"Google Summer of Code 2008 is on! Over the past three years, the program has brought together over 1500 students and 2000 mentors from 90 countries worldwide, all for the love of code. We look forward to welcoming more new contributors and projects this year," begins a page listing all the projects planning to participate in this year's GSoC. Among the numerous planned participtants there are many kernel projects, including DragonFly BSD, FreeBSD, Git, GNU/Hurd, Linux, Minix, and NetBSD.
Student applications for GSoC projects begin today, running through the end of the month. Read on for many of the participation announcements from the above projects. For more information about the GSoC, the program's FAQ explains:
"Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is a program that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source projects. Google will be working with a several open source, free software, and technology-related groups to identify and fund several projects over a three month period. Historically, the program has brought together over 1,500 students with over 130 open source projects to create millions of lines of code. The program, which kicked off in 2005, is now in its fourth year."
"BACK UP ANY IMPORTANT DATA," began the Linux 0.10 installation instructions. "Linux accesses your hardware directly, and if your hardware differs from mine, you could be in for a nasty surprise. Doublecheck that your hardware is compatible: AT style harddisk, VGA controller." The installation guide explained that there were five major steps in getting Linux installed and running on your computer, including the above first step of backing up the system. The second step was to use Minix and the
mkfs command to create a new filesystem on an empty partition of your hard drive. Third you used
dd to write the 'boot' and 'root' Linux disk images to floppy disks. The fourth step was actually booting from the floppies, "having a floppy as root-device isn't very fast (especially on a machine with less than 6MB total ram -> small buffer cache), but it works (I hope)." The final step was mounting the empty hard disk partition, copying the files from the floppy disks to the partition, and creating the necessary
/dev files with
mknod, "you should now have a filesystem you [can] boot from. Play around a bit, try to get acquainted with the new system. Log out when you've had enough." The document noted that while it was possible to install Linux using DOS, the instructions were intended for people using Minix:
"In general, this version is still meant for people with minix: they are more used to the system, and can do some things that DOS-based persons cannot. If you have only DOS, expect some troubles. As the version number suggests, this is still not the final product."
"Do you pine for the nice days of minix-1.1, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers?" began the October 5th, 1991 announcement for Linux kernel version 0.02 on the comp.os.minix newsgroup. In the release notes, Linus Torvalds continued, "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." 19 days after the 0.01 kernel was released, the 0.02 kernel debuted with the new-found ability to run a handful of utilities including bash, gcc, gnu-make, gnu-sed and compress. There was no floppy driver yet, the hard disk driver was hard coded to AT-compatible drives, and due to various buffer-cache problems it was not possible to compile large programs like gcc from a running 0.02 kernel. Linus noted:
"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."
"This is a free minix-like kernel for i386(+) based AT-machines," began the Linux version 0.01 release notes in September of 1991 for the first release of the Linux kernel. "As the version number (0.01) suggests this is not a mature product. Currently only a subset of AT-hardware is supported (hard-disk, screen, keyboard and serial lines), and some of the system calls are not yet fully implemented (notably mount/umount aren't even implemented)." Booting the original 0.01 Linux kernel required bootstrapping it with minix, and the keyboard driver was written in assembly and hard-wired for a Finnish keyboard. The listed features were mostly presented as a comparison to minix and included, efficiently using the 386 chip rather than the older 8088, use of system calls rather than message passing, a fully multithreaded FS, minimal task switching, and visible interrupts. Linus Torvalds noted, "the guiding line when implementing linux was: get it working fast. I wanted the kernel simple, yet powerful enough to run most unix software." In a section titled "Apologies :-)" he noted:
"This isn't yet the 'mother of all operating systems', and anyone who hoped for that will have to wait for the first real release (1.0), and even then you might not want to change from minix. This is a source release for those that are interested in seeing what linux looks like, and it's not really supported yet."
A lengthy debate that began with a suggestion to dual license the Linux kernel under the GPLv2 and the GPLv3 [story] continues on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. Throughout the ongoing thread Linux creator Linus Torvalds has spoken out on the GPLv2, the upcoming GPLv3, the BSD license, Tivo, the Free Software Foundation, and much more. During the discussion, he was asked we he chose the GPLv2 over the BSD license when he's obviously not a big fan of the FSF. Linus explained:
"Because I think the GPLv2 is a great license. And I don't like the FSF's radical world-view, but I am able to separate the license (the GPLv2) from the author and source of the license (rms and the FSF). Why do people always confuse the two? The GPLv2 stands on its own. The fact that I disagree with the FSF on how to act has _zero_ relevance for my choice of license.
"[...] But for a project I actually care about, I would never choose the BSD license. The license doesn't encode my fundamental beliefs of 'fairness'. I think the BSD license encourages a 'everybody for himself' mentality, and doesn't encourage people to work together, and to merge."
Linux creator Linus Torvalds posted an email titled, "An Ode to GPLv2" examining why he feels the GPLv2 is such a great license as an alternative way to look at the GPLv3 debate [story]. "This post is kind of another way to look at the whole GPLv3 issues," Linus explains, "not caring so much about why the GPLv3 is worse, but a much more positive 'Why the GPLv2 is _better_'." Following a lengthy preamble to explain his stance, Linus includes a comment originally posted to a Groklaw article titled GPL Upheld in Germany Against D-Link.
His Groklaw comment is in reply to a number of concerns including that the GPLv2 doesn't get specific, doesn't provide patent protection, and ignores DRM. "That's why the GPLv2 is so great," Linus replies, "exactly because it doesn't bother or talk about anything else than the very generic issue of 'tit-for-tat'." Linus explains that when he replaced his original license with the GPLv2 [story], he did it because he was looking for something that was fair. "And that's what the GPLv2 is. It's 'fair'. It asks everybody - regardless of circumstance - for the same thing. It asks for the effort that was put into improving the software to be given back to the common good. You can use the end result any way you want (and if you want to use it for 'bad' things, be my guest), but we ask the same exact thing of everybody - give your modifications back."