AdTI notes recent attacks on web site

Encourages "respectful dialog" as alternative to cyber-assaults

WASHINGTON, DC -- June 3, 2004 -- A pro-democracy think tank that recently published a report skeptical of claims the Linux computer operating system was "written from scratch" says its web site was subjected to a series of attacks coinciding with its announcement of the paper.

On May 14, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution announced forthcoming publication of "Samizdat" in a release that said Linux founder Linus Torvalds was "probably not" the inventor of Linux, and on May 21, the paper was offered for sale at

From May 17 to 19, AdTI President and study author Ken Brown said, the web site was briefly shut down by an apparent denial of service attack, and queries were received from some supporters and journalists noting that site content was unavailable.

The institution also received several hundred email messages that included physical threats and computer viruses -- many mentioning the release and the forthcoming paper.

After investigating the attacks and promptly restoring the web site, AdTI said that it does not plan to take legal action unless the efforts resume.

"We are saddened that there are some, apparently within the open- and hybrid-source community, who respond to criticism by launching cyber-attacks," Brown said. "This seems contrary to the communitarian nature of the open source community.

"We also appreciate the effort by others, however, including Linus Torvalds, Eric Raymond, and Andrew Tanenbaum, to discuss the facts and the issues -- even if they disagree strongly with my report and my assessment of the likely origins of Linux."

Brown said that after a series of statements by open- and hybrid-source leaders in recent weeks, and correspondence with Torvalds and others, he is in the process of writing an update responding to some of the points "that will respond on the substance."

"Tocqueville has entered into a discussion in which, to be fair, there is very little critical review of the claims and methods of the open- and hybrid-source community," Brown said. "If we are to have a free, open, and productive dialogue, we respectfully request that leaders in the open- and hybric-source community condemn and discourage these attacks.”


Gregory Fossedal