New: Book Report: Just for Fun

cranea17:/evidence> ls
What do you think this is, UNIX?

I think that's funny, but that's because I spend a lot of time in UNIXoid environments, specifically Linux. I'm biased. Maybe that's also why I enjoyed the book Just for Fun. It's a biography of Linus Torvalds so far. Well, not even so far--it was written back around 2000. Since Linus is mostly known as the guy who got the Linux kernel started, most of the exciting material is from 1990-2000.

Linus is not a wildly exciting personality, and that's part of why this book is so inspiring. Famed internet gadfly Eric Raymond is quoted as saying that part of Linus' appeal was that he was "less visibly odd than a lot of other hackers." I interpreted that to mean "Linus isn't an obnoxious jerk like RMS." (In RMS' defense, I've never met him; my accusation of obnoxiousness is based only on second-hand reports.) In fact, reading about Linus is a lot like reading about any of a number of other geeks you might know.

He wasn't so special. He liked to tinker, he chose an interesting project, he followed through. When other people had suggestions, he took many good suggestions. And thus he made the world a better place. Maybe you could do that too.

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Posted 2007-05-10