|By Andrew S. Tanenbaum||
|May 24, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
BackgroundOn 20 May 2004, I posted a statement refuting the claim of Ken Brown, President of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, that Linus Torvalds didn't write Linux. My statement was mentioned on Slashdot, Groklaw, and many other Internet news sites. This attention resulted in over 150,000 requests to our server in less than a day, which is still standing despite yesterday being a national holiday with no one there to stand next to it saying "You can do it. You can do it." Kudos to Sun Microsystems and the folks who built Apache. My statement was mirrored all over the Internet, so the number of true hits to it is probably a substantial multiple of that. There were also quite a few comments at Slashdot, Groklaw, and other sites, many of them about me. I had never engaged in remote multishrink psychoanalysis on this scale before, so it was a fascinating experience.
The Brown Book
I got an advance copy of Ken Brown's book. I think it is still under embargo, so I won't comment on it. Although I am not an investigative reporter, even I know it is unethical to discuss publications still under embargo. Some of us take ethics more seriously than others. So I won't even reveal the title. Let's call it The Brown Book. There is some precedent for nicknaming books after colors: The International Standard for the audio CD (IS 10149) is usually called The Red Book. The CD-ROM was described in the Yellow Book. Suffice it to say, there is a great deal to criticize in the book. I am sure that will happen when it is published. I may even help out.
What prompted me to write this note today is an e-mail I got yesterday. Actually, I got quite a few :-) , most of them thanking me for the historical material. One of yesterday's e-mails was from Linus, in response to an e-mail from me apologizing for not letting him see my statement in advance. As a matter of courtesy, I did try but I was using his old transmeta.com address and didn't know his new one until I got a very kind email from Linus' father, a Finnish journalist.
In his e-mail, Linus said that Brown never contacted him. No e-mail, 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?
Why did Brown fly all the way to Europe to interview me and (and according to an e-mail I got from his seat-mate on the plane) one other person in Scandinavia, at considerable expense, and not at least call Linus? Even if he made a really bad choice of phone company, how much could that cost? Maybe a dollar? I call the U.S. all the time from Amsterdam. It is less than 5 cents a minute. How much could it cost to call California from D.C.?
From reading all the comments posted yesterday, I am now beginning to get the picture. Apparently a lot of people (still) think that I 'hate' Linus for stealing all my glory (see below for more on this). I didn't realize this view was so widespread. I now suspect that Brown believed this, too, and thought that I would be happy to dump all over Linus to get 'revenge.' By flying to Amsterdam he thought he could dig up dirt on Linus and get me to speak evil of him. He thought I would back up his crazy claim that Linus stole Linux from me. Brown was wrong on two counts. First, I bear no 'grudge' against Linus at all. He wrote Linux himself and deserves the credit. Second, I am really not a mean person. Even if I were still angry with him after all these years, I wouldn't choose some sleazy author with a hidden agenda as my vehicle. My home page gets 2500 hits a week. If I had something to say, I could put it there.
When The Brown Book comes out, there will no doubt be a lot of publicity in the mainstream media. Any of you with contacts in the media are actively encouraged to point reporters to this page and my original statement to provide some balance. I really think Brown's motivation should come under scrutiny. I don't believe for a nanosecond that Brown was trying to do a legitimate study of IP and open source or anything like that. I think he was trying to make the case the people funding him (which he refused to disclose to me despite my asking point blank) wanted to have made. Having an institution with an illustrious-sounding name make the case looks better than having an interested party make the case.
Clearing Up Some Misconceptions
I would like to close by clearing up a few misconceptions and also correcting a couple of errors. First, I REALLY am not angry with Linus. HONEST. He's not angry with me either. I am not some kind of "sore loser" who feels he has been eclipsed by Linus. MINIX was only a kind of fun hobby for me. I am a professor. I teach and do research and write books and go to conferences and do things professors do. I like my job and my students and my university. If you want to get a masters there, see my home page for information. I wrote MINIX because I wanted my students to have hands-on experience playing with an operating system. After AT&T forbade teaching from John Lions book, I decided to write a UNIX-like system for my students to play with. Since I had already written two books at this point, one on computer architecture and one on computer networks, it seemed reasonable to describe the system in a new book on operating systems, which is what I did. I was not trying to replace GNU/HURD or Berkeley UNIX. Heaven knows, I have said this enough times. I just wanted to show my students and other students how you could write a UNIX-like system using modern technology. A lot of other people wanted a free production UNIX with lots of bells and whistles and wanted to convert MINIX into that. I was dragged along in the maelstrom for a while, but when Linux came along, I was actually relieved that I could go back to professoring. I never really applied for the position of King of the Hackers and didn't want the job when it was offered. Linus seems to be doing excellent work and I wish him much success in the future.
While writing MINIX was fun, I don't really regard it as the most important thing I have ever done. It was more of a distraction than anything else. The most important thing I have done is produce a number of incredibly good students, especially Ph.D. students. See my home page for the list. They have done great things. I am as proud as a mother hen. To the extent that Linus can be counted as my student, I'm proud of him, too. Professors like it when their students go on to greater glory. I have also written over 100 published research papers and 14 books which have been translated into about 20 languages. As a result I have become a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of the ACM, and won numerous other awards. For me, these are the things that really count. If MINIX had become a big 'commercial' success I wouldn't have had the time to do all this academic stuff that I am actually more interested in.
I can't resist saying a few words about microkernels. A microkernel is a very small kernel. If the file system runs inside the kernel, it is NOT a microkernel. The microkernel should handle low-level process management, scheduling, interprocess communication, interrupt handling, and the basics of memory management and little else. The core microkernel of MINIX 1.0 was under 1400 lines of C and assembler. To that you have to add the headers and device drivers, but the totality of everything that ran in kernel mode was under 5000 lines. Microsoft claimed that Windows NT 3.51 was a microkernel. It wasn't. It wasn't even close. Even they dropped the claim with NT 4.0. Some microkernels have been quite successful, such as QNX and L4. I can't for the life of me see why people object to the 20% performance hit a microkernel might give you when they program in languages like Java and Perl where you often get a factor 20x performance hit. What's the big deal about turning a 3.0 GHz PC into a 2.4 GHz PC due to a microkernel? Surely you once bought a machine appreciably slower than 2.4 GHz and were very happy with it. I would easily give up 20% in performance for a system that was robust, reliable, and wasn't susceptible to many of the ills we see in today's massive operating systems.
I would now like to correct an error in my original statement. One of the e-mails I got yesterday clarified the origins of Coherent. It was not written by Bob Swartz. He was CEO of the Mark Williams Company. Three ex-students from the University of Waterloo, Dave Conroy, Randall Howard, and Johann George, did most of the work. Waterloo is in Canada, where they also play baseball I am told, but only after the ice melts and they can't play hockey. It took the Waterloo students something like 6 man-years to produce Coherent, but this included the kernel, the C compiler, the shell, and ALL the utilities. The kernel is only a tiny fraction of the total code, so it may well be that the kernel itself took a man year. It took me three years to write MINIX, but I was only working at it only in the evenings, and I also wrote 400 pages of text describing the code in that time period (also in the evenings). I think a good programmer can write a 12,000 line kernel in a year.
If you have made it this far, thank you for your time.
Andy Tanenbaum, 21 May 2004
|Randall Howard 08/16/08 10:15:19 PM EDT|
Oops! December 2000 should read "December 1980" - can't figure out how to edit after posting
|Randall Howard 08/16/08 10:10:21 PM EDT|
Although this article is now four years old, I just stumbled on it doing a different search. I'm one of the three writers of Coherent mentioned in this article. Yes, we all went to University of Waterloo before heading to Chicago to write Coherent. As well, prior to this, when I was working at the Computer Communications Networks Group there, I met Andy Tanenbaum in one of his sojourns. And, I recall him being a really great guy.
Regarding our timeline to develop a kernel, the three of us divvied up the work. Dave Conroy, who had previously written the Decus C compiler (and is now a senior hardware designer at Apple) focused on compiler work as well as a number of other major tasks. I wrote the kernel, many of the libraries and a number of utilities. Johan George did library and utility work. We started in January 1980 and by December 2000 moved from cross-compiling to native builds. This would put the kernel development time at 10+ months. At January 2001 Usenix in San Francisco, I recall Steve Bourne and Dennis Ritchie hacking around with the system and, in particular, analyzing the interrupt latency in the kernel.
Later, when Western Electric lawyers sent Dennis Ritchie up to check on the code he quickly determined it was indeed an original creation. And, before leaving, he commented that the team at Coherent showed "amazing programmer productivity." We were certainly very pleased.
We had a number of innovations such as hot-loadable drivers which I'm not sure Windows ever achieved. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of years ago.
|Chris Laffra 11/03/04 09:51:30 PM EST|
Having been a student in a couple of Andy's classes in the mid-eighties, when he was busily working on Minix, I feel both priviliged and honered to have done my studies at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. I still use many of the lessons taught by this kind, very smart, and annoyingly productive individual. [What mere mortal can be a full-time professor and still write an operating system and 14 books, and find time to manage an electoral voting web site?]
I must admit though that I had my private suspicions that Andy must have felt some resentment to Linux's success, and Minix's "lack" of it. I am happy and reassured to find out the opposite.
I advise everyone to follow up Andy's advise and do their Master's at the Free University, which is not entirely free, of course.
|npd 06/01/04 07:08:31 PM EDT|
As you said, if you had "gotten caught up in" producing your own kernel, and given up academia, at least a small portion of the great things that are happening right now, would not be.
For this, as I am sure your students would be honored to do, I salute you. I feel like I know where you are coming from, even though I don't know you.
|Louis HR Muller 05/24/04 11:10:30 PM EDT|
Andrew Tanenbaum has demonstrated that he is a man of character. Had he desired, he could have seized the opportunity to add fuel to the fire by indirectly attacking Linus through Brown. Instead, he supported Linus and has earned the respect of many of the Linux community. As a result, his Minix will receive more of a recognition as an inspiration for Linus and a useful educational tool for all those who did learn more about Unix by using Minix. A reading of the early e-mails put forth by Linus clearly indicate he did not write Linux because he harbored any vengence towards Andrew Tanebaum but rather because creating Linux presented an intellectual challenge for him and the others that became involved in the Linux project. Therefore, indirectly, Mr Brown did a service to both Linus and Andy and strengthened their images.
|Lion Kuntz 05/24/04 08:03:11 AM EDT|
I updated a number of pages on Disinfopedia wiki website to document the culpability of Alexis de SMOKEville's sordid history as a tobacco industry shill. These are some of the new or revised pages, followed by some quotations that search engines will draw upon for results pages. If you post these links in your blogs, you can be pretty sure that every search engine will rank the tobacco connection higher than the FUD pages they post. Over 80% of Americans have quit or never started smoking, so the fans of tobacco shills are always a minority.
The same John M. Olin Foundation funds John M. Olin Center for Policy as funds Alexis de Tocqueville Institution. Olin, Scaife and Koch foundations fund the entire list above, apart from the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment which is funded through campaign contributions instead of foundations. Singer, Tollison and Wagner were all from the George Mason University, favorite charities of right-wing donors and energy billionaires Koch and Scaife."
Search for Robert D. Tollison
32,523 mentions in the Tobacco Institute files ordered online in a court settlement. That's pretty good, but no cigar...
Search for S. Fred Singer
Even though Robert D. Tollison wrote the book on how good for you second-hand smoke is, S. Fred Singer has won the race for covert cash from the disinformation lung polluters of tobacco AND oil companies. Singer helped write the OTHER book that Tollison was only "technical advisor" on, published by Alexis de SMOKEville Institution, er, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution.
In 1994 Cesar Conda was executive director of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution listed as "Senior Staff and Contributing Associates" on a Lorillard Tobacco Company paid-for publication titled "Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy" by author Kent Jeffreys.  Principal Reviewer was listed as S. Fred Singer, and to give this propagandistic tract a sheen of scientific appearance, a loaded gang of "experts" from assorted tobacco-funded front organizations with impressive names was listed: SEPP, Hoover Institution, John M. Olin Center for Policy, George Mason University.
As Executive Director of Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, Conda had more than a casual association with the production of this deception piece. SEPP was certainly known to him, as an article the same year in Commonsense (Fall 1994) "The New Populism: The Rise of the Property Rights Movement," article by Cesar Conda and Mark LaRochelle, mentions SEPP.  Kent Jeffreys bonafides would also be known to him. Jeffreys at the time was listed as environmental studies director  for Competitive Enterprise Institute , an organization with close ties to Alexis de Tocqueville.
|Ze Plot Thickens 05/24/04 07:52:05 AM EDT|
This has been posted at the alt.os newsgroup, from Justin Orndorff ([email protected]) of the AdTI:
I'm conducting some research on behalf of the Alexis de Tocqueville
1. Describe the components of an operating system, besides the central
Thanks for your time. Best,
|aNoN 05/24/04 07:46:21 AM EDT|
"Hidden agenda" being amsterdam's coffeeshops and whorehouses, no doubt.
Not that theres anything WRONG with that. Im just saying that any excuse to go to amsterdam is a good one.
What a great city.
|madprof 05/24/04 07:44:09 AM EDT|
Poor old Ken Brown must be wondering how wise it was to have made that particular trip now!
|Minna Kirai 05/24/04 07:42:59 AM EDT|
That Tanenbaum is still antagonistic to Linus's system gives him even more credibility. If a friend vouches for you, that might be discounted as a buddy covering for you- but if an enemy says you're innocent, then he's got no motivation to lie on your behalf.
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
May. 4, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,151
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
May. 4, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,324
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
May. 4, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,420
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
May. 4, 2016 12:47 PM EDT Reads: 266
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
May. 4, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 583
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
May. 4, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,252
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
May. 4, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 898
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights. At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...
May. 4, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 581
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
May. 4, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 522
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
May. 4, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,335
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
May. 4, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,231
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
May. 4, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,297
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
May. 4, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,380
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
May. 4, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,515
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
May. 4, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,004
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
May. 4, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,266
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
May. 4, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,191
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
May. 4, 2016 04:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,359
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
May. 3, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,232
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
May. 3, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,617