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Appeared on: Tuesday, August 30, 2005
A Revolutionary by Accident

1. Page 1

Linus Torvalds sets up the first Linux code and distributes it on the Net. A stream of modifications was initiated and is still on the go by several programmers and as a result the original code is being constantly developed and growing at the same time. It is the first collective experiment in the software industry that is crowned with success. The Linux ceases being a “little toy” in the hands of computer programmers and starts slowly but steadily conquering the business world. Even the Managing Director for the Microsoft, Steve Balmer, has to admit that the Linux is the major competitor of his company. Linus Torvalds is a hero of the era of informatics: an idol for the supporters of the “movement for an open programming code”. (Before the Linux made its appearance, all programs had been sold without their basic code, and that resulted in their users and programmers not being able to modify them to suit their needs. After the Linux success, numerous software companies like the Netscape provide an open to modifications code along with the programs they sell.)

Yet, the 35-year old programmer from Norway openly declares that he has got tired of being thought of as David fighting against the industry of informatics Goliath. In his autobiography, the creator of the Linux, states categorically that it was for the shake of fun that he made this program. That, as a matter of fact, was the title of his book: Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, published by the Harper Business Editions. This book he wrote in tandem with David Diamond, a journalist working for the Red Herring magazine, reports Linus Torvalds’ short life (he is only 35 years old), the way he was transformed from a schoolboy who loved mathematics to the guru of the digerati revolution. According to the Newsweek magazine, in the 288 pages of the book, rather than been acquainted with technology, one can only find a clear depiction of the way the brains of a creative programmer function, a programmer who is still looking into himself.

The real treasure in this book is its last chapters, where Linus Torvalds applies the “open code movement” theory in the world of modern business. Enterprises, he writes, must adopt the “open code” mentality in the way they operate. The old approach has to do with centralization, and strict operational rules like the one: “we, at the top know better”. The logic of the “open code” brings forward the so called diffusion of information to lower levels and the participation of freelance associates in the decision making process.

“This is what can make the difference between the due-to-succeed businesses and the ones that can really become unexpectedly successful businesses. Linux’s success can show indeed that David may know a lot better than Goliath…


By Pashos Mandravelis.

email to P. Mandravelis

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