A Conversation With Linus Torvalds, Who Built The World's Most Robust Operating System And Gave It Away For FreeSubmitted by Roy Schestowitz on Saturday 7th of June 2014 10:01:50 PM Filed under
In 1991, 22-year old Finnish computer programmer Linus Torvalds released his own operating system. Opening with the message “Hello everybody out there,” (a now-iconic phrase among Linux fans), he posted the source code online. People alternately contributed their abilities to improve it where they could or went off to build their own things with it.
Two years ago, when the Raspberry Pi launched, it was with the intention of improving IT education in the UK. Since then more powerful, better connected or cheaper boards have come onto the market, but the Pi retains its position as the white knight of ICT teaching.
Why? Because of the community of users that has grown up around it. To find out more we travelled west to Manchester, venue for the second annual Jamboree – a festival of educators, makers and messer-abouters focussed on highlighting how engaging the Pi can be. There, we met 75% of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s education team – Ben Nuttall, Clive Beale and Carrie Anne Philbin – to discuss IT teaching in the UK.
Linux has already transformed data center economics on the server side, and Cumulus Networks is set to do it again – this time through the network. The company behind Cumulus Linux, the first distribution for data center switches and other networking hardware, is part of a broader enterprise movement toward open networking.
Linus Torvalds has a great sense of humor (depending on your taste of humor), as long as you are not at the receiving end. But there is nothing funnier than him reading some tweets targeting him. The Linux Foundation has published a video where Linus is reading some tweets on the lines of Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets series.
As companies grow their data centers to accommodate more cloud services and applications, their resource management practices also grow increasingly complex. CoreOS is a new Linux distribution that uses containers to help manage these massive server deployments.
On May 19, CoreOS joined the Linux Foundation as a corporate member, along with Rackspace Hosting and Cumulus Networks. All three companies are playing a crucial role in the data center transformation and see open source as the lynchpin for optimal scalability, efficiencies, security and data center savings.
That very much includes me, btw. I think the whole "cult of personality" is pretty disturbing, and I hate how people take me and what I say too seriously. The same goes for Jobs, Ellison, Gates, you name it. I wish more people thought for themselves, and realized that the technology actually flows from all those random anonymous great engineers that are all around.
TUX MACHINES has caught up with Jennifer Cloer, who is the director of communications at The Linux Foundation. Our short interview focuses on Linux in devices and some of the existing challenges.
Tux Machines: As the growth of Linux accelerates, especially on devices, patent pressure intensifies. Short of patent reform, which is seemingly too slow to arrive, how can one counter threats to the zero-cost advantage of Linux?
Jennifer Cloer: Certainly, we have to be mindful of patent issues, as does anyone working in the software industry, whether they work on open source or proprietary software. It is an issue. But given the massive community that supports and depends on Linux, there are hundreds of companies and thousands of developers invested in Linux and prepared to defend the operating system every day.
TM: Android is becoming the de facto standard platform in several areas, but it is also the carrier of many proprietary apps. How do the mobile Linux platforms backed by the Linux Foundation distinguish themselves from this?
JC: The Linux Foundation supports and “backs” all Linux-based platforms. The more people building with Linux and contributing back to the kernel, the better for everyone. Platforms will distinguish themselves in a number of ways but that will be determined by the communities, developers and companies supporting those platforms.
TM: Short of lobbying, how can one help politicians or CIOs grasp the advantages of software that they have full control over?
JC: Governments and CIOs understand the advantages now more than ever. Governments around the world are embracing open source and have been for years now. CIOs are increasingly using Linux and open source as the building blocks for their enterprises, especially as the cloud has become so prominent. In our latest Enterprise End User Report, 80 percent of users said they would increase their use of Linux over the next five years; just 20 percent said they would increase their use of Windows during the same time period.
TM: The Linux Foundation recently organised events in Europe, including the UK. Are there plans of expanding such initiatives?
JC: The Linux Foundation hosts LinuxCon and CloudOpen in Europe every year. This year we’ll be in Dusseldorf October 13-15, 2014. We will continue to host other events in Europe, too, such as Embedded Linux Conference and KVM Forum. We’ll also host ApacheCon and CloudStack Conference in Europe in Budapest on November 17-21, 2014. █
A few of the questions asked about "open source software" in such a way that, responding to them directly, I'd be classifying programs as "open" or "closed". That I will not do, because those terms presuppose a different philosophy based on different values.
Rather than give no answer to those questions, I modified them to say "free software" instead, and answered them that way. (Square brackets show these changes.) I hope the answers to these modified questions are of interest to readers. They are rather different from what an open source supporter would say.