SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo, Dana Gardner

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Microservices Expo

Agile Computing: Article

Who Are The All-Time Heroes of i-Technology?

From Ada, Countess of Lovelace to Jamie Zawinski

Linus Torvalds

 

Brief Description: "Benevolent dictator" of the Linux kernel

Further Details:

Already named in 2004 one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, Linus Torvalds also won one of this year's prestigious Innovations Awards, organized by The Economist.

When asked recently what makes him believe Linux will continue to gain momentum, Torvalds replied: "I think, fundamentally, open source does tend to be more stable software. It's the right way to do things," continuing:

 

"I compare it to science vs. witchcraft. In science, the whole system builds on people looking at other people's results and building on top of them. In witchcraft, somebody had a small secret and guarded it - but never allowed others to really understand it and build on it. Traditional software is like witchcraft. In history, witchcraft just died out. The same will happen in software. When problems get serious enough, you can't have one person or one company guarding their secrets. You have to have everybody share in knowledge."

Linux, he feels - and open source software in general - has history on its side.

When asked in August 2004 by BusinessWeek whether as leader of what BW called the Linux movement he was a "benevolent dictator" or not, Torvalds was refreshingly honest.

"I am a dictator," he conceded. "But it's the right kind of dictatorship."

The award, from The Economist magazine, was presented to Torvalds at a ceremony in San Francisco. His innovation award, for Linux, was in the Computing category.

Here is the citation in full, which in its rather dry form is more or less a History of Linux in a Nutshell:

"Computing, Linux: Linus Torvalds, Fellow, Open Source Development Lab. Torvalds originated Linux in 1991 as a 21-year-old computer science student at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Dissatisfied with the MS-DOS (and early Windows) operating system standard prevalent on PCs, Torvalds made Linux freely available for downloading, releasing the source code so that people with knowledge of computer programming could modify Linux to suit their own needs. The software created a huge following, eventually attracting big industry players such as Oracle, IBM, Intel, Netscape and others. It also spawned several new software companies, including Red Hat, SUSE LINUX and Turbolinux. Today, there are hundreds of millions of copies of Linux running on servers, desktop computers, network equipment and in embedded devices worldwide. With the support of the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), Torvalds now works exclusively on vendor-independent, neutral development of the Linux kernel."

Other SYS-CON stories about Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds Reveals How He Herds the Cats of the Linux Kernel

Torvalds: "I'll Be Really Happy If Sun Ends Up Being A Good Open-Source Player"

Linus Declares "GPL is No Hippie Dream"

Software Patents: Mr Linux, Mr MySQL, and Mr PHP Appeal to the EU Council

Software & Patents: "Linus Is Wrong," Says UK Lawyer

"We Are Not Proprietary," Protests Red Hat - Torvalds Agrees

Linux Quote of the Week: From Linus Torvalds

Happy Birthday, Linus Benedict Torvalds

Linus' Top Ten SCO Barbs

Linus Takes His Turn Center Stage: 'Darl - Please Grow Up'

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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