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History of Linux in a Nutshell As Linus Torvalds Snags Another Top Computing Award

History of Linux in a Nutshell As Linus Torvalds Snags Another Top Computing Award

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

    Already named this year one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, Linus Torvalds has done it again: he's won himself a top award - this time it's 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.

    Last month when asked 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."

    This latest award, from The Economist magazine, is due to be presented to Torvalds at a ceremony in San Francisco. His innovation award, for Linux, is in the Computing category. Other technological winners include the creator of Toyota's hybrid car - the Prius - and Vic Hayes, former chair of IEEE 802.11 Standards Working Group (for Wireless LANs).

    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."


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

  • 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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    Most Recent Comments
    Mark 09/18/04 10:03:45 PM EDT

    Congates Linus