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Salon: Code Critic

Nov 30, 1999, 06:43 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rachel Chalmers)

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"Before there was an Open Source Initiative, before the Free Software Foundation was even a twinkle in St. iGNUcius' eye, Unix hackers were fighting lawyers and commercial interests for the right to copy and distribute source code. The fight began, in part, due to the beliefs of an avuncular Australian professor named John Lions, who thought that by making source code available and using it as a teaching tool, he could encourage the highest possible standards in programming."

"Even when they were first published, Lions' books were technically only available to licensees of sixth edition Unix. The operating system's new owner, Western Electric, didn't want just anyone learning the inner workings of the Unix kernel."

"By the time the seventh edition system came out, the company had begun to worry more about the intellectual property issues and 'trade secrets' and so forth," Ritchie explains."

"The seventh and subsequent licenses explicitly prohibited the kind of teaching that Lions had been doing."

Complete story.