On Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 7:17 PM, Ralf Quint <freedos...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 1/14/2016 4:20 PM, Rugxulo wrote:
>> Linus Torvalds heavily studied and used Minix sources, which was a
>> UNIX (tm) clone. It was not free/libre at all, they were commercially
>> selling it with their text book about OSes.
> Sorry, but that is not correct. Minix was distributed by Tanenbaum (who
> was at that time a professor at the university of Amsterdam) for the
> explicit purpose for students to read and study a Unix like OS.

Great, but Linus did more than just study. He made his own. Not quite
a derivative work (that's my point!) but indeed similar.

> The charge was only for the book that the source code was published in, with
> a small fee for the media (floppy disks) if you wanted to have it in
> digital form.

It's not money I'm talking about but licensing. Minix was not "free"
in any sense. There was (AFAIK) no right to copy, redistribute, modify
at all. Minix was not "freed" until 2000, and of course it was heavily
rewritten later anyways (v3) to where very little is even similar to
classic v2 versions. Maybe some userland of it was from outside public
domain sources, but overall it was not free at all.

Yes, Minix was meant to be studied (as presumably is all source code
that is published unshrouded), but Minix itself was not even freeware.

> The first version available (1.1) was on 8 360KB 5.25"
> floppy disc, costing something around DM30,- back then. I remember that
> because I bought those (but never bought the book).
> So Linus was full within the rights granted by Tanenbaum (Prentice-Hall
> as the publisher). And the only thing he actually "copied" (kind of) was
> the file system.

I'm not implying he "copied" anything (as it was and still is
copyrighted). He presumably implemented compatible file system support
for minixfs before ext (or ext2) were developed. His kernel was
monolithic, not a microkernel, and many other differences. I'm not
implying that he broke anything, but he did heavily study and learn
from Minix. He was not ever considered "tainted" (AFAIK). That's my

> He started Linux also from the get-go as a 80386/32bit project (while
> Minix at that time was only 16bit, 80286 code), using an early version
> of GCC instead of the ACK (Amsterdam Compiler Kit) C compiler used and
> bundled with the Minix floppy disks...

I'm aware of the differences. Everything is different when you
implement it separately. I'm not saying he used code, in fact I'm
claiming the opposite. You are allowed to write your own, even if you
have studied someone else's. They can never stop you from doing that.
That's the whole point of copyright. You only own what you wrote, not
everyone else's. They are always allowed to create different (even if
compatible) versions. (Of course patents ruin everything well beyond
that, but that's a separate issue. Any alleged MS-DOS patents are long
since expired except maybe one or two for Win95-era VFAT.)

Maybe you can still disagree with me, that's fine. I'm no lawyer. But
I still think we're all overreacting here.

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