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Why Does SCO Focus On A Minix-to-Linux Link? 227

ansak writes "In the latest scoop from Groklaw, Groklaw user talks_to_birds pointed out an error in SCO's version of the famous Levenez Unix Timeline. The important error is the green dotted line which shows Minix to be a derivative of Unix. If this were accepted, and if Linux was shown to be a derivative of Minix, then SCO's lawsuits would be more likely to have merit. As it turned out, even MS called Samizdat unhelpful, but at least now there may be a plausible reason why someone would try to make the link between Minix and Linux in the first place."
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Why Does SCO Focus On A Minix-to-Linux Link?

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  • Long live geeks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:35PM (#9479985)
    One can't help but feel a warm fuzzy sense of nostalgia looking back over the history of Unix, even if a fair number of us geeks here are younger than Unix (er, UNICS) itself.

    UNICS was released nearly 40 years ago...and it's legacy still lives on. It'll take more than the likes of SCO (and a dotted green line) to tear down the Open-Source community. Long live geeks.
    • by vijaya_chandra ( 618284 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:40PM (#9480000)
      Forget unix. I am younger even than DOS
      (Disk Operating System not /.s Denial Of Service)

      (Karma be damned; I am no better than an AC anyway)
    • Re:Long live geeks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Further82 ( 720625 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:40PM (#9480001) Journal
      Unix itself is not open source, its more like a specification for an OS, but there are plenty of unix OS's that are not open source and plenty that dont fall under SCO's attack plan. So even if SCO did manage to win it would not destroy UNIX or the open source community (freeBSD comes to mind as a unix OS thats open source and SCO is not targeting, yet...)
      • Long live FreeBSD (Score:5, Informative)

        by thejuggler ( 610249 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:30PM (#9480919) Homepage Journal
        SCO nor anyone else can target FreeBSD anymore. Berkeley Software Design Inc.(creators of BSD/386 and BSD/OS) and the creator of FreeBSD (U of C, Berkeley) and were sued by AT&T back in 1992. All was settled out of court and the result was FreeBSD had to be moved to a new code base (4.4BSD-Lite Source Code) free of AT&T licences before FreeBSD could move on in life.

        Another note: back in 1992, AT&T sold the portion of the company that made their UNIX (UNIX Systems Laboratories - USL) to Novell, Inc.

        SOURCE: The Complete FreeBSD 3rd Edition by Greg Lehey
        • by ross.w ( 87751 ) <rwonderley&gmail,com> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:49PM (#9481043) Journal
          Also remember that Microsoft and Adti have no problem with *BSD because the licence lets them use the code in commercial software without contributing anything. It's GPL software they have a problem with, not Linux per se. Ken Brown practically said as much himself.

          THerefore I think they realise that to go after *BSD is to kill the goose that's laid them plenty of golden eggs.
          • Re:Long live FreeBSD (Score:3, Interesting)

            by drsmithy ( 35869 )
            Also remember that Microsoft and Adti have no problem with *BSD because the licence lets them use the code in commercial software without contributing anything. It's GPL software they have a problem with, not Linux per se. Ken Brown practically said as much himself.

            I would also speculate the Microsoft wouldn't have too much of a problem with the LGPL as well, since that only involves contributing back changes to the LGPLed code.

    • Re:Long live geeks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RealSurreal ( 620564 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:58PM (#9480071)
      Personally I get a warm feeling every time the geeks at Groklaw find another piece of evidence that sticks it to SCO. They're alpha geeks. All hail PJ!
    • UNICS was released nearly 40 years ago...

      According to Grokline [], "UNICS" was released Dec. 31, 1969. I guess that could be "nearly 40," but it's not quite.
  • simple... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:35PM (#9479987) Journal
    They are trying to bolster their claims that Linux came from Minix, which came from the same source as Sinix, which is their code.

    Actually, if you just go to Groklaw, they have tons of really good info on this, instead of just AC comments. Including links to the SCO chart showing how Linux is linked off of "SCO Linux"...
    • Re:simple... (Score:4, Informative)

      by fanatic ( 86657 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:43PM (#9480012)
      Minix, which came from the same source as Sinix,

      Not that's wrong too. Tanenbaum wrote Minix form scratch.

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

        by Pharmboy ( 216950 )
        As they explain in the articles, "from" doesn't mean the same source code, it means it was compatible or supposed to be. Again, I know this is wrong, and its just more of their FUD. Grok has a great set of articles on it, better than average.
        • Re:simple... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by perlchild ( 582235 )
          I know that and you know that, but they don't tell the judge that, that's why it's news.
          • ...if they based their entire legal attack on a single green line on a picture that while excellent in showing basic history doesn't go into detail and doesn't reference sources.

            (I think that Levenez's work is quite good. I just always assume that a chart or graph is a simplified representation and never to be taken literally)
          • Re:simple... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rcs1000 ( 462363 ) *
            Actually, they will tell the judge that.

            Copyright law governs hows you attribute things, and what mayu legally be derived. So, you can't take a table of somebody else's data and pass it off as your own. However, you can take the table, perform your own analysis, and attibute it to yourself.

            An obvious example from the real world would be the AMI bios; it was "derived", "inspired", or even "based on" the IBM bios - yet a judge said it was OK.

            The same is clearly true here; SCO will have no luck arguing that
    • by fatray ( 160258 )
      I think the interesting thing about this is that it is a brand new offensive from SCO. We should have known this was coming when we saw the BS from Ken Brown claiming that Linux had Minix source in it. This shows that SCO has run out of plausible claims and is now making up really silly stuff that has already been refuted.

      If anything, this shows that SCO is not going away merely because they don't have a case. The will keep grinding away as long as they have funding.
      • I think the interesting thing about this is that it is a brand new offensive from SCO.

        I think they ran out of offensives quite a while ago and are focusing on trying to cull the damage as much as they can.

        But, of course, it's far, far too late. MWAH HA HA HA HA HA!!!
      • Where I come from we have a legal figure called (how can I put it in English? let me try...) "litigation in bad faith" ("litigância de má-fé", to the Portuguese speakers out there). It is what SCO is doing: starting a legal process against someone even when they know they don't have a case. Doesnt the American juridical system have such a thing?
        • by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <[yoda] [at] []> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:35PM (#9481315) Homepage Journal
          Before you get that far, there you could probably catch them for Perjury, namely lying under oath. Bad faith litigation only affects your ability to file new suits. Perjury is something they toss you in jail for a long time, and strip you of any legal credentials.

          It's pretty hard to be convicted of perjury. It has to be proven that you KNEW what you were saying was in fact not true AND your false testimony was material to the court case.

          The punishments are pretty stiff. The problem is enforcement is usually limited to someone the system wants to bring down, rather than those who are playing it like a cheap guitar.

    • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:33PM (#9480190) Journal
      Or maybe it's a backup plan -- if you can't successfully sue everyone that has used Linux, sue everyone that has used Minix! :-)
  • It doen't matter. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theglassishalf ( 216497 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:37PM (#9479992) Homepage
    This enitre issue is moot. SCO distributed copies of linux under the GPL. Thus, if they owned the code, they GPLed it. End of story. It's silly to talk about it. They have already released their copyright. That is the final, and only important issue.


    • Re:It does matter. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:40PM (#9479999) Journal
      They have already released their copyright.

      They can't release what they don't own. Since it appears that Novell owns the copyrights, SCO may be elligible for a lawsuit for unlawful disclosure of copyrighted material to the public. This is yet another can of worms, and we would have to hope that since Novell just bought SuSe (with the help of IBM) that this would not cause other problems with code SCO contributed before it became evil.
    • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:45PM (#9480018) Journal
      That would only hold if they were aware of the supposed violation at the time they distributed the GPLed code in the first place. They claim that they weren't, and that once they were, contractural obligations prevented them from ceasing to distribute the code. (hard to swallow, but it's a story)
      • IANAL, but I read slashdot!

        To my knowledge, a software license is a contractual agreement. Can I join into two conflicting contractual agreements, and then later pick which one to ge oblicated to?
      • Too late. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:32PM (#9480182) Homepage
        They may not have been aware of the violation at the time they initially distributed the GPLed code. In that case they get to hide behind this "doctrine of mutual mistake" or whatever it's called.

        However, they certainly were aware of the violation at the time they filed their lawsuit against IBM. And they knowingly and consciously continued to distribute Linux as a product for some time, and from their website for at least eight months, after this. Any protections they might have potentially had they simply threw away by doing this.
      • by cpuffer_hammer ( 31542 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:34PM (#9480201) Homepage

        As a software company that created a Linux distribution for them to say they did not know what was in it is for them to admit that they were not doing there job as a distribution.

        The reason to by a distribution like RH, Caldera, or Lindows is to have someone bring the product together and make sure it works. As well as provide support and other services.

        It would be one thing if it was a distribution by an non-software company, or by a private group or individual. Then maybe I could imagen that they did not know what they were selling, but Caldera's pitch was buy our product because we know what we are doing.
      • Re:It doen't matter. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bwt ( 68845 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:33PM (#9481308) Homepage
        No! The GPL places an independent burden on distributors to independently re-GPL anything they distribute. SCO was certainly aware of what they were distributing. The alternative is that they distributed a mix of other peoples GPL code and their own proprietary code, which is for-profit copyright infringement. Since these acts (occur and continue even now) after they proclaimed linux infringing, they can't plead ignorance anymore.

        So they can choose between A) losing because they GPL'd everything in dispute regardless of whether it was proprietary or not before they distributed it, or B) losing because their entire linux business was based on willful, for-profit piracy.

    • SCO dosn't have a case, but not because of this. If they didn't intentionaly release their code under the GPL, then they havn't give up their rights to it. If SCO didn't know, origionaly, that Linux had their code in it, their distribution dosn't mean they gave up their code. You can't agree to something without knowing that you've agreed.

      And also, you can distribute GPL'd code without GPLing it, it's just a violation of copyright law. If the author finds out, you'll have to stop, or be fined by the
      • > If they didn't intentionaly release their code under the GPL, then they havn't give up their rights to it.

        I think this is valid in other types of agreements but not here. Consider that SCO had the code right in their view all along; is it not their responsibility to ensure all the code is OK? I'm /sure/ that people so hell bent on IP law made sure there're no violations in their own source before releasing it, right?

        > But the author can't claim that all your code is now GPL'd.

        That's debateable -m
  • by JoeShmoe950 ( 605274 ) <> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:39PM (#9479998) Homepage
    Inform me if I'm wrong, but didn't Linus make Linux because he didn't like Minix?
    • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:44PM (#9480015) Journal
      He made linux for two reasons, from what I have read: He didn't like the limitations of Minix. He didn't like the license of Minix. Minix was designed to be a limited teaching tool, and cost like 70-80 bucks a license. He worked on a Minix box when he first started, until he could get .1 kernel up enough to boot.

      I think Minix was completely from scratch as well, and not fully POSIX, but close enough. The author of Minix is and was a college professor, whose sole motivation was to make a teaching tool (and appearantly make a few bucks to cover costs I guess...)

      I also think that Linus began using the GNU/GPL within a year of starting the project.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:21PM (#9480139)
        Minix pre-dates the POSIX standard.
      • The way I understood it the price of Minix was never attached to a license structure the way you describe. Rather, you had to pay Prentice Hall for the book it came with or for the disks or whatever. They covered their publishing costs and probably made a tiny amount of money on it. But I'm pretty sure you could download it for free also, and in any case if you bought it once you could certainly install it all over the place, edit the code, submit patches to it to newsgroups, or wasn't just so
    • Linus made Linux to learn 386 assembly code. I believe that he did start off with a lot of Minix code but that was all quickly replaced. It just so happened that there was a demand for a Unix-like kernel.
    • Inform me if I'm wrong, but didn't Linus make Linux because he didn't like Minix?

      Not exactly. Minix was pretty much the only option other than BSD at the time, and BSD required some beefy hardware. The problem was that Tanenbaum didn't want to add the features necessary to make Minix a useful OS. He wanted it to be a teaching tool. The result was that Linus used Minix to bootstrap Linux development to fill the vacuum.

  • Not plausible (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fanatic ( 86657 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:41PM (#9480002)
    plausible reason why someone would try to make the link between Minix and Linux in the first place

    No, because the guy who made this link, Ken Brown, intentionally ignored multiple sources of information that Linux was *not* derived from Linux. It was totally untrue, and he knew it because:

    • Tanenbaum, who wrote Minix, told him so.
    • The guy Ken Brown hired to find where Linux took from Minix told him that it had not in fact happened, after analysing the code.
    There never was *any* plausible support for Brown's case and he knew it *befire* making PR announcements, but he went ahead anyhow.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:45PM (#9480022)
      ...that Linux was *not* derived from Linux.

      That would have made writing it a lot easier, I'm sure...

    • You missed a few! (Score:5, Informative)

      by leonbrooks ( 8043 ) <SentByMSBlast-No ...> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:55PM (#9480062) Homepage
      • Andy told him so several times.
      • Bruce Perens, editor of the Prentice Hall series cited by Brown, told him so.
      • Robert Swartz, founder of Mark Williams Co, authors of Coherent, also told him so.
      • Ilkka Tuomi and several other scientists and historians told him so.
      • Richard Stallman told him so too.
      • No less than Dennis Ritchie told him so.
      There's a reasonably complete linkfarm on GrokLaw [], of course, and even more complete derivative at WikiPedia [], including gems from their tobacco-whore days.
      • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:30PM (#9480169) Homepage
        [Brown immitation]

        All of those people are hybrid source hackers.

        It took thousands of programmers years to create Unix. It seems obvious to me that there is no possible way an inexperienced lone programmer could create millions of lines of the Linux system in 6 months in his parents basement. All of the people you listed are obviously biased and lying.

        [/Brown immitation]

      • Yes, those people told him so.

        However, if I read the grandparent post correctly, the point was that Tanenbaum and the hired gun (too lazy to look up his name. Sorry, sir.) both said there was nothing substantial shared between Minix and Linux. And they said so before the Ken Brown/AdTI PR machine ramped up.

        While you are correct that a number of individuals-in-the-know did try to make the information known, the grandparent post stands correct as far as the timeline is concerned.

    • At this point, Tanenbaum, Linus and Ritchie have all chimed in. Has Kernighan commented on the statement? That (and plausably RMS for glibc) would complete the statements of all authors involved in every system - Unix, Minix and Linux. None so far have seen any link whatsoever other than formally published reference specs intended to maintain compatability.

      Evan "Ran a BBS based on Minix for awhile"

    • The point is not that the link made by Ken Brown is plausible (which it clearly isn't). Rather it is that Ken Brown now appears to have a plausible reason for trying to link Minux and Linux; i.e. to support a legal argument that SCO might try to make in their various lawsuits.

      The other theory on Ken Brown's motivation (that this "research" was done at Microsoft's behest) makes no sense to me. Microsoft would not want to be seen as associated with anything as obviously bogus as Samizdat. They are not th

  • ...a Microsoft-sponsored IDC telephone survey a couple of days ago did still ask me if "the SCO litigation" was one of the reasons I use Linux.

    I said "Yes", of course, since I'd use Linux on principle if I hadn't been already when extortionists like TSG (The Sco Group) sued them. If they turn and sue someone like the NetBSD project, I'd find a place in my organisation for a NetBSD box as well.

    For the curious, IDC called from Malaysia into Australia, and "Brian" (no idea if that's his real name) said that IDC were planning on setting up their main Asia-Pacific offices there.
  • by femto ( 459605 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:47PM (#9480035) Homepage
    From the notes [] accompanying the diagram:
    Note 1 : an arrow indicates an inheritance like a compatibility, it is not only a matter of source code.

    Emphasis is not mine.

    Thus is, an arrow does not imply that Linux's source code is derived from Minix. It only implies that, in some way, the functionality may be compatible with Minix. Source code is not the only criteria for an arrow.

    • Apart from that fact, if you look at their green dotted line it's faulty anyway - the actual line shows a short arrow branching from the main trunk to Sinix and then shortly after a branch from the same trunk (not from the Sinix branch) to Minix. On the SCO version the size of the dots obscures this, the top of the Minix branch is cut off and the green dotted line follows from the Sinix branch down to Minix when infact they both come from the trunk, the Minix branch just happens to cross the Sinix branch in
    • by femto ( 459605 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:03PM (#9480092) Homepage
      More info:

      The Wayback Machine [] indicates [] that "Note 1" was added in the period 2nd August 2002 [] to 14th October 2002 [].

      This is well before the start of the SCO affair (7th March 2003), so the note is not a belated attempt to bolster Linux's case. The diagram genuinely does not measure source code dependence.

      • further, there are other instances of solid lines in the original (maintained by the SCO version) that don't indicate common source code. Plan 9, for example, is shown to be a fork off Research Unix v8. at best this is an "inspired by" type of link, as not only is there no code, but the counter-example of "compatibility" doesn't even hold up - they weren't.

        i'm also not sure the placement of the fork is accurate - i think it should fork off some time between v9 and v10, but i'm seeking confirmation - but th
  • by JamesP ( 688957 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:51PM (#9480043)
    ... made Linus admit that Santa Claus wrote Linux, everything is settled...

    Linux cames from North Pole and this is it...


  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:51PM (#9480045) Homepage
    ...if we had some eggs."

    It's just like that old joke. If Linux came from Minix, and if Minix came from Unix, then SCO might have some eggs. But since Linux didn't come from Minix and Minix didn't come from Unix, SCO has shit.
  • Levenez's Chart (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kismet ( 13199 ) < minus painter> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:54PM (#9480058) Homepage
    If you examine Eric's original chart, you will see that this relationship between Linux, Minix, and Unix exists even there. SCO has simply made it obvious to see, and called the chart a sort of "pedigree" to suggest that Linux contains actual Unix "genetic" material.

    Of course, Eric states very clearly on his site that "an arrow indicates an inheritance like a compatibility, it is not only a matter of source code"

    And anyway, Minix doesn't contain any AT&T source code by Tanenbaum's own admission. Linux doesn't contain Minix code. These are both original works, influenced by the Unix flavor of their time. That is what the Levenez chart shows, nothing more.

    The chart is only useful to SCO in their campaign of dishonesty to suggest something that is clearly untrue, and that has been proved repeatedly to be untrue.
    • Regarding the chart, I agree. UNIX V7 -> Sinix -> Minix -> Linux is what SCO implies. UNIX V7 -> Minix -> Linux is what the chart shows. There's still a UNIX -> Minix -> Linux relationship and no one disputes that, but the relationship is one of compatibility or useability, not source, as Eric points out.
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:54PM (#9480059) Journal
    Try suing the BSD distros instead?

    I read in the Linux journal a few years ago that Minux was formed because AT&T wanted to charge $30,000 per cpu for sysV!

    Talk about extortion!

    Minux was formed as a result but was never updated when Bell labs lowered the price and allowed other people to make versions of Unix like Sun and SGI.

    Unless I am wrong?

    Minix became outdated after Unix went down in price and instead became used in the academia environment to teach students how an OS works. It never really was finished and the internet really did not exist like today without a WWW. Mainly just a few newsgroup and a tiny number of FTP sites which made working on Minix difficult.

    BSD on the other hand has plenty of more merit.

    It is a direction descendant of SysIII with some bits of SysV unixware code added in.

    All the offending code has been removed today but FreeBSD 1.x and early builds of NetBSD had the Unix in it. THis is why FreeBSD compatiblity only goes back to 2.x and not the 1.x series based on NET/2.

    They are a descendant of SysIII from the late 70's since this was used for early BSD development.

    Since the deal was sealed we dont really know what happened or what the terms were with the current BSD's. IBM wants to find out.

    Someone please feel free to correct me if I am wrong since I may be ingorant in this subject area. I want to know.
    • by mflaster ( 702697 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:10PM (#9480117)
      Tanenbaum didn't write Minix to be a competitor to Unix - he wanted to use it primarily for teaching. See here [].
      Years later, I was teaching a course on operating systems and using John Lions' book on UNIX Version 6. When AT&T decided to forbid the teaching of the UNIX internals, I decided to write my own version of UNIX, free of all AT&T code and restrictions, so I could teach from it.
      He even said that he rejected many patches from people trying to make it more "useable", because he wanted it to remain simple enough to teach from.


    • by LardBrattish ( 703549 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:11PM (#9480119) Homepage
      I read in the Linux journal a few years ago that Minux was formed because AT&T wanted to charge $30,000 per cpu for sysV! Talk about extortion! Minux was formed as a result but was never updated when Bell labs lowered the price and allowed other people to make versions of Unix like Sun and SGI. Unless I am wrong?

      Not strictly wrong Minix was written by one person, college professor Andy Tannenbaum, in order to teach Operating System design to students and be able to give them a real example to work with. Obviously paying $30,000/CPU for a student is not feasible so that was probably part of the motivation but being able to show a fully functional operating system was the main reason. Minix is sold with a book. It was never an open source project in the way we now know & love. Andy didn't apply patches regularly and didn't want to overburden the core of MINIX because it would reduce its' value as a teaching tool. Hence people became frustrated and LINUX was born.
      • And interestingly enough, the Amiga OS also grew out of a teaching system--the Tripos OS, written at Cambridge by people including Professor Martin Richards, who invented BCPL and worked at Bell Labs with Kernighan and Richie... who were inspired by BCPL when designing C.
    • BSD on the other hand has plenty of more merit.

      It is a direction descendant of SysIII with some bits of SysV unixware code added in.

      Actually, BSD started from V7 Unix. System III came later. This is one of the reasons that signal handling semantics are such a mess.

  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @07:56PM (#9480063)
    The whole point is not to make legal sense but to keep enough bafflement in there to confuse the "investors" and keep them hoping that there is still some reason why SCO stock should not be printed on toilet paper.
  • ... show Minix to be a derivitive of Unix as well? or am I reading the original version's timeline incorrectly? Because in both the original and SCOs version, there's a line from a version of Unix to Minix.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...they own everything. Just look at that blatant yellow line labelled Unixware Pedigree that starts on the left.

    So why haven't they picked on the other 'derivatives' in the diagram? Surely it should be an all or nothing argument, not a 'pick the ones you want to fight' affair?

    "SCO Darl Mcbride == IBM Scarred clod"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    that timeline reminds me of some photos I saw at MOMA here in NYC of spiderwebs made by spiders that had been given doses of LSD.

    wish I had a link.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:14PM (#9480125)
    What would happen if John Carmack decided to program an operating system from scratch? Is his specialty 3D engines, or does he have the talent required to build an OS?

    Reply below
    • Perhaps. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcc ( 14761 )
      He's a smart fellow. What I'd be curious to see happen, though, is John Carmack attempt to write a web browser.

      A modern web browser

      • is OS-like in complexity, but less silly hardware tying is necessary
      • poses interesting crossplatform targetting compatibility issues, such as those Carmack faces when writing his game engines
      • like a game, requires rendering of very large, complex, and dynamic graphic objects, and this must be done in an efficient and quick manner-- something current web browsers tend to b
    • What would happen if John Carmack decided to program an operating system from scratch? Is his specialty 3D engines, or does he have the talent required to build an OS?

      The guy writes control systems for rockets part time while working on Doom 3. I'd say he's fairly talented.

  • by LuYu ( 519260 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:16PM (#9480128) Homepage Journal

    Ken Brown in an email message to Dennis Ritchie:

    3) In my opinion, you wrote Unix (UNICS) from scratch. In my opinion, Linus Torvalds did NOT write Linux from scratch. What is you opinion? How much did he write? I talked to a Finnish programmer that insists that Linus had the Unix code (the Lyon's Book) and Minix code. Without those two, who could not have even come close to writing Linux. I hate to ask such a bare-knuckle question, but I really feel that this part of history is very gray. [Empasis mine]
    This was a question Ken Brown asked while interviewing for his book. He obviously made his decision before he asked any questions at all.

    Tannenbaum also said that Ken Brown had not read any of the available books on the history of Unix. It looks like AdTI and SCO are working together on this. Then again, maybe SCO is just grabbing at straws tossed out by AdTI. Either way, this has to be targeted at the ignorant (read: politicians).

    The funny thing is that these "theories" do not take into account the classic and widely known Linux anecdote which was Linus' very motivation for writing Linux: He did not even have working MINIX binaries when he wrote Linux because he had accidently overwritten his harddrive. So, he had two choices: buy MINIX again or write his own OS. That is a far cry from having possession of the MINIX source code.

    Final Note: It is not like the Linux kernel was doing 3D graphics back then. It was a text based console with disc access. I doubt Ken Brown or SCO would have called it an operating system back then (this is not to say it was not amazing, just that these mud slingers cannot imagine a non GUI system -- they are lawyers, after all).

    • Ken Brown was seen by the Tannenbaum questioning CS students after his interview. Everyone is assuming that the references to the mysterious "Finnish programmer" is nothing more than quotes from a CS student, who may or may not be able to tell the difference between UNIX source code and a bubble sort.
    • It is not like the Linux kernel was doing 3D graphics back then.

      ...or now, so much...

  • We need the source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:27PM (#9480157) Journal
    If those gaudy rasters can be believed, SCO believes that Minix is an offshoot of Sinix, and not merely an imitator of UTS Version 7. On some high resolution versions (PS) of the chart, Levenez's intentions seem clear-- the path from UTS V7 merely crosses over the descendency of Sinix. But, of course, if we had access to the original framemaker document, we could ascertain Levenez's intent quite easily (*). It might also be possible to rebuild the structure of the plot from the postscript rendering.

    (*) or we could just ask him.
  • I doubt it. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The crucial flaw in this reasoning is that it assumes SCO's graphs and charts and piles of bullshit have been actually read by Ken Brown, or read by SCO's own lawyers for that matter.

    Everything about SCO's suit, and Microsoft's supplimentary PR, is a smokescreen. Trying to find logic or reason in this smokescreen is no different in any way than pointing at clouds and going "hey, that one looks like a bird".
  • by kardar ( 636122 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:36PM (#9480216)
    Anything prior to 1991 is not Linux, actually.

    I guess it really depends on what you call a Unix timeline, and what you call SCO intellectual property. Of course it wasn't their intellectual property at the time, but it is now since they changed the contracts on everyone. IBM didn't think that they could change the contracts, and see what happened.

    They sued Daimler Chrysler for not giving them the serial numbers of processors that used to run UNICOS 1.0 or something similar (UNICOS 1.0 apparently always shipped with source)- for Cray supercomputers that vary in processing power from approximately 0.25 gigaflops to 1 gigaflop. No one keeps museum pieces that old around, there is no point in doing so, especially when the point of having those computers in the first place was for their supercomputing abilities.

    It's not a Unix timeline if they use it like that; they are basically saying that "Linux" has its "roots" in stuff prior to 1991, but that "SCO Linux", whatever that is supposed to mean, is anything from 1991 forward.

    The whole point is this: whatever it is that SCO are doing, they are doing things that will more than likely fail. Expecting an organization to keep records of a multi-million dollar supercomputer from the mid-eighties that has approximately 1/60th the floating-point processing power of a single-processor G5 at 2.0 Ghz and the equivalent of 64 megs of ram is a little bit on the funny side, I seriously doubt that any organization would have the floor space to keep a computer like that around just for the sake of licensing purposes. How many of us wrote legal documents to Microsoft cancelling our EULAs when we stopped using Windows 3.0, or say, for instance, how many universities wrote documents to Sun Microsystems every time they retired an IPX or a Sparcstation 1+ or perhaps something even older than that? It's just so you can say "We are suing this prominent company for something that, when you look more closely at it, is never going to fly, but we realize that most people won't look at it that closely or understand it that thoroughly, so it will, in the end, have the desired effect.

    Anything prior to approximately 1991 is not Linux, so again, it's not relevant.

    It does explain what \\\\{_hybrid-source_\\\\}, is though, - \\\\{_hybrid-source_\\\\} would be Linux (post-1991).

    Anything prior to that is not Linux, so it's not \\\\{_hybrid-source_\\\\}.

    SCO is basically saying that because they distributed Linux at some point under the GPL, and because the GPL is not valid in their opinion, that because they contributed to it, and because they hold some sort of UNIX rights, that they own Linux. That's really what they are saying, it has nothing to do with Minix, that's just a coincidence.

    Of course, they won't get away with it. They know that, the lawyers know that, we know that. The real question is WHY are they doing it? That's the question. The answer to that question is known by those who need to know.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Anyone get the feeling that the SCO debacle may be the BEST thing to ever happen to Linux?

      Before SCO, I (and my company) used open source because of a warm fuzzy 'freedom' feeling. Today that support has hardened (and is still hardening) into a business *requirement*.

      The GPL is a known quantity to me. All I have to do is agree to its straightforward terms and all my licensing worries are over.

      Contrast that with SCO's EULA shenanigans. If I was with SCO, I would have to be watching my back against t

  • Minux Linux SCO (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bayerwerke ( 513829 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @08:41PM (#9480277) Homepage
    SCO simply doesn't understand the difference between a timeline and a family tree.
  • "cleanroom" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 )
    SCO is starting to scare me. They may have a chance of convincing a judge they have rights over Linux.

    Why? The problem is that Linux might be considered to be derived from a reverse-engineering of Minix, and that the reverse-engineering wasn't done "cleanroom" style.

    Just as an example: When companies like NEC and AMD started producing x86-compatible processors, they went through a procedure designed to isolate them from being accused of copying Intel's work. Two teams were formed: One team's job was
    • Re:"cleanroom" (Score:3, Interesting)

      Okay, if it is SCO's position that the GPL is invalid, under what legal authority did they distribute linux? Without teeth to the GPL, the code is still the property of whomever wrote it, and they certainly distributed more than simply the contested kernel files. Many other project's product was redistributed by SCO as well, in clear violation of the license. SCO's problem is that they believe that if the GPL is invalidated, then all of the code under the GPL would be Public Domain. That is not the case. If
      • It's not why it's being done. Apparently some individuals feel that by generating this type of to-do, that some greater purpose is being served. This has everything to do with greedy, misguided individuals within large (or not so large) organizations who have somehow decided that they can obtain great wealth by looking in dark corners of closets or attics, etc. That's what I think.

        The whole thing is being "reverse-engineered". The "desired outcome" is a lawsuit, so whatever it takes to produce one is what
    • Re:"cleanroom" (Score:4, Interesting)

      by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:53PM (#9481070) Homepage Journal
      Everyone had access to MINIX's source code. All the important bits were published on paper in Andy Tanenbaum's book on operating systems [], which was a standard recommended college text at many universities at the time, and is still highly recommended today.

      The workings of MINIX are discussed in the book in detail, and the complete source code and binaries are on a CD which comes with the book. The book was the standard cheap way to get MINIX, so it's pretty damn likely that Linus had a copy.

      I was running Minix on my Atari and hacking the kernel source to support Cyrillic at around the time Linus started writing Linux, which was originally a replacement kernel for Minix. Linus did it because Andy Tanenbaum wouldn't add 386-only functionality to Minix, because he wanted it to be portable to whatever machines students had available to them--e.g. my Atari. Linus wanted protected virtual memory, so he started hacking on 386 assembler using his Minix system to do so.

      All of this is pretty common knowledge, I thought, so I'm perplexed that so many people posting to this discussion seem unaware of it.
    • Re:"cleanroom" (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ubrinkley ( 746022 )
      The reason for the cleanroom in the NEC case was that the Intel chip's design was a trade secret, and, as I recall, NEC was making second-sourcing the Intel chip under an NDA, meaning they'd be hugely liable if they couldn't show a clean reverse engineering process. In the minix case, the source code was published (I have a copy) which means reverse engineering isn't an issue. Only copyright is the issue here, and tha't been disposed of.
  • by Farrside ( 78711 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:34PM (#9480593)
    HURTS. My eyes won't stop crossing.
  • by bl8n8r ( 649187 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:07AM (#9481457)
    Simple. FUD.

    SCO, Baystar, RBC, Microsoft, EV1, Laura Dildo - all of them have been paid, hired, pimped or coherced into making some kind of statement to obfuscate the SCO plight as a whole for the past year and a whatever. The latest round with Ken brown and his alleged minix issues are just more of the same "Paid Advertising" bullshit that SCO and their Redmond investor buddies have been purchasing to try and confuse everyone.

  • The tree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by noselasd ( 594905 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:25AM (#9482269)
    It is important that trees like this are not meant to show what
    derives from what, in terms of code. Unix has clearly inspired
    Minix, as Tanenbaum has said many times, so one might draw links.
    There is no code sharing though.
    Linus wrote Linux on Minix, and because he wanted a free Minix,
    first versions were to some degree inspired by minix. So again
    a link can certanly be drawn. No code sharing even here, as stated by
    Tanenbaum and Linus though.
  • by zonix ( 592337 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:31AM (#9482442) Homepage Journal

    Damn it, you guys, it's Minix!! Not Minux, not Munix ... Minix!

  • by charnov ( 183495 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:25AM (#9483413) Homepage Journal
    The author of Minix (which he wrote from scratch by himself) said that Linux (the kernel) may look and act a lot like Minix and have been inspired by Minix (Minix was specifically written to be used as a teaching tool so it isn't surprising that an OS would resemble its functionality), but that it is a completely different design. Actually, he slams Linus for making it monolithic and said he should have listened more in class...ha.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court