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LWN.net Weekly Edition for June 20, 2013
Pencil, Pencil, and Pencil
Dividing the Linux desktop
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A report from pgCon 2013
Most companies would still prefer to contribute to copyleft projects when it matters to avoid playing a losing game against competitors.
So my guess is that it wouldn't make much of a difference at all for Linux world domination...
He focused on the wrong lawsuit
Posted Nov 18, 2011 15:17 UTC (Fri) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
And with regard to the timing, back in around 1994, I remember people explicitly choosing one of the BSDs - NetBSD, in fact - as the focus of a replacement operating system project for the Acorn Risc PC, which shipped with Acorn's proprietary microcomputer operating system, RISC OS, that many people were increasingly fed up with (Acorn having given up on UNIX). For reasons of maturity and portability, NetBSD was preferred over Linux, and sure enough the project did indeed deliver "RiscBSD". Meanwhile, Russell King managed to port Linux to ARM.
I'm sure there are some readers who are more familiar with this topic than I am, but although you can still get NetBSD for a range of ARM devices (including various Acorn machines), it's some variant of Linux that is dominant on ARM. Although the RiscBSD people tried to get the likes of Oracle to use their work (and IBM was apparently shipping BSD on top of Workplace OS), all that is ancient history now.
So, no, I don't buy the argument that a lawsuit ruined things for the BSDs and in a narrow window of time in the early 1990s Linux explosively filled the vacuum completely. There's a good part of a decade to account for, as well as the situation today.
Posted Nov 18, 2011 20:46 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
Posted Nov 19, 2011 15:27 UTC (Sat) by vonbrand (subscriber, #4458)
The whole point is that if it hadn't be for the pre-95 lawsuits, there might have been no Linux contender afterwards. And I shudder thinking of what would have happened then with the BSDs fading away as they did, and something else taking over...
Linux vs BSD
Posted Nov 19, 2011 15:41 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
I think Linux succeeded against BSD, which was a stable mature system at the time simply because BSDI got stuck in a lawsuit and was effectively stopped for several years.
Why would have Linux disappeared anyway? Linus started his kernel in 1991 before the lawsuit, and his inspiration was rather the Hurd than the BSDs. What fundamental change might have happened anyway, but for the lawsuits? It is not credible.
In fact it's only now that I have read the interview itself, and it is true that the guy misses the point so widely that Microsoft would be envious.
Posted Nov 20, 2011 19:30 UTC (Sun) by Wol (guest, #4433)
Linus couldn't get a cheap Unix-like (or even just a cheap) OS for his new 386. If BSD had been easily available (thanks to the lawsuit it wasn't) then he might never have started Linux.
Posted Nov 20, 2011 19:39 UTC (Sun) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239)
Posted Nov 20, 2011 20:23 UTC (Sun) by vonbrand (subscriber, #4458)
Linus himself said in 1993 that if 386BSD had come out before (0.0 came out in 1992) Linux would never have happened. I did compare roughly contemporary MCC and 386BSD versions from the 1992-1993 timeframe, and 386BSD sure was a much more polished system. I was using 4.1 BSD during my PhD studies in 19984 to 1987, it wasn't exactly a long shot imagining porting most of that to a PC in the starting 1990s. But the lawsuits and concurrent assorted wild claims of infringement did make people somewhat nervous about ending up stranded with BSD, and so looked around for alternatives.
Posted Nov 20, 2011 20:26 UTC (Sun) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
Posted Nov 21, 2011 14:23 UTC (Mon) by spaetz (subscriber, #32870)
This motivation is far from certain. Linux started out as a terminal emulator and increasingly got extended until it was a full fledged kernel. It essentially was a research/hobby project, and it is far from certained that it wouldn't have happened if somehand had handed Linux a free Minix CD at that time.
Too much speculation :-)
Posted Nov 22, 2011 21:25 UTC (Tue) by JanC_ (guest, #34940)
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