I got mad as heck when Kenneth Brown, president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, claimed that Linus Torvalds stole Linux from Minix. So I told the world the truth: I wrote Linux. Now, I'm getting so many e-mails from bogus Linux inventors that I think I'm going to create a Linux Liar's Club (LLC). What? Oh yeah, some guys in Utah beat me to it.
In this episode of our series of Linux creation myths, one fellow plays "I Spy," and the other reveals the true origins of the man from Redmond. By the way, we're offering prizes -- $50 gift certificate and IT books -- to the best spinners of tall Linux creation tales. If you can outdo these tall tales, send your story to email@example.com.
According to James Sparenberg, "with tongue firmly in cheek"…
It was a dark day in the late '80s or early '90s. I was a grunt soldier in the U.S. Army, doing my job keep communications lines open. Suddenly, four men in black -– Yes, they stole that phrase from me for the movie. I swear! -- walked in.
They asked: "Are you Seargent S.........?" (Name withheld to protect the terminally stupid.) I said: "Yes I am. Why?" I was told to go with them and not ask any more questions, or they'd have to shoot me.
I was quickly ushered into what had previously been my commanding officer's office. On the door, a hastily written sign said (in crayon): "Securutairy of the Fence (Secretary of Defense) Chainy. It was signed GW. "How cute," I thought. "He has grandchildren." But, that's a story for another day.
In the room sat a white-haired man and three nurses. He was hooked up to a wide variety of heart-monitoring machines. As the conversation took its course, I learned that now that Kuwait had been invaded by Iraq; Mr. Cheney was convinced that the Iraq government was behind Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; and that secret meetings where occurring between Saddam Hussein and a kite-maker named Al. (Al-kite-er) They had traced all of the kite makers in the world and could only find one named Al. and he was an art professor at the University of Helsinki. They had arranged for me to go undercover at the University in the Computer Science Department.
I pointed out that I didn't speak Finnish. Cheney replied that the president's son had convinced him that they couldn't be that smart in Finland because they didn't even speak English. So, how hard could the course be?
Being the good soldier I was, and since Mr. Cheney was carrying orders for me signed by the commander-in-chief, I agreed to go.
I was supplied with the latest and greatest of American technology, something called Windows 1.0, with orders to keep rebooting until it did something. Just in case, I brought my Amiga.
How does all of this relate to my inventing Linux.? Well, while I was an undercover student in Finland, I ran into this student named Linus Torvalds. He never seemed to be able to work his computer. I had to keep teaching him where the off switch was, for heaven's sake. Linus really seemed to like my Amiga and my "Blinken Computer," as he called the Windows box (A lightning fast 286 with 4 megs of RAM and a 20MB HDD). He called it the "Blinken box" because, to make my life easier, I'd written a Visual Basic script that auto-rebooted every 60 seconds.
Anyway, Linus fell in love with was my Amiga, and he kept asking questions about the OS and hardware. Finally in a fit of rage -– brought on by the 286 kept giving me an error 6869872342489684767296789206872a code over and over -- I yelled at him. "Damnit!," I said. " Why don't you go write your own OS!" Linus ran from the room in embarrassment and did just that. He tried to give it to me, but I thought his little kernel of an idea would never catch on. The rest, as they say, is history.
According to Simon Haynes…
It all started when a cheerful Finnish housewife bore twin sons on a cold, wintry morning in suburban Helsinki. At first, everything was smooth sailing -- the pitter-patter of little fingers on daddy's keyboard, the first steps in procedural programming, the eager fumblings behind the tool shed with the girl next door's laptop.
During the university years, however, things fell apart. After a particularly grueling coding session, one of the twins stormed out of the dorm, yelling: "My name is Billus Torvalds, and I pronounce Linux as Microsoft."
Billus raged for months but always returned to one comforting fact. You see, there was something his more famous sibling hadn't disclosed to anyone. Years before, the twins had been on a hiking trip to a local mountain. While Billus sat on a rock and moaned about worms and viruses, his sibling strode to the summit, where a friendly deity lobbed him 10 stone tables microscopically engraved with millions upon millions of lines of source code. It was a treasure trove, the complete source to a killer operating system that was user friendly, bug-free, with low system requirements and uptimes to die for.
On their way home, Billus threatened to strangle his twin if the latter didn't immediately hand over the precious gift. After a little haggling, they agreed to go halves. Billus fought for the eye candy --the user interface, the ease-of-use, etc. -- while his twin settled for the stable underpinnings, reasoning that the tempting fruit could be tacked on later.
Google searches to the contrary, Billus did not vanish up his own user port. No, he remained alive and well in Kazakhstan, motivating teams of shaven-headed, battle-scarred flunkies in his desperate drive to prove that Linux can make headlines with a worm - or any kind of widespread security problem at all, really.
Meanwhile, the good twin has taken up stone carving, has already recreated the five missing tablets and is now working on a sixth.
That's the true origin, I swear it on half a dozen XP-branded drink coasters.
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 Prentice Hall. Send your entries firstname.lastname@example.org..