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Friday, June 11, 2004

LINUX: Does Prentice Hall Really Own Linux?

NewsForge | Does Prentice Hall Really Own Linux?

Title Does Prentice Hall Really Own Linux?
Date 2004.06.11 7:00
Author warthawg
Topic Linux
http://software.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=04/06/11/1139234

Bruce Perens writes "A recent report by Ken Brown of the "Alexis de Toqueville Institute" casts aspersions upon Linus Torvalds as creator of the Linux operating system kernel. The report attributes ownership of Linux to Prentice Hall PTR as publishers of Andrew Tannenbaum's book Operating Systems: Design and Implementation. In the book, Tannenbaum provided the source for an educational toy OS called Minix.

Mr. Brown is obviously not aware of my role as series editor of the Bruce Perens Open Source Series at Prentice Hall PTR. With ten books published so far, this series is unique in that not only are the books about Open Source software, the text of the books is under an Open Source license. They can be copied and redistributed freely in the same manner as the Linux kernel - it's even legal to sell the copies. The series has shown that a publisher can be commercially successful with Open Source text, as IBM, Red Hat, and other companies have been successful with Open Source software.

Like all technical book publishers, Prentice Hall is in the business of distributing ideas. They have copyrighted their books, but the express purpose of those books is for readers to use the ideas that their text communicates. Before Linus Torvalds created Linux, one of the ways he learned to build operating systems was by reading Tannenbaum's book and working with the Minix source code. Authors and publishers are proud of the role our books have played in developing the professional skills of Torvalds and the Open Source developer community. We should not, do not, and can not claim as our own the creations of the many millions of people who use our books as a reference in their work every day.

Regarding Brown's other assertions, it should be sufficient to point out that many of the people he quotes have published detailed refutations of Brown's text. Most interesting is that of Tannenbaum himself, parts 1, 2, and 3, that of the young programmer Brown hired to compare Linux and Minix, and scientist Illka Tuomi.

A recent title in my series, Understanding the Linux Virtual Memory Manager, is meant to be used directly by the Linux kernel developers in their work, and uses the Linux source code as a reference for tomorrow's computer scientists. This illustrates the synergistic relationship that a publisher willing to embrace Open Source can have with the developer community. I look forward to the continuation of that relationship.

Bruce Perens
"
Links

1. "Bruce Perens" - mailto:bruce@perens.com
2. "Operating Systems: Design and Implementation" - http://phptr.com/title/0136386776
3. "Bruce Perens Open Source Series" - http://phptr.com/perens
4. "1" - http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/brown/
5. "2" - http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/brown/followup/
6. "3" - http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/brown/rebuttal/
7. "young programmer Brown hired to compare Linux and Minix" - http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/brown/codecomparison/
8. "Illka Tuomi" - http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_6/tuomi/index.html
9. "Understanding the Linux Virtual Memory Manager" - http://www.informit.com/title/0131453483

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