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SubjectRe: Ken Thompson interview in IEEE Computer magazine (fwd)

just some of my thoughts on the subject...

On Tue, 4 May 1999 wrote:

> Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 10:36:16 +0100 (BST)
> From:
> To: Alexander Viro <>
> Cc: Linux-kernel <>
> Subject: Re: Ken Thompson interview in IEEE Computer magazine (fwd)
> On Tue, 4 May 1999, Alexander Viro wrote:
> > Hrrrmp... You know, this guy is the author of UNIX. No kidding. I
> > disagree with him (as if he cared), but at least some respect is in
> > order here. Basic design of the system + many years of development are
> > worth something. Linux is written from scratch, but we owe *lot* to
> > Ken and Dennis. Not to mention anything else, without their work most
> > likely history would look, well, ugly - Vomit Making System
> > everywhere. And you can look at the state of FreeVMS project to
> > evaluate the odds of getting any free system in that case (inherent
> > ugliness of VMS misdesign aside).
> I have to disagree with you on this. Respect is earned not automatically
I think he have very well earned much respect by creating UNIX;
I would say he is one of the giants whose work made many nice things
(including Linux!) possible ...

> given. He might be the father of UNIX but the first incarnations of UNIX
> were ugly. and also, I would have thought that he would have at least
> TRIED Linux himself, installing it, configurating it, and using it. There
> is no substitute, especially with all his background & experience. I think
> he has made a big mistake by basing decisions upon some
> crippled/broken/badly configured Linux systems that he only used/saw. How
> can I give him respect if he did that?
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

So my understanding is that his opinions are based on reading Linux source
code, rather than looking at any badly configured Linux system.
And I would believe he knows what he is talking about, being one of the
principal authors of UNIX, no matter how much we could dislike
those opinions.

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 also take issue about VMS. It's NOT that bad!! It's beautiful! If you
> want to see a really broken operating system, I refer you to Windows NT,
> but then you knew that didn't you?
> > It's mostly unwarranted, pretty bitter and sad, but if there is
> > somebody who deserves our respect at all then Ken *is* such man. No
> > matter how strongly we disagree his opinion. We definitely owe him
> > that much.
> I'll concede on that point. But still...
> Cheers,
> Alex
> --
> "A mind opened by new ideas cannot return to its original limits"
Best regards,


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