sendmail.net: An Interview with Kirk McKusick [Part One]

If, as Tim O’Reilly says, “BSD is one of the great mothers
of the Open Source movement,” then Kirk McKusick must be its
As a core member of the Berkeley Computer Systems
Research Group (CSRG), he was a key figure in the development of
Berkeley UNIX, overseeing the release of 4.3BSD and 4.4BSD, and is
still a powerful guiding force in the BSD community today. We sat
down with him to ask a few questions…”

“How does the current buzz about Open Source strike you, as
someone who contributed so much to making it possible? How does it
compare to what you at Berkeley were trying to accomplish?”

“Open Source has been of great interest to me, obviously, for
twenty years. The big debate, for instance, over Richard Stallman’s
emphasis on the “free” in “free software.” The way it was
characterized politically, you had copyright, which is what the big
companies use to lock everything up; you had copyleft, which is
free software’s way of making sure they can’t lock it up; and then
Berkeley had what we called “copycenter,” which is “take it down to
the copy center and make as many copies as you want.” You want to
go off and do proprietary things with it? Fine, you can do that.
You want to keep it out in the Open Source domain? You’re welcome
to do that as well. In fact, in the end, Richard Stallman had to
agree that we had a less restrictive license than he did, although
it took pulling some teeth to get him to admit that.”

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