Subject: Re: ok, FSBs created schwag; now bet the farm on something better
From: Peter Wayner <>
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 09:58:05 -0400

>  Stallman is *still* using MIT resources (but his academic background
>is from Harvard), and Torvalds was an undergraduate for a long time --
>during a recession, it's easier to stay in school and hack (in
>Scandinavian countries - a somewhat important cultural difference.)
>I'll grant your point that these don't come out of funded university
>research programs - but you may want to tune your examples a bit more
>carefully :-)

You've have a point. There is some connection, although I don't know 
if the bond between Stallman and MIT is that strong.  On one hand, 
he's had drastic arguments with them about security. (He used to 
publicize the fact that his password was "rms" in case people needed 
a machine to use.) On the other hand, I think many people there 
support the project. He's listed as a research associate, but I don't 
know if he gets any money from them. It's hard to pin down, but it 
would be an interesting relationship to explore.

I don't think the undergraduate school provided any support for 
Torvalds.  It might have even charged him for the pleasure, if it's 
like American universities. But Europe is different. Finland probably 
paid the tuition, but I don't think it was paying him a stipend.  So 
you might as well give credit to the video rental store where he was 
a "member." Or better yet the local library which gave him borrowing 
privileges. My copy of "Just for Fun" is packed away because I'm 
moving. When I get it out, I can find more details.

Here's an interesting question: A kid's parents pay $35k+ to send him 
to school. He dutifully works on his class projects, but at night he 
does cool open source stuff. Is this an example of the academic 
research community supporting open source? Or is it more fair to give 
credit to his parents? If a Microsoft worker writes open source code 
at night, does that mean that MS is supporting open source?

In any case, there are certainly dozens of other high profile 
projects like Apache and maybe even FreeBSD. Sure, most of BSD was 
written at Berkeley, but the FreeBSD project migrated after the 
lawsuit raised such a stink. It's really amazing how non-academic the 
crowd happens to be at an open source convention.

Of course, there are still academics around. Code does make it out of 
universities. I'm sure that DARPA grants still require professors to 
distribute their code produced by the grant. There are plenty of 
examples, it's just that there's no one from the university community 
on the forefront of the open source movement. It's kind of odd.