Linus Torvalds on the Importance of Open Source

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of Linux, coming up in August of 2021, Jeremy Andrews has conducted an two-part, in-depth interview with Linus Torvalds, covering topics such as open source licensing, corporate contributions, Git, project maintenance, and more. 

When asked about choosing the GPLv2 license for the Linux kernel, Torvalds says, “I’m 100% convinced that the license has been a big part of the success of Linux (and Git, for that matter). I think everybody involved ends up being much happier when they know that everybody has equal rights, and nobody is special with regards to licensing.”

Torvalds describes all the subsequent kernel changes as “incremental” after that initial decision to use the GPLv2 license. “I think the GPLv2 is pretty much the perfect balance of ‘everybody works under the same rules’ and still requires that people give back to the community,” he says. 

Additionally, Torvalds notes that “for complex technical issues you really need open source simply because the problem space ends up being too complex to manage inside one single company. Even a big and competent tech company.”

For Torvalds, however, the idea of openness goes beyond licensing. “I think ‘open’ is important in the sense of honesty,” he says. “You don't want to play politics behind people’s back. Be open about your motivations, be open about why you do things and what you do. You don't have to like everybody you work with, and they don't have to like you, ... the most important thing is that you can trust each other.”

Read the complete interview at Tag1 Consulting.

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