Think Tank Claims Torvalds Didnt Write Linux

 
 
By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-05-18 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The D.C.-based Alexis de Tocqueville Institution claims Linux is based on intellectual property "often taken or adapted without permission from material owned by other companies and individuals," but it offers no proof of the assertion, while

Linux wasnt written by Linus Torvalds, according to the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based foundation.

Instead, Kenneth Brown, president of AdTI, claims that Linux is based on intellectual property "often taken or adapted without permission from material owned by other companies and individuals."
The announcement offers no proof of its assertions but says proof will be provided in later announcements—and eventually in a self-published book—that are based on "extensive interviews with more than two dozen leading technologists including Richard Stallman, Dennis Ritchie and Andrew Tanenbaum."

Microsoft in the past has supplied funding for the institution, which has published anti-open-source papers. In an eWEEK.com interview, senior fellow Gregory Fossedal refused to say who, if anyone, is sponsoring the institutions Linux project. "We dont discuss our funding," he said.

"Its not a joke," Fossedal continued. "Ken Brown has done a good deal of serious work, and the work will speak for itself." When asked why AdTI was releasing its work piecemeal and without proof, Fossedal replied, "This is the best way to get this important news out."

But others dont share that opinion. Douglas A. Levin, president and CEO of Black Duck Software Inc., a company that makes software for source code and open-source license auditing, said, "This seems to be an effort of FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] attacking Linux because it is threatening the Windows franchise and other operating systems like Solaris."

Eric Raymond, president of the Open Source Initiative, summed up his view of the institutions claims this way: "[AdTI is] funded by Microsoft. You knew theyd find another sock puppet."

But what does Torvalds himself have to say? He replied to the accusation with this bit of whimsy: "OK, I admit it. I was just a front man for the real fathers of Linux: the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. They (for obvious reasons) couldnt step forward to admit that they had gotten bitten by the computer bug and had been developing a series of operating systems on their own during the off-season.

"But when they started with Linux (which they originally called Freax—they do feel like outsiders, you know, and thats a whole sad story in itself), they felt that they could no longer just let it languish in obscurity. "They started to look for a front man, and since Santa Claus is from Finland, and thus has connections to Helsinki University, and the Easter Bunny claimed, Hes got good ears, if a bit small, I got selected.

"Since then, Ive lived a life of subterfuge, always afraid that somebody would find out the truth. Im actually relieved that its over, and that the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution has finally uncovered the lie. I can now go back to my chosen profession, the exploration of the fascinating mating dance of the aquatic African frog."

The AdTIs original announcement is now password-protected and is not available to the general public, but it still can be seen on Yahoo news.

Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at http://linux.eweek.com for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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