People who don’t matter and the Commercialisation of Linux

The geniuses at Business 2.0 Magazine have published an article called 10 people who “Don’t Matter”.

It’s a list of Corporate and Technology Leaders that THEY THINK are no longer significant.

For people that supposedly don’t matter the list is full of people that have accomplished a hell of allot.

Like the current Presidents of Sony Computer  & Microsoft.

They also included Linus Torvalds…..

Here is what they said.


Linus Torvalds
Creator, Linux

It's a testament to the success of Torvalds's open-source ideas that he's on this list at all. His Linux operating system is fast, cheap, and out of control - and that's entirely by design. While Torvalds still oversees any changes made to the innermost core of Linux, most of the innovation is now done by others, and commercial businesses like Red Hat and Novell increasingly steer its future. Although he can claim credit for popularising one of the most powerful ideas ever to sweep through the software industry, Torvalds's project has matured to such an extent that it's largely outgrown its illustrious creator.

First, putting Torvalds in this list is as stupid as including Steve Ballmer and Ken Kutaragi. Torvalds, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs before him has forever changed the face of computing, both in the for of the Linux Operating system and as the principal proponent of Open Source Software. (Yes, yes, I know there are other Open Source, Unix like Operating Systems, but Torvalds was the personality who’s work changed the game.)

What I thought WAS interesting was the contention that “Linux is out of control” and that “Red Hat and Novell increasingly steer its future.”

While I’m a fan of many Open Source projects, I’ve allays contended that Software is a commercially driven phenomenon. It’s interesting to note that even the “Business Experts” agree hat corporate entities are increasingly in control of the direction of Linux.

It’s natural that companies like IBM, HP, Red Hat, Apple, Novell, Sun etc would gravitate to Linux (and it’s cousins)  as a way to increase their profits by commoditizing the OS in favour of their own service or hardware revenues. The problem is, the more they “control” Open Source initiatives, the more they become Server Software Companies (or Desktop Products Companies, etc.)

Then the questions becomes, can IBM, Apple, Red Hat, HP, Novell, Sun, etc do it as well as Microsoft or will the influence Open Source projects in ways that behove their own personal revenue goals and to the exclusion of “general value” ?

Comments (11)
  1. Ed says:

    Can you provide a link to this article?

  2. Joseph says:

    Maybe they don’t know that linux is a kernel and not an OS.  Novell, Redhat, IBM, no more control the direction of the kernel than they ever have.    

    Joe’s Reply:

    I disagree – the Linux Kernel is the heart of the Linux “Operating System”. If you put he Kernel in a box by itself it wouldn’t be usefull.

    Novell, Redhat, IBM, HP, etc. don’t directly inflewence the kernel, but they DO inflewence they Linux in it’s entirety

  3. Torp says:

    They’re right. Even Mr. Torvalds said it himself, all the interesting things in Linux happen in user land, not in his domain: the kernel. And he seemed pretty happy about it.
    It doesn’t say “people who never did something significant all their lives”, it says “people who don’t matter any more” 🙂

    Joe’s Reply:

    I agree that the kernel has become a comodity to some extent.

    But I don’t think hat means Torvalds no longer matters. He matters both historically and he still has great inflewence in the Open SOurce World.

    Also, you missread my comment. It’s people who have not acomplished much who are pointing the finger to asy that others (who HAVE accomplished great things) don’t matter.

  4. Zoki says:

    *** CNN is very good at injecting c**p as facts into worlds collective opinion.

    It just takes a view buzz words (Web 2.0 and Flickr anyone?) and some facts we all can relate to (Gates, Jobs, Torvalds, Linux) in order for "us" to take the rest for granted.

    Unless we decide not to leave our brain in sucker-mode and actually use it, this CNN article will perfectly function as a hits generator. The recipe and ingredients are common and Internet fond of such delicacies.

    Like Paul Witherow said on The Register:

    "Web 2.0 is the air for the next bubble"

    and CNN the pump, I would add.

    While Photobucket has 43% market share, Flickr is in 6th place with only 5.95%. How is it that Flickr matters more? Because CNN and the other yea-sayers tell us so?

    "Principally, it’s because the internet is an echo chamber. If publications convince themselves that there’s a phenomenon called ‘Web 2.0’, they need the evidence to back it up. And being lazy, look no further than the tech evangelist bloggers."

    — The Register. Again.

    Let’s put this CNN article where it belongs; in the trash bin.

    P.S. Question to CNN: "Around what kernel would Red Hat and Novell build their "innovation" if Linus (and the community he represents) really decided not to matter anymore and retire from being the kernel maintainer(s)?"

    Hint of an answer: "Yes I know. I won’t hold my breath waiting for your answer; you left your brain on the night-table…"

  5. Joe Stagner posted on his blog about the 10 people who don’t matter that was spurred by an article on…

  6. Bob_Robertson says:

    Torvalds is the glue. If Balmer were to walk away tomorrow, nothing at Microsoft would change. If Gates were to leave tomorrow (we can hope!), then indeed things might change because he is hampering Microsoft adapting to changes in the software environment.

    Torvalds could leave, sure, but I honestly think things would suffer. Let’s talk about virtual memory. When 2.4.9 was out, and all vm heck was breaking lose, it was Torvalds who made the decision to break all the rules and replace the vm core in a “stable” kernel. People objected, sure, but it worked.

    A benevolent dictatorship is the most efficient form of governance. People cooperate with Torvalds on a voluntary basis because of what he and his stewardship is recognized as the most efficient way to do the job. The same reason people recognize the stewardship of Van de Radt for FreeBSD, or the local Grand Poobah at the Loyal Order of Water Buffalows.

    Someone else trying to organize the “Linux” development could not have the same personality, may not be able to do so as well as Linus does. When Linus does move on to other things, I’m going to miss him.

    Joe’s Reply

    No offense, but this is a bit typical of the zealous Linux Weenie speak that detracts from what the serious Open Source community is trying to do. Linus matters but Ballmer and Gates don’t ???

    Gates can minimize his role at Microsoft because he has groomed Ballmer and transitioned his opporational management to him over the past 6 years. Of late he has positioned Technologists to pick up that part of his role at Microsoft.

    Likewise, Steve could leave at a time of his own choosing becuase he is building a management organization around him, but if he left tomorrow, it would hurt Microsoft.

    Linus, though he is important as an icon and catalyst to the Open Source community, has been a coder and project manager on the Kernel.

    I do not minimize his significance (read the other comment replys from teh last coupleof days), but Linus continued participation in the Linux kernel does not significantly inflewence the future success of Linux. His withdrawal from Open Source all together might be a different issue.

  7. Silvio says:

    I think it’s hillarious. It’s obviously not serious at all. It really caught my attention for a while. So they actually did what they wanted (call people’s attention). It might misslead people’s opinion I guess.

  8. Apple and open source, state of Linux

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