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SubjectRe: Ken Thompson interview in IEEE Computer magazine (fwd)
On Tue, 4 May 1999, Wojtek Pilorz wrote:

> While I have not read the interview in IEEE Computer yet, please let me
> quote a fragment of earlier post:
> "Thompson: I view Linux as something that's not Microsoft -- a backlash
> against Microsoft, no more and no less. I don't think it will be very
> successful in the long run. I've looked at the source, and there are
> pieces that are good and pieces that are not. A whole bunch of random
> people have contributed to this source, and the quality varies
> drastically.
> "
>
> So my understanding is that his opinions are based on reading Linux source
> code, rather than looking at any badly configured Linux system.

Let me start out saying that I am not about to attack Ken Thompsons'
credentials. He worked out many of the early UNIX conventions, regular
expressions, UNIX security, and the like.

However, I do doubt that he took many pains in making this comment. I
doubt that he took a month off of his job and evaluated the entire or even
major portions of the Linux kernel. I doubt that he is really in a
position to comment authoritatively about the quality of the Linux code
overall.

There are ugly places in Linux's code and mistakes have been
made. However, that is what it is all about: Exerimentation and evolution.
Several years ago, there were probably maybe 200-300 OS kernel
programmers, scattered among a few companies. Now, we have a couple of
hundred, maybe thousands, just here.

We are not a knee jerk reaction to Microsoft. We are here to build
something for a greater purpose: To provide an operating system and
software for all people, no matter what hardware they run, what language
they speak, or how much money they have.

> Maybe it would be much better for the Linux and its users we try to hear
> and understand what he has to say (assuming he would want to talk with
> the Linux community;)

I'm sure if he had anything CONSTRUCTIVE to say, I'm sure we would. Just
saying that we are immaterial and will be "not very sucessful" without
proof or argument is not of value. Besides, we ARE sucessful. Very! Even
if all businesses and vendors turn away from Linux, we are still here and
will go forward.

Of note: Ken Thomson has a marginal failure of his own in the closet: Plan
9. This may have influenced SOME of his thinking....

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