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Linus Torvalds: Security is never going to be perfect

Swapnil Bhartiya | Aug. 21, 2015
Linus Torvalds made a surprise appearance at LinuxCon and talked about containers, security, and IoT, among other topics.

Linux in 10 years

Linux has come a long way since its inception. While Windows and Mac OS X still primarily do the same kinds of things, Linux is running on a wide range of things — from supercomputers to tiny smartwatches. It scales so well. So one may be curious to know the vision of it’s creator. Jim asked Linus where Linux will be in 10 years. He responded, “That's not how I started Linux. I am a very prodding, pedestrian kind of person. I look six months ahead; I look at this release and I know what's coming up in the next one. I don't think planning 10 years ahead is necessarily very sane.” He said that if you go back 10 years and see where Linux was and try to plan where it is today, “that would be completely insane. I don't take that approach."

Then he pointed out something unique to open source: one particular advantage that open source has is that “you have all these companies that are trying to make the next 10 years happen and by using open source, they can try to push their own agenda and they notice, ‘Hey we need this in order for our next 10 years to happen.’ It actually helps Linux, even if I personally as a maintainer am not forward thinking. The whole process is very forward thinking because open source allows and actually encourages that kind of behaviour. So I am not worried about Linux in 10 years. I am worried about us stumbling on the bugs we find today or tomorrow."

It’s a good job

Linus, like many developers, works from home, a work style that’s breeding a new culture. He manages over 1,500 people who work for big corporations like Google, Facebook and Amazon. Jim reminded Linus that he once said, “I will show up in the kitchen in a bathrobe and it embarasses my daughter. Her friends would ask, ‘What kind of hobo is your dad?’"

As the wall-shattering laughter from the crowd subsided, Linus shared another anecdote: “I have the FedEx guy; he already knows me. I mean if it is 2 p.m. in the afternoon and I open the door for the package in my bathrobe, he doesn't blink anymore. It's a good job, right."

There he is, one of the most influential people of the modern world, whose work far exceeds that of industry icons like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and so does his humility.


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