Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 1999 01:23:36 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <> writes:

    Ian> The history of free software to date has been highly
    Ian> contingent.  If there were no RMS, there would not have been
    Ian> anybody else.  If there were no Linus Torvalds, there would
    Ian> not have been anybody else.

The first is possibly true; without RMS, there would not have been
GNU, no FSF, and who knows whether there would even have been a BSD.

But the latter is demonstrably false.  By the time Linus wrote Linux,
there was already Minix, there was at least one BSD, and within ten
years there would be a HURD and three BSDs.  Linus got us here faster
and probably at least as well as any of the alternatives, but there
were good alternatives.

I think it highly likely that by now there would be a free OS project,
even if there had been no RMS and no GNU.  But RMS gave us anything
from a 10 (very optimistic) to 50 (very pessimistic) year head start.

And heaven help us, if it started now, it would probably try to clone
Windows NT.

University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."