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Linux Guru Alan Cox Takes A Year Off 403

Posted by timothy
from the hit-by-the-year-off-bus dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Linux guru Alan Cox is taking a year off from RedHat and kernel development to get his MBA. For years, Alan Cox has maintained the extremely stable 2.2 Linux kernel, and more or less been Linux creator Linus Torvalds' right hand man. Now it sounds like the 2.2 kernel is up for grabs to someone who is 'good at refusing patches and being ignored'..."
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Linux Guru Alan Cox Takes A Year Off

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  • Naww!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    He just got scared off by SCO!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:00AM (#6743660)
    and I've been lobbying for the position for quite some time now, but so far no replies.

    hmmm....
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sorry... what was that again? I wasn't paying attention...
  • by Craig Maloney (1104) * on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:01AM (#6743665) Homepage
    Before, the story read that he was taking a year off to get his MBNA. Sheesh, I get at least two offers a month from those bohos for instant credit. :)
  • MBA? (Score:5, Funny)

    by tinrobot (314936) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:01AM (#6743670)
    What does a Linux kernel coding god need with an MBA?
    • Re:MBA? (Score:5, Funny)

      by cerberusss (660701) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:04AM (#6743699) Homepage Journal
      What does a Linux kernel coding god need with an MBA?
      Because MBA'ers get all the girls.
    • Re:MBA? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Mournblade (72705) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:08AM (#6743740) Homepage
      Well, the SCO suit is going to result in Linux being declared illegal, so he'll need a new career.
    • Seriously, I didn't even know he played basketball.
    • Re:MBA? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mnmn (145599) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:10AM (#6743755) Homepage
      Apart from being 'funny', honestly why would Alan Cox need any degree or certification? He can go to any Linux development company and put his resume on the table:

      Alan Cox.

      Unless the HR manager is a college assistant who has Bonzi Buddy installed on her Windows laptop, Alan will get hired. I suppose some larger companies have policies to honor degrees at all levels of the management and Senior Cox is getting ambitious. In that case it kinda gets sad to see him planning to manage rather than code.
      • Re:MBA? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ralphus (577885) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:14AM (#6743797)
        Is it totally crazy to think that he just might *want* one?
        • Re:MBA? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by an_mo (175299)
          It is a little crazy. I hope I am not offending anyone (I probably will) but you don't learn much studying for an MBA, it's only a piece of paper you need to get certain jobs which he probably can get anyway, having proven leadership and management skills on the field. I'd have better understood if he wanted a degree in ancient greek.
          • Re:MBA? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Nexx (75873) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @10:16AM (#6744394)
            Excuse me? Learning how to effectively manage a corporation, and more importantly, learning how a corporate brain thinks is useless? I'm failing to see how the MBA will be useless to anyone with visions of starting a company, which is what went through my head when I first saw the /. article.
          • Having an MBA is a state of mind. I mean he can go anywhere, any company and they'd pay him whatever he asks for but he went with his heart and he is determined to get that MBA that isn't worth the piece of paper it is printed on.

            I say good luck to him.
      • Re:MBA? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by anthonyrcalgary (622205) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:16AM (#6743815)
        Because learning is fun and you can't learn everything you want to know by coding alone.

        And he might want to teach.
        • Re:MBA? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mikeee (137160) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:19AM (#6743851)
          And if he wants to start a business, or be upper management, a (good, not diploma mill) MBA will be a big win.
      • Maybe one day he wants to get a PHD and become a lecturer?
      • Re:MBA? (Score:4, Funny)

        by Mandi Walls (6721) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:23AM (#6743901) Homepage Journal
        Know Thy Enemies
      • Re:MBA? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stilwebm (129567) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:24AM (#6743912)
        Apart from being 'funny', honestly why would Alan Cox need any degree or certification? He can go to any Linux development company and put his resume on the table:

        Unlike the world of MCSEs and A+ certifications, you don't go and "get" a degree. You earn a degree by learning important skills. He is not going to school just to get a piece of paper. In the case of an MBA, he will learn important management skills that take many years of real-world experience to learn. In business school, that take 1 to 2 years to master many of the skills.

        Perhaps he wants to start a business? He is a great coder, good at managing source code trees, but an MBA will teach him about managing a business. Alan obviously isn't just trying to improve his resume, he's trying to improve himself.
      • by Darth (29071)
        Well, a few years ago my brother was planning to go back to college and get an MBA (he has a computer engineering degree from Texas A&M). I asked him why he wanted to get an MBA instead of getting a masters in something interesting and not full of shit (i'm biased, but i'm self aware too). His response was that there's more chicks in the MBA program than the engineering programs.

      • Re:MBA? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gallir (171727) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:34AM (#6744004) Homepage
        Because "the security of getting hired at any time" doesn't always mean your goals, wishes and desire for learning new things are already fulfilled.
      • by Carnage4Life (106069) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:39AM (#6744046) Homepage Journal
        Apart from being 'funny', honestly why would Alan Cox need any degree or certification? He can go to any Linux development company and put his resume on the table:

        All of Alan Cox's credentials as a kernel hacker can get him is a job as a coder (software developer, senior developer, development lead, etc). In some places it may be enough to get him a job as a software architect depending on the kind of company he tries to get work at.

        However if Alan wants to break into upper management or start his own company then all his l337 kernel hacking skills aren't worth a hill of beans compared to the knowledge he could get from an MBA and the doors it opens.

        Funnily enough, I was just thinking about going back to school for an MBA in a year or two but wondered if it would be a bad idea for a person so interested in technical pursuits. But if Alan Cox can do it I don't see why I can't.

        Thanks for the inspiration Alan.
        • "However if Alan wants to break into upper management or start his own company then all his l337 kernel hacking skills aren't worth a hill of beans compared to the knowledge he could get from an MBA and the doors it opens. "

          But, from what I've learnt, he better get a major haircut before those doors are closed. ;)
        • Funnily enough, I was just thinking about going back to school for an MBA in a year or two but wondered if it would be a bad idea for a person so interested in technical pursuits. But if Alan Cox can do it I don't see why I can't.

          Thanks for the inspiration Alan.

          I totally agree. Alan's an inspiration. In fact, I'm going to quit trimming my beard and grab me some sweet ass black shades.

          Well, I'd like to at least, but once my beard gets to be 2 inches long (around 5cm for those of you outside the USA) I

      • Why would a Linux developer need a degree? Well they do need day jobs once Mom and Dad stop supporting them. ;-) Also, once in academia (s)he might be able to stay there and have the tax payer subsidize their free software habit. Worked for RMS. ;-)
      • Maybe he doesn't want to be a code monkey his entire life?
      • Re:MBA? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Epi-man (59145) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @10:48AM (#6744710) Journal
        When I was trying to decide whether to return to school for my graduate degrees, a professor told me a saying I found most profound, "knowledge is a form of wealth that can not be stolen from you." Perhaps Alan wishes to enrich himself, no?
    • Re:MBA? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ReadParse (38517) <`moc.wocynnuf' `ta' `nhoj'> on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:15AM (#6743809) Homepage
      Well, I can understand this, even though I've never been quite the academic. I'm sure he doesn't need it for employment, but rather because he wants the education itself. And that's admirable.

      RP
    • Re:MBA? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe he aspires to more than computer programming has to offer, namely a mediocre salary plus RSI. Maybe he wants to be in a position where he can make important decisions once in a while.

      Signed,
      A Bitter Programmer.

    • "What do you mean you can't just GIVE stuff away if you want to make money? So THAT'S what I've been doing this wrong all these years!"

      Is this the start of kernel patch micropayments???
    • What does a Linux kernel coding god need with an MBA?

      I know, it seems a total waste of his talents. MBA's are just little bit of paper to say you can lie convincingly with PowerPoint. I wouldn't include them under the heading of "education".

      TWW

    • Re:MBA? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PeteQC (680043)
      Maybe because he wants, like most of us, Linux to have a larger utilisation in a business environment.

      It's still the best diploma in management. So, if he knows how a business work, maybe I'll be a lot more helpful in bringing Linux to the enterprise!
    • Re:MBA? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcgroarty (633843)
      Hint: Armed with an MBA, he'll be every venture capitalist's wet dream.
    • Re:MBA? (Score:3, Funny)

      by natet (158905)
      My theory is that he got tired of all the respect he's gotten over the years from technical professionals.
  • the truth! (Score:5, Funny)

    by borgdows (599861) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:05AM (#6743708)
    Liars!

    The Truth is that Alan Cox has resigned from Linux development since he's not able to pay us the required development license (69,900$) we were asking to him. He preferred giving up instead of being sued to death as he deserves.

    Cheers,

    -- Darl MacBride
    • by Felinoid (16872) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:52AM (#6744157) Homepage Journal
      That may be the plan....

      Linux thrives on it's coders not it's users.
      (However a good chunk of it's users are coders and realisticly the users are head hunters for more coders)

      Yester it was:
      Hi I'm Timmy age 6 I made a rocket out of used toilet paper rolls.
      (An impressive feat. The reason kids projects are inferoer to adult projects is available resources.)

      Today it's :
      Hi I'm mike age 3 I fixed 37 bugs in the Linux kernel increased speed 7 times and created a feature critical to making the next generation computers possable.

      Tomarow it's:
      Hi I'm Steve age 2 I've learnned to steal becouse there is less chance of me going to jail for shoplifting than be sued by someone clamming they own the code I wrote.
      (I was going to correct my grammer but I remembered that Steve is 2... I'll be dammed if a 2 year old has better grammer than I do.
      A 5 year old yes.. but not a 2 year old)
  • Ok, I thought that each previous version was "set in stone," so to speak, and all new development takes place on the current kernel?

    Now I envision that each kernel steps through major revisions (2.2 -> 2.4 -> 2.6), but development continues on each revision. Is this right?
    • Re:Explain to me.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zachary Kessin (1372) <zkessin@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:08AM (#6743731) Homepage Journal
      the 2.2 kernel is basicly unchanging, but that does not mean that bugs don't get found from time to time. So he is incharge of the folks who fix those, as well as updates to drivers etc.

      Good Luck with your MBA Alan! I went back to finish my BA at 28 and it was not easy to do in some ways, but it was really worth it.

    • Re:Explain to me.. (Score:2, Informative)

      by levell (538346)
      Basically no new features will be added to 2.2 but if there is a security vulnerabilty then a new version would be released (the version number would be 2.2.x where x is 1 more than the current revision, that's why there's a third part to the version number!)

      Patches can land on the current stable branch too (2.4.x) but normally only to fix bugs or add things that are very low risk.

      As you surmised most new development happens in the latest version 2.5.x which is currently in the process of becoming the nex

    • It's more like maintenance than development. New features are very unlikely to be added, but bug and security fixes still get addressed.
  • Summer job? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig,hogger&gmail,com> on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:05AM (#6743715) Journal
    Summer job at SCO, reviewing code?
  • Taking Over (Score:5, Interesting)

    by njvic (614279) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:09AM (#6743744)
    Now it sounds like the 2.2 kernel is up for grabs to someone who is 'good at refusing patches and being ignored'...

    OK here's the chance for a question I've always had to be answered.

    What is the process involved in getting someone to take over 2.2 kernel and who has the final say in who is selected? I have always been curious about the more politcal side of GNU/Linux and your answers would be much appreciated.

    Cheers!
    • Re:Taking Over (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sonicated (515345)
      I have always been curious about the more politcal side of GNU/Linux and your answers would be much appreciated.

      The structure of Linux development and the GNU project are two totally different things. I'd recommend that you read The Cathedral and the Bazaar [catb.org] to get an idea. Essentially the GNU project is nothing to do with Linux.

    • Re:Taking Over (Score:5, Informative)

      by Error27 (100234) <error27@gmail.SLACKWAREcom minus distro> on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @10:02AM (#6744253) Homepage Journal
      The easy part of the question is that Linus has final say.

      It's more tricky to say who will take over. Probably a kernel developer who uses 2.2 at work. Quite a few companies still use 2.2 but most kernel developers prefer to use 2.6 or 2.4. Maintaining an older kernel is boring...

    • Re:Taking Over (Score:3, Informative)

      by gid (5195)
      I'm pretty sure, it's Linus that appoints people. After all, it's HIS kernel. If people don't like that, they're more than welcome to fork.

      As far as the process getting involved? Start hacking away, submit patches, maybe eventually you'll get bitkeeper access and Linus will start trusting you and your judgement. You'll fall into you're own little role hacking away on the kernel, adding cool stuff, fixing bugs, etc.. Those are the people that are chosen for stable kernel maintenance.
  • by jetkust (596906) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:12AM (#6743772)
    What team is he playing for?
  • Suggestion (Score:5, Funny)

    by TrailerTrash (91309) * on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:12AM (#6743773)
    I nominate Darl McBride. He has an intimate knowledge of the Linux kernel, intellectual property issues, and has a relationship with the Linux developer community.

  • by HiQ (159108) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:13AM (#6743780)
    I'm glad it's a MBA and not a MCSE 8)
  • What timing. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digrieze (519725) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:13AM (#6743786)
    The timing on this is incredible. The most stable kernal we've got that isn't under the SCO shadow is now effectively frozen, thereby preventing any potential code polution. Cox may have just provided the instant way out if SCO wins. I wonder if this is accidental or sheer genious?

    Good luck Alan with the MBA, maybe you'll get paid what you're worth (finally).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    i highly doubt that.. it takes AT LEAST 3, if lucky, years to get an MBA..
    • It typically takes two years full time and that includes a summer internship. That is with 15 credits a semester. Alan is a smart guy and he might try to scrunch that together more. It depends on where he is getting the degree, of coures. The 3 plus years you are thinking about are executive or part-time MBA's that only have two classes per semester.
    • Umm... Most MBAs take 2 years. Perhaps he already started and hasn't finished yet?
    • by malraid (592373) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:52AM (#6744153)
      Well, he is taking a shortcut. Most likely he is stealing some credits from SCO.
    • There's lots of programs, at least in the U.S., where you can get an MBA in one year. The University of Michigan and Central Michigan University both offer such programs and they are designed for working professionals and executives who want to get their MBAs out of the way quickly.
    • by Talthane (699885) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:57AM (#6744200)
      Sorry, you're thinking of the wrong country. In the UK, it takes 3-4 years for a degree; 1 year for a Masters (MBA); and then the doctorates can yawn on as long as a decade, if you can come up with cunning enough proposals for funding. About the only similarity with the American system is the names, really - and the dry personalities that result from 20-odd years in academia when some folk emerge blinking into the world. :-)
  • To Quote My Parents (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Raven42rac (448205) * on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:25AM (#6743923)
    "You're taking a year off, do you want to be a loser or something?" Is Alan like, insecure about his job prospects, or just likes learning? I would err towards the latter.
  • swap jobs (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:27AM (#6743945)
    I have an MBA but have been interested in linux kernel development. Alan, could we just swap jobs for a year?
  • Papers? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Garion911 (10618) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:39AM (#6744044) Homepage
    What happens when one of his professors asks for an electronic copy in Word format?
    • He'll use Word. MBA's are about money not philosophy. One of the skills learned is not pissing off those above you.
  • Alan: I'm back! Can I have my kernel now?

    New Maintainer: Noooooooo! Mine!

    Alan: but...

    Possibly the willingness to give it back should be a quilification, unless Alan wants it back as his own personal branch.
  • SCO CEO (Score:3, Funny)

    by rfg (163595) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:48AM (#6744117)
    "Linux guru Alan Cox is taking a year off from RedHat and kernel development to get his MBA."

    Obviously, RedHat figures they'll own SCO soon and need someone with an MBA to manage it for them. Alan Cox to the rescue!
  • From his part time hobby?

    I need to take a year off from playing playstation, it's hard work, I need to focus on my edumcation.
  • Alan Who? (Score:3, Informative)

    by heironymouscoward (683461) <heironymouscoward&yahoo,com> on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @09:54AM (#6744175) Journal
    Sorry, bad joke. Ahem...

    Dear Alan,

    Thanks for the good work. We owe you one.

    Sincerely,
    Geeks of the World
  • The $699 question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by adamofgreyskull (640712) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @10:15AM (#6744370)
    ...what uni is he going to? Moreover..how many geeks would apply there just to be near him? :o)
  • by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @10:38AM (#6744589) Homepage Journal

    I've always been impressed with how much Alan Cox does for the Linux kernel.

    He's technically very sharp and handles an incredible amount of incoming patches, very professionally.

    For his talents, he ought to be paid handsomely, but for a number of years he's simply been a trusted chief lieutenant in charge of operations for the Linux kernel. Linus gets his mug on the magazines, while Alan Cox is pretty much known only in the geek community.

    I hope Alan's MBA brings him the money he deserves. However, Linux kernel development will hiccough a bit more without him releasing all these 2.6.x-ac? kernels.

  • Welsh!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tvm662 (232083) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @11:16AM (#6745093)
    Well good luck to Alan.

    No doubt he will breeze throught the MBA, but learning welsh is another matter, its a really really hard language to learn.

    For example in most languages you have to learn how the verbs change in the sentance, but in welsh the nouns change too! For example the welsh word for Wales is Cymru, but when you say Welcome to Wales, "Croeso i Gymru", the C changes to a G. My patents both tried to learn and found it very hard. But then Alan may be like a lot of Welsh people who learnt welsh at school and has forgotten it since in which case picking it up again might not be too bad.

    Tom.
    • Re:Welsh!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Viol8 (599362)
      Welsh isn't the only language the nouns change in, Russian is notorious for it. In fact sometimes almost the entire word can change depending on case , plurality etc.
      Of course all the verbs , adjectives and adverbs change too just to make it really fun and natural russian speakers have a tendency to slur words
      together making it impossible sometimes to understand what they're saying. I know how a voice recognition system feels now when you
      say "I see you" and it comes out with "Icy ewe".
  • Life after Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BigGerman (541312) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @12:45PM (#6746181)
    I understand there is a small group of people (4-10) who are the highest level developers of Linux kernel. They are maintainers of the particular version trees, large areas of the kernel, etc.
    This group is very small. What will happen when significant percentage of them loses interest in further kernel development? What will happen if Linus himself moves on?
    And how does Linux situation compare to other OSS projects - Apache, BSD?
    • by burns210 (572621)
      then, possibly the worst thing to linux could happen: forks.

      even with distrobutions, most everyone sticks with linus' kernel more or less. but if heavy forks were developed, all hell could break lose.
  • by amightywind (691887) on Wednesday August 20, 2003 @03:55PM (#6748417) Journal
    and on the pet side project of learning Welsh.

    Is that related to Lisp?

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