim to "invent" Windows probably false, says new study

    Thu Apr 1, 12:00 AM

    Redmond, WA (SatirePress) Apr 1, 2004 - Popular but controversial "proprietary" computer software, often written on a for-profit basis, is often taken or adapted without permission from material owned by other companies and individuals, a study by the Biased Jokers Institution finds. Among other points, the study directly challenges Microsoft Corporation's claim to be the inventor of Windows. In one of the few extensive studies on the source of proprietary code, Curly Joker, president of BJI, traces the proprietary software movement over its less-than-three decade life -- from its ranty beginning, through its evolution to a club that encourages convicted corporations to build up $50 billion war chests. Joker's account is based on extensive interviews with more than two leading technologists including Bill Gates, Werner von Braun, and more who have been interviewed by third parties.

    "The report," according to Unbiased Mole, a Biased Jokers senior fellow, "raises important questions that all developers and users of proprietary software must face. While you cannot group all proprietary software and companies together; many are rigorous and respectful of the unspecified intellectual property rights, while others mismatch semicolons and commas. Go figure."

    Joker suggests the invention of VMS is an integral part of the Windows story commenting, "It is clear that even narrow interest in the VMS operating system made VMS one of the premier sources of Windows NT design ideas because Microsoft hired a bunch of ex-VMS engineers." Joker writes, "Over the years, many have envied the startling and pervasive success of Windows. For almost ten years, governments have tried and failed to successfully make Microsoft comply with anti-trust laws and couldn't. To this day, we have a serious open market problem in computers because people have chosen to scrupulously exploit monopoly positions." [I apologize for the poor grammar - the original was so.]

    Joker's study is part of a book he is writing in hopes to bag a cushy expert witness gig during future anti-trust trials. Excerpts from the book cannot be redistributed; all your copyright are belong to us.

    benjy 05/17/04 06:58:06 PM EDT

    *SLIGHTLY OFF TOPIC BUT VERY FUNNY* the right...the banner ad for showed up with a 404 not found error...but they run Windows....on a Linux site?


    Dave Lozier 05/17/04 04:15:12 PM EDT

    Wait!!! Does Mrs. Claus know about Mr. Claus and the Tooth Fairy?

    Seriously though, only the uninformed would believe AdTI's unsupported, biased and distorted story.

    PHi 05/17/04 03:48:18 PM EDT

    And is it so, now, that Santa will skip the naughty boyz from adTI & SCO this year? I would think he should..

    meatball 05/17/04 03:40:29 PM EDT

    linus CraX0rs me up! Really for coming from a norse country his sense of humor is brilliant. Must be all that time living in cali. The sad thing is.. it just shows that for m$fT spending money(see also, baystar,sco, adti)for fud is just another way for billy G to hold his market position. Its sick , sad, pathetic, and wrong...Oh did i for get to mention his mistresses laura Didiot and rob enderle?..M$ft 0wns J00!

    souneedalink 05/17/04 03:28:57 PM EDT

    i also have it on highest authority that the same characters are resposible for unix as well and they decided to create linux due to the mess with everyone claiming ownership of unix! but since the mess with sco they have come out of the closet and are p1ssed!!!! They have legal council and are going to sue.......they just cant decide where to start! I suggested someone with deep pockets and they thought that was a fantastic idea....they came up with IBM! I guess if you are looking to sue then you are looking for deep pockets ! Couldnt be the reason why sco picked them as well could it? nah.... certainly not..... yea, i am just rambling and going nowhere with this but hey you read it!

    Doormat 05/17/04 02:54:33 PM EDT

    Given that we can no longer blame Linus for Linux, I think we should begin looking for the OS obsessed, open source supporting dude who handed the world over to all the IP theives and Terrorists the AdTI warned us about.(Name almost cirtainly begins Linu- something...)

    Joukahainen 05/17/04 02:37:22 PM EDT

    As a matter of fact, I have it on reliable evidence that Vaanamoinen (generally spelled Vainamoinen) did _not_ write Linux, but instead it was generated by a mythical army of monkeys with typewriters taking dictation from a committee of Finnish Gypsy tea-leaf readers who had been smoking nasty-weed and suffering from insomnia. There is no other possible explanation, unless you credit the rumors, generally considered no unfounded, that Linux was written by hyper-dimensional refugees from the planet Trafalmador who had been transmorgrified by their own delusions in to 20th Century hackers who with the ability to use Vulcan mind-meld technologies to influence human destiny.

    a1pha 05/17/04 02:32:36 PM EDT

    Nice to see that Linus is treating these idiots with the contempt they deserve. More power to you!

    pedant 05/17/04 02:10:15 PM EDT

    Linus is being devious, the code bears
    the marks of having been written by

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