June 11, 2016    


 

 


Every generation has a mythology. Every millennium 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 millennium 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
foreseeing 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 Microsoft.

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 Millennium Bug, Doomsday,
Armageddon, The End Of All Things.

Now it came to pass that Microsoft had waxed great
and mighty among the Microchip Corporations; mightier
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 fullness of Internet Time the Kernel grew
and replicated, becoming most cool and exceedingly
froody, until at last it was recognized 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.