Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Linux Software

More From Tanenbaum 496

Posted by michael
from the oh-christmas-tree dept.
BigFire writes "Professor Tanenbaum responds to the slashdot effect and a small critique of Ken Brown's forthcoming book in his followup. A small gem is where he disclosed that Ken Brown can't multiply simple positive integers."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

More From Tanenbaum

Comments Filter:
  • Article text (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:14PM (#9221718)

    Ken Brown's Motivation, Release 1.2

    Background

    On 20 May 2004, I posted a statement [cs.vu.nl] refuting the claim of Ken Brown, President of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution [adti.net], that Linus Torvalds didn't write Linux. My statement was mentioned on Slashdot [slashdot.org], Groklaw [groklaw.net], and many other Internet news sites. This attention resulted in over 150,000 requests to our server in less than a day, which is still standing despite yesterday being a national holiday with no one there to stand next to it saying "You can do it. You can do it." Kudos to Sun Microsystems and the folks who built Apache. My statement was mirrored all over the Internet, so the number of true hits to it is probably a substantial multiple of that. There were also quite a few comments at Slashdot, Groklaw, and other sites, many of them about me. I had never engaged in remote multishrink psychoanalysis on this scale before, so it was a fascinating experience.

    The Brown Book

    I got an advance copy of Ken Brown's book. I think it is still under embargo, so I won't comment on it. Although I am not an investigative reporter, even I know it is unethical to discuss publications still under embargo. Some of us take ethics more seriously than others. So I won't even reveal the title. Let's call it The Brown Book. There is some precedent for nicknaming books after colors: The International Standard for the CD-ROM (IS 10149) is usually called The Red Book.

    Suffice it to say, there is a great deal to criticize in the book. I am sure that will happen when it is published. I may even help out.

    Brown's Motivation

    What prompted me to write this note today is an email I got yesterday. Actually, I got quite a few :-) , most of them thanking me for the historical material. One of yesterday's emails was from Linus, in response to an email from me apologizing for not letting him see my statement in advance. As a matter of courtesy, I did try but I was using his old transmeta.com address and didn't know his new one until I got a very kind email from Linus' father, a Finnish journalist.

    In his email, Linus said that Brown never contacted him. No email, no phone call, no personal interview. Nothing. Considering the fact that Brown was writing an explosive book in which he accused Linus of not being the author of Linux, you would think a serious author would at least confront the subject with the accusation and give him a chance to respond. What kind of a reporter talks to people on the periphery of the subject but fails to talk to the main player?

    Why did Brown fly all the way to Europe to interview me and (and according to an email I got from his seat-mate on the plane) one other person in Scandinavia, at considerable expense, and not at least call Linus? Even if he made a really bad choice of phone company, how much could that cost? Maybe a dollar? I call the U.S. all the time from Amsterdam. It is less than 5 cents a minute. How much could it cost to call California from D.C.?

    From reading all the comments posted yesterday, I am now beginning to get the picture. Apparently a lot of people (still) think that I 'hate' Linus for stealing all my glory (see below for more on this). I didn't realize this view was so widespread. I now suspect that Brown believed this, too, and thought that I would be happy to dump all over Linus to get 'revenge.' By flying to Amsterdam he thought he could dig up dirt on Linus and get me to speak evil of him. He thought I would back up his crazy claim that Linus stole Linux from me. Brown was wrong on two counts. First, I bear no 'grudge' against Linus at all. He wrote Linux himself and deserves the credit. Second, I am really not a mean person. Even if I were still angry with him aft

  • Round Two (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:18PM (#9221745)
    "This attention resulted in over 150,000 requests to our server in less than a day, which is still standing despite yesterday being a national holiday with no one there to stand next to it saying "You can do it. You can do it." Kudos to Sun Microsystems and the folks who built Apache."

    Just when he thought it was over, here we come for another round. . .

    • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:30PM (#9221824) Homepage Journal
      On Wall Street, we called this technology "BOHICA": Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.
    • Re:Round Two (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ValourX (677178) on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:13PM (#9222041) Homepage
      150k is about three times the normal Slashdot effect (the best Slashdotting I ever got was just over 50k, and the lowest Slashdotting was around 25k -- this is in one day). Tanenbaum's note got picked up by a lot more places than /.

      -Jem
      • Re:Round Two (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jpu8086 (682572) on Friday May 21, 2004 @11:08PM (#9222691) Homepage
        Not arguing your point about being multilinked, but making a point regarding the variance in slashdotting:

        I suppose the popularity of GNU/Linux, the historic Linus vs. Andy debates, the FUD being brought out by ADTI (and the aforementioned Brown book) all must play a role in getting a "bigger slashdotting".

        This report was of core essence to all users (and fans) of GNU/Linux, so one can easily assume a slashdotting of great proportions. It only helps that a person of great respect, prestige, and fame has tarnished the credibility of Brown and boosted the legality of the Linux kernel in the report.

  • Little Help? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Who is Professor Tanenbaum? Who is Ken Brown?

    I suppose I should be embarassed I'm not "in the know" with these inside stories on the Slashdot community, but a little sympathy or perhaps the occasional link to everything2.com (anybody remember those days?) would be nice.

    • Okay. (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:28PM (#9221806) Homepage
      It isn't that you're "out of the know" it's just that you didn't see the previous article on this subject on slashdot two days ago.

      You want to read this article. [slashdot.org] It should explain what is happening.

      And you would pick this up from the links, but just for the record: Tanenbaum is this european guy who once upon a time in the 80s wrote a textbook on operating systems which came with a simple UNIX-like operating system called "Minix". Ken Brown is some guy who works for something called the "Alex de Torqueville" (sic?) institute and he's writing a book which appears to mostly consist of slander against Linus Tourvalds and/or the Free Software movement.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:34PM (#9221844)
        Ken Brown is some guy who works for something called the "Alex de Torqueville" (sic?) institute and he's writing a book which appears to mostly consist of slander against Linus Tourvalds and/or the Free Software movement.

        No it isn't, and I resent that! Slander is spoken. In print it's "Libel".

        Sincerely,

        Kenneth Brown
        President, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution
        • No it isn't, and I resent that! Slander is spoken. In print it's "Libel".

          Sincerely,

          Kenneth Brown
          President, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution


          I am fairly certain that this person is not the real Kenneth Brown.

          Based on his misleading attacks on Linus, I would say that the real Kenneth Brown would have written something like the following:

          No it isn't. Three legal experts that I've consulted have agreed that the person is making entirely unsubstantiated claims. Open source advocates have been known to m
        • Well Ken, I see that it is obviously beyond your expertise to sign up properly to Slashdot and get a real username, which fits well with the other inabilities you have demonstrated, such as basic comprehension of facts.

          If you can't handle signing up for a Slashdot account, I suggest that you ask your boss, Sir Bill, to get one of his few competent people to help you out.

      • Re:Okay. (Score:3, Informative)

        by The Cydonian (603441)
        Seems to be American [cs.vu.nl], judging by the flag on his photo.
        • Re:Okay. (Score:3, Informative)

          by frost22 (115958)

          Seems to be American, judging by the flag on his photo.

          Ok. One click away from that photo we find Andrew S. Tanenbaum's FAQ [cs.vu.nl]. To quote:

          Your name is German, you live in The Netherlands, but you write almost as well as a native English speaker. What's the scoop?

          My paternal grandfather was born in Chorostkow, currently in Ukraine, historically in Poland, at the time under Austro-Hungarian management. He came to the U.S. in 1914. I was born in New York and grew up in White Plains, NY. I went to Amsterdam a

    • Re:Little Help? (Score:5, Informative)

      by cmowire (254489) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:36PM (#9221865) Homepage
      Prof. Tanenbaum made MINIX, which predates Linux and provided some inspiration, but no actual code. MINIX initially hosted the Linux environment until it was able to exist on its own. Prof. Tanenbaum and Linus had a massive flamefest early in the days of Linux over microkernel vs. monolithic kernel.

      Ken Brown works for the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, who is basicly in the business of writing "impartial" reports for people with money. It's public knowlege that they've taken money from Microsoft in the past for reports. He is writing a book accusing Linus of not writing Linux.
      • by tiger99 (725715) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @08:45AM (#9224306)
        ..... which must be a good thing for FOSS, Linux and the world at large. Brown may have, by accident, done everyone a big favour here, by forcing Prof. Tannenbaum to say what might otherwise have been left unsaid. We might otherwise imagine that animosity existed when in point of fact it did not.

        All due respect to Linus and the Prof, none at all to Brown.

    • Re:Little Help? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:45PM (#9221911)
      Tanenbaum wrote MINIX, an operating system that was mildly popular in the days Linux was getting started. Tanenbaum and Torvalds had a famous debate [www.dina.dk] on OS design and the like between MINIX and Linux.

      Ken Brown is employed by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, a firm that some Slashdotters speculate is in the pay of SCO, MS, or the ilk, and is trying to find criticisms against Linux, recently making the claim that Torvalds did not write Linux, which is probably too open to interpretation. Torvalds wrote Linux to the extent that he typed it, but he did built on prior work, just like everyone else. Even Microsoft originally bought all rights to DOS from a third party and modified and licensed it to IBM for their contract.

      (At least, this is what I myself have gleaned from Slashdot. Some detail is probably wrong.)
      • Re:Little Help? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by HBI (604924) <kparadine@gma i l . c om> on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:56PM (#9221970) Homepage Journal
        You're being way too fair to Microsoft. They bought a clone of CP/M ported to the 8086. Then, they sold a license for it to IBM.

        In other words, they pretty much pulled a SCO, or at least SCO's stated intention at the outset of the current flurry of lawsuits.
        • Re:Little Help? (Score:3, Informative)

          by bcrowell (177657)
          You're being way too fair to Microsoft. They bought a clone of CP/M ported to the 8086. Then, they sold a license for it to IBM.
          Really? Can you document that? I worked for Digital Research around that time, and there were many tales about how the MS/IBM thing happened, but I never heard this version. And what do you mean by "a clone of CP/M ported to the 8086"? There were three versions of CP/M at that point, one of which was an 8086 version.
          • Re:Little Help? (Score:5, Informative)

            by HBI (604924) <kparadine@gma i l . c om> on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:25PM (#9222117) Homepage Journal
            CP/M 86, the 8088/8086 version of CP/M, was released in 1982 [alfonsomartone.itb.it], long after the IBM search for a disk operating system for the PC (which was in 1980). The very reason Seattle Computer produced their QDOS was that CP/M 86 wasn't available yet. This is what Microsoft bought, a veritable port of CP/M to the 8086.

            If you were working at DRI, it was after the events cited, obviously.
            • Re:Little Help? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by First Person (51018)

              Many people don't remember that one of Microsoft's first products was a CPM board for the Apple II. The Apple II was 6502 based, but I recall that the CPM board had an 8086 (or similar process from that family) on it.

    • Re:Little Help? (Score:4, Informative)

      by alangmead (109702) * on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:26PM (#9222126)

      Professor Andrew Tanenbaum is a professor who has written some great books. I'm very happy to have read read them. One of his books was Operatin g System Desgin and Implementation [bookpool.com] in which he describes operating systems with a toy, minimal, Unix-like operating system for the 8088 called Minix [minix.org]. It wasn't a really useful OS, but it was small enough to take a look at the code to any particular subsystem and learn how it worked. As an example of its mimilalism, it did have some hardware memory protection between processes, but did so with segment registers. That limited the size of each program to 64k.

      Minix wasn't free or open source software. (ideas that were pretty much in their infancy) Tanenbaum sold it through his book publisher. Not for much, probably just enough to make it worth Prentice-Hall's time. Without the Internet as a cost effective distribution medium, someone had to take the orders and mail the disks. People loved tinkering with Minux, though. They ported it to other platforms, (Atari ST, Amiga, Sparc, 80306, etc.) They added to it and started distributing patches. Linus was using Minix-386 before he managed to get Linux to be self-hosting. In some reports, it was Linus' annoyance at having to pay for Minux that inspired him to make Linux free software.

      Ken Brown, on the other hand, is someone whose name isn't very recognizable in technical circles. I'm tempted to say that he is a nobody, but maybe I just don't hang around the right circles. (Or on the other hand, maybe if I've never heard of him that means that I hang around the right circles.) I first read about the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution a couple of years ago when they published a paper [adti.net] questioning the security of free and open source software, and sold the paper in a through a system that allowed people to download the paper without purchasing it. Most of the links on their site are either links to articles from news sites about the institutes press releases, or links to papers that they promise will be ready soon.

    • Re:Little Help? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nathanh (1214) on Friday May 21, 2004 @10:26PM (#9222449) Homepage
      Who is Professor Tanenbaum? Who is Ken Brown?

      Tanenbaum (AST) is a Professor who worked at AT&T and has written many textbooks aimed at university students. AST's most famous book - Operating Systems: Design and Implementation - includes a UNIX-alike operating system called Minix that he wrote himself. Minix includes binaries and source code for the kernel, C library, C compiler, and all the utilities. AST wrote Minix and the book to teach students how operating systems are written. Any computing science student who attended a decent university in the past decade has probably had at least one of AST's books as a required text.

      Minix ran on an 8086 and didn't have modern virtual memory (VM) features. When the 80386 came out there were some unofficial patches to make Minix/386. These patches added virtual memory and paging and memory protection, turning Minix into an useful OS. AST refused to add these patches to Minix, rightly arguing that they would make Minix too complex for a student to understand. Minix was a teaching tool, not a general purpose OS, even though Minix/386 was a pretty good general purpose OS. Unfortunately the license back then didn't permit forking. Despite these limitations, Minix had a very large user community. .

      When Linus came along and announced Linux a lot of people realised that GNU (basically all of UNIX except for the kernel) and Linux (basically none of UNIX except the kernel) when combined would produce a UNIX-alike operating system. Just like Minix but with VM and the more relaxed GPL for a license. There was no Linux news group so all the discussions were on the Minix news group.

      AST put his two cents in on the Linux kernel. He correctly pointed out that the Linux design was a 30 year old monolithic design; not elegant or modern. Linus argued back that monolithic kernels are more practical. AST said Linus would fail his OS class, if Linus was his student. That's the infamous AST/Linus flamewar. It wasn't very hot, as far as flamewars went. AST was right, so was Linus. They just had different perspectives.

      Ken Brown is an ignorant idiot who is selling a book claiming that Linus didn't write Linux. He argues that noone could write something so complex as a UNIX-like kernel without stealing code. Ken is under the delusion that writing a UNIX needs a huge team of people working for many years. He seems to be ignorant of the fact that the first UNIX was written by Ken Thompson on a computer so ancient that your wrist watch has more computing power. For "research", Ken Brown spoke to AST. Notably he did not speak to Linus Torvalds. AST is pointing out that Ken is lying in his book; AST has pointed to several examples of single authors who created a UNIX-like kernel, AST included.

      The confusion might be that Ken Brown doesn't understand that Linux is just a kernel. The first "Linux" that you ran back in 1991 was actually GNU/Linux. Linux comprised less than 2% of that system. RMS and his team had been working on GNU for nearly a decade by that stage (longer if you count emacs). Linux The Kernel was a small piece of the puzzle. An essential piece, but certainly writable in 6 months by a bright and talented person. These days, Linux is an incredibly tiny piece of a "Linux distribution". Ken Brown might think that Linus is laying claim to the entire system. Of course, Linus has only ever claimed credit for the first kernel. Recent kernels have very little "Linus" in them. And the distro you have on the desktop is less than 1% Linux anyway.

      The other theory is that Ken Brown is being paid by SCO/Microsoft/LatestPariah to create FUD over the legal origins of Linux.

      I prefer my own theory. Ken wants attention. Saying something ridiculous gets easy attention and increases book sales. We're playing right into his hands by giving him the time of day. It gives him false credibility by creating a "controversy" when in reality there is no controversy. Just Ken saying ridiculous things with no evidence to back them up. It's like all those authors who write books on Noah's Ark, or the location of Atlantis. They must have a huge grin on their face when somebody pays attention to them.

      • Re:Little Help? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tiger99 (725715)
        "It's like all those authors who write books on Noah's Ark, or the location of Atlantis."

        I would have said more like those so-called professional historians, and the guy who allegedly perfected the Gas Chamber and the Electric Chair, who visited Auschwitz, saw with their own eyes, and then denied that the Holocaust ever happened. BTW I am not Jewish, I have no axe to grind, but well-established facts with overwhelming eyewitness and photographic evedence are exactly what they seem, the contrary opinion is h

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:18PM (#9221750)
    Some of which are easier to answer than others:

    Why did Brown fly all the way to Europe to interview me and (and according to an email I got from his seat-mate on the plane) one other person in Scandinavia, at considerable expense, and not at least call Linus?

    I think the answer is "because calling Linus wouldn't have allowed Brown to get the Alex de Torqeville Institute to pay for him to take a vacation to Holland".
  • In his email, Linus said that Brown never contacted him. No email, no phone call, no personal interview. Nothing. Considering the fact that Brown was writing an explosive book in which he accused Linus of not being the author of Linux, you would think a serious author would at least confront the subject with the accusation and give him a chance to respond. What kind of a reporter talks to people on the periphery of the subject but fails to talk to the main player?

    Hmmm, duh!

    How many "explosive" books on D
  • Disclosure (Score:4, Funny)

    by Vihai (668734) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:25PM (#9221788) Homepage

    I got an advance copy of Ken Brown's book. I think it is still under embargo, so I won't comment on it

    Ok, fair enought

    Let's call it The Brown Book

    So, why are you disclosing the color of the cover!?!? Baaad guy Andy :)

  • Changed opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dasein (6110) * <{tedc} {at} {codebig.com}> on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:26PM (#9221795) Homepage Journal
    You know, I think I had AST wrong. I'd seen the thread where he bashes Linus for not doing a microkernel design and thought that maybe it was sour grapes.

    His exchanges on this subject have changed my opinion on that. He's been nothing but kind toward Linus, generous with his time, and well-spoken.

    If anything good come out of this whole mess, maybe it's that AST really got to show us what he's really like instead of all of us just assuming that he was bitter about the MINIX/Linux history.
    • Re:Changed opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pankajsethi (212117) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:37PM (#9221871)
      I agree that a lot of people in academia have superinflated egos, but the ones who are at the top are because of their earnest desire to learn and explore new realms of their beloved fields. If Tannenbaum was narrow minded to get entangled in micro-kernel vs. macro-kernel, he wouldn't be where he is right now.

      Remember that research is more about asking questions, engaging in discussions, acting as a devil's advocate to prove yourself wrong, and dealing paradoxes then it is about answering them. I'm sure nobody around here as any doubt about contribution Tannenbaum has made to computer sceience can be surpassed only by few.

      He so totally rocks and has been my inspirtation since my undergrad days and has written a few books that I will never part with.
    • Re:Changed opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dan_sdot (721837) * on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:39PM (#9221884)
      You know, I think I had AST wrong. I'd seen the thread where he bashes Linus for not doing a microkernel design and thought that maybe it was sour grapes.
      Well, its good that you made such an informed judgement on his character so early. I think that way to many /.ers are doing that. They read one thread that was linked to a couple days ago, and just because it was an argument with Linus, he must be the bad guy. Remember that, after all, he was being very polite in that discussion and in the end Linus had to apologize for being too hotheaded. He simply strongly believes that microkernels are the best approach.

      So please, /.ers, stop thinking that you have to have an opinion on everything, even the things that you don't really know about.
      • by DJCouchyCouch (622482) on Friday May 21, 2004 @10:03PM (#9222336)
        So please, /.ers, stop thinking that you have to have an opinion on everything, even the things that you don't really know about.

        But... but... that would BREAK Slashdot!

        DJCC
    • Re:Changed opinion (Score:5, Interesting)

      by iggymanz (596061) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:46PM (#9221915)
      I have used AST's book with MINIX CDROM in an OS internals class I took in the evening, and I think he's the greatest. That being said, I chuckle at his stating a microkernel OS will give about a 20% performance hit compared to a monolithic (the "big mess" type, as my professor jokingly called them), but good design/ease of debugging worth that price. It is easy to see how most Linux users would side with Linus and have a "hot-rodded" OS even if more of a challenge to design and debug.

      It kind of reminds me of the performance I get on my sparcstation 5 using SunOS 4.1.3 or OpenBSD versus Solaris 2.x (though I know there's some complex issues there)
    • Re:Changed opinion (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alomex (148003) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:47PM (#9221920) Homepage
      You know, I think I had AST wrong. I'd seen the thread where he bashes Linus for not doing a microkernel design and thought that maybe it was sour grapes.

      Well shame on you. While I've never fully bought into Tanenbaum's arguments on microkernel they have never been antyhing but cogent, coherent and well made.

      It is the kind of debate that academics are used to making all the time and AST as the distinguished and brilliant OS professor he is, gave us a good example of.

      It seems Linux kiddies weren't mature enough to handle them and asumed malice on AST's part.
    • Re:Changed opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash&omnifarious,org> on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:25PM (#9222120) Homepage Journal

      I sort of thought that way about him after I read the initial argument, though I still had a lot of respect for his books. But, after reading his first article about the Brown book, I didn't feel that way anymore. It was clear to me that his comments in the middle were him gleefully taking advantage of the fact that he (deservedly) had a wide audience to point out that he still considers monolithic kernels a poor design choice and to give reasons why.

      I detected no note of bitterness or anger over Linux's success. Though I did find some of his comments about Minix licensing to be slightly revisionist. I found people's comments here to be more amusing.

      I sometimes think that people who do not have a scientist mindset mistake heated debate among scientists for petty emotional rancor. The latter does happen, but heated debate is not a definitive indicator.

    • Re:Changed opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iabervon (1971) on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:39PM (#9222198) Homepage Journal
      Linus is an engineer, and is wants to make a system that works really well. Tanenbaum is an academic, and wants to make a system which is informative. Both have been wildly successful at their respective goals.

      The microkernel argument was an academic argument, of the sort that which is not held for the purpose of winning it, but of coming to an agreement on the relative merits of different approaches. As for winners, Linux obviously continues to be a monolithic kernel. But it should not be ignored that you can now add filesystems to a running kernel as modules, and even build them outside of the kernel tree. At this point, Linux is essentially a microkernel design running as a monolithic kernel for performance reasons as an implementation detail. A future version could offer the option of running the filesystems in userspace if you want. (That is, running all of the filesystems in userspace with the kernel fs API; there's already support for having filesystems in userspace if you want.) I wouldn't be surprised if people having weird problems would be advised to try the "ext3.userspace" option, and if you could avoid tainting your kernel with "nvidia.userspace".
      • Re:Changed opinion (Score:5, Informative)

        by nathanh (1214) on Friday May 21, 2004 @11:56PM (#9222947) Homepage
        But it should not be ignored that you can now add filesystems to a running kernel as modules, and even build them outside of the kernel tree. At this point, Linux is essentially a microkernel design running as a monolithic kernel for performance reasons as an implementation detail.

        Dynamically loadable modules does not make Linux a microkernel design. It would only be a microkernel if the filesystem code ran in a different address space. But because ext3.o runs in the same address space as the kernel, it is most definitely a monolithic design. It is not a "microkernel design running as a monolithic kernel". That's just a nonsensical statement.

        A future version could offer the option of running the filesystems in userspace if you want. (That is, running all of the filesystems in userspace with the kernel fs API; there's already support for having filesystems in userspace if you want.) I wouldn't be surprised if people having weird problems would be advised to try the "ext3.userspace" option, and if you could avoid tainting your kernel with "nvidia.userspace".

        You clearly understand that the significant distinction between microkernel and monolithic is the address space for the subsystems. So I can't understand why you'd suggest that kernel modules makes Linux "essentially a microkernel design". Look at the address space for ext3.o; it's kernel space.

        I don't see Linux evolving into a microkernel until there's hardware support for cross address space branching. Don't hold your breath.

  • ./ effect (Score:2, Funny)

    by larry2k (592744)
    Professor Tanenbaum responds to the slashdot effect

    And he is living the ./ effect hell again

  • Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bgackle (597616) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:28PM (#9221803)
    I read Linus' book and heard about the "feud" between him and Tanenbaum... somehow, I never connected that Tanenbaum to the one that wrote my networking text...

    Whatever else may be said about Prof. Tanenbaum, I learned much of what I know about networking from his excellent text. It should be said that he is excellent at what he does (that is, teaching students about computers).
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:30PM (#9221820)
    Professor Tanenbaum responds to the slashdot effect

    ...by getting slashdotted again!

  • Linux is Obsolete (Score:4, Informative)

    by jsse (254124) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:39PM (#9221887) Homepage Journal
    First, I REALLY am not angry with Linus. HONEST. He's not angry with me either. I am not some kind of "sore loser" who feels he has been eclipsed by Linus. MINIX was only a kind of fun hobby for me.

    For the rest of you who don't know 'the past' Prof. Tanenbaum with Linus, you may refer to the famous mailing list log "Linux is Obsolete" [fluidsignal.com].

    Linus seems to be doing excellent work and I wish him much success in the future.

    So I guess Prof. Tanenbaum can give higher grade than "F" to Linus now. :)

    Both Prof. Tanenbaum and Linus are my favourite persons. I'm so happy to see this happy ending in real life. :~)
    • by dan_sdot (721837) * on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:51PM (#9221940)
      So I guess Prof. Tanenbaum can give higher grade than "F" to Linus now. :)
      Actually, I still don't think that he would. He still affirms that the point of view from which he looks at OS design is academic. He emphasizes that he is a PROFESSOR, not someone trying to make a production grade operating system. As are many academics, he is a purist and thus believes in a conceptually optimized design (microkernel) rather than a practical design (monolithic kernel). So, if Linus was still in his class, the "F" would probably stand, because Linux does not follow all the conceptual guidelines that Tanenbaum feels so strongly about.
      This argument was never really a big deal in the first place, it was just a classic arguemnt between a realist and a purist.
      • Re:Linux is Obsolete (Score:4, Informative)

        by MrHanky (141717) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @01:37AM (#9223350) Homepage Journal
        I think he would pass, even in the beginning. AST was clearly ironic -- he even put a smiley in his post:
        I still maintain the point that designing a monolithic kernel in 1991 is a fundamental error. Be thankful you are not my student. You would not get a high grade for such a design :-)

        Linus would also get a second 'F' for writing i386 specific code, but that problem is long gone. Are there any other OS, apart from NetBSD, that supports as many architectures as Linux?

        It seems to me that AST was quite impressed with Linux from the start -- especially the Posix compliance -- but disagreed strongly with the design (or lack thereof). You have to remember that many people actually wanted to turn Minix into something like Linux, and that was out of the question. Linux is not as good for what Minix was supposed to do: teach OS principles. If you consider the context of the discussion, AST does not look as arrogant, and certainly not stupid (although his predictions for the future were a bit off target, but I don't think Linus expected his little hobby to be the subject of a multi-billion dollar suit either).
  • 2500 hits (Score:5, Funny)

    by bandicot (532886) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:40PM (#9221889) Homepage
    Examining his home-page hit rate:

    1600 come from search-engine bots
    450 come from kids attempting to compromise his apache server with IIS-specific exploits
    350 come from a single female grad student who is all aflutter over AST's [micro-kernel] hacking skills.
    75 come from accidentally mis-spelling 'whitehouse.gov'
    24 come from /. users
    1 comes from his mother.
  • by puntloos (673234) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:45PM (#9221909) Journal
    Trying not to troll here, but this document is not that news-worthy, is it? I mean -obviously- the whole Ken Brown thing is one big Microsoft Marketing Ploy (tm). If a manager 'falls for' (lets assume the Ken Brown book is purely Microsoft Marketing driven) the arguments of the book, he's probably not of the sort to go look for Andrew Tanenbaum's site. These people are the ones that fall for dicy logic (in this case, the "Argumentam ad Verecundiam", or argument from authority, fake or no, the institute sounds interesting)

    On the same note, I doubt that very many in the 'Slashdot-like' internet community need extra convincing to believe that the book is Microsoft-driven, not fact-driven.

    Therefore the only effect Tanenbaum (and Slashdot) gets from this document is self-defence and mutual knob-polishery. Not that Tanenbaum is entitled to have his say and defend his honor, but there you go.

    What the Slashdot/unix/GNU/whatever community really should consider is how they can truely counter the 'lets convince the stupid masses' policy of Microsoft. (yeah I know I sound elitist, thats because I am..)

    Seriously though, the more manager types that don't fall for Microsoft Marketing the better, IMHO. But how? I don't think slashdotting works, but perhaps we should set up a more Market-driven avocacy site for open source. Get The Facts! There are plenty of people out there who would have fun with doing some effective marketing here, and could do more for the community than program another random number generator ;)

    One of the things that strikes me most about Microsoft Marketing is that whatever Article (negative or no) I read online about Microsoft, 8 out of 10 times I see a big blinking Microsoft ad! I can't help but be impressed by that, even if I don't like it.

    • "What the Slashdot/unix/GNU/whatever community really should consider is how they can truely counter the 'lets convince the stupid masses' policy of Microsoft. (yeah I know I sound elitist, thats because I am..) "

      My opinion, the easiest way to do this is sugested in your statement. The key is unix, not linux. Meaning linux is in the unix family. Promoting unix as a whole as an alternative to microsoft, especially in the server areas is important.

      There are different types of unixes from proprietary to

      • You're right, and indeed I said 'unix' not 'linux'. The whole thing that is both the strenght and the weakness of the 'alternative to windows' is its very nature, the design Philosophy. Open Source most notably. The problem is, everyone has the right and the possibility to make their custom version of an application or even core structure, tweaked to their needs, and this is a Marketing disaster.

        Open Source fights itself

        If I promote Linux I would have no time to promote OpenBSD, even though in princip
    • >Therefore the only effect Tanenbaum (and Slashdot) gets from this
      >document is self-defence and mutual knob-polishery. Not that
      >Tanenbaum is entitled to have his say and defend his honor, but there
      >you go.

      I don't think Tanenbaum loses sleep worrying about the commercial sucess of Linux :)

      I think he was mostly trying to prevent looking like a dick for being associated with that book. Mission accomplished!

      Perhaps today he's preaching to the choir, but look at it this way: One of the world's most respected computer scientists just TRASHED the integrity of the guy who interviewed him. I'm sure the whatchamacallit institute will be a long time living this down. And Tanembaum provides lots of nice quotes for the profesional marketers from Red Hat/IBM/Novell/whatever, computer columnists, etc.
  • by VValdo (10446) on Friday May 21, 2004 @08:54PM (#9221956)
    Sorry, I came to this discussion late. Is this the same Alexis de Tocqueville Institution that came out with that controversial "report" called Opening the Open Source Debate [adti.net] a few years back? Here's a quote from the press release...
    In a paper to be released next week, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution outlines how open source might facilitate efforts to disrupt or sabotage electronic commerce, air traffic control or even sensitive surveillance systems.

    And who funded that Alexis de Tocqueville Institution report?

    Take a guess [wired.com].

    W
  • by Foolhardy (664051) <csmith32@gmail. c o m> on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:01PM (#9221987)
    A small gem is where he disclosed that Ken Brown can't multiply simple positive integers.
    What, he doesn't have his times tables memorized? Neither do I, and it hasen't been a problem.
  • by Coram (4712) on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:01PM (#9221989)
    Silly geeks. Al Gore wrote linux.
  • by ValourX (677178) on Friday May 21, 2004 @09:17PM (#9222062) Homepage
    ... you guys would absolutely not believe the stuff this guy says about Free Software philosophy. He takes every single aspect of FOSS and gives it a sinister anti-business anti-America anti-puppy connotation.

    I only read the first 20 pages or so, then I skipped to the bibliography. In over fifty listings, the only real books he listed were ESR's and they're available online. Every other reference he listed was someone's personal homepage or a newsgroup posting or something arbitrary like that.

    There will be an article, ladies and gentlemen. I just haven't decided if it should be a serious analytical debunking of this troll book or a humor piece that shows its rediculousness.

    -Jem
  • Class Act (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geomon (78680) on Friday May 21, 2004 @10:47PM (#9222572) Homepage Journal
    The more I read of Tanenbaum and his work the more I admire him. The fact that he is a Fellow of two prestigious societies says alot about his contributions.
    Tanenbaum is a classic academic; he knows where to pick his fights - on the science. He attempts to stay above personalities, but doesn't flinch when it comes to calling bullshit on some dickhead (my words) who is out to smear someone for money.

  • Microkernel reality (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Friday May 21, 2004 @11:30PM (#9222807) Homepage
    For starters, I'm reading this discussion on a computer running a microkernel. This machine is running QNX 6.2 [qnx.com] on a Shuttle 1.5GHz AMD desktop box. The browser is Mozilla 1.6, running under the QNX Photon GUI. It runs about as well as the same version of Mozilla on a comparable Windows machine. Even the same Mozilla bugs show up.

    The file systems and networking are user programs. You can add new file systems; there's one that mounts .zip files, there's NFS, and there's Samba. In Linux terms, visualize a system where there's the /proc file system for inter-program communication, and everything works through that mechanism.

    The drivers really are outside the OS. I've written a FireWire camera driver for QNX, and it's a user program. It's privileged in that it does map some real memory shared by the device, and it can talk to the device directly, so it could potentially cause a crash by making the device write someplace it shouldn't. (That's really a weakness in the PC's I/O architecture; there's no MMU between devices and memory, for historical reasons dating back to the original IBM PC.)

    Debugging a driver is like debugging a normal program. You can even run a driver under a debugger. You can kill a driver while it's running, and it's no big deal. (If you have real memory mapped, it's not recovered until the next boot, so I had to restart my machine about once a week while doing driver development.) Mainframe people have been doing this since the 1960s, but it's rare on PCs.

    The basic penalty for using a microkernel is one extra copy and context switch for every file system operation. If your system is doing anything besides I/O, you'll probably never notice. If you're running a web server that serves mostly plain pages (little Perl, Java, PHP, etc.), you'd probably notice the overhead.

    So why are microkernels so rare? They're hard to write well. You can't just hack them together like a UNIX clone. There are some tough design problems to be solved. If those are botched, message passing performance will be terrible. Message passing and CPU scheduling need to work together. This forces certain design decisions in the scheduler. It's also why adding message passing to an existing system tends not to work well. The Hurd crowd has been thrashing on this issue for a decade. I would have loved to see something as good as QNX from the Hurd people. But it didn't happen.

    Mach didn't really work out as a microkernel. Mach started from 4.3BSD (considered bloated in its day), and versions of Mach below 3 had 4.3BSD in the kernel. MacOS X is not a microkernel system; the BSD stuff is in the kernel. Basically, retrofitting a microkernel architecture to an existing UNIX kernel didn't work.

    What you do get from a microkernel like QNX is predictablity. The kernel changes very little and is very reliable. Good microkernels, like QNX and IBM's VM, settle down into versions that almost never change and have very long MTBFs. This brings down total cost of ownership.

    • by 0x0d0a (568518)
      The basic penalty for using a microkernel is one extra copy and context switch for every file system operation. If your system is doing anything besides I/O, you'll probably never notice. If you're running a web server that serves mostly plain pages (little Perl, Java, PHP, etc.), you'd probably notice the overhead.

      The bus multiplier on processors and the cycles-for-a-main-memory-access have steadily increased over the past decade or so. This has steadily increased the cost of a page table cache flush, a
  • by James Lewis (641198) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @01:19AM (#9223267)
    I think the Linux is obsolete flamewar [oreilly.com] is good reading for anyone trying to understand the history behind all of this. It certainly is funny to see Tanenbaum making predictions like "5 years from now everyone will be running free GNU on their 200 MIPS, 64M SPARCstation-5". Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but it does make one wonder what the history of free operating systems would look like had Linux been controlled/produced by someone with Tanenbaum's outlook rather than Linus's.
    • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @05:00AM (#9223861) Journal
      Read more closely in Linus' old writings -- Linus originally intended Linux to be a stopgap solution, and expected that HURD would end up taking over the position of flagbearer.

      As it happened, HURD ended up sucking, and so Linux remained the default.

      I think the thing that set Linus off was more the fact that Linux was being insulted (probably Prof. Tanenbaum was feeling a bit cranky that day or something, and Linus was in a fighting mood...)

      It's funny how emails waaay back then, from when Linus was still a pretty small fry guy, can come back to haunt the people involved.

      It's something to think about before posting to a mailing list: If I get really famous ten years from now, is this going to cause me or someone I respect hurt?
  • by mec (14700) <mec@shout.net> on Saturday May 22, 2004 @01:44AM (#9223371) Journal
    This is some lame FUD ... not evil, but lame.

    (1) Since when does "Alexis de Tocqueville Institute" sound like an IT consulting group that anyone would want to pay attention to? Check out their website; it's a political think tank (which is what I would expect from the de Tocqueville moniker).
    (2) "Linus didn't write Linux" ... sounds like a dorky meme. Besides looking stupid on a shallow marketing level (why do you think it's called Linux?) and being factually stupid (he sure did write it), it's one of those big yawner don't-care issues. Joe CIO isn't gonna go "oooh! better not deploy Linux after all! Linus didn't actually write it!"
    (3) If you're gonna write an attack book, how about reading the existing books first, so that the people you talk to don't point your ignorance in public.

    Can you imagine us Penguinistas trying this kind of weak shit on Microsoft? "Hey, Boss! I've got a study from the Henry David Thoreau Institute! Bill Gates didn't actually write MS-DOS, he bought it from Tim Paterson, so we better not run anything from Microsoft. Besides, Windows crashes all the time ... errr okay I haven't actually RUN Windows since Windows 95 ... anyways we should run Linux on everything!"

    Microsoft says that Linux is their #1 or #2 competitor. I expect a helluva lot stronger attack from Microsoft than this!

    My theory is that Microsoft uses AdTI to float many different trial balloons. They'll keep the ones that look good and dump the stinkers. This one's a stinker.
  • by boots@work (17305) on Saturday May 22, 2004 @06:00AM (#9223982)
    I've read Ken Brown's essay, and I debunk it here [sourcefrog.net]. Here is the executive summary:
    • The paper is poorly written, full of contradictions and gramatical errors. If their essay were a program, it would not even compile, let alone work.
    • Nearly every paragraph makes an unsubstantiated assertion. Brown seems to feel that just inserting "it is clear that", "ironically", "clearly", or "it is widely known" is an adequate substitute for cited evidence. Ironically, it clearly is not.
    • Brown clearly does not understand the terms he uses, such as "copyright", "public domain" or "open source". He does not seem to understand that copyright protects representations, not ideas. In several places he seems to think that open source is in the public domain.
    • Quotes such as "sometimes theft is necessary" as are attributed to the open source community without any evidence they were ever uttered by anyone.
    • Experts are asked misleading or hypothetical questions to elicit quotes that are used out of context. I think AdTI is not honest enough to ask straight questions because the answers would not suit them.
    • Brown says he can't believe that Linus wrote Linux, because... welll, he just can't believe it. Nothing more. He does not cite even a single line of Linux source that was copied from any other system, despite that all the data needed to check this is available to him. If he found even one line, his paper might be credible. But he does not.
    • When sources are cited, Brown grossly misinterprets the data: diagrams that do not show code descent are interpreted as showing code descent.
    • If Microsoft paid AdTI to write this, they didn't get much for their money.
    • AdTI would like universities to release their work under something like the MIT licence, rather than the GPL or proprietary licences. At least this is not obviously silly, though as usual they just state it without making a meaningful case.
    • Perhaps worst of all, the authors did not even speak to Linus [groklaw.net] before publishing these fabulous \ allegations against him.

There is never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.

Working...