|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.
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 @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
Oct. 20, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,850
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Oct. 20, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 9,553
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
Oct. 20, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,600
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service.
Oct. 20, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 829
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
Oct. 20, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 7,828
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
Oct. 20, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 10,910
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, will discuss the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docke...
Oct. 20, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,120
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Oct. 20, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 5,045
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Oct. 20, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 674
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
Oct. 20, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,378
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Oct. 20, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,737
SYS-CON Events announced today that Coalfire will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Coalfire is the trusted leader in cybersecurity risk management and compliance services. Coalfire integrates advisory and technical assessments and recommendations to the corporate directors, executives, boards, and IT organizations for global brands and organizations in the technology, cloud, health...
Oct. 20, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,425
Cloud based infrastructure deployment is becoming more and more appealing to customers, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs due to its pay-as-you-go model. Enterprise storage vendors are able to reach out to these customers by integrating in cloud based deployments; this needs adaptability and interoperability of the products confirming to cloud standards such as OpenStack, CloudStack, or Azure. As compared to off the shelf commodity storage, enterprise storages by its reliability, high-availabil...
Oct. 20, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 836
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
Oct. 20, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 818
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
Oct. 20, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 704
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-tim...
Oct. 20, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,843
SYS-CON Events announced today that Numerex Corp, a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ:NMRX) is a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). The Company's solutions produce new revenue streams or create operating...
Oct. 20, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,597
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
Oct. 20, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,201
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it ...
Oct. 20, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,391
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
Oct. 20, 2016 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,277