Author Archives: Kane

22 Years Ago Torvalds Sent the Email That Started Linux

What started as an idea for an interesting project 22 years ago was kicked off by a single email from Linus Torvalds –

To: Newsgroups: comp.os.inix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system

Hello everybody out there using minix — I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386 (486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I’ve currently ported bash (1.08) and gcc (1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months, and I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them :-).

Linus (mailto:

PS. Yes — it’s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that’s all I have :-(.

Using Open Source to Fight Fraud

In her June 04, 2013 article, Fixing welfare fraud requires technology reform, Melissa Threadgill of the Boston Globe calls on Big Data and Open Source Software and Open Standards to fight fraud.

“This is why state government needs to dramatically rethink its approach. Big, expensive, proprietary systems need to be replaced with off-the-shelf, open-source programs that can easily be adapted and updated with the latest technology. State agencies should adopt common data standards, preferably in concert with the federal government, to make data-sharing between agencies easier, and they should prioritize operating on platforms that can easily communicate.”

Threadgill cites Kansas and California as examples of using Open Source wins in the fight against fraud. “Kansas increased legislative transparency, improved Web functionality for citizens and lawmakers, and saved over $850,000 a year by moving to an open-source, cloud-based system.” Threadgill noted that since California built, “a new integrated computer network through a combination of off-the-shelf systems and open-source software, the California Department of Child Support Services increased performance, improved data quality, and reduced operating costs.” Both are big successes for the citizens of Kansas and California enabled by Open Source.

Read Threadgill’s full story at

OSI Hosts Open Source License Clinic

The non-profit steward Open Source Initiative (OSI) will also host the DC Metro Open Source Community Summit on May 10th, 2013 The program will include short sessions by an international collection of OSI board members and an “unconference” format for maximum attendee participation, collaboration, and learning. Open source community and user group leadership, open source project leads, committers and developers, non-profit foundations, open data engineers and others with an interest in learning more about growing and sustaining open source are invited to attend and participate.

The OSI will host a small open source license clinic as part of its non-profit educational mission, in collaboration with federal agency participants and the Washington D.C. technology community The clinic is designed as a cross-industry, cross-community workshop for legal, contract, acquisition and program professionals who wish to deepen their understanding of open source software licenses, and raise their proficiency to better serve their organizations objectives as well as identify problems which may be unique to government.

Registration is free to government employees, $20 to non. Program details and registration information is available at the event web site at Event sponsors helping underwrite the non-profit event include Google, Eclipse Foundation, Red Hat, GitHub, Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), and MIL-OSS. Labor for producing the summit has been donated by The Open Bastion, along with the efforts of local volunteers and OSI board members to organize the Summit’s program.

Register Here

OSFA Announces New Leadership

Deb Bryant and Kane McLean take on role of co-chairs

Washington, D.C April 09, 2013—Open Source for America (OSFA), an organization promoting the use of open source technologies in the U.S. federal government, today announced the election of Deb Bryant and Kane McLean as co-chairs of the organization.

Bryant created the public sector program at Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab (OSUOSL) and founded and produced the annual Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON) from 2005-2011. She serves on numerous boards and councils with public trust agendas and an emphasis on open source as enabling technology.

McLean is part of the Strategy & Communications Group at BRTRC and currently works supporting the Department of Defense. He also serves on the Steering Committee of Mil-OSS, a defense-oriented public sector open source community.

McLean and Bryant issued a joint statement regarding their new roles: “We strongly believe that governments at all levels can benefit from adoption of open source in terms of the actual technology as well as the model for collaboration between various stakeholders. Open Source for America is a great platform for that message, and we are thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead that effort.”

The new co-chairs replace Gunnar Hellekson of Red Hat and John Scott of Radiant Blue. “Deb and Kane have been long-time members of our Steering Committee and have already shown tremendous dedication to Open Source for America in various leadership roles,” said Hellekson. “We couldn’t ask for two better leaders for the organization.” Scott agreed, “They apply the best principles of open source, like transparency, collaboration, and meritocracy, to everything they do. OSFA is fortunate to have them at the helm.” Hellekson and Scott will remain on the Steering Committee of the organization.

About Open Source for America
Open Source for America (OSFA) is an organization of technology industry leaders, non-government associations and academic and research institutions dedicated to advocating the use of open source software in the U.S. federal government. Participation in Open Source for America is open to any individual or entity signing the campaign’s mission pledge at:

Open-Source Backers March on Washington

Look out, lobbyists: Here come the open-source zealots.

Some of the world’s largest technology companies have banded together in a bid to push open-source software on the United States government. They’ve formed a group called Open Source for America, which seeks to make sure that government agencies at least consider open-source software as an option in their buying decisions. The big, rather timely pitch behind this move is that open-source applications can help save the government money.

“The market for open-source software is growing dramatically, but there still needs to be education around understanding how to get the most out of it,” said Roger Burkhardt, the chief executive of Ingres, a maker of an open-source database, who is on the Open Source for America board of advisers. “There are quirks to the government procurement process that need to be addressed.”

Open-source companies often give away their base product and then charge customers for support and other services. This model, according to Mr. Burkhardt, can perplex government bodies used to buying software upfront. In addition, the group hopes to make sure that open-source software receives the necessary federal nods for use in things like drug approvals and high-security computing projects.

Some of the initial members of the organization include Google, Oracle, Red Hat, Advanced Micro Devices, Novell and Canonical. A host of smaller open-source software makers are involved as well.

The board of advisers is more or less a Who’s Who of open-source advocates, including Eben Moglen, a prominent lawyer; Mark Shuttleworth, the chief executive of Canonical; Michael Tiemann, a vice president at Red Hat; and Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation.

The government has aimed a large amount of its stimulus money at technology projects, and the open-source backers hope to get their fair share of that cash. More broadly, they would like the United States to follow countries in Europe and Asia with better defined guidelines around buying software.

The open-source “movement,” if you will, continues to have some grass-roots momentum, with developers working without charge to improve projects like the Linux operating system and Mozilla Web browser. That said, large companies have come to dominate the open-source world. I.B.M., Google, Intel and others employ many of the best known open-source programmers and have made the software a key part of their internal operations as well as their business strategies.

Regardless of their affiliation, open-source types have demonstrated a fondness for backing free software in a vocal, often argumentative manner. They’re sure to give the lobbyists working for proprietary software companies a run for their vocal cords and money.