An open letter to Andrew Tanenbaum by@salvoadriano
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An open letter to Andrew Tanenbaum

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Salvatore Zappalà HackerNoon profile picture


Salvatore Zappalà
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Illustration by Daniele Sapuppo

Dear Professor Tanenbaum,

When I was a young student, I studied many of your books attentively, exploring with wonder the internal workings of computers. They gave me many of the tools I still use today as a software engineer.

I thank you for your big contribution to the field. Priming millions of students minds, and showing them the path to learn how a computer works, is an achievement much bigger than writing an operating system run on many machines.

That’s why I have always considered you a first class genius. I always recommended your books to any person interested in our field, knowing that it would have been the best way to learn about computer architecture, networks or operating systems.

That’s also why, when I saw yesterday that you wrote an open letter to Intel, I was expecting finally someone stepping up for the end-user’s freedom.

Your operating system is being used by Intel to, potentially, take full control of any machine powered by their chips. As you know it, ironically, has more power than the operating system run by the end-user. I like to believe that the real purpose of MINIX is to teach young students how to go out there and invent their own operating system. Not to subjugate control over their personal machine.

We live in a difficult time for the end-user’s freedom. Big corporations have control of our data, our privacy and now it seems of our machines.

We need the support and the voice of people of your rank to start raising some important questions. We have to reassert and remind big corporations that end-user freedom is the only freedom that matters. More than any license debate or “whose operating system is run the most”.

Help us make clear that the users have ownership of their machine. That is a real cause worth being remembered for.

With respect and gratitude,

Salvatore ZappalàFormer computer science student


For context: please read the open letter from Professor Andrew Tanenbaum to Intel here:


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