I came out with my explanation of Linux's origins -- I wrote it! -- right after Kenneth Brown, president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, claimed that Linus Torvalds stole Linux from Minix. Now, Linux's creators are coming out of the woodwork, as thick as flies or, if you ask me, thieves.
Take the two spurious claims below…please. I can't believe these guys expect anyone to believe their stories! Isn't it a lot more believable that I wrote Linux while birding in Finland? Each of these stories is presented in the writers' own words (with some editing). Be sure to check out the other tall tales in this series. If you can outdo them, send your story to email@example.com.
According to Laurent Duperval…
Kenneth Brown is correct: There is no way that one person, no matter how talented, could have written the Linux kernel on his own in less than a year. Linus didn't do it. Neither did I, actually. My teammates and I created the Linux kernel. That was the easy part. Our greatest contribution to Linux, though, was a process.
In 1990, I was an undergrad student at the University of Montreal. Over the course of the year, a few students and I had put together a perfect process for handing in our school work. We called it "Intelligence Gathering."
Basically, as an assignment's due date approached, we would consult other team members on the given assignment, asking them what approach they took. After gathering the required information, we would analyze our findings, keep the best ideas, put it all together, and systematically hand in the best work of the class.
In the summer of 1991, I went to the University of Helsinki on a four-month summer internship. There, I met a seemingly nice young man by the name of Linus Torvalds. He was a self-effacing, gentle chap, and we generally had a good time together.
Over the course of the summer, I explained to him the ideas behind our concept of Intelligence Gathering. I explained to him how we would solicit and check various ideas and code for an assignment. Then our team would discuss the merits of the solutions we found, and we would incorporate the best ideas into our work, sometimes by adding improvements.
Doesn't that remind you of the Linux development process?
At the same time, I showed Linus the initial rewards of our method: On a single, 1.44M floppy, I had the source code for something our team wanted to dub IGOS: Intelligently Gathered Operating System. Most of the work was done, but our team agreed not to publish it before December 1991, after our semester was completed.
Linus seemed so enthusiastic about our project that I agreed to give him a copy. I was young and stupid. I didn't ask him to sign an NDA. I didn't ask him not to disclose the information on the floppy. Heck, I didn't even ask him not to change the copyright on the code.
History shows that Linus posted a message on Usenet on Oct. 5 1991, mentioning his OS project, effectively undermining our planned December announcement.
I've tried to contact Linus since, but he has refused to acknowledge my personal e-mails. My team disbanded and I haven't spoken to any of them since.
So, there you have it. Not only did I participate in the invention of Linux, but my colleagues and I also invented open source. However, we were too young and stupid to patent the processes behind both.
I'm older and wiser now, and I only have two things to say: Linus, you're gonna pay! Eric Raymond, you're going down!
According to Bob Steen…
The truth of the matter is, I created Linux during my world tour in 1991. Having just completed a four-year degree in philosophy, I thought I might grow my mind by traveling around the world.
Well, you need to know that I have a rare condition called "exo-codus-lavatorius". Whenever I'm doing my thing in the bathroom, I have an uncontrollable urge to right code on the bathroom walls. In Japan, some sushi resulted in "memory addressing". In China, some pork buns ended up in "kernel synchronization". "System Calls" were the work of something really spicy in Thailand.
Throughout my travels I left code in the lavatories of the world. So you can imagine my surprise when I noticed that my global code ended up in the Linux Kernel. Pure co-incidence? Or just a load of …?
What? You say that you created Linux? Well, Dr. Tuxenstein, let's hear your story. Tell me how, when, where and why you created Linux. The best story I receive-- as judged by an impartial jury of editors -- will win a $50 gift certificate. The runner-up will receive an excellent IT book from – you guessed it -- Prentice Hall. Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.