From: wjol...@soda.berkeley.edu (William F. Jolitz)
Subject: Catch What They're Saying About Us...
Date: 23 Sep 1992 00:34:11 GMT
Organization: U.C. Berkeley, CS Undergraduate Association
Check out the "Re: Linux or 386BSD: neither or both ??" thread in
comp.os.linux. It's pretty amazing what's being said about 386BSD and
the people who've worked so hard on it.
Since I'm not one who likes to let disinformation be the order of the
day, I've challanged the Linux people to put their money where their
mouths are and justify negative claims regarding 386BSD (this works
both ways) -- the goal being to better and improve BOTH systems. I
realize that in head-to-head competitions we'll win some, lose some,
and draw some, but this is not really important.
My hope is that competition and open discussion/debate, handled in a
professional manner, might promote a lot of new ideas, especially
regarding optimization of the system. We could all benefit from a bit
of critical thinking.
I invite comments, assistance, and new ideas to help make this a
reality. If we do well, we might even set new records that the big
guys haven't. The possibilities are endless. :-)
From: vi...@pa.dec.com (Paul A Vixie)
Subject: Re: Catch What They're Saying About Us...
Date: 23 Sep 92 17:24:23 GMT
Sender: n...@PA.dec.com (News)
Organization: DEC Network Software Lab
In-Reply-To: email@example.com's message of 23 Sep 1992 00:34:11 GMT
(open letter to Lynne Jolitz)
> It's pretty amazing what's being said about 386BSD and
> the people who've worked so hard on it.
Something comes to mind about people and glass houses, Lynne. You and Bill
have said a lot of very biting things about BSDi, and true or not, you look
pretty blood-thirsty and vindictive. When I stop reading in the trade press
about how you and Bill are the good guys and BSDi are the bad guys, I will
have a lot more sympathy for your understandably negative reaction to all the
biting and unfair things they're saying about you over in the Linux group.
> Since I'm not one who likes to let disinformation be the order of the day,
Whether an assertion constitutes "disinformation" or not depends on the context
of the listener. I agree with your categorization of some of the Linux folks'
comments as "disinformation" -- but this probably won't help you think of me
as a friend or ally, since I also categorize some of your comments about BSDi
386BSD is good stuff. BSDi is also good stuff. There are some good people
contributing to each. Both will have a huge effect on the BSD universe. But
watching you and Bill and BSDi this last year or so, I wonder if the Rebels
could have blown up the Death Star if they had also been busy fighting among
themselves. The Linus thing that's going on is a continuation of the same
stupid battle. 386BSD isn't the enemy. Linux isn't the enemy. BSD/386 is
certainly not the enemy. CSRG isn't the enemy. I'm not sure why we need an
"enemy" at all, but if there is one it's not any of the above-named folks.
> My hope is that competition and open discussion/debate, handled in a
> professional manner, might promote a lot of new ideas, especially regarding
> optimization of the system. We could all benefit from a bit of critical
Charity begins at home. Am I now to expect that your future criticisms of
BSDi will be "handled in a professional manner" ? Would that it were so!
Paul Vixie, DEC Network Systems Lab
Palo Alto, California, USA "Don't be a rebel, or a conformist;
<vi...@pa.dec.com> decwrl!vixie they're the same thing, anyway. Find
<p...@vix.com> vixie!paul your own path, and stay on it." -me
From: wjol...@soda.berkeley.edu (William F. Jolitz)
Subject: Re: Catch What They're Saying About Us...
Date: 24 Sep 1992 20:55:51 GMT
Organization: U.C. Berkeley, CS Undergraduate Association
References: <19oe23INNqh0@agate.berkeley.edu> <VIXIE.92Sep23102423@cognition.pa.dec.com>
In article <VIXIE.92Sep23102...@cognition.pa.dec.com> vi...@pa.dec.com
(Paul A Vixie) writes:
>(open letter to Lynne Jolitz)
[Of course. Any time Mr. Vixie starts off on a topic unrelated
to the thread discussed, he calls it an "open letter", instead of
sending email. However, my message was selectively edited by Mr.
Vixie. As such, I have not edited out the contents of this
message for my response, to avoid additional loss of context. LGJ]
>> It's pretty amazing what's being said about 386BSD and
>> the people who've worked so hard on it.
This encapsulation refers to a "challange" I posted to both the 386BSD
users and the Linux users, to try to "better both systems".
Since 386BSD and Linux are publically available systems, with hundreds
of thousands of users out there right now, I had the idea that
competitions to improve both would encourage everyone to critically
examine their work and improve it. By talking to each other, neither
group would be able to get away with sloppy work or thinking, or poorly
I have received lots of email from both Linux and 386BSD users who are
excited at the prospect of racing the systems, tinkering with them, and
making them better. These contests can speed along new work and, at the
same time, be really fun.
It is unfortunate that a person who I barely know and have no contact
with to speak of has chosen to use this positive challange to launch a
personal attack on me and 386BSD, using BSDi (which has not ever been a
part of this thread, as they are a proprietary system), as a kind of
I am puzzled as to why this has occurred, since I have always viewed
BSDi as irrelevent to the freely available software discussions.
While I have known for some time that Mr. Vixie is very close to Mr's
Bostic, Karels, McKusick, and Adams, and tends to agree with their
views, I have been dissuaded by others from responding to his earlier
attacks in netnews, with the reason given that he is going through
severe personal problems. I felt sorry for him, and I thought he would
right himself eventually.
However, I do not feel I can continue allowing him to attack me and the
entire 386BSD community, nor use BSDi as a weapon in this regard.
Personal problems aside, his statements are inappropriate and must be
I apologize to readers for what has occurred, and I ask the indulgence
of those who are impatient with the ugly turn this thread has taken to
please remember that both Bill and I want people to feel good about the
work their doing with 386BSD, and that while we sometimes cannot let
attacks go unanswered, we prefer to spend our time helping others
achieve their goals.
Now, to the task at hand:
>Something comes to mind about people and glass houses, Lynne. You and Bill
>have said a lot of very biting things about BSDi, and true or not, you look
>pretty blood-thirsty and vindictive. When I stop reading in the trade press
>about how you and Bill are the good guys and BSDi are the bad guys, I will
>have a lot more sympathy for your understandably negative reaction to all the
>biting and unfair things they're saying about you over in the Linux group.
First, regarding the statements in the trade press. When I go back
through my published clippings, I actually find very little (beyond our
articles in DDJ, which are technical in nature) specific to 386BSD,
with the exception of a few postive editorials and a few interviews.
In personal discussions and email, people have been very positive about
386BSD, but that is not the trade press.
However, with the press and our 386BSD users, we have chosen to be
fully disclosed with respect to 386BSD. Our hope is to see it used, be
improved, and perhaps someday be of help to our industry.
There has been extensive trade press writings about the USL/UCB suit,
since USL (nee AT&T) and UCB (via CSRG/BSDi) are very large entities,
and have an enormous impact on a large number of people. Since we are
not a party to this suit, we are not of "topical" interest to the
A possible reason that BSDi was not treated as kindly by the trade
press as Mr. Vixie felt should have occurred may have stemmed from the
way they reacted to the USL suit. According to the trade press
contacts which I have, BSDi sent out press releases with copies of the
suit posturing themselves as a small independent startup being destoyed
by a large company bent on domination. This is a very serious charge,
and one meriting serious investigation.
However, a charge like this only stands if the "victim" is truly
innocent of the attacks -- otherwise, this tactic may be viewed by the
press as a "sympathy" ploy. Since the press is not a company PR outfit,
but a group of pretty smart and industry-saavy people who have seen it
all before, they may not buy the story as written and instead
investigate further. It is dangerous to attempt to manipulate the
In this case, many people in the press had been following this story
for some time, and were aware of the conflict-of-interest between CSRG
and BSDi, the arrangements for investments, the secret directors, and
so forth (as documented in BSDi's filings with the State of Virginia
Board of Corporations, and in information from the parties to the suits
themselves). Since this story was not looking black-and-white, they
investigated still further. They had no need to recourse to us, since
sworn statements and interviews were available in great amounts.
That is the first duty of the press -- to verify information prior to
going to print. As such, if there has been any negative press regarding
BSDi, it was determined by the editors who published that this is
correct information. If anyone has a problem with a published
statement, there is legal recourse in this area.
Neither Bill or I can make the press publish what we want. I'm sorry,
but we are just two people. Not even Bill Gates can keep a magazine or
a book from saying positive or negative things about him.
As to the Linux people, with one (somewhat amusing) exception, people
seem to like the idea of competition (even the exception).
I recall that Orwell's "1984" used to be required reading. If having a
free press print the truth is "blood-thirsty and vindictive", then we
are one small step away from the slogans "Knowledge is Ignorance" and
"Slavery is Freedom".
>> Since I'm not one who likes to let disinformation be the order of the day,
Again, this related to a few poorly substantiated comments regarding
386BSD, hence the open competition challange. If Mr. Vixie had bothered
to include the rest of my sentence, it would have continued to state
that I propose an open competition between Linux and 386BSD, with the
goal of "bettering both systems".
The statement synopsized above has nothing to do with either Mr. Vixie
or BSDi, but was instead selectively edited and used by Mr. Vixie to
continue his personal attack.
>Whether an assertion constitutes "disinformation" or not depends on the context
>of the listener. I agree with your categorization of some of the Linux folks'
>comments as "disinformation" -- but this probably won't help you think of me
>as a friend or ally, since I also categorize some of your comments about BSDi
Again, I have not even spoken of BSDi in this thread.
>386BSD is good stuff. BSDi is also good stuff. There are some good people
>contributing to each.
This is most confusing, as there is no relationship in any way with
386BSD and BSDi. 386BSD is a freely available system. There are no
license restrictions. There is no charge for use.
There is an enormous international user base for 386BSD, closing on
250,000 copies (according to UNIX Magazin's latest estimate). This user
base is self-supporting, very active, and very creative.
The linux user base is also very active and growing. They are perfect
for competing with us in "speed races" and other competitions, doing
some interesting work, and having a bit of fun all at the same time.
BSDi is a commercial system, with a small user base, and is
proprietary, licensed, and expensive.
As to software contributions, if someone wants to contribute to a
commercial proprietary system, there is nothing that precludes them
from doing so to my knowledge. A programmer can take their work and
contribute it to DEC, or SUN, or even USL/AT&T for that matter.
As for myself, I prefer to see our work go out to all of the user base,
and not a select few. BSDi is completely irrelevent to us. To
paraphrase Bill Joy, "We've got more customers than they do", and we
must spend our time on meeting the needs of our user base.
>Both will have a huge effect on the BSD universe.
Well, I do know that 386BSD has had a considerable impact on the BSD
community. There has been more good work and more "new BSD stars"
arising in the last six months than had occurred in the previous six
We've reached a quarter of a million talented people, not counting
those who read about 386BSD in English, German, Japanese, and French,
among other languages. It is an exciting time.
I don't know about BSDi however. Everyone I talk to says that this firm
hasn't got a chance -- no reputable firm would finance them given what
has already occurred, and no commercial firm wants their product with
all this legal action flying back and forth. This was anticipated for
many years, and is no great surprise.
In the words of a kind and successful corporate CEO who taught me quite
a bit about the business:
"Examine the "compelling need". If there is no compelling need, there
is no business. This has nothing to do with whether a technology is
"good" or "bad", but only with whether selling to the perceived needs
of a targetted customer base is actually viable."
The core user base for BSD -- the universities, the colleges, the
researchers, the developers and those who just want to learn -- are
usually strapped for funding. Thus, this audience doesn't offer much
in the way of commercial prospects. In addition, they are
self-supporting (via the network, email, and other avenues), and have
little funding for paid support.
BSD is a university creation, and it has been very successful in its
niche. As I stated earlier, BSDi is irrelevent to the 386BSD customer
>But watching you and Bill and BSDi this last year or so, I wonder if the Rebels
>could have blown up the Death Star if they had also been busy fighting among
I find the "Star Wars" analogy amusing, but irrelevent. Viewing us as
"rebels" may appear heroic, but 386BSD was not developed for the
purpose of doing battle with commercial companies.
386BSD was developed by Bill over four years and contributed to UCB
with the express purpose that it be made available to the BSD user
base, in order to allow people to use BSD on inexpensive platforms and
continue to work on new ideas. The system was ready for users in 1989,
but it's release was consistently put-off by CSRG.
Ultimately, an attempt was made to take it private and allow CSRG staff
members to make money off of it, by channeling interested parties to
their own firm.
Since Bill was the developer, he had an obligation to see this project
through, and he did. The result was 386BSD. It's success is now a
matter of record.
Aside from these dubious activities, BSDi's legal battles have actually
been predicated by it's own precipitous actions, such as intentionally
using USL's trademark in their number. While the merits of the
complaint are a matter of separate debate, the point is that they were
fully aware prior to this that an action such as this would bring on
legal attacks, but chose to go ahead and take on the battle.
It may be hard for some people on the outside of the situation to
understand (unless you have a business background), but there were
alternatives to the path they chose. They chose the one fraught with
Most startups fail -- even good ones. That is a fact. As such, one
doesn't try to bring on additional liabilities while one is attempting
to establish a foothold. Reviewing the last year from a business
perspective, BSDi is a textbook example of what not to do when
launching a startup. The number of business, strategic, and PR
blunders that have been made by this firm are truly staggering.
Hubris can never compensate for good business judgement.
However, when BSDi finally does fail, they can take comfort in the
fact that they are in good company.
>The Linus thing that's going on is a continuation of the same
>stupid battle. 386BSD isn't the enemy. Linux isn't the enemy.
As I said earlier, I've received lots of email from both groups excited
at the prospect of competition.
There is no antagonism between Linus or ourselves (he's a nice guy),
and we're all working towards similar goals -- better freely available
systems. Some of our fans are a bit overenthusiastic, but that is why
the open competition is such a good idea. People who just want to fill
up bandwidth without thinking get caught quickly by both sides -- and
in the case of 386BSD, thinking is allowed.
>certainly not the enemy. CSRG isn't the enemy. I'm not sure why we need an
>"enemy" at all, but if there is one it's not any of the above-named folks.
Since this thread had nothing to do with BSDi or CSRG until Mr. Vixie
brought it up, I hope that the references to "enemies" will be
considered by readers to be just a creation of Mr. Vixie's mind, and
not the general view of the 386BSD user base.
>> My hope is that competition and open discussion/debate, handled in a
>> professional manner, might promote a lot of new ideas, especially regarding
>> optimization of the system. We could all benefit from a bit of critical
Again, this is synopsized from my statement, and, given my explaination
of the proposed competition above, I hope readers will understand what
I was actually saying and agree with it.
>Charity begins at home. Am I now to expect that your future criticisms of
>BSDi will be "handled in a professional manner" ? Would that it were so!
Charity is a strange choice of words. The competition has nothing to do
with BSDi or charity. But let's speak of "charity" and giving to others
for a moment, for this is the heart of the whole issue.
Bill spent many years working on and completing this project. We have
made it available, and I try to help people with it as much as we can.
We get no grants or funding for this project -- it is entirely a dream
for the future.
In addition, Bill and I have been encouraging people to participate in
the DDJ Careware program. By sending a dollar or more, 386BSD users can
directly help an abused child get a respite weekend, help a disabled
child communicate with computers, and help a poor child find a safe
place to stay after school, among other worthy causes.
The reason that the Careware Program was launched by DDJ several years
ago to allow readers a way of giving back something to our larger
community in which we live. I think this is a wonderful idea, and
should be encouraged. Compuserve has offered to make part of the
download fees for 386BSD available to this charity, so it is not just
individuals who are responding, but corporations as well.
386BSD, while valuable to our users, is still just a piece of
software. But if in some way it can be used to help another to a
better life, than it has been worth every hour that every contributor
has put into it.
BSDi, on the other hand, is probably the most adversely impacted by
both 386BSD software activities and Careware charity activities.
By taking 386BSD and twisting it their own proprietary and costly
product, BSDi cannot easily match the rapid growth and learning curve
which a freely available version allows. Also, since the systems have
diverged (and will continue to diverge), they cannot easily take
advantage of new work in 386BSD, unless they decide to appropriate
whole portions of the system. In this case, their much-touted
leading-edge firm appears like the tail wagging the dog. In addition,
even with a small paid staff, a single small company cannot compete
with the hundreds of thousands of users making changes and adding new
things to the system every day.
But this is again, irrelevent, as BSDi is not a freely available
system. They do not put their changes on the net, but instead hold
them to themselves closely. They have received many changes from CSRG
(one and the same with BSDi), but are not distributing them. They have
even received Chris Torek's sparc code, paid for by the taxpayers,
which has not been made available to others despite repeated requests,
and are currently attempting to make money off of it in the same manner
in which they tried to appropriate 386BSD.
If we hadn't spent the time making sure 386BSD was completed and
distributed, it still would not be available either.
As I look over again this entire message, I can only assume that this
diatribe against me and 386BSD is merely the desperate and jealous
rantings of a person who resents deeply the success that 386BSD has
achieved, as well as our personal honesty and commitment to this
The 386BSD community now supports each other, helps each other, and
encourages each other. I see new talent growing in ability every day.
I hope that the 386BSD user commmunity continues to strive for
excellence. No amount of petty vindictiveness can derail this effort
now, and I hope that we can all get back to the business at hand --
making 386BSD, our industry, and our larger community a better place.
Thank you for your patience with this long response.
From: bos...@toe.CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
Subject: Re: Catch What They're Saying About Us...
Date: 1 Oct 1992 00:08:15 GMT
Organization: University of California at Berkeley
There are statements concerning the CSRG in the recent posting by Lynne
Jolitz that are not true. Specific comments follow.
> The [386BSD] system was ready for users in 1989,
> but it's release was consistently put-off by CSRG.
The contribution letter from Jolitz to the CSRG for the 386 architecture
support is dated December 31, 1990. Regardless of its "readiness for
users", the CSRG had no permission to redistribute it until that time.
The CSRG at no time made any agreement to distribute the 386 support at
any specific time, other than "as part of the next release", which was
done in June of 1991. A copy of this contribution letter is available
from me by providing me a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
> They [BSDI] have received many changes from CSRG
> (one and the same with BSDi), but are not distributing them.
As we have publicly said before, the CSRG does not make software available
to any vendor that is not available to all other vendors and/or
individuals. Period. Accusations of this sort should be substantiated
with the names of specific files and programs to permit the truth to be
independently determined by the comparison of releases.
> They [BSDI] have even received Chris Torek's sparc code, paid for
> by the taxpayers, which has not been made available to others
> despite repeated requests, and are currently attempting to make
> money off of it in the same manner in which they tried to
> appropriate 386BSD.
We note this statement only because it was part of the above paragraph,
possibly implying that this was an issue for the CSRG. Chris Torek's
Sparc port belongs to the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (his employer) and
we have no idea if BSDI has the Sparc code or not. A copy has been
contributed by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories to the CSRG for distribution
with 4BSD. As is our practice with the code contributed to us, it is
available from the CSRG on our most recent release, 4.4BSD-Alpha. It is,
unfortunately, a licensed release, but there's nothing we can do about
> If we hadn't spent the time making sure 386BSD was completed and
> distributed, it still would not be available either.
Once again. Every line of code contributed to Berkeley by Jolitz was made
available as part of the next release by the CSRG, in this case, the NET/2
release made last year.
From: to...@horse.ee.lbl.gov (Chris Torek)
Subject: Re: Catch What They're Saying About Us...
Date: 4 Oct 92 21:44:04 GMT
Reply-To: to...@horse.ee.lbl.gov (Chris Torek)
Organization: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley
(As an aside, I should note that I am consistently appalled at what
seem to me to be misunderstandings on all sides. I will also note that
I am not on the "BSDI side", nor the "Jolitz side", nor the "CSRG
side". If I am on any side at all, it is "my side" or the "LBL side".
The intersection of any two "sides"'s goals tends to be quite large,
which may be confusing. Remember that *everyone* is doing what they
think best. We just have different perspectives, and sometimes
different goals. LBL's ultimate goal is research---in our particular
case, network research.)
In article <19ta0nINN...@agate.berkeley.edu> wjol...@soda.berkeley.edu
(William F. Jolitz) writes:
>[BSDI] have even received Chris Torek's sparc code, paid for by the taxpayers,
>which has not been made available to others despite repeated requests,
>and are currently attempting to make money off of it ...
In article <1a9frdINN...@usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu> c...@odin.ins.cwru.edu
(Chet Ramey) writes:
>Oh, please. This has come up before on comp.unix.bsd. BSDI made an
>arrangement with LBL, who owns the code. Whether it was a licensing
>agreement or a code exchange, I don't know, but neither BSDI nor Chris
>can make it available without the consent of LBL.
Hmm... where to begin... well, none of this is entirely wrong. BSDI
have some code I wrote. On the other hand, a later version of the same
code is on the 4.4BSD alpha tape. As far as I know (which is not very
far: I just write the stuff; others keep tabs on distribution :-) ---
actually that is not quite right either; see below), BSDI are not
trying to market the SPARC code itself. (I cannot say they have no
physical access to it; indeed, without documentation they must have had
to examine at least some of it in order to make use of the generic code
on the PC and write their own PC-specific code. Again, see below.)
Meanwhile, we are getting equipment from BSDI.
The particular code BSDI have is a preliminary framework for device
configuration, along with a machine-independent SCSI disk driver based
on the old 4.3-reno HP-specific sd.c. I have been holding off on
general release of this autoconfiguration framework for two basic
reasons. First, it is still fairly "early" code, and has undergone
several revisions. I personally dislike giving out code I know is not
yet "right": it takes too much time and energy to remember who has it,
and send updates and keep everyone working on the same code. Some
things override this, like getting it tested on a second platform or
the 4.4BSD alpha release. Second, the code was quite difficult to
use. In particular, the old kernel configuration program ("config")
did not produce what the new code demanded. Until a bit over a week
ago, we did not have a working "config", and built Makefiles, ioconf.c
files, and so forth "by hand". The contents of ioconf.c were (and
still are, for that matter) described nowhere.
I still have no documentation for the new system, and the 4.4BSD alpha
tape does not have the new config (which is, incidentally, quite
incompatible with the old one at the kernel interface---the input
syntax should be familiar, though). I am working on the documents, and
plan to release the code itself when this is done. (I think it will
help with configuring under EISA, for instance---but someone who
actually understands the PC will have to convert all existing drivers
first.) I have many other tasks as well, though, and refuse to set a
specific date for completion: I simply do not know when it will be
In summary: BSDI do have some LBL code, but they got it from LBL, not
CSRG. BSDI made some kind of exchange deal with LBL, similar to
previous deals LBL have had with HP and Sun. I have no details (I do
not make these deals), but I know it gets us equipment with which to
conduct research, and it gets them "incidentals" (such as code) that we
need to produce to run the equipment in order to conduct research.
Anyone can do this: just find some equipment we need, with some
incidentals you need, and start dealing.
In-Real-Life: Chris Torek, Lawrence Berkeley Lab CSE/EE (+1 510 486 5427)
Berkeley, CA Domain: to...@ee.lbl.gov