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CNN Sits Down With Linus Torvalds 264

Posted by Zonk
from the penguin-wrangler dept.
just_another_sean writes "Calling him 'reclusive' and the 'leader of the Open Source Revolution' CNN has an interview with Linus Torvalds. From the article: "I actually only work with a few handfuls so I tend to directly interact with maybe 10 - 20 people and they in turn interact with other people. So depending on how you count, if you count just the core people, 20 -50 people. If you count everybody who's involved; five thousand people -- and you can really put the number anywhere in between... Almost, pretty much all, real work is done over e-mail so it doesn't matter where people are."
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CNN Sits Down With Linus Torvalds

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  • by Trigun (685027) <evil@@@evilempire...ath...cx> on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:52AM (#15365512)
    Travelling all over the world, I wish I was a hermit!
    • I think what they meant by reclusive is that he prefers to stay out of the limelight and doesn't do any attention whoring like many famous people tend to do. Unfortunately for CNN the word recluse usually has some negative connotations with it, so it makes it seem like they are taking a demeaning stance (which perhaps the writer is, if he's a pro-Microsoft zealot)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Just as the word 'zealot' has negative connotations. As if the people on /. weren't Anti-Microsoft zealots...
  • Leader? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kanzels (975208) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:56AM (#15365547) Homepage
    He is just working on Linux kernel, there are thousands of other open source projects. I wouldn't call him OSS leader :)
    • Re:Leader? (Score:3, Funny)

      by McDutchie (151611)
      He is just working on Linux kernel, there are thousands of other open source projects.

      Oops. Looks like you dared to challenge the Linus Torvalds personality cult. Please stand by while the Slashbot army prepares for correctional action against you.

      • Re:Leader? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:37AM (#15365863)
        Looks like you dared to challenge the Linus Torvalds personality cult.

        Actually, I do not think there is such a thing, at least not to a degree that most brainless "celebrities" get. For a "personality cult" one needs continuous media hyping in places watched by the sort of sheeple who are prone to falling for "personalities" in the first place.

        Linux and FOSS crowd is far more likely to become zealous about ideas (such as the whole concept of FOSS or the GPL) rather then people. Sure, some do admire Linus personally, but we are not beyond getting into regular flame wars with him when he is demonstrably wrong. Just check out the whole BitKeeper saga on the LKLM.

      • Re:Leader? (Score:2, Insightful)

        Please stand by while the Slashbot army prepares for correctional action against you.

        For better or worse, I think your comment suggest that he is a leader.

    • The proper term (Score:4, Informative)

      by truthsearch (249536) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:14AM (#15365695) Homepage Journal
      I believe the proper term would be "icon."
    • Re:Leader? (Score:4, Informative)

      by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:30AM (#15365808)
      I don't think he thinks that of himself reading the interview

      "KLS: Over the years, Linux has spawned other open technologies and even an open source spirit or open source philosophy. It has engendered stuff like Wikipedia, the online open source encyclopedia or even, some could argue, citizen journalism. What are your thoughts about that?"

      LT: We shouldn't give credit to Linux per se. There were open source projects and free software before Linux was there. Linux in many ways is one of the more visible and one of the bigger technical projects in this area and it changed how people looked at it because Linux took both the practical and ideological approach. At the same time I don't think this whole "openness" notion is new. In fact I often compare open source to science. To where science took this whole notion of developing ideas in the open and improving on other peoples' ideas and making it into what science is today, and the incredible advances that we have had. And I compare that to witchcraft and alchemy, where openness was something you didn't do. So openness is not something new, it is something that actually has worked for a long time"
    • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:38AM (#15365876) Homepage Journal

      Talking about a t-shirt which showed Linus as a sword-wielding leader:

      "It's ironic," says Stallman mournfully. "Picking up that sword is exactly what Linus refuses to do. He gets everybody focusing on him as the symbol of the movement, and then he won't fight. What good is it?"

      From Chapter 13 of the biography of Stallman [faifzilla.org].

    • Re:Leader? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hackstraw (262471) * on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:46AM (#15365942)
      I wouldn't call him OSS leader :)

      I would. I mean its pretty much between RMS and Linus, and I would give it to Linus.

      Sure GNU did come first and Linux would be impotent without it, but Linus has something Stallman does not. Brand name recognition and a damn good OS that powers a bunch of the internet, routers, printers, digital picture frames, you name it.

      Also, Linus is more suit and general public friendly than RMS will ever be.

      If its not Linus or Stallman, who is the OSS leader or is there no leader but rather just a bizarre style of underground thing?

      • Re:Leader? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:02AM (#15366087)
        Linus and RMS are both kinds of "leaders" in the open source movement, at the same time, the movement isn't a top-down organization, but, well, a diverse movement, so its not all that much something that is "led" by "leaders". A better word -- as someone else suggested in the thread for Linus -- for both might be "icons", as there role in the movement, from my perspective, is largely one of inspiration rather than direction.
        • the movement isn't a top-down organization, but, well, a diverse movement, so its not all that much something that is "led" by "leaders"

          OMG - we're terrorists!
        • Re:Leader? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hackstraw (262471) *
          the movement isn't a top-down organization, but, well, a diverse movement, so its not all that much something that is "led" by "leaders"

          So true, I agree completely. Just like ESR's "Cathedral and the Bazaar", OSS is the bazaar, there is no real leader, someone to sue, someone to blame, its just there, and it works, and that is what scares the suits and whatnot.

          I see Linux as "ours". It started out as Linus' baby, but its free, and anybody is capable of doing a fork of it at anytime just like XFree86 to X.
      • Re:Leader? (Score:3, Funny)

        by Soko (17987)
        Also, Linus is more suit and general public friendly than RMS will ever be.


        Congrats. You are now our current leader in the " Understatment of the Year " competition. Winner to be announced when ESR actually matters again.

        Soko
      • I would say just the opposite. For me, it's all about the community which RMS had a big part in building. Linux is just a kernel; I use Debian, and GNU, and other Free Software, that's well engineered, developed in public, supported in public, etc. As far as the kernel underneath it all goes, I really don't care if it's Linux or HURD or some BeOS clone, or something else, as long as it's under a Free license.
      • I would. I mean its pretty much between RMS and Linus, and I would give it to Linus.

        You would choose between two people who aren't even in the running?

        RMS doesn't consider himself a supporter of Open Source. And Linus Torvalds has made it clear on several occasions, most infamously with the BitKeeper debacle, that he's NOT an Open Source, or Free Software, advocate, he's quite happy with proprietary software.

        I'm not sure who qualifies as an Open Source leader. There's the official one, Michael Tieman

    • I agree. But that's what happens when people refer to the whole OS as "Linux". Torvalds gets credited with creating and leading the whole thing.
  • Kinda odd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drewzhrodague (606182) <drew.zhrodague@net> on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:57AM (#15365559) Homepage Journal
    That's kinda odd that it would take them so long to interview Linus. How long after Microsoft made it's day did they interview Bill? or Steve? It is definately due, and kudos to Linus!
    • by vasqzr (619165)
      At least they didn't do a photo shoot with Linus, like they did with Bill Gates [superfastcomputer.com]...
    • Yeah, but as the Stephen Colbert press incident show weeks ago, centralized news media like CNN or magazines like Newsweek (not talking AP or Reuters here) is becoming more and more irrevelant - well, at least if you want to be current on what's actually happening versus what's safe and fun to show/print or in the case of trends, what has actually already happened.
  • Why `reclusive?' (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:57AM (#15365561)
    I wonder why CNN of all media comapnies had to use the term `reclusive'. Reclusive from a dictionary on my desk is defined as:

    Seeking or preferring seclusion or isolation.

    Does this describe Linus?

    • by debiansid (881350)
      It's the perfect case of ignoring a person all the while and later coming up to him and saying "hey, where have you been hiding all this time?". I guess by reclusive they mean that he doesn't keep shouting his own name off the top of a hill.

      I don't think Linus is reclusive, just that the "corporate world" prefers to use his creation without giving him much due.

      While there will be many posts claiming that he's not THE leader of OSS there is absolutely no doubt that he is one of the most important figures in
    • Does he seek the limelight? Does he parade or strut around like Balmer or W? Does he try to take credit for things that he did not do like Gates? Does he sound off like Ellison, McNealy, or Chavez?

      Nope. He is quit a bit more like buffet; he prefers to have a small group surround himself, but he interacts when needed.
    • He doesn't give interviews to traditional media all very often. If you are traditional media, he is reclusive.
    • I would prefer 'iconoclastic'.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:57AM (#15365568)
    Linus looks more and more like a penguin as he gets older?
  • by dduardo (592868) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:58AM (#15365569)
    Stallman: I'm going to f***ing kill CNN. It's GNU/Linux damn it!

    *Chair goes flying across room*
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:58AM (#15365573) Homepage
    All it takes to throw the entire open source revolution into chaos and disarray is one well aimed chair-throw.

  • The Beating Drums (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quirk (36086) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:59AM (#15365581) Homepage Journal
    The tribes that talk through the likes of CNN count anyone as reclusive who won't go down on an ego dildo (microphone) and help CNN sell advertising space.

    The maddening crowd seems to be too intellectually limited to understand that their need for heroes, saints and sinners is about as interesting as reading a popularization of a first year anthropology text book.

    Not to mention the hours lost mugging for CNN that could have been spent productively.

    just my loose change

  • by JeanBaptiste (537955) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:59AM (#15365589)
    Seems like he would be a perfect candidate
    • by Dasher42 (514179) on Friday May 19, 2006 @01:27PM (#15367510)
      No. Think of all those tech types getting giggly and shy. It's not pretty.
  • by alexhs (877055) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:03AM (#15365614) Homepage Journal
    The revolution is called Open Source. And its leader? Linus Torvalds

    RMS rolls in his... beard.
  • ...how many degrees is he from Kevin Bacon?
  • by joe 155 (937621) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:08AM (#15365648) Journal
    KLS: I understand, but let's say your mom or my mom, they're surfing the Internet but maybe they're not surfing with Firefox just yet or they don't really know what Linux is just yet.

    This went unchallenged... you would have thought that she would be one of the first people to know about linux (even if she never will understand it and proabably still needs him to install a printer - as all mothers do)
  • by RocketRay (13092) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:15AM (#15365707)
    Sounds like it to me:

    To where science took this whole notion of developing ideas in the open and improving on other peoples' ideas and making it into what science is today, and the incredible advances that we have had. And I compare that to witchcraft and alchemy, where openness was something you didn't do.

    Zing!
  • But... (Score:4, Funny)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:17AM (#15365721) Homepage Journal
    But... does he run Linux?

    (Sorry, someone had to say it.)
  • Favourite quote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BenjyD (316700) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:19AM (#15365729)
    For example I long ago decided I will never go to meetings again because I think face to face meetings are the biggest waste of time you can ever have.

    Amen to that.
    • by Peter Trepan (572016) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:30AM (#15365814)
      For example I long ago decided I will never go to meetings again because I think face to face meetings are the biggest waste of time you can ever have.

      Hi, this is Dan from Human Resources. You probably don't know me, because you were absent from the Workplace Amicable Relationship Promotion Meeting. After meeting with your supervisors, we have come to the decision that we should meet with you RE your attitude toward workplace gatherings.

      Not only does your absence from group meetings project the wrong image to the rest of the company, but some employees have taken it as a personal affront. There have been complaints, and many people at the last Work/Life Socialization Meeting have asked us to step in. Is 2:00 PM okay for everyone?

      Thanks,
      Dan
      Human Resources
  • Best Quote (Score:5, Funny)

    by CrayzyJ (222675) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:19AM (#15365731) Homepage Journal
    "Normally I am not recognized, people don't throw their panties at me."

    Nice to know he thinks like the rest of us guys.
    • by IainMH (176964) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:35AM (#15365845)
      "Normally I am not recognized, people don't throw their panties at me."

      Nice to know he thinks like the rest of us guys.


      A considerable majority of the open source movement are guys. I for one wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a crusty boxer short shower!
      • "Normally I am not recognized, people don't throw their panties at me."

        A considerable majority of the open source movement are guys. I for one wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a crusty boxer short shower!

        Come the next Linus-attended Linux convention, we need to respond to Linus' between-the-lines appeal for a panty shower one way or another. Will the geekgrrls and the linuxchixs please stand up(, remove panties, aim, let loose) and be counted to preempt the crusty boxer short shower scenar

    • by sconeu (64226)
      He'd be in big trouble if they did. His wife *is* a karate champ.
    • by ndogg (158021)
      The next time I go to a conference with him as a speaker, I'll be sure to stop by at a Victoria's Secret beforehand.
  • KLS: Now you are something of a rock star in tech circles...

    LT: I don't notice that in normal life. I don't actually go to that many conferences. I do that a couple of times a year. Normally I am not recognized, people don't throw their panties at me. I'm a perfectly normal person sitting in my den just doing my job.

    Do I sense a bit of disappointment here, a Freudian slip perhaps?
    All in all, not a bad interview. Good insight into why he does what he does.

    • I doubt he's disappointed. I imagine he's been invited to every IT conference, gathering and conversation since the late nineties. When he says "I don't go", I think it means just that.
  • by Starker_Kull (896770) on Friday May 19, 2006 @10:45AM (#15365936)
    From the interview:

    LT: Absolutely. There was a bit of bragging, there was also a bit of, hey, I still, the way I do my work is I sit these days downstairs in my basement alone. And it's nice to just talk to people and a lot of it was probably just social, just saying, hey this is a way to interact with other geeks who are probably also socially inadequate in many ways.

    Pretty good insight - it's a way for geeks to socialize other than Star Trek conventions!

    (Ducks)

    On science and software development:

    LT: We shouldn't give credit to Linux per se. There were open source projects and free software before Linux was there. Linux in many ways is one of the more visible and one of the bigger technical projects in this area and it changed how people looked at it because Linux took both the practical and ideological approach. At the same time I don't think this whole "openness" notion is new. In fact I often compare open source to science. To where science took this whole notion of developing ideas in the open and improving on other peoples' ideas and making it into what science is today, and the incredible advances that we have had. And I compare that to witchcraft and alchemy, where openness was something you didn't do. So openness is not something new, it is something that actually has worked for a long time.

    Great comparison between open software and science, both of which a lot of people don't get.

    On the uselessness of meetings:

    KLS: So the face to face thing is a little bit overrated?

    LT: I think so. For example I long ago decided I will never go to meetings again because I think face to face meetings are the biggest waste of time you can ever have. I think most people who work at offices must share my opinion on meetings. Nothing ever gets done. When things get done, you usually have someone come into your office to talk about it. But a lot of the time the real work gets done by people sitting, especially in programming, alone in front of their computers doing what they do best.

    Dilbert freed from the pointy-haired boss type - Pretty cool. Interesting interview, I may and try and watch it rather than read it.

  • reclusive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mdmarkus (522132) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:02AM (#15366083)
    reclusive (adj): Not having a publicist lobbying to get onto CNN.
  • by Milton Waddams (739213) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:08AM (#15366134)
    It seemed that CNN were trying to ask very pointed questions, trying to make Linus out to be some warrior against Microsoft. I like this part:


    KLS: Another reason, because it's an alternative to Microsoft?

    LT: Well that is, I think, played up more than it necessarily needs to be. Because there is a very vocal side to this which is the whole anti Microsoft thing. I think it makes a better story than is necessarily true in real life.


    For a techie guy who doesn't have reams of PR guys behind him and telling him what he should say, he handled the press pretty well.

    I thought CNN were supposed to be respectable, like the US version of the BBC or something? It seemed like they were just looking for some big scoop with regards to people being Anti-Microsoft rather than trying to have an interesting interview with a major contributor to an alternative OS.
    • by aetherspoon (72997) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:52AM (#15366563) Homepage
      No such equivilence in the US.
      Just watch how they react to news stories on the air - you'll see it after awhile as long as you pay attention. Just like MSNBC and Fox News (although to different points of view).

      Major television news outlets in the US are worthless, and this comes from a US citizen.
    • It seemed like they were just looking for some big scoop with regards to people being Anti-Microsoft rather than trying to have an interesting interview with a major contributor to an alternative OS.

      Actually, this kind of questioning probably comes from the point of the interviewers looking at the open source community... Let's face facts, there are a lot of OSS mouthpieces out there who take every oppertunity to slight Microsoft. It's part of the subculture and probably for all the wrong reasons. How man
    • No comment on the respectability (or lack thereof) of CNN, but it's not apt to compare them to the BBC. The BBC is a public broadcasting company; CNN is private.

      The BBC is more comparable to PBS, although I believe the BBC is funded, at least in part, through a direct tax on those who use the service by way of a "tv license" that one must buy to purchase a tv, while public media in the US compete for grants from the CPB, which is in turn funded by taxes.

      (Not to start another flamewar about public broadca

    • In the US nobody respects the media.
    • I thought CNN were supposed to be respectable, like the US version of the BBC or something?
      They were, and with some justification, in the early 1990s. The last several years of trying to out-Fox Fox News have really destroyed CNN.
  • Roots (Score:2, Funny)

    by Dashcolon (946284)
    "hey, I still, the way I do my work is I sit these days downstairs in my basement alone"
    He may be rich and famous, but Linus keeps it real
  • Who would he rather have an in-depth interview with:
    • Katie Couric.
    • Paula Zahn.
    • Connie Chung.
  • by hey! (33014) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:57AM (#15366608) Homepage Journal
    The headline: Reclusive Linux founder opens up

    The first Torvalds quote in the article: "Well today what I do mostly is actually communication."

    And working directly with 10-20 people counts as being part of a farily large team. If you spent an average of an hour a week discussing issues with those individuals, then that amounts to half your work time.

    Note that headlines and articles are usually written by different people, and often different viewpoints and motivations are evident.
  • thanks Linus (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SebNukem (188921)
    If I had to choose between Linux and the Pope, I'd choose Linus.

    I always enjoy reading interviews with Linus. They are rare which makes them more enjoyable. Linus is an interesting guy and probably a model for a significant number of geeks in the world. So thanks for granting an interview and making my life better.

    S.

    PS. someone should tell him that people DO HATE microsoft.
  • Porky (Score:3, Funny)

    by easter1916 (452058) on Friday May 19, 2006 @02:46PM (#15368168) Homepage
    Christ, Linus has porked out... he's approaching blimp size.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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