You probably already know the story. 30 years ago, Finnish student Linus Torvalds created a UNIX-like operating system as a hobby project.

What you do not know is that Torvalds thought that the hobby project was done, and he would have left it behind to work on some new and interesting project.

So, what made his work on this ‘hobby project’ for 30 years? The answer is open source.

Open source changed Linux

At the recently concluded Open Source Summit North America event, Linus Torvalds shared some insights into the past, present and future of the Linux project.

While remembering the beginning of the project, Torvalds said that he’d expected to leave behind Linux in a ‘done state’ to work for something new and interesting.

That was clearly then what open source changed. Because suddenly this project — that I probably would’ve left behind, if it was only up to me — I started getting questions about, and eventually patches — that just kept the motivation going. And here we are 30 years later, and it’s still what keeps the motivation going.

Torvalds also added that as far as he is concerned, Linux is done for the past 29 years. Every other feature that has been added later is about what other people needed, wanted or were interested in.

Many developers would relate to this. You work on a project and think that it has reached a ‘done’ state. If the project does not get enough traction, you lose interest to work on it and move to something ‘new and exciting’. The real motivation to continue the project comes from the users and the recognition.

When asked about what they should be doing for the 50th anniversary of Linux, Torvalds said that he doesn’t see himself doing kernel programming at the age of 70. Then he also chipped in that he didn’t imagine himself doing kernel programming at the age of 50 as well and yet he is doing that at present.

“Somehow I don’t see myself doing kernel programming when I’m 70. But on the other hand, I didn’t see myself doing kernel programming when I was 50 either, a few years back. So… we’ll see.”

It is always endearing to listen to Torvalds talking about Linux. So much to learn and to relate as an ardent Linux user, right?

Source: The News Stack