Monday, January 23, 2006

A: The distinction is subtle, but important. The term _byte_ refers to a computer-dependent character size, while _octet_ always means 8 bits (independent of the computer). I have worked on several computers that had odd byte sizes. For example, Purdue once had a CDC mainframe with 6-bit bytes, and I also used a BBN computer (the C machine) on which a byte contained 10 bits.

In practice, most computers have 8-bit bytes and most engineers and programmers mean ``an 8-bit quantity'' when they use the term _byte_. In a texbook, however, which can be read by people with various backgrounds and who use various computers, it is important to make the distinction


There has been some disagreement, and even controversy, surrounding the use of the words byte and octet. The former term has traditionally been the most popular in common parlance for a set of eight bits, especially in North America. However, it is technically not the correct term.

A byte is, formally, the smallest unit of data that can be read from or written to at one time in a computer system. In almost all cases today, that is indeed eight bits, but there are have been some systems where a byte was not eight bits. Some older 36-bit computers used 9-bit bytes, and there were also systems that had byte sizes of 6 or 7 bits, or even variable-sized bytes. For this reason, many people, especially techie professionals, prefer the term octet, which clearly and unambiguously implies “eight”. This term is much more common outside North America.

This matter of octets and bytes is another of the little “tempests in tea pots” that computer people seem to love so much. The bottom line in modern computer systems, however, is that an octet is a byte and a byte in an octet, and the terms can be used interchangeably without too much danger. You will more often see octets used in technical standards. In this Guide, I use the term bytes for a simple reason: it is the term that most people are familiar with, including myself (though bear in mind that I live in North America; if I were European I might have rather different views on this!)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

This phrase -- among the more famous in American history -- is practically synonymous with Douglas MacArthur, known even to those who know nothing else about him. The last part of a simple statement to reporters shortly after his harrowing escape from Corregidor and arrival in Australia, it's pure MacArthur -- first-person, highly dramatic, and more political than meets the eye.

The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed from Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary objective of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Birthdates Which Occur on October 12:
1350 Dimitri "Donskoi" Ivanovitch great monarch of Vladimir-Soezdal
1490 Bernardo Pisano composer
1537 Edward VI Tudor, King of England (1547-53)
1606 Christoph B von Galen prince-bishop of M�nster (1650-78)
1686 Silvius Leopold Weiss composer
1713 Johann Ludwig Krebs composer
1742 Johan Peter Melchior German sculptor
1759 Frantisek Vaclav Tomes composer
1762 John W Janssens gov-gen of Cape colony/Dutch-Indies 1811
1763 John Ross composer
1798 A J Pedro I van Alcantara Kaiser of Brazil (1822-31)/king of Portugal
and Charles Albert King of Sardinia (1831-49)
1807 John Tideman Dutch Remonstrant theologist
1808 John Liptrot Hatton composer
1813 Lyman Trumbull MC (Union) died in 1896
1815 William Joseph Hardee Lt Gen (Confederate Army), died in 1873
1822 Joseph Haydn Potter Brig General (Union volunteers), died in 1892
1832 Walter T Watts-Dunton England, lawyer/poet/writer (Aylwin)
1840 Helena Modjeska Poland, Shakespearian actress (Juliet)/anti-Russian
1844 George W Cable American writer (Northampton Years)
1845 Amintore Galli composer
1855 Arthur Nikisch Szent-Mikl¢s Hungary, conductor (Berlin Philharmonic)
and August Sauer Austria literature historian (Euphorion)
and Jacobus of Looy Dutch writer/painter (Death of My Cat) [or 9/12]
1860 Elmer A Sperry inventor (gyrocompass)
1866 Antonie Waldrop painter/lithographer
and James Ramsay MacDonald (L) British PM (1924, 1929-35)
1872 Ralph Vaughan Williams Down Amp England, composer (Hugh the Drover)
1875 Aleister [Edward S] Crowley (75 pseudonames), British occultist
1878 Karl Buresch Austria politician
1880 Healey Willan composer
1881 Carlos Lopez Buchardo composer
and William Nigh Berlin Wisconsin, director (Ape, Doomed to Die, Mr Wong)
1882 Hermann Wolfgang Sartorius Waltershausen German musicologist/composer
1884 Godfrey Tearle English/US actor (39 Steps)
1886 Karl Dane Copenhagen Denmark, actor (Son of the Sheik)
1890 Luis de Freitas Branco composer
1891 Edith Stein German philosopher
1893 Pall Isolfsson composer
1894 Charles Hodge Calif, NYU professor (Answers for Americans)
and Elisabeth A de Vreugd chambermaid of Dutch queen
1896 Eugenio Montale Italy, poet/translator (Xenia-Nobel 1975)
19-- Jim McKrell Little Rock Ark, actor (Semi-Tough)
and Julie McWhirter Indianapolis Ind, comedienne (Rich Little Show)
and Perle Mesta hostess (Washington DC)
and Randy West XXX actor (American Pie, Baby Face, Body Talk)
and Ronalda Douglas Opelousas La, actress (New Odd Couple)
and Tony rapper (All-4-One - So Much in Love)
1902 Dirk A M Binnendijk critic (Authoritarian Regimes in Transistion)
1906 Joe Cronin baseball (Pirates, Red Sox, Senators, MVP 1930, AL Pres)
and Willy Hess composer
1907 Wolfgang Fortner composer
1908 Ann Lane Petry US journalist/author (Street)
1909 Josephine Hutchinson Seattle WA, actress (Story of Louis Pasteur)
and Zellig S Harris US linguist
1911 Louis M de Guiringaud French foreign minister (1976-78)
1917 Hans Bentz van den Berg Dutch actor
1918 Emil Cossetto composer
1919 Andre Casanova composer
1920 Alice Childress US playwright/actress (Wedding Band)
1921 Jaroslav Drobny Czech, hockey (Oly-gold-1948), tennis (Wimb-1954)
1923 Jean Nidetch Brooklyn, founder (Weight Watchers)
1925 Fons Jansen news reader/Dutch cabaretier (court jester of beliefs)
and William Steinkraus US, equestrian jumper (Olympic-gold-1968)
1926 Hans Liebold Germany, auto racer (Nardo, Italy)
1927 Antonia Rey Havana Cuba
1928 Al Held US, painter/sculptor (hard edge-style)
1929 Robert Coles Milton Mass, author (Anna Freud, Pulitzer 1973)
1930 Jack S Gottlieb composer
1931 Raoul Pleskow composer
1932 Dick Gregory comedian/political activist/dietician (Bahamian Diet)
and Dusan Makavejev Belgrade Yugoslavia, director (Man is Not a Bird)
and Jake Garn (Sen-R-Utah, 1974- )/astronaut (STS 51D)
and Mayer Joel Mandelbaum composer
1933 Broos van Erp Dutch 2nd Chamber member (VVD)
1935 Luciano Pavarotti Moderna Italy, operatic tenor (Oh Giorgio)
and Sam Moore Miami Fl, rock vocalist (Sam & Dave-Soul Sister)
1936 Tony Kubek shortstop (NY Yankees)/sportscaster (NBC-TV, MSG)
1941 Craig A Washington (Rep-D-Texas)
1942 Daliah Lavi Shavel Zion Israel, actress (Casino Royalle, Lord Jim)
and Melvin Franklin Montgomery Alabama, rocker (Temptations)
1947 Chris Wallace Chic Ill, newscaster (NBC Weekend News)
1948 Rick Parfitt Surrey Engld, pop guitarist/singer (Status Quo-Wanderer)
1950 Susan Anton Oak Glen Calif, actress (Golden Girl, Spring Fever)
1951 Bernie Ruoff West Germany, CFL kicker (Winnipeg, Hamilton)
and Ed Royce (Rep-R-California)
1954 Tom Blomberg Dutch radio host/producer (Evening Rush Hour)
1958 Jeff Keith rock vocalist (Tesla-Psychotic Supper)
1962 Sid Fernandez Hawaii, pitcher (NY Mets)
1964 Jo Ann Willette actress (Constance-Just 10 of Us, Real Genius)
1966 Wim Jonk Dutch soccer star (Ajax)
1968 Adam Rich NYC, actor (Nicholas-8 is Enough, Code Red, Gun Shy)
1969 Kimberly Ann Grimm Mt Lake Park Md, Miss Maryland-America (1991)
and Nancy Ann Kerrigan Woburn Mass, figure skater (Olympics-silver-1994)
1970 Karen Courtland Orange NJ, pairs skaters (Olympics-1994)
and Kimberly Hoskins Yuma Arizona, Miss Arizona-America (1991)
and Kirk Cameron Panorama City Calif, actor (Mike-Growing Pains)
1972 Neriah Davis Los Angeles CA, playmate (Mar, 1994)
and Tom van Mol soccer player (PSV)

Deaths Which Occured October 12:
638 Honorius I [dux plebis], Italian Pope, dies
642 Johannes IV Dalmatisch Pope (640-42), dies
1093 Robrecht de Fries earl of Flanders (1071-93), dies at about 62
1320 Michael IX Paleologi emperor of Byzantine (1295-1320), dies
1343 Reinald II duke of Gelre
1576 Maximiliaan II German king/Kaiser (1564-76), dies
1646 Fran‡ois De Bassompierre marshal of France, dies
1654 Dirck Graswinckel Dutch copurt clerk of States-General, dies at 66
Rembrandt Carel Fabritius painter, dies in an accident
1672 Frederik of Nassau count of Buren, slain in battle
1685 Geeraerdt Burns theologist/poet/historian, dies at 59
1692 Giovanni Battista Vitali composer, dies at 60
1694 Matsuo Basho greatest Japanese haiku poet, dies
1730 Frederik IV king of Denmark/Norway (1699-1730), dies
1794 James Lyon composer, dies at 59
1797 Pierre de Jelyotte composer, dies at 84
1817 Johann Franz Xaver Sterkel composer, dies at 66
1820 Elias Annes Borger theologist/poet (Ode on the Rhine), dies at 36
1829 Jacobus Blue Dutch regent/patriot, dies at about 73
1837 Frederica Louisa Wilhelmina Queen of Netherlands, dies at 62
1844 Claude Tillier French journalist/writer (My Uncle Benjamin), dies
1858 Ando Hiroshige Japanese painter, dies at 61
1860 Henry G W Smith leader of British-Indian forces, dies at 73
1864 Roger Taney 5th Supreme Court Chief Justice (1836-64), dies at 87
1865 William Vincent Wallace composer, dies at 53
1870 Robert E Lee General of Confederate Army, dies at 63
1915 Edith L Cavell British nurse, executed
1922 Daisy M C Baers Flemish philosophy/theory, dies at 33
1924 Monroe A Althouse composer, dies at 71
1929 Max Ettlinger German philosopher/theorist, dies at 52
1940 Tom Mix US actor (Texan, Hidden Gold), dies at 60
1945 Jesse James Payne lynched in Madison County Florida
1946 Joseph W Stilwell US general (China), dies
1951 Simon Kimbangu/Kibangu Congo prophet, dies in captivity at 62
1958 Ed Hinton actor (Henderson-I Lived 3 Lives), dies at 30
Gerard Hord˜k architect/painter, dies at 59
1960 Inejiro Asanuma leader Japanese Socialist Party, murdered
1964 J Howard Frazer USTA pres, dies in office
1966 Arthur Vincent Lourie composer, dies at 74
1967 Nat Pendleton Olympic wrestler/actor (Reckless), dies at 72
1969 Serge Poliakoff Russ/French painter, dies
Sonja Henie figure skater (Olympic-gold-1928, 32, 36), dies at 57
1971 Dean G Acheson US foreign minister (1949-53), dies at 78
Gene Vincent rocker, dies of bleeding ulcers at 36
October 12th 1973: Nixon nominates Gerald Ford, Republican Minority leader in the House of Representatives, as vice-president, following the resignation of Spiro Agnew on bribery and tax evasion charges.
1974 Joseph Frederick Wagner composer, dies at 74
1977 Doris Davenport actress (Behind the News, Westerner), dies at 81
1982 Chris[tiaan R] Reumer opera singer, dies
1983 Jiri Lederer Czechoslovakia journalist/dissident, dies at 61
1985 Johnny Olsen TV announcer (Price is Right), dies at 75
Ricky Wilson rock guitarist (B-52's), dies of AIDS at 32
1987 Alfred M Landon former Kansas Gov, dies at his Topeka home at 100
Philleo Nash US Bureau of Indian Affairs (1961-67), dies at 77
1988 Ken Murray actor (Bill & Coo, Crooner, Half-Marriage), dies at 85
1989 Franco [Francis Luambo/"Makiadi"], Zaire composer/music, dies at 51
1990 Max Tailleur adjunct prince Bernhard/Jewish humorist, dies
Rifaat Maghub president Egyptian parliament, murdered
1991 Aline MacMahon US actress (Backdoor to Heaven), dies at 92
Regis Toomey actor (Dive Bomber, Cry Danger, Magic Town), dies at 89
Sheila Florance Australian actress (Cactus), dies of cancer at 75
1992 Alexander Pola [Abraham Polak], actor/writer (Farce Major), dies
John Hancock actor (Catch the Heat), dies of a heart attack at 51
Ulysses Guimaraes Brazilian parliament chairman, dies in accident
1993 Leon Ames actor (Father of the Bride), dies at 91 of stroke

Holidays Which Occur October 12:
Bahamas Discovery Day
Brazil Nossa Senhora Aparecida
Equatorial Guinea Independence Day (1968)
Mexico, Latin America Dia de la Raza/Day of the Race
Spain National Day
Sudan Republican Anniversary Day
US Official Columbus Day (1492)

Religious Observances on October 12:
RC Maximilian van Celeia (Cilli), apostle of Noricum
RC Serafinus, clerical advisor
709 RC Commemoration of St Wilfrid, bishop of York, confessor

Things to Remember for October 12:
Flowers-calendula, cosmos & hops Gem-opal & tourmaline
Hispanic Heritage Month
National Lupus Month-Eggtober-Computer Learning Month
National Restaurant-Car Maintance Month-Rocktober-Octoberfess
10 Days Astrological sign: Libra
[Ancient Rome] Augustalia (honor of Augustus C‘sar)

Highlights in History Which Occur October 12:
638 Honorius I ends his reign as Catholic Pope; Pope Severinus elected
642 John IV ends his reign as Catholic Pope
1002 King Aethelred II England leads Denen massacre
1165 Rambam reaches Jerusalem
1285 180 Jews refuse baptism in Munich Germany, they are set on fire
1366 King Frederick III of Siciliy forbids decorations on synagogues
1459 Battle at Ludfor: Richard of York defeated
1492 Columbus arrives in Bahamas [real Columbus Day]
and Flemish rebel leader Philip van Kleef surrenders
1504 Queen Isabella I of Spain signs her testament
1509 Emperor Maximilian leaves Italy
1518 Pontifical ambassador interrogates Martin Luther
1549 John Dudley earl of Warwick becomes English premier
1576 Rudolf II succeeds Maximilian II as arch duke of Austria
1654 Kruittoren van Delft, explodes, 50-100 killed
1659 English Rump-government fires John Lambert & other generals
1692 Massachusetts Bay disbands witch trials
1702 Battle of Bay of Vigo: Dutch & English fleet destroy & occupy
Spanish silver fleet & French squadron
1711 Karel VI Habsburg crowned Roman Catholic emperor
1729 Willem KH Friso installed as viceroy of Gelderland
1730 Christian VI succeeds Frederik IV as king of Denmark
1776 British Brigade begins guarding Throgg Necks Road in Bronx
1798 Flemish uprising against French occupied Boerenkr˜g
and Friedrich von Schillers "Wallensteins Lager," premieres in Weimar
1815 Ex-king Joachim Murat van Naples sentenced to death
1822 2nd eruption of Galunggung (Java) destroys summit of mountain
1823 Charles Macintosh of Scotland begins selling raincoats (Macs)
1833 Charles Darwin begins return trip to Buenos Aires
1853 John Morrissey wins boxing title, when Yankee Sullivan leaves ring
after 36th round to slug Morrissey's fans
1854 Lincoln University founded as Ashmun Institute
1860 British & French troops capture Peking
1861 Confederate ironclad Manassas attack Union's Richmond on Mississippi
1862 JEB Stuart completes his "2nd ride around McClellan"
and Maj Gen Earl Van Dorn assumes command of Conf troops in Missisippi
and Skirmish at Monocacy, Maryland
1871 Pres Grant claims to be against Ku Klux Klan
1872 Montreal Foot Ball Club 1st game playing Quebec City to 0-0 tie
1879 British troops occupy Kabul Afghanistan
1881 Henry M Stanley signs contract with Congo monarch
1886 Hurricane & sea surge kills 250 at Indianola Texas
and Start of Sherlock Holmes "Adventure of 2nd Stain" (BG)
1891 Astronomical Society of France is inaugurated
1899 South Africa Boer Republic declares war on England
1907 Cubs beat Tigers 4 games to 0 with 1 tie in 4th World Series
1914 1st battle at Ypres, begins
1915 English nurse Edith Cavell executed by Germans in Belgium (WW II)
and Theodore Roosevelt criticizes US citzens with dual nationalities
1916 Boston Red Sox beat Bkln Dodgers, 4 games to 1 in 13th World Series
1918 1st use of iron lung (Boston's Children Hospital)
and Cloquet Minn & 25 other communities destroyed by forest fire, 559 die
and Forest fire in Minnesota & Northern Wisconsin kills about 800
1920 Cleve Indians beat Bkln Dodgers, 5 games to 2 in 17th World Series
and Man O'War's last race & win
and Soccer team Quick '20 forms
1923 NY Giant's Casey Stengel HR beats Yanks 1-0 in world series
1924 Sokolnicheskaya Radio begins broadcasting from Moscow
1925 Albert Michelsen runs world record marathon (2:19:01.8)
and German-Russian trade agreement signed
1927 Hermann Gorner of Germany raises 24 men weighing 4,123 lbs on
a plank with soles of his feet
1929 Cubs blow 8-0 world series lead, A's score 10 in 1 inning
1931 1st International Conference on Calendar Reform
and E Delporte discovers asteroid #2913 Horta
1933 Alcatraz becomes a federal prison (unofficially)
and John Dillinger escapes from Allen County, OH, jail
1935 Cole Porters musical "Jubilee," premieres in NYC
1940 Hitler begins operation-Seel”we (invasion of England)
1941 Russian govt moves from Moscow to Volga as Nazis close in on Moscow
1942 Successful Russian counter attack through 37th Guard division
and US navy defeats Japanese in WW II Battle of Cape Esperance
1943 US bombs Rabaul, New Britain
1944 German army retreats from Athens
1948 Casey Stengel takes over as Yankee manager
1949 Eugenie Anderson becomes 1st woman ambassador nominated in US
1950 Irving Berlin's musical "Call Me Madam," premieres in NYC
1952 KBTV (now KUSA) TV channel 9 in Denver, CO (ABC) begins broadcasting
1953 US & Greece signs peace treaty (US bases)
1956 Marga Klomp‚ becomes 1st Dutch women elected minister
1957 1st coml flight between Calif & Antartica
1958 CVP wins municipal elections in Belgium
and USSR performs nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya USSR
and WJRT TV channel 12 in Flint, MI (ABC) begins broadcasting
1960 Nikita Khrushchev pounds his shoe at UN General Assembly session
1961 USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
1962 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
and US/USSR sign joint space effort in telecommunications & meteorology
1963 Archaeological digs begin at Masada, Israel
and At 4 AM, traffic on Bay Bridge is 1-way on each deck
1964 Goethe Link Observatory discovers asteroid #1728 Goethe Link
and KCSM TV channel 60 in San Mateo-San Francis, CA (PBS) begins
and Launch of Voskhod 1, 1st 3 man crew (Komarov, Feokistov, Yegorov)
and Voskhod 1 launched: 1st flight with 3 cosmonauts
and WSBK TV channel 38 in Boston, MA (IND/ABC/CBS/NBC) begin
and WUCM TV channel 19 in University Center, MI (PBS) begins broadcasting
1967 St Louis Cards beat Boston Red Sox, 4 games to 3 in 64th World Series
as Lou Brock steals a record 7 bases in 1 world series
1968 19th Olympic games open at Mexico City, Mexico
and Equatorial Guinea (Spanish Guinea) declares independence from Spain
and Norma Enriqueta Basilio Satelo is 1st woman to light Olympic flame
1969 KDB-AM in Santa Barbara CA changes call letters to KAPN
and KHOF (now KAGL) TV ch 30 in San Bernardino/Glenda, CA (IND) begins
and Soyuz 7 is launched
and Yoko Ono suffers another miscarriage
1971 V Piksaev discovers asteroid #2094 Magnitka
1972 46 sailors injured in race riot on aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk
and Billy Harris failed in 1st Islander penalty shot
and Mariner 9 takes pictures of Martian north pole
1973 Israeli counter offensive in southern Syria
and Juan Per¢n elected president of Argentina
and Nixon nominates Gerald Ford to replace Spiro Agnew as VP
1974 1st time Wash Caps are shutout as they are beat 6-0 by Minnesota
1975 Archbishop Oliver Plunkett became 1st Irish-born saint in 7 centuries
and Jacqueline Hansen runs women's world record marathon (2:38:19)
and NASA launches space vehicle S-195
1976 4th Space Shuttle Enterprise, approach & land test (ALT) flight
and Hua Guo-feng succeeds Mao Tse-tung as chairman of Communist Party
1977 "Throwaway Game" Catfish Hunter loses WS 6-1 resting Yank pitchers
and 4th test of space shuttle Enterprise
and P Wild discovers asteroids #2175 Andrea Doria, #2429, #2565 & #3026
and Psychic Romark attempts to drive blindfolded, smashed into cop van
and US Supreme Court heard arguments in "reverse discrimination" case of
Allan Bakke, white student denied admission to U of Calif Med School
1978 Representatives of Israel & Egypt open talks in Washington
1979 Pressure in nucleus of tropical cyclone at Guam hits record 870 hpa
and Purple Mountain Observatory discovers asteroid #3340
1982 38.6 cm (15.2") of rainfall, Angoon Alaska (state record)
and Milwaukee Brewer Paul Molitor getrs world sereis record 5 hits
1983 E Bowell discovers asteroids #2985 Shakespeare & #3714
1984 IRA bombs hotel where Margaret Thatcher is staying
1985 Challenger moves to Vandenberg AFB for mating of STS 61A mission
and Intl Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War receives Nobel Prize
and US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
1986 Calif Angels within 1 pitch of pennant victory lose to Red Sox
1987 George Harrison releases "Got My Mind Set On You"
and Minnesota Twins beat Detroit Tigers for AL pennant
1988 Israel & China sign trade deal, plan diplomatic relations
1989 Herschel Walker is traded from Cowboys to Vikings for 12 players
and Musical "Buddy" with Paul Hipp premieres in London
1990 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
1991 Wrestler Rip Oliver forced to retire after being injured by Crush
1992 5.8 earthquake at Cairo (at least 510 die)
and Arecibo radio telescope begins Microwave search for occupied planets
and Brett "Hitman" Hart beats Ric Flair for WWF Heavyweight title
and Expo '92 closes in Seville Spain
and Howard Stern's 1st broadcast in Albany (WQBX)
and Microwave Observing Project begins (seeking alien life)
and Wash Redskin Art Monk sets NFL record with 820th reception
1994 Contact with Venus orbitter Magellan broken
and Iranian Fokker's F28 explode between Isfahan & Teheran: 66 killed
1822 2nd eruption of Galunggung (Java) destroys the summit of the
mountain. 100 villages destroyed and 4,000 perish.
1886 Hurricane and sea surge kills 250 at Indianola, Texas.
1918 Sawmill town of Cloquet, Minnesota & 25 other communities
destroyed by forest fire. 559 die

Your Special Reminders for October 12:
1876 35øF lowest temperature for this date in NYC
and 1954 86øF highest temperature for this date in NYC
and 285th day of year with 80 days left (Numerology = 4)

From:torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Newsgroup: comp.os.minix
Subject: GCC-1.40 and a posix question
Message-ID: 1991Jul13, 100050.9886@klaava.Helsinki.FI
Date: 3 Jul 91 10:00:50 GMT

Hello netlanders,
Due a project I'm working on (in minix), I'm interested
in the posix standard definition. Could somebody please
point me to a (preferably) machine-readable format of the
latest posix rules? Ftp-sites would be nice.

Linux Torvalds
Aquí el que le siguió; este mensaje es considerado por muchos como el comienzo de Linux:
From:torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Newsgroup: comp.os.minix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system
Message-ID: 1991Aug25, 20578.9541@klaava.Helsinki.FI
Date: 25 Aug 91 20:57:08 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki.

Hello everybody out there using minix-

I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't
be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones.
This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready.
I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix; as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-sytem due to practical reasons) among other things.
I've currently ported bash (1.08) an gcc (1.40), and things seem to work.
This implies that i'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

Linux Torvalds
Y aquí el que podíamos definir como el anuncio "oficial":

From: Linus Benedict Torvalds (torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI)
Subject: Free minix-like kernel sources for 386-AT
Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
Date: 1991-10-05 08:53:28 PST

Do you pine for the nice days of minix-1.1, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers? Are you without a nice project and just dying to cut your teeth on a OS you can try to modify for your needs? Are you finding it frustrating when everything works on minix? No more all-
nighters to get a nifty program working? Then this post might be just for you :-)

As I mentioned a month(?) ago, I'm working on a free version of a minix-lookalike for AT-386 computers.
It has finally reached the stage where it's even usable (though may not be depending on what you want), and I am willing to put out the sources for wider distribution. It is just version 0.02 (+1 (very small) patch already), but I've successfully run bash/gcc/gnu-make/gnu-sed/compress etc
under it.

Sources for this pet project of mine can be found at ( in the directory /pub/OS/Linux. The directory also contains some README-file and a couple of binaries to work under linux (bash, update and gcc, what more can you ask for :-). Full kernel source is provided, as no minix code has been used. Library sources are only partially free, so that cannot be distributed currently. The system is able to compile "as-is" and has been known to work. Heh.
Sources to the binaries (bash and gcc) can be found at the same place in /pub/gnu.

ALERT! WARNING! NOTE! These sources still need minix-386 to be compiled (and gcc-1.40, possibly 1.37.1, haven't tested), and you need minix to set it up if you want to run it, so it is not yet a standalone system for those of you without minix. I'm working on it. You also need to be something of a hacker to set it up (?), so for those hoping for an alternative to minix-386, please ignore me. It is currently meant for hackers interested in operating systems and 386's with access to minix.

The system needs an AT-compatible harddisk (IDE is fine) and EGA/VGA. If you are still interested, please ftp the README/RELNOTES, and/or mail me for additional info.

I can (well, almost) hear you asking yourselves "why?". Hurd will be out in a year (or two, or next month, who knows), and I've already got minix. This is a program for hackers by a hacker. I've enjouyed doing it, and somebody might enjoy looking at it and even modifying it for their own needs. It is still small enough to understand, use and
modify, and I'm looking forward to any comments you might have.

I'm also interested in hearing from anybody who has written any of the utilities/library functions for minix. If your efforts are freely distributable (under copyright or even public domain), I'd like to hear from you, so I can add them to the system. I'm using Earl Chews estdio right now (thanks for a nice and working system Earl), and similar works will be very wellcome. Your (C)'s will of course be left intact. Drop me a line if you are willing to let me use your code.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Linus Torvalds: A Very Brief and
Completely Unauthorized Biography

Linus Torvalds is the world's most famous computer programmer and also its most famous Finn. He is the founder and coordinator of Linux, the Unix-like operating system that is beginning to revolutionize the computer industry and possibly much else as well. His is truly one of the great tales in the history of the computers.
Early Years

Linus Benedict Torvalds was born on December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, the capital and largest city in Finland. He was named after Linus Pauling, the famous physical chemist and Nobel Prize winner.

The Torvalds family belongs to the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, which numbers about 300,000 in a total population of roughly five million.

Many members of the family were journalists. His parents, Nils and Anna Torvalds, were both radicals at the University of Helsinki during the 1960s. His father was a Communist who spent a year studying in Moscow in the mid-1970s and later became a radio journalist. His mother worked for a Finnish newspaper as a translator and a creator of news graphics. Also, his grandfather was the editor-in-chief of a Finnish newspaper, and his uncle worked for Finnish TV.

Torvalds had a fairly conventional and happy childhood despite the fact that his parents were divorced when he was very young. He lived with his mother and also with his grandparents. Consistent with his family's occupation, emphasis was placed on reading from an early age.

It was his maternal grandfather, Leo Toerngvist, a professor of statistics at the University of Helsinki, who had the greatest influence on the young Linus. In the mid-1970s, Toerngvist bought one of the first personal computers, a Commodore Vic 20. Torvalds soon became bored with the few programs that were available for it, and he thus began to create new ones, first using the BASIC programming language and then using the much more difficult but also more powerful assembly language.

Programming and mathematics became Torvalds' passions. His father's efforts to interest him in sports, girls and other social activities were in vain, and Torvalds does not hesitate to admit that he had little talent for or interest in such pursuits.
The Birth of Linux

In 1988 Torvalds followed in the footsteps of his parents and enrolled in the University of Helsinki, the premier institution of higher education in Finland. By that time he was already an accomplished programmer, and, naturally, he majored in computer science. In 1990 he took his first class in the C programming language, the language that he would soon use to write the Linux kernel (i.e., the core of the operating system).

The following year, at the age of 21, Torvalds made his first computer purchase. It was a Sinclair QL, one of the world's first 32-bit PCs. Its Intel 386 processor (the part of the computer that performs logic operations and also referred to as a central processing unit or CPU) greatly appealed to him because it represented a tremendous improvement over earlier Intel chips. For example, its 32-bit operation meant that its data throughput was twice that of its predecessor, the 286. Also, its 32-bit address bus allowed the chip to support a huge 4GB of RAM (random access memory, the main memory in a computer) and it was the first processor to use instruction pipelining, which allows work to begin on the next instruction before the previous one has been completed. Moreover, it was affordable and was designed to be user-friendly for developers of new operating systems.

As intrigued as he was with the hardware, Torvalds was disappointed with the MS-DOS operating system that came with it. That operating system had not advanced sufficiently to even begin to take advantage of the vastly improved capabilities of the 386 processor, and he thus strongly preferred the much more powerful and stable UNIX operating system that he had become accustomed to using on the university's computers.

Consequently, Torvalds attempted to obtain a version of UNIX for his new computer. Fortunately (for the world), he could not find even a basic system for less than $5,000. He also considered MINIX, a small clone of UNIX that was created by operating systems expert Andrew Tanenbaum in the Netherlands to teach UNIX to university students. However, although much more powerful than MS-DOS and designed to run on Intel x86 processors (such as that used on the Sinclair QL), MINIX still had some serious disadvantages. They included the facts that not all of the source code was made public, it lacked some of the features and performance of UNIX and there was a not-insignificant (although cheaper than for many other operating systems) licensing fee.

Source code is the version of software (e.g., an operating system or an application program) as it is originally written (i.e., typed into a computer) by a human using a programming language (such as assembly, BASIC, C or Java) and before it is compiled (i.e., converted by a compiler) into machine language, which the processor (but not humans) can understand. Having the source code is necessary in order to study or improve software. A highly skilled programmer such as Torvalds can easily become bored and frustrated with software for which the source code is not available.

Torvalds thus decided to create a new operating system from scratch that was based on both MINIX and UNIX. It is unlikely that he was fully aware of the tremendous amount of work that would be necessary, and it is even far less likely that he could have envisioned the effects that his decision would have both on his life and on the rest of the world. Because university education in Finland is free and there was little pressure to graduate within four years, Torvalds decided to take a break and devote his full attention to his project.

On August 25, 1991, he announced his initial creation on the MINIX newsgroup comp.os.minix as follows:

From: (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
To: Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system

Hello everybody out there using minix-

I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386 (486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-sytem due to practical reasons)among other things.

I've currently ported bash (1.08) an gcc (1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that i'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people want.

Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

Linus Torvalds

On September 17 of the same year, after a period of self-imposed isolation and intense concentration, he completed a crude version (0.01) of his new operating system. Shortly thereafter, on October 5, he announced version 0.02, the first official version. It featured the ability to run both the bash shell (a program that provides the traditional, text-only user interface for Unix-like operating systems) and the GCC (the GNU C Compiler), two key system utilities. This now famous announcement launched the biggest collaborative project the world has ever known. It began:

Do you pine for the nice days of minix-1.1, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers? Are you without a nice project and just dying to cut your teeth on a OS you can try to modify for your needs? Are you finding it frustrating when everything works on minix? No more all-nighters to get a nifty program working? Then this post might be just for you :-)

As I mentioned a month(?) ago, I'm working on a free version of a minix-lookalike for AT-386 computers. It has finally reached the stage where it's even usable (though may not be depending on what you want), and I am willing to put out the sources for wider distribution. It is just version 0.02 (+1 (very small) patch already), but I've successfully run bash/gcc/gnu-make/gnu-sed/compress etc under it.

Sources for this pet project of mine can be found at ( in the directory /pub/OS/Linux. The directory also contains some README-file and a couple of binaries to work under linux (bash, update and gcc, what more can you ask for :-). Full kernel source is provided, as no minix code has been used. Library sources are only partially free, so that cannot be distributed currently. The system is able to compile "as-is" and has been known to work. Heh. . . .

Ari Lemmke, Torvald's friend and the administrator for, a provider of FTP (file transfer protocol) services in Finland, encouraged him to upload his source code to a network so it would be readily available for study and refinement by other programmers, a common practice then as it is now.

Torvalds originally gave his new operating system the working name Linux (from Linus' MINIX). However, he thought the name was too egotistical and thus planned to call it Freax (a combination of free, freak and MINIX). However, Lemmke created a directory for it called linux on his FTP server, and thus Linux became the name of the system.

In what Torvalds now admits was one of his best decisions, he decided to release Linux under the GPL (GNU General Public License) rather than under the more restrictive license that he had earlier planned. Developed by Richard Stallman, a notable programmer and a leading advocate of free software, this most popular of the open source licenses allows anyone to use, modify and redistribute the software as long as they make the source code freely available for any modified versions that they create and then redistribute.

In large part a consequence of this very liberal licensing, many programmers from around the world quickly became enthusiastic about helping Torvalds develop his still embryonic operating system. As a result, its performance began improving at a rapid rate.

Torvalds' efforts focused on developing a kernel, which is only part of what is necessary to make a usable operating system. Fortunately, Stallman and his Free Software Foundation (FSF) had been developing a number of open source programs for use in a free version of UNIX, and such programs (e.g., bash, GCC and GNU binutils) thus became major components of virtually all Linux distributions. A distribution is a complete operating system centered around a kernel and also containing numerous utilities, device drivers and application programs.

Other parts of Linux distributions came from the Berkeley UNIX distribution, a version of UNIX that was developed at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) and which later evolved into the open source BSD operating systems. And the X Window System, which is the standard GUI (graphical user interface) for Unix and Linux systems, came from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Linux Takes Off

The performance of the Linux kernel and Linux distributions continued to improve as more and more developers, initially individual and later corporate as well, joined the project and contributed their enthusiasm, effort and programming skills. This was paralleled by a swift growth in the number of users.

For example, in 1994 a usable ext2 filesystem (i.e., a system for organizing data on computer disks) was added to the kernel (which featured a large increase in speed over its predecessor, the ext), and its initially weak networking capability was improved substantially. This was also the year in which Torvalds began promoting new platforms for Linux.

One early complaint about Linux was that it could run only on x86 platforms (i.e., computers with Intel processors). The first of the new platforms was the Alpha workstation, which was manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). This porting of Linux to the Alpha was greatly facilitated by DEC's investment of both money and engineering talent. This was soon followed by porting to the SPARC and MIPS processors.

As a result of his skills and accomplishments, Torvalds was appointed to the post of instructor at the University of Helsinki, a position which allowed him to simultaneously continue his development of Linux. The first homework assignment for an introductory computer class that he taught in 1993 was for each student to send him an e-mail. One of the students, Tove Minni, a Finnish karate champion, complied by sending him an e-mail asking him out on a date. He accepted, and three years later the first of their three daughters was born.

Although the arrival of his first daughter coincided with minor disruptions in the development of the Linux kernel, he was able to release version 2.0 by December 1996. This milestone version represented a major improvement in performance through its addition of support for additional processors and for symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), which lets multiple processors access and be equally close to all RAM locations.

The use of Linux continued to grow rapidly as a result of these and numerous other advances as well as due to its spreading fame. By 1997, conservative estimates were placing worldwide Linux installations at more than three million computers. Two years later this had soared to in excess of seven million.

Despite the relentless successes of Linux and the great popularity of Torvalds, his activities were not entirely without controversy, even within the open source community. For example, Professor Tanenbaum, the developer of MINIX on which Linux was originally partially based, was convinced that microkernels (a minimalist type of kernel) were the wave of the future, and he expressed strong opposition to the monolithic approach of the Linux kernel in his now famous 1992 Usenet posting titled "LINUX is obsolete." Also, Richard Stallman has continued to insist that Linux's name is inappropriate and that the operating system should instead be renamed GNU/Linux because Stallman's GNU utilities are used together with the kernel.

Move to California

After spending nearly a decade as a student, researcher and instructor at the University of Helsinki, Torvalds decided that it was time for a change -- a big one that included both a change of scenery and a real job. Needless to say, there was no shortage of opportunities available to him.

Thus, in 1997 he moved to sunny Santa Clara in California's fabled Silicon Valley to accept a position with Transmeta Corporation. His job there was to help develop commercial software to facilitate communication between operating systems and that company's microprocessors. Linux devotees were initially concerned not only about his move to a for-profit business but also about the fact that it was funded in part by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

For Torvalds, however, the decision was not difficult. Not only was it an opportunity for a change and to experience a much improved climate (from the long, cold and dark Finnish winters), but Silicon Valley was the ultimate destination for almost everyone in the computer field, even him. Moreover, he now had a growing family to support. His choice of company was also affected by the fact that Transmeta was not involved with Linux, as he was reluctant to favor one Linux business over another.

Torvalds' arrangement with Transmeta permitted him to devote part of his time to his Linux activities. This was, in fact, a clever publicity move on the part of Transmeta, which benefitted not only by receiving the services of an extremely talented and motivated engineer but also by having someone on their staff who brought them exceptional media attention.

Torvalds arrived in Silicon Valley when Microsoft was decimating Netscape in the browser war and when many people in the U.S. and elsewhere were hoping for a new, and more robust, challenger to the Microsoft monopoly. Frequent comparisons were made between Torvalds and Bill Gates, but the main similarities were that both were fanatical computer programmers, wore glasses and were about the same height.

Gates had become fabulously wealthy, whereas Torvalds was making close to nothing from his free product. He was subsisting only on an average programmer's salary, and he and his family were living in a modest duplex in an ordinary neighborhood. Actually, Torvalds was never really interested in accumulating wealth or power, and he has contended all along that what counts most for the best programmers is the joy of programming and being creative. In his own words, he did it all "just for fun." Nevertheless, he was subsequently rewarded with both wealth and power, and he has not been reluctant to admit that money has its advantages.

Torvalds' financial situation changed dramatically in 1999. Red Hat and VA Linux (now VA Software), both leading developers of Linux-based software packages for large enterprises, had presented him with stock options in gratitude for his creation. Torvalds suddenly became a millionaire when Red Hat went public, and his net worth temporarily soared to roughly $20 million when VA Linux went public later that year.

Corporate Acceptance of Linux

Linux got another big break in the late 1990s when competitors of Microsoft began taking it seriously. Oracle, Intel, Netscape, Corel and others announced plans to support Linux as an inexpensive alternative to Microsoft Windows. Major corporations soon realized the potential of Linux, and they quickly adopted it for their Internet servers and networks. Contributing to this surge in popularity was the fact that Apache, the extremely successful open source web server (which now hosts more than 64 percent of websites worldwide) was first written for Linux.

Perhaps the biggest boost for Linux's adoption in the corporate world has been IBM's official blessing and massive support. This included a 2001 announcement of a commitment of a billion dollars for Linux research, development and promotion.

IBM's support was not merely an act of charity. The company was faced with the growing burden of having to support its own collection of proprietary (i.e., owned by an individual or a company) operating systems, including AIX, OS/2 and z/OS, as well as Microsoft Windows and others. It realized that despite Linux's obvious shortcomings at that time, such as a very limited ability to run heavy-duty server applications and a lack of quality GUI applications, Linux had strong technical underpinnings and great potential for improvement. The massive investment has been paying off very handsomely for IBM (and others), and its Linux-related business now exceeds two billion dollars annually, making IBM by far the world's largest vendor of Linux-related products and services.

Linux use has grown rapidly not only in terms of the total number of installations but also in terms of the diversity of the systems on which it is operated. Particularly impressive has been its growing share in the market for servers, the centralized computers that power corporate networks and the Internet. Many industry experts are convinced that it is only a matter of just a few years before Linux replaces Unix as the dominant operating system running the world's largest corporate data centers.

Equally impressive has been the growth at the opposite end of the applications spectrum, i.e., for use in embedded systems. These are single chips (or circuit boards) which contain simplified versions of Linux and which are incorporated into everything from mobile phones to industrial robots. Among the advantages of Linux for use in embedded systems are portability (i.e., ability to run on almost any type of processor), flexibility (i.e., ease of configuring), low cost (i.e., no licensing fees) and the availability of efficient and low cost development tools.

Moreover, Linux is finally beginning to reach the point where it will be suitable for use as a low cost alternative on the desktop and notebook computers of ordinary people who have little understanding of (or interest in) computers but who need them for their work and/or leisure activities.

This phenomenal success is undoubtedly due in very large part to Torvalds' brilliance and dedication. Also important is the fact that he made a series of wise strategic decisions, not only about the technical aspects of the operating system but also about how it would be developed and licensed, including that very early decision to make Linux open source. Moreover, his personality has been ideally suited for his role as spiritual leader of the Linux movement, including his combination of self-deprecating humor and his far-from-unique philosophy that "life is simply about having a good time" rather than merely about accumulating vast wealth.

But as has so often been the case with highly creative and influential people throughout history, Torvald's success was also due to the fact that he was the right person at the right time. The conditions in the early 1990s were ripe for the emergence of a free, high performance operating system such as Linux, namely (1) the increasing affordability and power of personal computers, (2) the lack of a truly stable and powerful operating system for such computers (and the considerable dissatisfaction with the then dominant MS-DOS) and (3) the arrival of the Internet for instantaneous and free communication among programmers scattered around the planet. In fact, it is highly unlikely that Linux would have come into being, much less threaten to revolutionize the entire computer industry, without the existence of all three of these conditions.

Torvalds Today

Torvalds is now working on the Linux kernel full-time for Open Source Development Lab (OSDL), which is based in Beaverton, Oregon. Founded in 2000 and supported by a global consortium of computer companies, including IBM, OSDL describes its mission as "becoming the recognized center of gravity for Linux and the central body dedicated to accelerating the use of Linux for enterprise computing."

Only about two percent of the current Linux kernel has actually been written by Torvalds himself, which is quite understandable given its great size and complexity (e.g., the full source code for the 2.6 kernel is as much as 80 MB). However, he makes the final decisions regarding which of the many proposed modifications and additions will be incorporated into it. His criteria for adding code is that it be (1) of high quality and clean, (2) easy to maintain and (3) beneficial to a wide range of users rather than to just a single corporate user or to any other narrow agenda.

Torvalds also owns the Linux trademark and monitors its use (and occasional abuse). The hundreds of other programs that are generally included in distributions together with the kernel (e.g., GCC, bash, the vi text editor, the X Window System and the KDE desktop environment) are developed and maintained by other groups, but there is considerable coordination with Torvalds and other developers of the kernel.

In contrast to many leading advocates of open source software, Torvalds maintains a low profile and attempts to avoid debates that are not closely related to the Linux kernel, and he generally avoids commenting on competing software products. In fact, his public stance is so neutral that it has even been criticized by other open source advocates. Yet, Torvalds has occasionally reacted with strong responses to anti-Linux (and anti-open source) tactics employed by some proprietary software companies.

Although Torvalds grew up in a highly political environment, he claims to have absolutely no interest in politics. His views appear to be quite mainstream for Europe, although they might be considered leftist in the U.S. Despite his parents' background, Torvalds is not opposed to capitalism. In fact, Linux is licensed so that anyone is automatically permitted to sell it for a profit and even become wealthy from doing so.

Torvalds originally began his work with the OSDL by commuting from his home in sunny Silicon Valley. However, in June 2004 he revealed that he would finally be moving with his family to Portland (of which Beaverton is a suburb) to oversee the OSDL. He told an Oregon newspaper: "We want to be somewhere calmer and saner. Silicon Valley is a bit crazy." Perhaps he should have also mentioned that Portland would be a bit more like his native Helsinki: i.e., a very pleasant and livable city that has less sunshine and somewhat longer, colder and darker winters than Silicon Valley.

Regardless of how long Torvalds stays in Portland, he will likely continue in his roles as the head of Linux kernel development and the spiritual leader of the Linux movement for years to come, as he has shown no signs of tiring of them and wanting to take his life in a new direction. Linux is still young and poised for its greatest growth, and it still needs him.

On August 25, 1991, he announced his initial creation on the MINIX newsgroup comp.os.minix as follows:

From: (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
To: Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system

Hello everybody out there using minix-

I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386 (486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-sytem due to practical reasons)among other things.

I've currently ported bash (1.08) an gcc (1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that i'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people want.

Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

Linus Torvalds

Saturday, January 07, 2006