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Wired 11.11: Leader of the Free World
Description of Torvalds:
Torvalds, 33, looks like a supply clerk. His wispy brown hair frames preternaturally blue eyes and a soft, open face with an ample nose and heavy jaw. He's almost never without a benign grin, a smile so pearly-white perfect that he could get work in a teeth-bleaching ad. And he's dressed as though ready for a casual morning of tennis: white socks, white shorts, and a slight variation of the same shirt he more or less always wears - a white polo obtained for free at some Linux event.
On Goldman Sachs study:
It's only a matter of time, concluded Goldman Sachs in a study released earlier this year titled "Fear the Penguin," before Linux displaces Unix as the dominant operating system running the world's largest corporate data centers.
On Linus as a leader:
Torvalds is a work-at-home dad with no formal management training ... the 12 years he's presided over an unruly group of volunteer programmers is worthy of study by those who teach leadership inside the world's finest MBA programs ... He jokingly refers to himself as "Linux's hood ornament," and he's anything but an autocrat. His power is based on nothing more than the collective respect of his cohorts.
This geographically dispersed group meets at least once a year to talk about its goals for the operating system. "Linus sets a philosophical direction about how he likes the code to be," says Andrew Morton, who has been working on core components of Linux since 2000. "The rest of us pretty much follow his lead." Torvalds has final say over their decisions, but it's extremely rare for him to overrule any of them
"very, very good - much better than engineers in general - at smoothing out difficulties, building consensus, and building community. He really has only a technical agenda."
Torvalds about himself:
"I was an ugly child." That's how Torvalds chose to open his 2001 autobiography, Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, written with journalist David Diamond. He describes himself as "a beaverish runt" of a kid and goes out of his way to stress his flaws, as if unaware that the standard practice of the genre is to make oneself sound more grand and important.
Torvalds on why he put linux out:
"My reasons for putting Linux out there were pretty selfish," he says. "I didn't want the headache of trying to deal with parts of the operating system that I saw as the crap work. I wanted help." Besides, he couldn't fathom collecting money for something he viewed as unfinished work that required the contribution of others.