Fan mail from some flounders?

However, to build a trademark, and therefore a brand, around the term “Dr.Linux,” and to apply that to one company or one person (other than Linus himself), and I might have an objection. From your letter I don't think there will be an issue.

As to the people I copied on the letter, they are all people in the Linux program office of Hewlett Packard who I deal with a lot. As you know, the new HP is partially made up of the Old Compaq, which was partially made up of the even older Digital Equipment Corporation, for which I worked for many years. I assume the people you copied from HP are the ones you have been dealing with from the DAC marketing space.

I hope that this letter explains my issues.

Warmest regards,


Jon “maddog” Hall
Executive Director
Linux(R) International
Board Member: Uniforum Association, USENIX Association
(R)Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in several countries.

P.S. I too hope that some day you will meet Linus in person. Please realize that through this all, Linux is still “just” a hobby with him, and he just does not have time to personally answer all the email sent him.

Received on June 8th

Dear Jon and Peggy,

I thought I would quickly try to write some kind of explanation with regards to the bad feelings generated by the “Dr. Linux” theme at DAC. In retrospect, I think there is a massive misunderstanding at work here, based on our poor choice of a theme for the booth at the show. It was *not* our intent to appear to speak for Linus Torvalds or Linux® or Linux International in any capacity, official or otherwise. It *was* our intent to *promote* Linux at DAC as a solution for electrical engineering design environments and have some fun while doing it. We were not trying to establish a trademark, start a long-term advertising campaign, or create any confusion about our relationship to Linux. It was simply to be a fun theme for the booth.

Unfortunately, the moniker “Dr. Linux” does not accurately describe the theme of the activities at the DAC show, and the HP folks will remember that I registered some initial concern about being called “Dr. Linux.” A meta-search for the phrase “Dr. Linux,” before the DAC show, yielded 39 hits, including from Red Hat,, and other Linux sites. I did this search just before the show to check on the common usage in the Internet community, and was less concerned after seeing so many hits and the common usage. This is why I did not press for a last-minute change in the phrasing. In retrospect, I should have followed my instincts and requested something else.

While “Dr. Linux” implies PhD-level, superlative expertise, and a singular role as an expert and spokesman, this was not an accurate description of the activities at DAC. A better description would be “The Linux Workgroup Doctors” or even “The Linux Workgroup Mechanics.” Looking back at my e-mail records, I see that the theme for the sessions mutated from “The Doctor Is In” ala the Peanuts comic strip and the Lucy character, to the final “Dr. Linux” somewhere along the line, within a week or so of the show. The whole idea was to “get a checkup” for your EDA environment and come away with “a prescription” for how to use Linux to replace specific elements in the workgroup that currently are proprietary RISC/Unix systems. It was intended as a “tongue-in-cheek” approach to a serious subject.

Please believe that I am not so ignorant or egotistical as to think that I speak in any way for any portion of the Linux community, whether that is Linux International, Red Hat, or Linus himself. I can certainly see where the usage of the “Dr. Linux” phrase might have caused someone outside of the scope of the DAC activities to register concern. For that concern and any bad feelings, I sincerely apologize. It was never anyone's intent to cause bad feelings in the Linux community, to create confusion, or to infringe on the Linux trademark; instead, we just wanted to have a little fun and promote Linux along the way.

Please, I hope that everyone involved will recognize this situation as an innocent mistake, executed in the last-minute haste of preparing for a trade show, and will allow my profound apologies to heal any bad feelings or controversy. I am truly in awe of the accomplishments surrounding Linux and would not intentionally do or say anything that might harm the Linux cause. I certainly will never allow myself to be called “Dr. Linux” again in any venue!


Rob Lucke

Received on June 8th

Dear Rob, Peggy, and Jon,

I think we all need to keep this in perspective. I think that no one doubts Linus as the father of Linux. We have to remember that this was DAC, part technical show, part amusement park. This DAC had many people dressed up as Dr.'s in various parts of the show. In past shows there, have been Dr. Verilogs. I have never been an official “Dr. Verilog” although I have been called “Dr. Verilog” in appreciation from my students and customers. Neither Phil Morby, the father of Verilog, nor Cadence, the Verilog Trade mark holder have been offended by the Dr. Verilogs.

As a long time Linux and EDA user, I have experience with the issues regarding Linux, EDA, and corporate infrastructure. Rob's suggestions for implementation plans, life cycle, and deployment of Linux in an EDA/Corporate environment were quite helpful for people who are troubled with the decisions and plans.

Certainly anyone will understand that it was a marketing gimmick to have Rob dressed up in a white coat with a stethoscope presenting well-founded technical material regarding Linux deployment.


James M. Lee
The ASIC Group
Silicon Valley's Design Center
Author “Verilog Quickstart” ISBN 0-7923-9927-7

Sent on June 8th

James, Rob, and Jon -

This whole set of e-mails has been so fascinating and informative, I'm going to run it in the June 16th newsletter. I know everyone will learn a lot in the process.


Peggy Aycinena
Contributing Editor
EDA Weekly

Received on June 9th

Peggy (et. al.),

First of all, I am removing Linus from the "cc" list. The poor guy gets enough email without having to filter through this. Anyone else who wants to be removed, just speak up, but hopefully this letter will be the last.

Secondly, in my second letter to Peggy I acknowledged that the type of marketing that Rob described in his letter was "O.K." by my book. I can understand the “Lucy Van Pelt: Doctor Is In” set up to be used for marketing. I agree that it was the issue of "singular role" more than the issue of "superlative expertise" to which I reacted.

Dr. Lucke, Doctor of Linuxology might also imply that level of expertise, and I do not object to that, since there could also be a "Dr. Aycinena, Doctor of Linuxology", or any number of "Doctors". But to make a trademark of "Dr. Linux" was to what I objected to, since it not only raised the level of knowledge to a superlative expertise, but (in effect) said there could only be one...otherwise, what is the use of a trademark or brand?

Whether or not DAC created that concept, I have no idea, since I was not there. However, in Peggy's original article that I read on the net, it DID come across as a "singular role", so I reacted.

I feel that this issue has been put to bed.

Warmest regards,


Jon "maddog" Hall
Executive Director
Linux(R) International
Board Member: Uniforum Association, USENIX Association
(R)Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in several countries.

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