Apple's free OS is no threat to Linux at all, Torvalds says

Torvalds will keep working on Linux until he gets bored or his doctor decides he cannot do it anymore

Apple's move to offer its latest desktop operating system, OS X Mavericks, for free isn't going to affect the Linux operating system at all, its creator Linus Torvalds said.

Linux has been giving its OS away for 22 years, said Torvalds during a question-and-answer session at LinuxCon Europe in Edinburgh on Wednesday. But Apple's decision to offer its OS for free as of Tuesday is entirely different from Linux' philosophy, he said. In fact, one of the reasons Torvalds uses the term open source instead of free software because there is a difference between open and free, he said.

While Apple's Mavericks update might be free it is not open source and people still need expensive hardware to use the OS, he said. "The fact that Apple gives the OS away is completely irrelevant," Torvalds said. "I don't think that it impacts Linux at all."

Torvalds is not thinking of retiring at all, he told the audience when asked what needed to happen for him to retire. "It needs to get not interesting and that hasn't happened yet," he said. But he would probably stop if he gets the feeling that he can't code anymore or the doctor tells him to quit.

While Torvalds doesn't tend to do a lot of programming these days, he still likes what he does, he said. "People just know who I am," he said. And while developers according to Torvalds can have "the attention span of slightly moronic woodland creatures" he likes to be responsive to developers and maintainers of the kernel who reach out to him. Nevertheless, he said, part of his role is to be able to say, "No, this is not how we do things."

Even if Torvalds gets hit by a bus, Linux will have no issues going on, he said. There are thousands of people involved with Linux for more than 20 years of which some from the beginning are still around, he said. "We have an incredible deep set of developers."

"I'm the person who people know and they know how I work. That means that they may not always like what I do and how I present things but they can trust that I act in a certain way and that is important," he said. "But there are other people that are impolite and can take patches," he added, referring to his flare-ups.

Torvalds said he has no idea where Linux will end up in five years. "I never had a plan. I still don't have a plan. It is kind of evolution in biology: there is no end plan. It is just that what works survives," he said. Linux will keep on evolving and improving in the same way, he said.

"I don't know which direction we'll improve in, but I don't feel I need to worry about that," he said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags open sourcesoftwarelinus torvalds

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?