|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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
Mar. 27, 2017 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,966
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
Mar. 27, 2017 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,090
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
Mar. 27, 2017 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,072
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
Mar. 27, 2017 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,276
There are 66 million network cameras capturing terabytes of data. How did factories in Japan improve physical security at the facilities and improve employee productivity? Edge Computing reduces possible kilobytes of data collected per second to only a few kilobytes of data transmitted to the public cloud every day. Data is aggregated and analyzed close to sensors so only intelligent results need to be transmitted to the cloud. Non-essential data is recycled to optimize storage.
Mar. 27, 2017 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,048
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Mar. 27, 2017 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,283
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outlyer, a monitoring service for DevOps and operations teams, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Outlyer is a monitoring service for DevOps and Operations teams running Cloud, SaaS, Microservices and IoT deployments. Designed for today's dynamic environments that need beyond cloud-scale monitoring, we make monitoring effortless so you ...
Mar. 27, 2017 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 4,255
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
Mar. 27, 2017 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,986
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
Mar. 27, 2017 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,937
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Mar. 27, 2017 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,214
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, will discuss the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information,
Mar. 27, 2017 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 887
China Unicom exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE FDD, TD-LTE), fixed-line broadband, ICT, data communica...
Mar. 27, 2017 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,394
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, will discuss some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and relate how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material will be delivered i...
Mar. 26, 2017 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,102
Apache Hadoop is emerging as a distributed platform for handling large and fast incoming streams of data. Predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and Internet-of-Things analysis are examples where Hadoop provides the scalable storage, processing, and analytics platform to gain meaningful insights from granular data that is typically only valuable from a large-scale, aggregate view. One architecture useful for capturing and analyzing streaming data is the Lambda Architecture, represent...
Mar. 26, 2017 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 6,217
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
Mar. 26, 2017 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 9,671
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, will provide a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services ...
Mar. 26, 2017 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,356
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Mar. 26, 2017 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,128
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, will posit that disruption is inevitable for c...
Mar. 26, 2017 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,198
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Mar. 26, 2017 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,902
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great dea...
Mar. 26, 2017 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 4,494