13 May 2010

How to Become Linus Torvalds

Most people in the free software world know about the famous “LINUX is obsolete” thread that began on the comp.os.minix newsgroups in January 1992, where Andrew Tanenbaum, creator of the MINIX system that Linus used to learn about operating system design, posted the following rather incendiary comment:

On The H Open.


guy said...

I don't have an H-open account, so I'll stick my tuppence here...

I'm not sure that you should limit your posts by what your readers may think of them, but then it depends why you post. If you post for your own satisfaction then you needn't worry. If you *need* readers (like a newspaper, for example), then it's different --- you're not posting for yourself, you're posting for them.

To parallel the analogy with free software, just because a reader may disagree with you doesn't stop *you* from continuing to write what you want, in just the same way as a user of a program who changes it in a way the author wouldn't have isn't interfering with the author's continuing use of it.

It seems to me that the key is to focus purely on the fun in a project and make that the only reward that you expect or require in order to continue doing it. If you do it for any other reason (money, prestige, power) you put your enjoyment of it in the hands of other people, and at that point the project will need management. Curiously, it seems other people respect your opinions about it more when you owe them nothing, perhaps because they know there is nothing forcing you to continue.

As Linus often signs, just have fun!

Glyn Moody said...

@guy: all good points. I suppose I'm saying in part that I'm not really sure why I use microblogs - whether it's purely for me, or whether it's now become in part for the people that follow me.

Part of the problem is that "forks" in microblogging mean people unsubscribe...