Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary by Linus Torvalds and David Diamon
d, HarperBusiness, 280 Pages, $26.00 Hardcover, May 2001, ISBN 0066620724
If you are looking for a book that will help you improve your ROI, this isnt the book. If you are looking for a book that will tell you how to lead your people to the promised land, this book isnt for you. But, if you are looking for a book that will entertain and enlighten you about one of the most peculiar tech guys of the past decade and one of the most fascinating movements in softwareOpen Sourcethis is the book for you.
The book is the story of Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student who created an operating system called Linux, then gave it away for free. (Not something youll see Bill Gates do anytime soon). Linux is one of the most popular and utilized operating systems in the world. Over twelve million machines, including many of the servers that run the World Wide Web, now run Linux. In 1990, Torvalds explains his creation: I couldnt afford software I liked, so I wrote my own operating system. To give you an idea of how revolutionary Torvalds attitude was, as he was creating and improving Linux, he gave it to other engineers and asked them to improve it. While this was going on, Torvalds was having a difficult time just making the monthly payments on his 386 computer. A Linux fan started a fund on the web to help Torvalds pay his $3000 computer bill.
As you would expect, this book needs to explain some fairly abstract concepts like Microkernel vs Mnolithic Systems. The author does take the time to explain them, but with a huge amount of humor and patience, so that even I understood them. But for the most part, the book is really just Torvalds recalling his life storyhe is all of 31 years old, but it is still a gripping read, and the co-authors own encounters with Torvalds. Ultimately, Torvalds appears to be the most understated, self-deprecating, humble, yet brilliant, human being I have ever read about. He refuses to get paid for the creation of Linux, and as major companies like Oracle and IBM drove the development of Linux, Torvalds still went to his job everyday and dealt with Linux issues by email at night. This is the first summer beach read for both propeller heads and other techno folks.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.