As time goes on, I like Linus Torvalds less and less. He’s all too willing to allow people to wrongly credit him for the whole free software movement instead of Richard Stallman. He doesn’t actively claim it, but neither does he make any effort to set the record straight when mistakenly given this credit or when erroneously introduced as “the one who started it all.” To add insult to injury, he does this while minimizing the role of the GNU programming and debugging tools that made the Linux kernel possible, the GNU GPL that enabled its popularity, and the entire GNU operating system started in 1984 that it fits into, all while teaching against the free software principles that put all those things in place. He’s happy to have people call this combination “Linux,” rather than GNU/Linux, even though Linux is just the kernel and makes up only about 1/10 as much code as the GNU software in a given “Linux” distribution.
I respect Linus highly as a programmer, and for his contributions to GNU/Linux’ success. But I don’t trust him as my IT morality compass – I think he’s got it wrong and I am not impressed with his lack of integrity either.
Contrary to what Linus would have you believe, this is not about hating Microsoft. It’s about fighting against those who wish to compromise our freedom by actively stifling competitors – especially free/libre open source software competitors. Microsoft has been convicted of a wide variety of antitrust practices, on numerous occasions, by U.S. and E.U. federal courts – and was recently fined again by the E.U. for not complying with the terms of the judgement against them. Just do a web search for “Microsoft antitrust” and see just how far down the rabbit hole goes. Anyone who so actively fights consumer choice is the enemy of the consumers and of the IT free market as a whole. Microsoft is but one exceptional example, but there are many others. And remember, there’s a big difference between hating someone vs. hating what they do.