that old GNU/Linux argument

Timothy Murphy gayleard at
Tue Jul 22 13:09:01 UTC 2008

Ric Moore wrote:

> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Linus is the son of the journalists Anna and Nils Torvalds, He was
> attracted to computers from an early age and attended the University of
> Helsinki from 1988 to study Computer Science. In 1991, he purchased a
> PC. As the computers at the university were Unix-based, he bought a copy
> of Andrew Tanenbaum’s MINIX operating system. He was dissatisfied with
> it, and set about writing his own Unix clone from scratch, unaware of
> the enormity of the task.. After four months work, in his bedroom in his
> mother’s apartment, he announced, in the MINIX newsgroup comp.os.minix
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just on the history of Linux.

I think it is misleading to say that Torvalds was "dissatisfied" with Minix.
The fact is, Tanenbaum (bizarrely) declined to port Minix to the 386
on the absurd grounds that there were millions of 286's around the world,
and people would continue using them indefinitely.

I'm pretty sure the truth is that Tanenbaum was just fed up with Minix,
and wanted to get onto something else.

In my very limited experience, Tanenbaum is a very different
kind of character to Torvalds.
He is very intellectual, and not really into cosy chats 
over a couple of pints.
In other words, organizing a free software bazaar 
was not really his cup of tea.

If he had put out a 386 version of Minix,
I very much doubt if Torvalds would have written Linux,
or if he had I doubt if it would have got off the ground.

> So, he took Minux, an operating system, (presumably with it's GNU
> packages),

Did Minix in fact use GNU packages?
It certainly did not use glibc,
as Tanenbaum had developed his own C compiler,
as part of the Amsterdam Compiler Kit
(which I suspect he was really more interested in than Minix).

I've always thought Tanenbaum is the "forgotten man" of Linux history,
rather than Stallman.
(I'm not attacking Stallman, just saying he is not forgotten ...)

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