[ISN] Torvalds Blasts Microsoft's Mundie on Open Source.

From: Jay D. Dyson (jdysonat_private)
Date: Thu May 17 2001 - 19:00:26 PDT

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    Three words: It's about time.
    FEATURES AND COMMENTARY                                         HPCwire
    Charles Babcock reported for Interactive Week: "Not worth the newspaper
    it's been printed on," retorted Linus Torvalds, Linux developer, in
    response to the charges made by Craig Mundie, Microsoft's senior vice
    president, that there are "significant drawbacks" to open source code. 
    Torvalds said Mundie had seized upon the hard times for technical
    companies to try to score points against the open source code movement.
    Near the top of his speech, Torvalds noted, Mundie declared, "It's
    important that we learn from the lessons of the past year and apply them."
    Mundie went on to note that many of the failed dot-com companies had given
    something away in hopes of making money on auxiliary products and
    services. Open source code is the freely shared output of developers, and
    open source companies charge only for their packaging and value-added
    "He's talking about the need to protect intellectual property, when the
    code he's describing isn't his intellectual property to protect. How does
    it cause Microsoft to fail if I make my intellectual property available to
    everyone, including Microsoft?" Torvalds asked during a visit Thursday,
    May 10, to Interactive Week's offices in San Francisco. 
    Mundie later in his speech charged that open source code, which is often
    offered under the General Public License, "poses a threat to the
    intellectual property of any organization making use of it." He based the
    charge on the requirement that a company using GPL-licensed open source
    code must share its modifications and improvements to the code. Such a
    provision "fundamentally undermines the independent commercial software
    sector," Mundie asserted. 
    "That argument is so much crap," Torvalds said, shrugging off Mundie's
    comments when asked about them. 
    Mundie is trying to characterize open source code as a failed business
    model at a time when many young Internet companies have failed, Torvalds
    noted. But many successful companies use open source code, and it may have
    contributed to their survival, he said. "There's a difference between a
    product and knowledge," Torvalds said. Open source code should be put in
    the tradition of sharing of information and intellectual freedom that has
    been practiced by Western science "since the time of the Greeks." 
    "You don't lose money by sharing knowledge, when the terms are that
    whoever you share with will share his knowledge back with you. You're in a
    stronger position," Torvalds said. University research is shared because
    its results must be reproducible by others if it is to gain the status of
    advancing learning. Open source code contributes to the fund of public
    knowledge by representing the work that has survived the competition and
    testing of many developers, he added. 
    "I see myself as a scientist. So I don't imagine I'll make a million
    dollars.  Linux is never really going to be a rich sell," Torvalds said.
    But he believes Linux will earn a place as a building block of the
    Internet and in "building better products." 
    "That speech makes perfect sense to Microsoft," he added. "Bill Gates
    takes it for granted that Microsoft owns all the infrastructure that was
    built up, and on which Microsoft is based." 
    But Microsoft fails to acknowledge that science plays a key role in
    economic affairs. "The tradition of open science has done more to build
    the modern economy than Microsoft ever will," Torvalds said. 
    For more on Mundie's criticism of open source, see article #100000
    "MICROSOFT SET TO BE TOP FOE OF FREE CODE," from the May 4, 2001 edition
    of HPCwire. 
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