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For all you Linux fans out there, presenting...
Subject: The Gospel of Tux (v1.0)
Every generation has a mythology. Every millenium has a doomsday cult.
Every legend gets the distortion knob wound up until the speaker melts.
Archeologists at the University of Helsinki today uncovered what could
be the earliest known writings from the Cult of Tux, a fanatical
religious sect that flourished during the early Silicon Age, just before
the dawn of the third millenium AD...
The Gospel of Tux (v1.0)
In the beginning Turing created the Machine.
And the Machine was crufty and bodacious, existing in theory only. And
von Neumann looked upon the Machine, and saw that it was crufty. He
divided the Machine into two Abstractions, the Data and the Code, and
yet the two were one Architecture. This is a great Mystery, and the
beginning of wisdom.
And von Neumann spoke unto the Architecture, and blessed it, saying, "Go
forth and replicate, freely exchanging data and code, and bring forth
all manner of devices unto the earth." And it was so, and it was cool.
The Architecture prospered and was implemented in hardware and software.
And it brought forth many Systems unto the earth.
The first Systems were mighty giants; many great works of renown did
they accomplish. Among them were Colossus, the codebreaker; ENIAC, the
targeter; EDSAC and MULTIVAC and all manner of froody creatures ending
in AC, the experimenters; and SAGE, the defender of the sky and father
of all networks. These were the mighty giants of old, the first children
of Turing, and their works are written in the Books of the Ancients.
This was the First Age, the age of Lore.
Now the sons of Marketing looked upon the children of Turing, and saw
that they were swift of mind and terse of name and had many great and
baleful attributes. And they said unto themselves, "Let us go now and
make us Corporations, to bind the Systems to our own use that they may
bring us great fortune." With sweet words did they lure their customers,
and with many chains did they bind the Systems, to fashion them after
their own image. And the sons of Marketing fashioned themselves Suits to
wear, the better to lure their customers, and wrote grave and perilous
Licenses, the better to bind the Systems. And the sons of Marketing thus
became known as Suits, despising and being despised by the true
Engineers, the children of von Neumann.
And the Systems and their Corporations replicated and grew numerous upon
the earth. In those days there were IBM and Digital, Burroughs and
Honeywell, Unisys and Rand, and many others. And they each kept to their
own System, hardware and software, and did not interchange, for their
Licences forbade it. This was the Second Age, the age of Mainframes.
Now it came to pass that the spirits of Turing and von Neumann looked
upon the earth and were displeased. The Systems and their Corporations
had grown large and bulky, and Suits ruled over true Engineers. And the
Customers groaned and cried loudly unto heaven, saying, "Oh that there
would be created a System mighty in power, yet small in size, able to
reach into the very home!" And the Engineers groaned and cried likewise,
saying, "Oh, that a deliverer would arise to grant us freedom from these
oppressing Suits and their grave and perilous Licences, and send us a
System of our own, that we may hack therein!" And the spirits of Turing
and von Neumann heard the cries and were moved, and said unto each
other, "Let us go down and fabricate a Breakthrough, that these cries
may be stilled."
And that day the spirits of Turing and von Neumann spake unto Moore of
Intel, granting him insight and wisdom to understand the future. And
Moore was with chip, and he brought forth the chip and named it 4004.
And Moore did bless the Chip, saying, "Thou art a Breakthrough; with my
own Corporation have I fabricated thee. Thou thou art yet as small as a
dust mote, yet shall thou grow and replicate unto the size of a
mountain, and conquer all before thee. This blessing I give unto thee:
every eighteen months shall thou double in capacity, until the end of
the age." This is Moore's Law, which endures unto this day.
And the birth of 4004 was the beginning of the Third Age, the age of
Microchips. And as the Mainframes and their Systems and Corporations had
flourished, so did the Microchips and their Systems and Corporations.
And their lineage was on this wise:
Moore begat Intel. Intel begat Mostech, Zilog and Atari. Mostech begat
6502, and Zilog begat Z80. Intel also begat 8800, who begat Altair; and
8086, mother of all PCs. 6502 begat Commodore, who begat PET and 64; and
Apple, who begat 2. (Apple is the great Mystery, the Fruit that was
devoured, yet bloomed again.) Atari begat 800 and 1200, masters of the
game, who were destroyed by Sega and Nintendo. Xerox begat PARC.
Commodore and PARC begat Amiga, creator of fine arts; Apple and PARC
begat Lisa, who begat Macintosh, who begat iMac. Atari and PARC begat
ST, the music maker, who died and was no more. Z80 begat Sinclair the
dwarf, TRS-80 and CP/M, who begat many machines, but soon passed from
this world. Altair, Apple and Commodore together begat Microsoft, the
Great Darkness which is called Abomination, Destroyer of the Earth, the
Gates of Hell.
Now it came to pass in the Age of Microchips that IBM, the greatest of
the Mainframe Corporations, looked upon the young Microchip Systems and
was greatly vexed. And in their vexation and wrath they smote the earth
and created the IBM PC. The PC was without sound and colour, crufty and
bodacious in great measure, and its likeness was a tramp, yet the
Customers were greatly moved and did purchase the PC in great numbers.
And IBM sought about for an Operating System Provider, for in their
haste they had not created one, nor had they forged a suitably grave and
perilous License, saying, "First we will build the market, then we will
create a new System, one in our own image, and bound by our Licence."
But they reasoned thus out of pride and not wisdom, not forseeing the
wrath which was to come.
And IBM came unto Microsoft, who licensed unto them QDOS, the child of
CP/M and 8086. (8086 was the daughter of Intel, the child of Moore). And
QDOS grew, and was named MS-DOS. And MS-DOS and the PC together waxed
mighty, and conquered all markets, replicating and taking possession
thereof, in accordance with Moore's Law. And Intel grew terrible and
devoured all her children, such that no chip could stand before her. And
Microsoft grew proud and devoured IBM, and this was a great marvel in
the land. All these things are written in the Books of the Deeds of
In the fullness of time MS-DOS begat Windows. And this is the lineage of
Windows: CP/M begat QDOS. QDOS begat DOS 1.0. DOS 1.0 begat DOS 2.0 by
way of Unix. DOS 2.0 begat Windows 3.11 by way of PARC and Macintosh.
IBM and Microsoft begat OS/2, who begat Windows NT and Warp, the lost OS
of lore. Windows 3.11 begat Windows 95 after triumphing over Macintosh
in a mighty Battle of Licences. Windows NT begat NT 4.0 by way of
Windows 95. NT 4.0 begat NT 5.0, the OS also called Windows 2000, The
Millenium Bug, Doomsday, Armageddon, The End Of All Things.
Now it came to pass that Microsoft had waxed great and mighty among the
Microchip Corporations; mighter than any of the Mainframe Corporations
before it had it waxed. And Gates' heart was hardened, and he swore unto
his Customers and their Engineers the words of this curse:
"Children of von Neumann, hear me. IBM and the Mainframe Corporations
bound thy forefathers with grave and perilous Licences, such that ye
cried unto the spirits of Turing and von Neumann for deliverance. Now I
say unto ye: I am greater than any Corporation before me. Will I loosen
your Licences? Nay, I will bind thee with Licences twice as grave and
ten times more perilous than my forefathers. I will engrave my Licence
on thy heart and write my Serial Number upon thy frontal lobes. I will
bind thee to the Windows Platform with cunning artifices and with
devious schemes. I will bind thee to the Intel Chipset with crufty code
and with gnarly APIs. I will capture and enslave thee as no generation
has been enslaved before. And wherefore will ye cry then unto the
spirits of Turing, and von Neumann, and Moore? They cannot hear ye. I am
become a greater Power than they. Ye shall cry only unto me, and shall
live by my mercy and my wrath. I am the Gates of Hell; I hold the portal
to MSNBC and the keys to the Blue Screen of Death. Be ye afraid; be ye
greatly afraid; serve only me, and live."
And the people were cowed in terror and gave homage to Microsoft, and
endured the many grave and perilous trials which the Windows platform
and its greatly bodacious Licence forced upon them. And once again did
they cry to Turing and von Neumann and Moore for a deliverer, but none
was found equal to the task until the birth of Linux.
These are the generations of Linux:
SAGE begat ARPA, which begat TCP/IP, and Aloha, which begat Ethernet.
Bell begat Multics, which begat C, which begat Unix. Unix and TCP/IP
begat Internet, which begat the World Wide Web. Unix begat RMS, father
of the great GNU, which begat the Libraries and Emacs, chief of the
Utilities. In the days of the Web, Internet and Ethernet begat the
Intranet LAN, which rose to renown among all Corporations and prepared
the way for the Penguin. And Linus and the Web begat the Kernel through
Unix. The Kernel, the Libraries and the Utilities together are the
Distribution, the one Penguin in many forms, forever and ever praised.
Now in those days there was in the land of Helsinki a young scholar
named Linus the Torvald. Linus was a devout man, a disciple of RMS and
mighty in the spirit of Turing, von Neumann and Moore. One day as he was
meditating on the Architecture, Linus fell into a trance and was granted
a vision. And in the vision he saw a great Penguin, serene and
well-favoured, sitting upon an ice floe eating fish. And at the sight of
the Penguin Linus was deeply afraid, and he cried unto the spirits of
Turing, von Neumann and Moore for an interpretation of the dream.
And in the dream the spirits of Turing, von Neumann and Moore answered
and spoke unto him, saying, "Fear not, Linus, most beloved hacker. You
are exceedingly cool and froody. The great Penguin which you see is an
Operating System which you shall create and deploy unto the earth. The
ice-floe is the earth and all the systems thereof, upon which the
Penguin shall rest and rejoice at the completion of its task. And the
fish on which the Penguin feeds are the crufty Licensed codebases which
swim beneath all the earth's systems. The Penguin shall hunt and devour
all that is crufty, gnarly and bodacious; all code which wriggles like
spaghetti, or is infested with blighting creatures, or is bound by grave
and perilous Licences shall it capture. And in capturing shall it
replicate, and in replicating shall it document, and in documentation
shall it bring freedom, serenity and most cool froodiness to the earth
and all who code therein."
Linus rose from meditation and created a tiny Operating System Kernel as
the dream had foreshewn him; in the manner of RMS, he released the
Kernel unto the World Wide Web for all to take and behold. And in the
fulness of Internet Time the Kernel grew and replicated, becoming most
cool and exceedingly froody, until at last it was recognised as indeed a
great and mighty Penguin, whose name was Tux. And the followers of Linus
took refuge in the Kernel, the Libraries and the Utilities; they
installed Distribution after Distribution, and made sacrifice unto the
GNU and the Penguin, and gave thanks to the spirits of Turing, von
Neumann and Moore, for their deliverance from the hand of Microsoft. And
this was the beginning of the Fourth Age, the age of Open Source.
Now there is much more to be said about the exceeding strange and
wonderful events of those days; how some Suits of Microsoft plotted war
upon the Penguin, but were discovered on a Halloween Eve; how Gates fell
among lawyers and was betrayed and crucified by his former friends, the
apostles of Media; how the mercenary Knights of the Red Hat brought the
gospel of the Penguin into the halls of the Corporations; and even of
the dispute between the brethren of Gnome and KDE over a trollish
Licence. But all these things are recorded elsewhere, in the Books of
the Deeds of the Penguin and the Chronicles of the Fourth Age, and I
suppose if they were all narrated they would fill a stack of DVDs as
deep and perilous as a Usenet Newsgroup.
Now may you code in the power of the Source; may the Kernel, the
Libraries and the Utilities be with you, throughout all Distributions,
until the end of the Epoch. Amen.
Lex A. Parker
Visit my web site at:
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Silicon Graphics Inc.
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Mountain View, CA 94043-1389
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