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SoftPanorama.org: Portraits of Open Source Pioneers Redux

Apr 16, 2001, 20:30 (5 Talkback[s])

Richard Stallman:
"The problem was that he does not understood Unix very well. But he wanted software, and especially ideas of how to improve is to be shared freely among programmers. It is easy to discard this ideas as utopian and Anarchistic, and there are definitly stong overtones of Anarchist ideology in the free software movement. But as people in the former USSR realized, socialism is not about choice -- it is about denying choice in the name of equality. RMS position is somewhere in between position of a "proletarian revolutionary" and a honest position of an academic scholar (in best Renaissance tradition) -- a scholar unaffected by the wave of software commercialization of late 70th, that produced companies like Microsoft, Borland, Lotus and Novell."

Linus Torvalds:
"I do not buy the idea that Linus Torvalds started developing the kernel for personal use and "for the fun of it". Usual "vanity fair" motives probably were prominent as well, otherwise the project would had been ended before version 1.0 ;-). But, anyway, for a student with just one year experience in C and a simple terminal emulator as the only (semi) completed project, it was a very bold move."

"...I think that it's simply funny when Linus Torvalds call this process of rewriting existing kernel "inventing Linux". I would partially agree that Unix was invented (C language was a pretty original blend of BCPL and PL/1; several key ideas like hierarchical filesystem, pipes and regular expressions were not present in Multix which was a prototype for Unix). But Linux was a plain vanilla reengineering project. And if Linus Torvalds can be called a revolutionary, he is a political not technical revolutionary similar to Newt Gingrich, the author of the "Contract with America" thing (fight corruption, waste in government spendins, tax reform and a balanced budget, etc.). In no way Linux can be called a technological advance: classic monolithic kernel+C as implementation language means that Linux is based upon CS orthodoxy and as such is less innovative than, say, Plan 9 or Be OS, or Amiga. This neo-conservative orthodoxy of Linux zealots -- the fundamental resistance to anything non-traditional or, god forbid, developed by Microsoft, makes Linux success really a neo-conservative type of success. Although it serves as an alternative to Microsoft OSes, Linux really inhibits grows of alternative OSes like Be OS, and thus contributes to the lack of diversity, and ultimately lack of innovation in operating system market."

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