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Torvalds on Linux and Microsoft 363

Posted by Zonk
from the popular-subject dept.
Sniper223 writes with a link to an interview on the Network World site with Linus Torvalds. Linus goes through the usual spiel about stuff like why he released the Linux OS in the first place, and how the future is open source. He also has some interesting commentary on the Microsoft/Novell deal: "I actually thought that whole discussion was interesting, not because of any Novell versus MS issues at all, but because all the people talking about them so clearly showed their own biases. The actual partnership itself seemed pretty much a nonissue to me, and not nearly as interesting as the reaction it got from people, and how it was reported ... I don't actually personally think the Novell-MS agreement kind of thing matters all that much in the end, but it's interesting to see the signs that the sides are at least talking to each other. I don't know what the end result will be, but I think it would be healthier for everybody if there wasn't the kind of rabid hatred on both sides. Some people get a bit too excited about MS, I think. I don't think they are that interesting." An interesting contrast to our earlier conversation.
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Torvalds on Linux and Microsoft

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  • Discussion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WK2 (1072560)

    I actually thought that whole discussion was interesting, not because of any Novell versus MS issues at all, but because all the people talking about them so clearly showed their own biases.

    That is what a discussion is. A bunch of people giving their opinions, or "biases" as Linus calls them.

  • by robvangelder (472838) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @09:48PM (#20199427)
    Some people get a bit too excited about MS, I think. I don't think they are that interesting.

    "When Microsoft writes an application for Linux, I've Won." - Linus Torvalds
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Just curious, anyone have a link to a list or interview containing this quote? Google indexed a number of sigs, but not a published source.
    • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOspaM.hotmail.com> on Saturday August 11, 2007 @11:55PM (#20200159) Journal
      Not interesting... Yeah right.

      I actually think adoption is going at a fairly high rate, but what people sometimes miss is that there's just a huge inertia in switching operating systems, so MS Windows has a big advantage in just the historical installed base...
      MS has a really hard time competing on technical merit, and they traditionally have instead tried to compete on price, but that obviously doesn't work either, not against open source. So they'll continue to bundle packages and live off the inertia of the marketplace, but they want to feed that inertia with FUD.
      - Linus Torvalds, from TFA

      Linus has no illusions about Microsoft's motives or ethics. He simply believes that Linux is the better operating system, and therefore adoption of Linux is a fait accompli, and is inevitable given sufficient time.

      That's a fairly typical engineer's attitude, and ignores the enormous damage Microsoft is doing to the computing community while "inertia" is taking its course.

    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @12:50AM (#20200407) Homepage Journal
      It's like people who say "I have no interest in politics, I just want to [do whatever]". In Linus' case it is "write software". To many altruistic people it is "help people". To astronauts is "fly". The thing about politics is, even if you're not interested in it, it is interested in you. You either play the game or you bury your head in the sand. If you do, don't be surprised if you don't get to do what you want.
    • Those two comments are not mutually exclusive if the game itself is uninteresting to him.
  • by istartedi (132515) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @10:03PM (#20199527) Journal

    The one thing he's known for, the Linux kernel, isn't something I particularly like (BSD--more liberal license, Windows--better desktop, Linux? I only use it because of work); but I tend to agree with him on a lot of things. That he would downplay the controversy, and point out that it only illustrates bias doesn't surprise me. He seems to have a gift for cooling things down, for steering clear of immature games and sticking to a clear analysis of the situation.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      [Linus has a gift for] steering clear of immature games and sticking to a clear analysis of the situation.

      Linus's analyses are usually clear, indeed, but almost always short-sighted. He doesn't seem to notice anything beyond the end of his nose, and so doesn't recognize the potential for bad things to happen as a result of people being bad.

      It was so with BitKeeper. It was so with TiVO. It is so with Microsoft.

      Linus treats everyone as if they were fair, generous, and cooperative. Unfortunately the real w
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cathbard (954906)
      BSD license is more liberal? Try so liberal that it is useless. RMS's GPL vision gives us protection against corporate parasites and without it FOSS would be nothing. Just look at the Dlink case if you don't understand the strength and advantages of the GPL.
      • by Wordsmith (183749)
        The BSD license does what it intends to do. It says it's alright if someone wants to go off and make a closed-source fork; no skin off the original project's nose. If the developers are OK with that, what's the problem?

        If the goal is to ensure all third-party distribution of derived code releases source back into the wild, the BSD license is a poor fit. But that's not what the BSD license is about. Multiple licenses for multiple aims.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088)
      He seems to have a gift for cooling things down, for steering clear of immature games and sticking to a clear analysis of the situation.

      That's why he'd make a shitty slashdotter.
                 
    • Actually, I think that depends on how many beers he downs in any given 15 minute interval. The question is, who is the nicer Linus? The drunk one, or the sober one? My money is on the former.
    • by trifish (826353)
      He seems to have a gift for cooling things down

      I don't think so. I watched a video with his presenation on the new Git software where he stated that "They [SVN developers] were complete morons." He even knew that some of the SVN developers were in the audience. Not really what I would call a dimplomatic talent, let alone "gift for cooling things down".

      PS - I agree with him that Subversion pretty much sucks.
  • Whether or not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @10:11PM (#20199575)
    you like Linus, he is right that the hate for hate's sake between some (and I stress some) Linux and MS users helps nothing. Beyond that, as he is the creator of the kernel, I see him as a parent watching his kid grow up to be something he didn't envision or desire for it. He needs to learn to let go, Linux now belongs to the community.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GPL Apostate (1138631)
      the hate for hate's sake between some (and I stress some) Linux and MS users helps nothing.

      Actually, anything that keeps that group of people off on the side battling each other in their chosen little advocacy 'arenas' is good for the rest of us.

      In classic USENET lore, the alt.os.*.advocacy newsgroups were a dumping ground to push the tards onto so everyone else could hold grown up discussions.

      Thence we see one of the real problems with Slashdot. Where to park those folks so they're out of the way.
  • by pravuil (975319) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @11:01PM (#20199845) Homepage Journal
    Know the battles that need to be fought and disregard the rest. It's a good way to lose precious energy and resources if you fight against everything without knowing what you are really fighting for.
  • Good for him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jorghis (1000092) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @11:06PM (#20199873)

    You mean Linus isnt a rabid MS-hating fanboy? I feel so disillusioned.

    In all seriousness though it is nice to hear someone who actually matters in the open source community coming out against fud that comes from his own 'side'. (as if open source was about taking sides) The zealots who spread fud on the pro-linux side get way too much publicity and really make everyone associated with them look foolish.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @11:37PM (#20200027) Journal
    Microsoft is credited with breaking anti-trust law and this is not just one case...

    The Rieser (sp?) file system creator is credited with what, besides the file system? Killing his wife?

    I think it shows Linus's bias to dismiss the illegal activities of Microsoft and to hide it by saying it is the rest of us showing bias.

    Linus is not the only one outside of Microsoft doing kernel work, there are plenty others. BSD flavors, BeOS, ReactOS, AROS, Dragonfly (kernel changed enough to not really be tagged with BSD flavoring), Minix, MacOSX, etc...

    For those who want to credit Linus with the kernel being used by a lot of Free Software, the fact is that had Linus not done so then somebody else would have, perhaps even the Hurd would have had better development and focus. And not to forget that the same Free Software is being run on other systems with kernels created by others.

    If there is anything to realize here it is that people moved away from Microsoft for any number of reasons, I have my own user frustration related reasons and have additional frustration with the industry as a whole. When something better comes along I will move to it, as will others too. It might just be DragonFly.

  • by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @11:49PM (#20200119) Journal

    "MS has a really hard time competing on technical merit"
    "Microsoft simply isn't interesting to me."
    "I don't actually personally think the Novell-MS agreement kind of thing matters all that much in the end"
    "Some people get a bit too excited about MS, I think. I don't think they are that interesting."

    Why anyone thinks this means he's pro-MS beats the hell out of me.

    • by ozzee (612196) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @12:13AM (#20200231)

      Why anyone thinks this means he's pro-MS beats the hell out of me.

      They're very kind things he said about MS compared to what he could have said, things like:

      • Microsoft is a convicted criminal monopolist
      • Microsoft commonly uses money to extinguish competition in destructive ways

      ... and he would have been correct.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @12:07AM (#20200203) Homepage
    It's basicly "I'm over here doing Linux, and I'll keep improving Linux regardless of whatever Microsoft does or doesn't do." That's not just in relation to MS, but seems to be the general case with tivoized kernels, DRM, patents and everything else that's not about improving the code. It's like an athlete saying he's competing against the clock and himself, constantly improving regardless of whether he's far behind or far ahead of the competition.

    Usually, that's a very healthy attitude. And if everyone was running their own race, it would be. But Microsoft has proven time and time again that if they can't provide a superior product, they throw all kinds of dirt on the competition. He might not care if Linux is competition to Microsoft or not, but Microsoft certainly does. That's not to say he should start fighting FUD with FUD, but it'd be nice if he showed that he at least understands the game being played.

    Microsoft can not kill Linux the kernel, because of the GPL. But there are many ways to kill Linux the market, and Microsoft is an expert at it. Again, I think Linus doesn't care all too much about that, or assume that if only Linux gets good enough the other "distractions" won't matter. Well, I care that Linux can be a mainstream OS that can handle mainstream media, interact with Windows networks and protocols, use common document formats and in general function like a first class citizen. If it's a stunning good kernel too, that's good but it's no good being exceptional at everything but the things I want to do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lprechan (9859)

      I believe Linus not only understands how the game is being played, but also has a firm grip on what truly does and doesn't matter.

      To help put the preceding sentence in proper perspective, I should tell you that I began using Linux as my sole desktop OS at home and as my sole OS at work in 1995 (anyone remember RedHat 4.1?), although, I am not what most people would call a Linux-fanboy. I do prefer using open source solutions, but to me it's simply a personal decision, nothing more - nothing less.

      Linus' or

  • What more do I need? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bl8n8r (649187) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @12:30AM (#20200339)
    "I live in a good-sized house, with a nice yard, with deer occasionally showing up and eating the roses (my wife likes the roses more, I like the deer more, so we don't really mind). I've got three kids, and I know I can pay for their education. What more do I need?"

    ...What more do I need?

    In a culture dominated by the words "I need more", this question looks erroneously out of place. Greed is so commonplace that to see such an authentic lack of it is refreshing.
  • Blinding hatred. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hairy1 (180056) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @01:53AM (#20200655) Homepage
    In martial arts one must keep ones mind clear and focused, free of hatred and emotion. Open source ideology is about embracing freedom, not hating Microsoft. Sure Microsoft are currently a barrier to freedom and by no means should we embrace them like long lost children just because they say something or act a little enlightened. But by the same token we should not shoot friends in the head just because the deviate from our ideology.

    By letting an irrational hatred of Microsoft sour the relationship between Novell and the community we face a danger that the newly confirmed copyright ownership Novell has in Unix will be used by them the same way SCO did. Instead of finding a way to educate Novell we have taken a extreme and non productive approach which will tend to alienate not only Novell but any other companies considering working with the open source community.

    The fact is that there are many companies out there which may make deals with Microsoft for their own reasons. We cannot expect companies to make a black and white decision about what "side" they are on. IBM for example is acting in its own self interest amd while that self interest is in the interests of the community all is well. But lets not deceive ourselves that they would fight for open source to the bitter end. They would settle. They would make a deal if it meant survival.

    Novell may have been in a similar situation, and while I don't like these deals being done its a reality for companies in a way that it isn't for individuals. Microsoft won't sue you for personal use of a patent without a license, but they will sue Red Hat into the ground given the chance. Red Hat may yet need to make a deal if Linux does end up infringing, even if the Linux community can remove the infringement in quick order.

    In truth Microsoft is USING our hatred against us. Already the Novell deal may have driven a wedge in the open source community between GPL 2 and GPL 3. Once again we see reactionary actions being driven by Microsoft to their advantage. Linus sees that hating Microsoft is no way forward. We need to examine, evalaute and develop strategies which allow us to define the ball game. Microsoft won when they turned the conversation to Total Cost of Ownership. They won when they got CEO's concerned about legal issues around Linux.

    To win we must be more clever, less reactionary, and keep a clear head with a focus on what important; bringing open source to the world.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To win we must be more clever, less reactionary, and keep a clear head with a focus on what important; bringing open source to the world.

      You were doing reasonably well up to that point then talked about winning. You cannot win. Not today, not ever. Winning and losing is not of the Tao, Buddhism, or martial arts. This is difficult to understand and see, especially in the world as it is but by letting go of arrogance and vanity one may allow enlightenment to develop. There is no substantive difference between

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