Linus DECUS ’94 talks found!

As I’m sure this will be making the rounds from Facebook (yes how tragic it’s on that thing of all things), and YES you have to login as King Zuck-my-users-are-idiots-erberg demands to know if you are reading this.


This is written by Jon “maddog” Hall

This is the long-promised Christmas present to all those good little girls and
boys who love GNU/Linux.

It was November of 1993 when I received my first CD of what was advertised as "A
complete Unix system with source code for 99 USD".   While I was dubious about
this claim (since the USL vs BSDi lawsuit was in full swing) I said "What the
heck" and sent away my 99 dollars, just to receive a thin booklet and a CD-ROM
in the mail.   Since I did not have an Intel "PC" to run it on, all I could do
was mount the CD on my MIPS/Ultrix workstation and read the man(1)ual pages.

I was interested, but I put it away in my filing cabinet.

About February of 1994 Kurt Reisler, Chair of the UNISIG of DECUS started
sending emails (and copying me for some reason) about wanting to bring this
person I had never heard about from FINLAND (of all places) to talk about a
project that did not even run on Ultrix OR DEC/OSF1 to DECUS in New Orleans in
May of 1994.

After many emails and no luck in raising money for this trip I took mercy on
Kurt and asked my management to fund the trip.   There is much more to this
story, requiring me to also fund a stinking, weak, miserable Intel PC to run
this project on, but that has been described elsewhere.

Now I was at DECUS.  I had found Kurt trying to install this "project" on this
stinking, weak, miserable Intel PC and not having much luck, when this nice
young man with sandy brown hair, wire-rim glasses, wool socks and sandals came
along.  In a lilting European accent, speaking perfect English he said "May I
help you?" and ten minutes later GNU/Linux was running on that stinking, weak,
miserable Intel PC.

I sat down to use it, and was amazed. It was good. It was very, very good.

I found out that later that day Linus (for of course it was Linus Torvalds) was
going to give two talks that day.  One was "An Introduction to Linux" and the
other was "Implementation Issues in Linux".

Linus was very nervous about giving these talks.   This was the first time that
he was giving a talk at a major conference (19,000 people attended that DECUS)
to an English-speaking audience in English.   He kept feeling as if he was going
to vomit.   I told him that he would be fine.

He gave the talks.  Only forty people showed up to each one, but there was great
applause.

The rest of the story about steam driven river boats, strong alcoholic drinks
named "Hurricanes", massive amounts of equipment and funding as well as
engineering resources based only on good will and handshakes have been told
before and in other places.

Unfortunately the talks that Linus gave were lost.

Until now.

As I was cleaning my office I found some audio tapes made of Linus' talk, and
which I purchased with my own money.  Now, to make your present, I had to buy a
good audio tape playback machine and capture the audio in Audacity, then produce
a digital copy of those tapes, which are listed here.  Unfortunately I do not
have a copy of the slides, but I am not sure how many slides Linus had.  I do
not think you will need them.

Here is your Christmas present, from close to three decades ago.   Happy
Linuxing" to all, no matter what your religion or creed.

An Introduction To Linux
Linux Implementation Issues In Linux

I’ve also archived the slides & audio files on archive.org.

6 thoughts on “Linus DECUS ’94 talks found!

  1. Linus speaks English very well but it’s funny hearing his slightly stronger accent and more timid speaking style from 27 years ago. 🙂

    “If I were a marketing department, I would have called it OpenLinux”, poking fun at VMS, which had just become OpenVMS a few years earlier 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • It’s also a dig at the “Open Software Foundation” who was doing the OSF/1 thing at the time which was most certainly not open. Too bad, as the world clearly needed a Mach 2.6 based system. Funny how it was Apple’s buyout of NeXT that made it all possible, and ironically open.

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