Category Archives: In the News

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 – https://www.linux.com/news/software/linux-kernel/734956-linuss-famous-email

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

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: torvalds@klaava.helsinki.fi)

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 bostonglobe.com

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.