Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Jun 2008 22:28 UTC
Linux Linus Torvalds - a classic example of the love-it-or-hate-it type of person. Brilliant programmer, of course, and the father of one of the most extraordinary software projects in the world, but sometimes, he can be utterly arrogant any annoying, yet the other moment completely sensible and utterly spot-on in his statements. CBR listed the ten best Linus Torvalds quotes.
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Torvalds' Credit
by Moredhas on Sat 7th Jun 2008 06:32 UTC
Moredhas
Member since:
2008-04-10

Sure, he did a great job on the kernel, but I think he gets a little too much credit. I'm not one of these "It's GNU/Linux!" people, but I think the GNU tools are probably more important to users of Linux than the kernel is. I don't want to spark a naming debate, but I just think Linus Torvalds doesn't deserve all the credit he gets.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Torvalds' Credit
by karl on Sat 7th Jun 2008 08:53 in reply to "Torvalds' Credit"
karl Member since:
2005-07-06

Linus Torvalds *is* the actual Linux mascot, not Tux. He accepted this role quite early and on the whole I think he has done a wonderful job at it. Linus, AFAIK, hasn't done a whole lot of programming in the last years except for Git(and I really respect him for having created Git- he stirred up a hornets nest of bad feelings with the whole BitKeeper saga-when the shit hit the fan he turned around and wrote what has become one of the most used distributed version control systems around). He manages the contributions of others-that is his primary Linux role nowadays.

The fact remains, the media needed a figurehead and Linus accepted this role. Traditionally major tech developments have either been done major corporations or groups of scientists. In both cases individuals are sought out who are supposed to embody this "greatness". In the case of corporations it is usually the CEO(Bill Gates, Steven Jobs etc.). The people who are doing the actual programming are generally unknown with only a few exceptions, and these exceptions are only known in insider circles(eg. Gosling). How many people know the names of the Microsoft employees most responsible for the code in Microsoft Office ?.

Linus, himself, is not particularly representative of FOSS programmers in general, and not even of those working on the Linux kernel. Yet he has an interesting personality, he likes to stir up controversy and he genuinely seems to like all the attention he gets. Until the advent of the blogosphere we outsiders had little access to the individuals who write the software we use.

It is also interesting to note that GNU has specifically chosen the path of anonymity- we all know Richard M. Stallman, but who else, of the thousands of people working on GNU software, are known-Ulrich Depper is one name-but most of the GNU folks do not wish to draw this kind of personal attention to their own accomplishments. Thanks to the blogs I know the names of almost all the major contributors to the software which I use on my desktop-GNOME. And I know the names of a lot of the KDE developers. But who wrote sed or grep or cut or find or.......

Linus is the "Poster boy" of Linux. Linux changed the rules of the game for the entire software industry-every single corporation in the proprietary software world has had to acknowledge and adapt to the effects that Linux has had in the marketplace. In so doing Linux became a tangible threat to the thousands of individual programmers who earned their living by selling proprietary software. I can only imagine how many of these programmers HATE Linus, or more importantly what he represents.

Linus is dogmatically anti-dogmatic. This wins him points in the eyes of many who see him as a pragmatist. In this role he is a perfect counterpart to Stallman, who is rightfully, very, very dogmatic. Ironically there is nothing pragmatic about what Linus has done, although nowadays FOSS is becoming pragmatic, it certainly did not start out this way, and certainly was not this way when Linus first wrote the Linux kernel. Between the two of them, Linus and Richard, they have a very broad appeal, which has been instrumental to the success of the GNU/Linux.

All the world is a stage, we are merely players, performers or portrayers.

Reply Parent Score: 12