One of the world's most successful programmers has some surprising advice for success
Mar. 29, 2016, 5:46 PM 27,526 13
Linus Torvalds Wikipedia/Krd
When it comes to achieving fame and fortune in the tech industry, a visionary, Steve Jobs-like character who can dream up amazing products typically comes to mind.
That's not at all what propelled Linus Torvalds to his status as one of the world's best-known programmers. (He's been known to hobnob with Hollywood stars at the Oscars.)
When he was a college student, Torvalds invented Linux, the free operating system that today powers most of the world's computer servers (including the ones used by Google and Facebook), powers many of the world's fastest supercomputers, and is the basis for Android.
He created it in 1991, launching it with a little message describing the software as a "(free) operating system, just a hobby, won't be big and professional."
Linux is now so important to the world that it is big and professional. It's the poster child for open-source projects, or ones to which anyone can contribute. Since 2005, almost 12,000 programmers from 1,200 companies have added their code to the main Linux operating system (called the kernel).
In addition to inventing the operating system, Torvalds also had to invent a method for lots of people to work together on a computer-programming project.
The method he created is called Git, and Git has itself created its own industry (without any help from Torvalds), such as Github, a startup valued at $2 billion that provides Git software.
And Torvalds says none of it would have happened if he were some kind of visionary, as he explained in an interview with Stephen Cass for IEEE Spectrum (http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/soft ... s-torvalds):
I credit the fact that I didn't know what the hell I was setting myself up for for a lot of the success of Linux. If I had known what I know today when I started, I would never have had the chutzpah to start writing my own operating system: You need a certain amount of naïveté to think that you can do it ...
The fact that I didn't really know where it would end up meant that I was perhaps more open to outside suggestions and influence than I would have been if I had a very good idea of what I wanted to accomplish. That openness to outside influences I think made it much easier, and much more interesting, for others to join the project. People didn't have to sign on to somebody else's vision, but could join with their own vision of where things should go.
junk science on Mar 29, 9:34 PM said:
Linus is being too humble. sure, his timing was awesome, but I would argue that he is the most successful project manager since Leslie Groves drove the Manhattan Project
NattieBumpo on Mar 30, 5:28 AM said:
Git is not a "method" it's piece of software. Torvalds didn't "invent" it, he created it. He didn't invent it because it wasn't the first of its kind, he just created it as one of the first open source DVCS systems after some existing popular ones at the time changed their licensing. Git is a particular implementation of what is known as a Distributed Version Control System (DVCS). There are many free and commercial implementations aside from Git, many of them existed before Git.
Github doesn't "provide Git software".
pushbuttonchimp on Mar 30, 11:50 AM said:
Linux used to be called a "UNIX variant", "Linux is a lot like UNIX", but now the page has turned.
UNIX is a lot like Linux now. Most of the last bitter-ender UNIXes that are out there have had to adapt to Linux, or completely disappear. For example, AIX had to add support for RPM, simply because the AIX market has dwindled to almost nothing, and has to play nice with Linux people or just die. Along with HP/UX, another UNIX that has had to become cooperative with Linux or just die. The only OS that STILL to this day has not even tried to become more friendly with Linux is WINDOWS.
But the original reason Linux was invented in the first place was because UNIX, in whatever flavor, was simply too expensive to just buy it for "home use" or for just development. Back when Linux came out, SCO was expensive, Solaris was expensive, and they wouldn't run on lower-end hardware, if at all. This is where Sun really screwed the pooch, they charged an arm and a leg, and continued, along with SCO, to gouge developers for every piece of software you needed just to make UNIX useful. Sun and SCO both gouged you for the C-Compiler, and any development tools. Linux killed these awful versions of UNIX and rightfully so. Both these companies exhibited an arrogance that the Linux community couldn't wait to get away from.
Today, you can get the best UNIX out there, Mac OSX with FREE developer tools. And OSX, along with its parent FreeBSD, is probably the only UNIX variant out there that will be left when all the other UNIXes die. It's going to be the last UNIX, and works really well with Linux. The advances in both Mac OSX and Linux are so far ahead of anything else out there we will probably never see ATT System V, or any other UNIX in the wild again, except for probably FreeBSD.
xXThe FETTXx on Mar 30, 8:13 PM said:
@pushbuttonchimp: I wouldn't say Mac OSX is the best, it's just the most user friendly....OSX has plenty of flaws to it, but it's loved because almost anyone can pick up a Mac and run with it.
I do agree about LINUX/UNIX. It took years for the hardcore UNIX users to accept that LINUX, in many ways simplified UNIX and made more accessible to the casual user.
pushbuttonchimp on Mar 31, 11:10 PM said:
@xXThe FETTXx: All of my experiences with FreeBSD and Mac OSX have been about the robustness, whatever shortcomings FreeBSD and/or Mac OSX have, they can "take a lickin' and keep on tickin'" to borrow from what was it, Timex watches... They stand up to load quite well.
Linux has a wider audience than BSD or OSX, but for different reasons. OSX is about being transparent and hidden and in the background in favor of the UI, and Linux is about being a desktop when you want it or a server when you want it or BOTH or even penetrating into embedded devices like RasberryPI, Arduino, etc. Different motivations but essentially at the core Linux and OSX are cousins that play extremely well together, and really will define the future.
As we move into more robots over time, there will be more Linux and OSX and less PC-DOS/Windows. The order of magnitude for embedded devices and IOT favors Linux more than anything, and even IOS, simply because of their efficiency, and market scale. IOS is the only other OS out there more ideally suited to IOT, so we'll see more of Apple in IOT in the next few years. But either way, Linux, OSX, IOS and Linux-like OSes are here to stay. The world moved into UNIX without even knowing it.....
RedneckBob on Apr 1, 5:20 PM said:
@pushbuttonchimp: "The only OS that STILL to this day has not even tried to become more friendly with Linux is WINDOWS."
"Microsoft is adding the Linux command line to Windows 10"
- http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/30/11331 ... buntu-bash
pushbuttonchimp on Apr 1, 5:36 PM said:
As of this week.
But as I said up until "now".
Don Pharley on Mar 30, 11:57 AM said:
Linus is a pompous ass and thinks his opinion is the only one that matters. Look at all his previous tirades he has said against other developers.
Steven Rostedt on Apr 9, 3:24 PM said:
@Don Pharley: Being one of the developers that been on the other side of his "tirades", and also friends with many others, all I can say is that he's not a "pompous ass". He allows developers like myself to have our own vision on where we want to take Linux. But he also has rules. Rule #1 is that it must not break existing userspace. Most of his tirades have been because developers want to make great changes and many do so at the sacrifice of existing tools. I run very old distros on the latest Linux kernel because of this strictness to maintain backward compatibility. When a developer ignores this, Linus will come down hard on that developer. Unfortunately, due to his "celebrity" status, his tirades become headline news. I've seen other developers who say much worse than Linus and nobody knows of it, because they are not as well known. 99% of the tirades Linus has had, he's been right, and the developer he is yelling at usually figures that out. That's why he's such a good leader. He knows when to get into a conversation and make people do the correct thing. It was his tirade against ARM that had all the ARM developers working on cleaning up their subsystem, and today it's mostly there.