Journalism Today

So the Alexis de Toqueville Institute, a think-tank which recieves funding from Microsoft, among others, is saying that Linus Torvalds didn’t really invent Linux. Torvalds countered by saying that this is correct, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus were the real inventors.

The obvious point is that yes, Linus didn’t ‘invent’ anything, he created an implementation of the open POSIX standard, something that Sun, SGI, HP, DEC (now owned Compaq), NeXT Computing (now owned by Apple), and IBM have also done. He licensed it under the GPL, which none of those corporations did, and precisely because of the license, Linux has an expanding marketshare while the various corporate offerings are being phased out in favor of Linux (Sun is still trying to hold out with Solaris, but I think it’s only a matter of time before they switch or go broke).

This is somewhat akin to stating that Netscape didn’t invent anything, it merely implemented the standardized HTTP protocol.

But Linus v. AdTI isn’t the point of this entry. The point of this entry is to illustrate exactly how shamelessly the modern mass-media shill for “official sources”. Naturally, lowly humans such as myself could never qualify… It now seems as though you’ve got to be an immortal person in some way to be an official source.

Anyways, on to the charade of a free press:

AdTI Press Release Yahoo! News
Popular but controversial “open source” computer software, generally contributed on a volunteer basis, is often taken or adapted from material owned by other companies and individuals, a study by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution finds.

In one of the few extensive and critical studies on the source of open source code, Kenneth Brown, president of AdTI, traces the free software movement over three decades — from its romantic but questionable beginnings, through its evolution to a commercial effort that draws on unpaid contributions from thousands of programmers.

Among other points, the study directly challenges Linus Torvalds’ claim to be the inventor of Linux.

Brown’s account is based on extensive interviews with more than two dozen leading technologists in the United States, Europe, and Australia, including Richard Stallman, Dennis Ritchie, and Andrew Tanenbaum.

“The report,” according to Gregory Fossedal, a Tocqueville senior fellow, “raises important questions that all developers and users of open source code must face.

“One cannot group all open source programmers together. Many are rigorous and respectful of intellectual property. Others, though, speak of intellectual property rights — at least when it comes to the property of others — with open contempt.”

Brown suggests the invention of Unix is an integral part of the Linux story. “People’s exceptional interest in the Unix operating system,” he writes, “made Unix one of the most licensed, imitated, and stolen products in the history of computer science.

“Over the years, many have envied the startling and pervasive success of Unix. For almost thirty years, programmers have tried to build a Unix-like system and couldn’t. To this day, we have a serious attribution problem in software development because some programmers may have chosen to unscrupulously borrow or imitate Unix.”

Brown’s study is part a book he is writing on open source software and operating systems. A series of excerpts from the book will be published at http://www.adti.net beginning on May 20.

Popular but controversial “open source” computer software, often contributed on a volunteer basis, is often taken or adapted without permission from material owned by other companies and individuals, a study by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution finds. Among other points, the study directly challenges Linus Torvalds’ claim to be the inventor of Linux. In one of the few extensive studies on the source of open source code, Kenneth Brown, president of AdTI, traces the free software movement over three decades — from its romantic but questionable beginnings, through its evolution to a commercial effort that draws on unpaid contributions from thousands of programmers. Brown’s account is based on extensive interviews with more than two dozen leading technologists including Richard Stallman, Dennis Ritchie, and Andrew Tanenbaum.

“The report,” according to Gregory Fossedal, a Tocqueville senior fellow, “raises important questions that all developers and users of open source code must face. While you cannot group all open source programmers and programs together; many are rigorous and respectful of the intellectual property rights, while others speak of intellectual property rights with open contempt.”

Brown suggests the invention of Unix is an integral part of the Linux story commenting, “It is clear that people’s exceptional interest in the Unix operating system made Unix one of the most licensed, imitated, and stolen products in the history of computer science.” Brown writes, “Over the years, many have envied the startling and pervasive success of Unix. For almost thirty years, programmers have tried and failed to successfully build a Unix-like system and couldn’t. To this day, we have a serious attribution problem in software development because people have chosen to scrupulously borrow or imitate Unix.”

Brown’s study is part a book he is writing on open source software and operating systems. Excerpts from the book will be published at http://www.adti.net on May 20, 2004.

In case you’re wondering, bullshit like this is why sites like indymedia.org exist.

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