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Linux Books Media Software Book Reviews

Just For Fun 92

Linus Torvalds (and David Diamond) wrote this book; chromatic wrote the review below. It may be hard to say much new about Linus and the results of his 1991 inspiration to loose his kernel on the world, but this book is historically informative, with copyrighted Torvalds humor to boot (I snorted in parts) and fun facts about growing up in Finland. And for a multimedia extravaganza, you can even listen to some conversation between Linus and co-author David Diamond.

Just For Fun
author Linus Torvalds and David Diamond
pages 249
publisher Harper Business
rating 8
reviewer chromatic
ISBN 0-06-662072-4
summary A matter of fact autobiography of Linus, long on his philosophy but somewhat short on technical detail.


The Scoop

When Linux finally showed up on media radar screens, journalists scrambled to put a friendly face on the "burgeoning Open Source movement." The humble and affable Linus Torvalds became a posterboy. Curiously enough, at least to media types, he eschewed their attention in favor of fun things -- spending time with his family, drinking beer, and hacking.

Torvalds' coauthor, David Diamond of Red Herring, had to bribe him with fun activities like surfing and camping to produce this autobiography. They've produced an entertaining portrait of the man behind the kernel. It's an easy read aimed at the average non-geek type -- with plenty of apologetic philosophy mixed in for good measure.

What's to Like?

The Torvalds story is engaging, and it's wittily told. The narrative has a genial, almost self-deprecating tone. From humble beginnings in Finland, the kind of drive and dedication and singlemindedness that makes so many hackers lock themselves away in dark rooms chasing obscure and interesting knowledge paid off. At least, it paid off eventually.

The central part of the book revolves around Linux's also-humble beginnings. This, again, involves a unique sort of focus requiring long, dark winters and unsocial (not anti-social) people. Torvalds is at his best in this section, capturing his excitement at technical achievement and surprise that other people are along for the ride. It ends with the release of Linux 1.0 and a surprising first date with Tove. (Yes, that sounds like a bad soap opera. No, it's not bad.)

From there, the book veers into the heady world of Success. Linus describes the increased media attention and the circumstances surrounding his move to the US and Transmeta. Corporate acceptance and the inevitable black-and-white Linux versus Microsoft debates come up, and the overall reaction is, "Who cares? I'm doing this for fun!" One might compare his thoughts on stock options to those of other hackers -- Torvalds even calls himself "the luckiest bastard alive." The success of his little project has changed him, but life is about that change.

A few chapters of philosophy round out the book. His vaunted neutrality is exposed as a case of not wanting to tell other people what to think. He takes on intellectual property abuses, citing cases near and dear to the hearts of Slashdot readers. Readers get a few short thoughts on the history of technology and an essay on why open source makes sense. Finally, Torvalds expounds again on his simple philosophy of life. People do things first for survival purposes, then for social purposes, and finally for recreation. (Hence the title.) For Linus, at least, Linux continues to meet the latter two needs nicely.

What's to Consider?

Interwoven with the standard biography chapters are short vignettes about the writing of the book. Told from Diamond's point of view, these are intended to give a current portrait of the man. They give a sort of clinical observation feeling, like looking through a window on a test subject. On the other hand, they're consistent with Torvalds' presentation of himself. The different styles can be jarring -- Diamond has a snappy, clever new-media style of prose that occasionally obscures his point.

Technically-minded readers curious about the sort of geeky details only a kernel hacker could provide will be disappointed. A "jargon ahead" disclaimer forewarns readers before launching into brief descriptions of the fabled Sinclair computer. The book walks a narrow path between avoiding these details and requiring some knowledge -- readers unfamiliar with RMS, ESR, and even the Tanenbaum debates might have trouble catching up in spots. On the other hand, you know a book that explains what EEPROM is can't be too hard.

The Summary

Written mostly in a conversational style, this is an entertaining little book. It's suitable for nearly all audiences, without too much in the way of jargon. Additionally, it's an interesting portrait of Linus himself, cutting through some of the myths. This is a book that might explain to parents and significant others the world over why we do what we do.

Table of Contents

  • Birth of a Nerd
  • Birth of an Operating System
  • King of the Ball
    • Intellectual Property
    • An End to Control
    • The Amusement Ride Ahead
    • Why Open Source Makes Sense
    • Fame and Fortune
    • The Meaning of Life II

You can purchase this book at ThinkGeek.

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Just For Fun

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So, did Linus consider the titles The Open Road Ahead, or Business @ the Speed of Fun ?

    Anonymous Kevin
    Proudly posting as Anonymous Coward since 1997
    Annoyingly ignored since /. went down the toilet

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oh great -- another book where Linus can spout his lies and infect others with GPL fever.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:26AM (#175766)
    Linus holds the copyright on all his work, GPL'd or otherwise, unless he explicitly assigns it to someone or something else. That's how copyright law works.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @07:03AM (#175767)
    over there at here [] and here []
  • That was a good one!
    I read ./ only for the jokes, thanks for this one...

  • the stress that you experience in places like the US (gotta get successful NOW!) is simply not there

    I suppose for the people who worship money and/or fame that may be true. Those that feel their possessions define who they are fall into the same boat. I haven't ever felt that sort of stress. I chose a profession that I enjoy and have a nice job. My car is a plain old econobox, not some money sucking status symbol. Learning new things helps keep boredom away. Any stress involved other family members who have a case of the 'But I want it' disease. Telling them to shut up and stop focusing on what they don't and to enjoy what they do have doesn't always work.

  • At one point he even seems to confuse the Netcraft surveys of the webservers with a measure of penetration of Linux.

    Netcraft also measure OS penetration. See the following sample from one of their SSL surveys:

    Note that their OS breakdown is generally only available to paying customers, although I've heard from those who've seen it that Linux fares very well in the non-SSL rankings.

  • Finally, Torvalds expounds again on his simple philosophy of life. People do things first for survival purposes, then for social purposes, and finally for recreation.

    Linus and I (and everyone else I assume) must stare a taste in Dougless Adams:
    There are three stages of civilization, known as the how, why, what stages: how do we survive, why are we here, and what's for lunch?
    -- butchered from memory.
  • I think only Bill Gates could get that bitter on that topic over so little provocation; he's worried about his own future legacy. In a thousand years, Bill Gates will be forgotten.

    The reason is right there in what he said: "if it weren't for Microsoft and IBM" Sorry, but the world was already changing in nice ways thanks to Intel and Zilog and Motorola and Commodore and Apple, etc.

    We never did need Microsoft and IBM to come in and monopolize the blossoming microcomputer market place.

    And as the above AC notes, PDPs were very nice minicomputers; we didn't need to be saved from them.

    ('Course, he's right that Torvalds isn't the be-all and end-all of OSes and free/open source; I personally am keenly aware of earlier traditions from e.g. Stanford and MIT and Berkeley that we are still building on.)

  • So when exactly is the 10 year anniversary of linux anyway?
  • Well, as Linus pointed out in his NPR interview, the GPL is a use of copyright, so Linux is copyrighted, though not in a way that fits with the traditional use of the word. But it uses, as Linus put it, a "judo trick," to turn copyright law against itself. :-)
  • Microsoft themselves thought so highly of the project that they too decided to buy MS-DOS from another company and rebadge it rather then waste their time building it.

    I thought their decision to buy QDOS was due more to time constraints. I'm also pretty sure there was a porting effort somewhere in there (new hardware and all) that you missed. And considering how hardwired all that crap was I imagine it wasn't quite as easy as a netbsd port..

  • &copy

    This is so classic that this post got marked as redundant. How is it redundant? Given that Mr. Torvalds is an advocate (or least is held up as one) of open source/no intellectual property rights then one would fully expect this book to appear online, or at least with a preface/copyright condition that allows anyone to retype it in (or sorry, following the GPL concept he should provide the original text layout format source) and provide it to the world with no fear of legal recourse.

    But wait: Just as the Torvalds/GPL fans will rewrite IP restrictions for processor design (and as I stated in another article processor design is no different than software system design) they will just as quickly claim that meanderings are more worthy of protection than source code.

  • I'm as shocked as you are. What next, companies named 'omphaloskepsis', 'agilent', or 'diastema'?

  • Bill Gates' books, though, were about his own visions, not about his life. If my memory serves, there was darn little about how he grew up and started Microsoft and much more about how the wired systems of the future would function.

    Bill Gates wouldn't write a book like this (if the comments on it are reasonably accurate). His books are about his ideas, not himself.

    His books are also quite dull and not recommended unless you're into pretentious businessspeak.


  • The most interesting thing I found in this book is
    Linus is a fairly ordinary high tech guy who
    achieved extraordinary things by refusing to set
    limits. He did a lot of hacks all of do as kids,
    had good but not elitist education and so on.
    That should inspire the rest if us "ordinary people"
    to strive for extraordinary goals.
  • Try here: sp?isbn=0066620724
  • RMS would beg to differ. It should be Linus Torvalds: The Info Page
  • It may be hard to say much new about Linus and the results of his 1991 inspiration to loose his kernel on the world Linus lost the kernel in the world? What? I sure hope he finds it soon! ("Where in the world is Linus' kernel?")
  • one thing got me:

    interviewer: So it's licenced under the "General Public Licence"?

    Linus: Yes, the "General Public Licence"


    What does "GPL" stand for? []
    "GPL" stands for "General Public License". The most widespread such license is the GNU General Public License, or GNU GPL for short. This can be further shortened to "GPL", when it is understood that the GNU GPL is the one intended.
    Yes, perhaps Linus should have mentioned that it's the GNU GPL, since it wouldn't necessarily be understod by the listening audience that he did mean the GNU GPL, but... Also, I didn't listen to the interview yet, but I expect that it was taped, and it's possible (but prolly not likely) that he mentioned GNU in a portion of the interview that was not aired.
  • Gee, shouldn't that be GPL'd?

    Maybe it is. After all, the GPL is a copyright.

  • Loose is not synonymous with lose!
  • On Page 56 he credits T & R for their good taste and design when creating Unix.

    He talks about first seeing Stallman on page 58, and then on pages 95-96 he says Stallman is a giant upon whose shoulders Linus was able to host himself, thanks to the GNU tools, especially Stallman's GCC.

  • Oh shut up you looser!
  • "When did people not realize that nerds made the money and got all the chicks?"

    Um, lessee, perhaps before this "internet" thing hit and everybody jumped on AOL to swap MP3s? How many of us would have gotten picked on and/or beaten up for wearing the ThinkGeek "geek." shirt to school? Now I wear it and people are like "cool man". So yes you bastard, you must not be old enough >:|
  • open source seems to be a glorified socialist movement with many of its adherents of the spanish inquisision mindset.

    I agree. Many of the people here, now (by no means all) found the bandwagon late - real late, then jumped on and tried to make it look like they've been riding all along. They'll either fall off or get thrown off quickly. I didn't attach myself to the internet until 1994, [and while i read it on occasion, i didnt create a slashdot user account till much, much later. - added for those who base someones intelligence on their UID] I stayed mainly in the (then thriving) BBS world. I passed my linux Zealot days back in 1998. I used to be all up in the "linux is tres 1337!!!@$#@" stuff. Linux is responsible for my choice of career - however, you have to always keep at least one ear open for dissenting ideas and always investigate the truth and evolution of who you actually owe for your life to this point. Once i did that, i realized that thanks to Gates, Jobs, and whoever invented the commodore computer platform, i have a nice house, nice car, nice job and happiness. Somehow i doubt all the OSS Zealots got their first computer, already installed with linux, and immediately mastered it. Also i doubt they would be so quick to thank their devils for their development into what they are today.

    In addition, i think you may have added two zeros too many to your prediction. Open Source will likely exist until it no longer needs to. However, the open source MOVEMENT will lose steam as the '92 - '98 microgeneration move forward into their professional lives and realize linux isnt all there is to life. The mid-90's had a unique cyberculture in which new ideas flourished. the explosion is now normalizing. One surmises that it will be much the same with the mentalities of the future. all things have birth, childhood, adolecense, maturity and death and the mentalities that go along with them. of course, theres always going to be those with arrested development. As the number of zealots lessens, the number of adherents. With less adherents, less zealots, and that cycle, also, normalizes.
  • no, copylefted

  • by kune ( 63504 )
    Somewhere in the book it is stated, that Dirk Hohndel is CEO of Suse AG. He has never been the CEO, he is currently the CTO.

    Comment: I found it a shame that celebrities like Bill Gates, Bill Joy or Steve Jobs found their way into the book, but not a single name of his lieutenants: Alan Cox, Theodore Tso, H.J. Lu to name a few.

    The book is a perfect gift for geek mothers, girlfriends and wifes:

    1) Your geek isn't alone.
    2) This Linus Torvalds seems to be more social dysfunctional than your geek.
    3) Don't send your geek to the gym or outdoors, he will lose millions there.
  • You're in support of MICROSOFT Domination. "Linux" epitomizes the spirit of Education in this country ..... Although the public masses seem to prefer "ignorance", you wouldn't have observed authentic progress or innovation in the "Computer" Industry without an understanding of the "Command Line" interface -- which Bill Gates wants to further limit in newer versions of Windows (clients/servers) --
  • Weak... I work for a living AND I have the courage to put my name on a post like that.
  • I agree. I have a great deal of respect for Linus as an engineer and a visionary leader, but he shouldn't quit his day job to become a writer. I found David Diamond's demagogical narratives over the top. Mainly, I couldn't get over the first person narrative, which painted an egotistical persona on Linus, something which he is clearly not. The book was also poorly constructed, too anicdotal, and the context schedular needed to relax and let threads develop a bit more.
  • Wouldnt torvalds want to 'opensource' his autobigoraphy?

    Maybe he wants to make a little bit of money off of his name/reputation... I am sure that his stock options are worth much less now and some cold hard cash would be nice I'm sure!

  • Last night NPR's "Fresh Air" featured an interview with Linus about the book. It was pretty entertaining, especially listening to Terri Gross try to pronounce "Linux." She said it at least four different ways during a 40 minute interview. Gross kind of focussed a bit too much on the money involved, and I was glad to hear Linus try to straighten her out that he wasn't being a saint when he released Linux under the GPL, only that he had no interest in dealing with the financial aspect. Yes there is such a thing as the cult of personality, but there are also interesting personalities who bear attention. There is a difference between non-critical fawning and a desire to better understand people who have had a major impact on our lives.
  • thanks, i've been wanting to listen to this.

    one thing got me:

    interviewer: So it's licenced under the "General Public Licence"?

    Linus: Yes, the "General Public Licence"


  • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @08:06AM (#175800)
    It does seem to lack a bit of the editing that one would expect from a professional book. Linus, for example, has a disturbing tendancy to slip back and forth between the first and the second person (yes, first and second person. As in: "you work on code all the time. I rarely knew if it was day or night"), and a few times autocorrect seems to have been used incorrectly (the ls command being written as l's, as though it were a plural of the letter L (numbers and letters use apostrophes before the s to show plurals)).

    Still, it's quite a lot of fun, and rather inspiring too. I had to stop last night about halfway through because I felt like I should be doing some programming of my own :)

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • Interwoven [] with the standard biography chapters are short vignette []s about the writing of the book.

    Wow, two rare words in one sentence - and they are actually names of two competing products. I wonder if chromatic is an affiliate of both of them :-)

  • Linus is a nice guy and all, and an autobiography is nice, but that's what it is. Methinks Slashdot wouldn't have reacted the same way with Bill Gates' book.

    Of course not, we're not using his operating system!

    Well that and while Bill Gates made a lot of money of his idea, Linus gave his idea to the world and created a revolution.

  • "The only really novel part here are the stories about growing up in Finland and spending his life coding in a closet."

    Ahh sweet house child labor... nothing teachs you to code faster than getting beat with a stick creating a buffer overflow in your code!

    Child programming labor.. you can't beat it, but you sure can beat them!

  • What does Linus have a fetish with using Newton quotes? This is like the four time I seen Linus "take" words from Newton...
  • well, if I read my GPL right, it's not the book that you get for free, it's the source

    I imagine he could put up a page on how to make paper, make ink, how to write, and a HowTo on not being a total jackass.

    Then you could try to make (live) his product (life - autobiography).

  • by icqqm ( 132707 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:44AM (#175806) Homepage Journal
    I know I for one wouldn't mind reading a book about the technical aspects of the GNU/Linux kernel development. Either a story about its conception or even a beginner-hacker's guide to how the kernel works. Something more than a man page.

    Linus is a nice guy and all, and an autobiography is nice, but that's what it is. Methinks Slashdot wouldn't have reacted the same way with Bill Gates' book.

  • Is that how it works in Finland?

  • Methinks Slashdot wouldn't have reacted the same way with Bill Gates' book.

    Would have been an other title, Just for me

  • My Humble opinion: Geeks/hackers are people who prioritize recreation over social purposes.

    Depends on how you define social purposes. The Hacker Ethic [] is worth a read in this view: it views hackers not so much as computer freaks but as people with a strong drive to do some particular thing, mostly just for fun, which explains Linus' title. Matter of definition :)

  • Sonava... 10 seconds too slow! :/ Maybe I can show prior art on this joke somehow... :-p
  • by mmaddox ( 155681 ) <> on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:37AM (#175811)
    Yep...I have a woman behind, and lemme tell you, I am SO hot in a dress.... kidding, dammit....kidding
  • by mmaddox ( 155681 ) <> on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:35AM (#175812)

    ...would have been: Linus Torvalds: The Man Page

    But I think the public might have misconstrued the book's content.

  • Linux 0.01 was released on September 17, 1991.
  • Hmm.... do they also prioritize social purposes over survival?

    Nope.. see 'Things to Hack in L.A. When You're Dead', film at 11, for details. The fact that survival is a prerequisite for hacking, is exactly why programming fluids [] have been developed. "You left your programmers alone without caffeine? Mr. Gates, your men are already dead." ;-]


  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @07:27AM (#175815) Homepage Journal
    "People do things first for survival purposes, then for social purposes, and finally for recreation."

    My Humble opinion: Geeks/hackers are people who prioritize recreation over social purposes.


  • NPR's Fresh Air has a real audio version of their interview with Linus Torvalds, which aired Monday evening. t []

    It was an interesting interview, such that Mr. Torvalds talks much about his motivations as a programmer, how Linux got started, his experience watching his VA Linux stock options ride the tech bubble, and his return to being his more relaxed self.

  • I bought his book for a $1 once. You are correct. There is a little history, that was interesting. I didn't read the rest.
  • Okay, or at least made the money

    dude, a fistful of worthless options in a dead do not a well moneyed nerd make. and don't be fooled into accepting them as unemployment benefits [] either.

  • In the NPR interview the other day, one of the things I was fascinated by was the benifits of growing up in Finland. Apparently it is far enough of the beaten path that there are none of the political stresses that you have in a place like, say jerusalem.

    (yes I know about the Sammi people, and greatly admire the resurgence of their culture!)

    But with the large social safety net, and the ability to go to university at low cost, etc. the stress that you experience in places like the US (gotta get successful NOW!) is simply not there. and this leads to an interesting perspective on the US.

    I can imagine coming to the US is like coming in from Mars or someplace like that. There are going to be a lot of things that seem quite daffy.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • Well, you forget a key Linus concept. He's inheriently lazy and liks to get credit for other peoples work. Not a troll, these are Linus's own words.
  • IIRC, there was a fourth stage, the Where. As in, where shall we have lunch?
  • egads, someone finally uses the word "loose" correctly, and it gets misinterpreted. Where's a grammar nazi when you need one? Oh, wait, I am one.

    OK, one more time:

    this is the opposite of "find":

    this is the opposite of "find", on drugs:

    Any questions???

  • I think you're getting confused with the word "lose".


  • This is irrelevant and offtopic, however I must point out. That as well as the geeks, being a punk in a small town led to massive and relentless beatings.

    Its not being a geek that was "uncool" its being yourself, or "different" from the normal drones.

    Just thought I would state the obvious.

  • Why isn't this book published on the web? Wouldnt torvalds want to 'opensource' his autobigoraphy? I just want to read some of it first to make sure the tone isn't too self congratulatory.
  • You can sell the software too -- free software is about freedom (as in speech), not price. There's nothing saying that you can't sell the software! You don't *have* to give it away for no cost. You just have to give the source code with it when you do sell it or give it away.
  • Linus was on NPR's Fresh Air yesterday. Link to the interview is here:
  • *DOH* and that was a truly stupid typo. LinuS!!
    Chris Naden
    "Sometimes, home is just where you pour your coffee"
  • The most depressing part for me is the lack of appreciation shown for the other contributors.

    That would be because this is a biography of Linux, not Linux.


    Chris Naden
    "Sometimes, home is just where you pour your coffee"
  • Incredible as it may seem, nerds didn't always make the big bucks. This is something which happened in the past 10 years, with the growth of tech. Prior to that, nerds were frequenly little more than serfs to PHB's with MBA degrees.

    Doesn't mean we didn't have our heros. Along with Linus, my other heros include Berkely Breathed [], Walt Kelly, Benjamin Harrison Adams, and Mark Knopfler.

    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:19AM (#175831) Homepage Journal
    with copyrighted Torvalds humor to boot

    Gee, shouldn't that be GPL'd?

    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • by westfirst ( 222247 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:32AM (#175832)
    I agree with everything the review said, but I have some reservations about the book. The most depressing part for me is the lack of appreciation shown for the other contributors. There's only a short mention of Stallman and little about the other contributors to the movement and the kernel. You might get the impression that Torvalds and Torvalds alone was responsible for everything that is Linux. Is the name Alan Cox found anywhere in the book? I don't remember seeing it.

    At one point he even seems to confuse the Netcraft surveys of the webservers with a measure of penetration of Linux. The Netcraft surveys measure Apache, a server that also runs on FreeBSD, AIX, MacOS, and dozens of other OSs.

    For this reason I think both Rebel Code and Free for All do a better job with the history. The only really novel part here are the stories about growing up in Finland and spending his life coding in a closet. Those parts are great fun. He's a charming guy. The book's great. But I wish he could spread the credit around a bit more.

  • Just for Fun is an excellent book. If you wonder about the thoughts and feelings surrounding the beginning of Linux, this book will satisfy your interest.

    The contrast between Torvald's Book and the book by Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, is huge.

    Apparently Bill Gates does nothing for you unless you give him money. The Road Ahead is a series of cliches. It reads as though someone went through it and removed anything that might be of value. I think anyone deliberately trying to write something so boring would probably accidentally say something interesting.

    The feeling of interacting with Microsoft and Microsoft products is a feeling of constantly having to defend yourself against abuse. The products and the company reflect the adversarial personality behind them.

    For example, a lot of people don't realize that Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME crash because of deliberate limitations in the availability of memory available for what Microsoft calls "User Resources" and "GDI Resources". Anyone who doubts this should run the program called "Resource Meter" to verify one cause of the crashes.

    People who inhabit the idealistic brotherhood of GNU free software find it amazing that Microsoft deliberately did a poor job, apparently so users would have a reason to upgrade. Think of all the lost work and lost time caused by the crashing. That is deliberate! Microsoft deliberately causes people grief so the company can make more money!

    The feeling of interacting with Linux is a peaceful feeling that reflects the peacefulness of the creators. Even someone who doesn't want to know anything about computers might read Just for Fun to know more about one of the most important social revolutions in the world today.

    No one involved with Linux claims it is perfect. Linus Torvalds in his book points out many of his own shortcomings. But both are remarkably free of adversarial behavior.
  • Linus Torvalds and David Diamond? Finally Linux and Saved By The Bell's Screech together at last!
  • > ...Either the Open Source movement will be dead, or you propellerheads
    > will be treating this book like the Bible and Torvalds like a prophet.

    In a thousand years, I would hope that the concept of operating systems will be as out-of-date as your interpretation of our liking for Linus.

    > Ditch the hero worship. It's unbecoming in serious folk and makes
    > you all look like kids.

    Your implication that hero-worship is childish is wrong on two counts. First, hero-worship does not have to be childish. In fact, most of us just refer to it as "respect". Second, Linus is in fact a hero, and not because he's a god, but because he is a prophet, although I admit to having a very loose definition of "prophet". He's the best demonstration we've had in the last decade that an everyman can change the world.

    > Add to that the fact that most of you would still be working
    > on PDPs if it weren't for Microsoft and IBM making babies.

    Don't be daft. If IBM and Microsoft didn't exist, someone else would have done it instead. And, as a side note, IBM sold off the OS project for PCs to Microsoft because they thought of PCs as unworthy of their own developers. Microsoft themselves thought so highly of the project that they too decided to buy MS-DOS from another company and rebadge it rather then waste their time building it. So, don't be such a hero-worshipper of IBM and Microsoft yourself. They are neither irreplacable in the history of OSes nor were they particularly visionary.

    > You zealots are all alike: witless, ungrateful, patricidal loons.

    Oh, get off it. You overgeneralize by far too much for me to take this seriously.

    > Remember your roots, and realize that Torvalds is not the
    > figurative loins from which the OS movement sprang. There were many
    > ancestors, some of whom you revile today without knowing that their
    > contributions make it possible for you to hang out on a hobby site and
    > bitch about people who are richer than you because they work for a living.

    Good heavens, you're serious, aren't you? You're right that the open source movement didn't start with Linus Torvalds, but by that argument the PC movement didn't start with IBM (Texas Instruments and Tandy and Apple were making PCs long before IBM ever tried), and Windows didn't start with Microsoft (Bill swiped it from Apple, who in their turn swiped it from Xerox PARC), and so on. The point is that Linux is what pushed the OSS movement into the public eye, and Linus created Linux, so he gets the credit. And, most people (myself included) revile Microsoft (or IBM, for that matter) because of their business practices, not their product.

    Perhaps you need to do a little reading, and a little growing up yourself, before you toss around such blatant and inaccurate information.

  • Arg, the book cover on picture looks ugly compared to the Finnish version. Ehh. But the book was good.
  • I have Rebel Code, and while it is not in front of me, I know that Dave Diamond did not write it. Is this a nom de plume for the same author? If so, then I would be definately interested in getting this.



  • about the technical aspects of the GNU/Linux kernel development.

    So you know - you don't have to call it "GNU/Linux" to appease RMS when you're talking about just the kernel. GNU/Linux refers to an entire system - with the Linux kernel and GNU libraries and utilities.
  • Nah. It'd have to be GNU/Linus Torvalds: The Info Page.
  • Add to that the fact that most of you would still be working on PDPs if it weren't for Microsoft and IBM making babies.

    I'd still be using an Amiga, actually, quite happily. I only left it in 95 because I went to college, where the IT staff wouldn't network an Amiga, and my CS programs had to compile on x86. But Windows and DOS were so simple (meaning limited) compared to the wonderful Workbench and CLI, so I was able to breeze through the Wintel learning curve and start to play with Linux.

    You might as well be telling us that we would still be using BBS's and Archie if it weren't for AOL. The /. gang knows that we don't owe our computers to MS or Intel. We'd be just fine (or better) without them, using Macs, or Sun, or Amiga, or any other company that would have been able to crop up.

    But it's tough to get mad at a comment that was modded down so much. I laugh at flamebait! Ha ha!

  • After reading this book, I see that Linus doesn't have good childhood, especially with his sister. :)

    If it weren't for his sister he might not be the Linus today. At least if they weren't competing on learning English we might not be able to understand what Linus said and couldn't understand his humor in Finish. Also he might have written lousy English in his Linux's README such that no one could follow.

    People said every man has a woman behind, it's very true.
  • I wonder if the ghost writer used ghost script :)
  • I really liked this book. I thought it had just the right mix of technical detail. I believe his other book "Rebel Code" is more about the kernel specificially. As far as an autobiography goes I think this book hit its mark dead on. Overall, A very good book. Go buy it.
  • I'm another grammar nazi. Thanks for jumping all over him so I don't have to.

  • Yeah. He also ended up in a flamewar with Tanenbaum on the minix newsgroup. It must have really sucked to have the author of a book that inspired you trash your operation system in a public forum.
    I found that to be one of the more interesting parts of the book. (Though there were many more)

  • I loved how the multimedia extravaganza was in a proprietary format...

  • From the quote on ThinkGeek...

    "Good at math, good at physics, and with no social graces whatsoever. And this was before being a nerd was considered to be a good thing."

    Am I not old enough? When was being a nerd not a good thing? When did people not realize that nerds made the money and got all the chicks? Okay, or at least made the money. Linus was always cool, I won't hear otherwise!

  • by kraf ( 450958 )
    The reviewer is the-guy-without-a-real-name (tm).
    I wonder if his driving licence has also only chromatic in it.

  • I never read Bill Gates's book, so I have to ask.... Is it true that he never mentioned the Internet in his book "The Road Ahead"?
  • "Who gives a shit about an ugly acne ridden geek from some foreign country?"

    So, it would be better if Linux was developed by an american? How come? Linus is a foreigner to YOU, to me he's not (We share the homeland)

    And last time I checked, Linux is doing better and better! Desktop is getting better (and FAST), Distros are getting better, the kernel is getting better. And what's important, it's obvious that Microsoft is scared! There's no other explanation for the recent FUD-attacks!

  • So... In short: Bill Gates wrote a book in 1995 about the future of computing, and he didn't mention the Internet. OK...

    What was his job again? Back then he was a CEO of the biggest software company in the world, and now-a-days he's their "Chief Software Architech"? Well, it's a good thing that MS has such a visionary at their helm... Good for the Linux-community that is...

  • i picked up the audio book version of this about five days ago. i am listening to disc 3 now, actually.

    short review: avoid it.

    longer version: david diamond's reading is beyond uninspired, and sounds more or less like when kid who couldn't read too fast was asked to read aloud in your class in sixth grade. linus' contributions are few and far between, and if anything, are more uninspired and read in a more herky-jerky manner than diamond (although this isn't a slam on LT; i understand english is not his native language, and he's not a professional author/speaker -- regardless, this is how his readings come off to me.) another minor beef is that it's copyrighted; i can understand that the publisher would have balked at making a book GPL'ed, but the audio book? occasionally, this is a great sample source and i'm probably going to snap a few seconds from each disc to add to a few songs i'm writing -- of course, with the copyrighting, i'll have to alter the samples a lot. another nitpick is something other posters have also pointed out: where's the credit to the other authors? alan cox, RMS, wtf? where's the tip of the hat to them? if you must get it, pick it up used or on discount. the OS is great, and the things you can do with it are great, but the story of the guy who helped make the OS is so-so. not a bad book, just tepid. caveat emptor.

    Slashdot: When News Breaks, We Give You The Pieces

  • I hope you are kidding.

    By sharing your source code does not mean that you deny monay and wish to be poor for the rest of your life.

    On the contrary, you can make monay indirectly:

    • donnations
    • sponsorts
    • advertisments on your site
    • a good job you can get with your fame
    • a special project you can get with your fame.
    • write a book
    Which proves that you can make monay from open source.
  • OK, so I spend 1,000 hours bleeding, sweating, and crying for free, to get a job or project that I could have got by being paid for those 1,000 hours? Smart. As for writing a book, if I wanted to be an author, I'd write a book about whatever and get paid for it, as opposed to writing a book entitled "How I Busted My Ass for the Past 10 Years, Giving Away My Work for Free: Please Buy This Book So I Can Pay the Rent

    No silly. Its your hobby, you like writting programs. And you do it anyway. But instead of keeping the source to yourself and giving out .exes you decide to share it. And then all of a sudden you get a job at transmeta.

    After that you have the chance to make monay from a book (not a hard one like science fiction or something, just describe the facts you lived). Can you imagine more fun job?

    you should read the book......

    PS- my keydroab has troblems so excuse my selling erorrs. It will buy a mew one.

  • I used to get my ass beat in H.S. all the time for being a geek. But I don't think the problem is that you are too young, you probably just weren't a geek 8 years ago.

    For some strange reason I was using Mosaic beta at the age of, I am not old but I was a geek before it was cool.

    Here's a test of your 1990-1991 nerd skill....

    What are these?

    MOD files
    Future Crew

    If the first PC that you loved had a turbo or high/low button on it, then you are a geek in my book. For ubergeek status, did you ever have to set the display on the front of an old ass pc that shows what speed your running at? The little LCD panel that you had to set by reading a chart that made no sense and was programmed by moving around hundreds of little jumpers....that is geek.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982