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Salon: The unknown hackers

May 17, 2000, 07:31 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rachel Chalmers)

"Not many Linux-come-latelies know this, but Linux was actually the second open-source Unix-based operating system for personal computers to be distributed over the Internet. The first was 386BSD, which was put together by an extraordinary couple named Bill and Lynne Jolitz. In a 1993 interview with Meta magazine, Linus Torvalds himself name-checked their O.S. "If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux," he said, "Linux would probably never have happened."

"Linux obviously did happen. Why? Eric Raymond, the open-source evangelist, believes it came down to a question of personal style. In his A Brief History of Hackerdom he praises 386BSD at the expense of the "crude" versions of Linux that were around at the time."

"The deciding factor, argues Raymond, was not technological but social. Torvalds, even while practicing rigorous quality control in determining what goes into the Linux kernel and what stays out, nevertheless welcomes contributions and is remarkably generous in sharing credit."

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