Torvalds on Linux, MS, software's future

"I think I would have missed the opportunity of my lifetime if I had not made Linux widely available"
  • (Computerworld)
  • — 10 August, 2007 13:49

Do you think you and the open-source software community are prepared for this battle?

I don't actually see it as a battle. I do my thing because I think it's interesting and worth doing, and I'm not in it because of any anti-MS issues. I've used a few MS products over the years, but I've never had a strong antipathy against them. Microsoft simply isn't interesting to me.

And the whole open source thing is not an anti-MS movement either. ... Open source is a model for how to do things, and I happen to believe that it's just a much better way to do things and that open source will take over not because of any battle, but simply because better ways of doing things eventually just replace the inferior things.

Microsoft and Novell announced last year a partnership for the interoperability of Windows and Suse Linux. Do you think Novell betrayed the principles of open software?

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.

Some analysts are saying this kind of agreement is positive for consumers and can also popularize Linux. Do you agree?

I don't know. 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. And conversely, some MS people seem to get really hot under the collar about open source. ... I'd rather just worry about the technology. The market will take care of itself. Giving customers what they want is the way to make progress, not to try to control them or try to spread propaganda or FUD.

The Free Software Foundation Inc. issued the second draft of the GNU general public license version 3 (GPLv3). What's your impression of it? Is it good for the concept of Linux?

I personally think the GPLv2 is the superior license, and I don't see the kernel changing licenses (not that it would be very easy anyway, but even if it was, right now there just wouldn't be any advantage to it). But, hey, other people have their own opinions, and other projects will use the GPLv3. Again, it's not that big of a deal -- we have something like 50 different open-source licenses, and in the end, the GPLv3 is just another one. I don't use the BSD license either, but tons of other projects do. Whatever suits you.

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Peter Moon

Computerworld
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