I think he misses the point. He may go back a ways but I go back to when there was only one version of UNIX and it ran on my pdp-11/70. I suppose that is pre-Autotools because none of it was "portable" yet. Ok, I'm old(er). To the point:
1. Autotools was a good idea at the time. M4 was also the only "reasonable" tool at the time. I don't believe even Perl was around then. Having said that, it is long past its expiration date. See the KDE dev's article on converting to cmake. It is not perfect but it is better.
2. POSIX as the end-all, be-all of solving portability has been a mirage. It too was a nice start when some of us put together and reviewed the first /usr/group standard that was the seed for POSIX. It was a nice start. Too bad the commercial vendors pretty much ignored it.
3. He mistakes the various UNIXs he names as the bazaar. It was more like a whole town of cathedrals. They all developed and released _their_ version under the same assumptions and marketing lock-in attempts as they used for their proprietary ones. All of course, paid lip service to (2).
4. LWN did 3 articles a little while ago on the UNIX design, the good, bad and downright ugly, unfixable bits thereof. Linux is much better than either of its predecessors, both SVR4 and *BSD based and has fixed/avoided many of their shortcomings but it is not "perfect" either. Sometimes its barely adequate.
5. The final bit. The proof of the pudding. All of the others are dead. Linux (and UNIX before it) must have done something right whereas VMS, MPS, Sun, DEC, Tandem etc. didn't.
Evolution is messy. There are dinosaurs and dead-ends. Yea, we let all the kids in and they made a mess or two until they got potty trained. They also have produced some wicked smart code. That happens in open source. Everybody can read it and lots think they can also write it. In the long run, I prefer it to the alternative where one secretive (IP sensitive) organization tries to control it. The last one of these is Microsoft and this is their major weakness. Yes, they have some unity to it (I'm giving them the minimally deserved benefit of the doubt) but in comparison they have so few people who really know how it works. All you have to do is look at the mess of Vista and now Windows 8. One of these days they make a wrong turn and join VMS in the nursing home.
Linus is a genius where most of his *BSD contemporaries missed. No, I am not talking about his prowess as a kernel coder although he is *really*, *really* good. His genius has been his ability to get all the rest of us to do the work, good work, for free! And he let us go and get our companies to pay for it - without a single marketing presentation to anybody. Pure genius. Tom Sawyer and painting the fence was a piker by comparison.