Linus Torvalds Talks About His Motivation

Jun 28, 2017

He never tires of working on the Linux kernel.

The Linux Foundation took LinuxCon, one of the biggest open source events to one of the biggest economies, China. One of the biggest highlights of the event was a discussion between Linus Torvalds and VMware Head of Open Source, Dirk Hohndel, who also happens to be Torvalds’ closest friend and fellow scuba diver.

One of the things that Torvalds said continues to impress him is that things continue to improve. “There are things we haven’t touched for many years, then someone comes along and improves them or makes bug reports in something I thought no one used,” he said. It allows Linux to continue to support very old and basic things that people still care about and use.

Talking about his motivations, Torvalds said that he really likes his job. “I like waking up and having a job that is technically interesting and challenging without being too stressful, so I can do it for long stretches; something where I feel I am making a real difference and doing something meaningful not just for me.”

It also seems that despite doing Linux since 1991, he is not bored and has not burned out. He said that once in a while, he does take a break, but every time he takes longer breaks he gets bored and looks forward to going back to doing what he does best – the Linux kernel.

When asked about the future of Linux leadership, Torvalds said that the process they have in place has been working fine for the last 25 years. He agreed that even if they don’t have enough maintainers, the group that they do have is very strong, and it continues to grow at a steady pace: “… as these maintainers get older and fatter, we have new people coming in. It takes years to go from a new developer to a top maintainer, so I don’t feel that we should necessarily worry about the process and Linux for the next 20 years,” said Torvalds.

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