Linus Torvalds: Linux succeeded thanks to selfishness and trust

BBC has a good interview with Linus Torvalds covering many facets of the Linux project:

  • “I do not see open source as some big goody-goody “let’s all sing kumbaya around the campfire and make the world a better place”. No, open source only really works if everybody is contributing for their own selfish reasons.”
  • “The fundamental property of the GPLv2 is a very simple “tit-for-tat” model: I’ll give you my improvements, if you promise to give your improvements back.

    It’s a fundamentally fair licence, and you don’t have to worry about somebody else then coming along and taking advantage of your work.

    And the thing that then seemed to surprise people, is that that notion of “fairness” actually scales very well.”

  • “Once people and companies got over their hang-ups – renaming it “open source” and just making it clear that this was not some kind of anti-commercial endeavour definitely helped – things just kind of exploded.”

That last point is huge. There’s nothing anti-commercial about FLOSS. Anyone can use or contribute to FLOSS whether they are rich or poor, large or small, profitable or non-profitable. It’s all about sharing and that’s good. There’s no reason that cooperative or competitive organizations cannot share software just the same way they share markets, natural resources and people. It’s way more efficient for everyone to contribute to and to share software than to pay to do the same stuff repeatedly all over the place.

Linus does discuss the desktop. He points out that Android/Linux succeeded commercially and he thinks GNU/Linux can as well. We are very close with the predominance of web applications/clouds, ARM and mobile computing that GNU/Linux is about to get a lot more retail space.

BBC News – Linus Torvalds: Linux succeeded thanks to selfishness and trust.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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