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Linux.com: A Brief History of Computer Hackerism (Excerpt Part One)

Feb 28, 2001, 23:50 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Pekka Himanen)

"Now it came to pass that Microsoft had waxed great and mighty among the Microchip Corporations; mightier than any of the Mainframe Corporations before it, it had waxed. And Gates' heart was hardened, and he swore unto his Customers and their Engineers the words of this curse: "Children of von Neumann, hear me. IBM and the Mainframe Corporations bound thy forefathers with grave and perilous Licenses, such that ye cried unto the spirits of Turing and von Neumann for deliverance. Now I say unto ye: I am greater than any Corporation before me. Will I loosen your Licenses? Nay, I will bind thee with Licenses twice as grave and ten times more perilous than my forefathers. . . . I will capture and enslave thee as no generation has been enslaved before. And wherefore will ye crye then unto the spirits of Turing, and von Neumann, and Moore? They cannot hear ye. I am become a greater Power than they. Ye shall cry only unto me, and shall live by my mercy and my wrath. I am the Gates of Hell; I hold the portal to MSNBC and the keys to the Blue Screen of Death. Be ye afraid; be ye greatly afraid; serve only me, and live."

"So opens The Gospel According to Tux, a humorous hacker text that contrasts the closed software development model represented by Microsoft with the open development model represented by Linux and other hacker projects (Tux is the name of Linux's penguin mascot). The hacker software's openness means that hackers publish the source code of their programs and permit all others to use, test, and develop it."

"The hackers' open-source model or hacker ethic is very similar to the scientific ethic, which also emphasizes open creativity. Accordingly, The Gospel According to Tux elevates to heroic status the researchers who openly shared their findings while creating the theoretical foundation for the computer, chief among them Alan Turing and John von Neumann. Optimistically, The Gospel According to Tux goes on to relate how Torvalds revives this spirit in the world of computers...."

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