James Governor's Monkchips

Nice to See Linus is Flawed as the Rest of Us

Share via Twitter Share via Facebook Share via Linkedin Share via Reddit

We are all creatures of contradiction, even if we don’t realize it. It was great to see that Linus Torvalds is just as conflicted as the rest of us, as this news.com interview shows. Linus doesn’t have a monopoly on common sense. cool.

it is great to read how he doesn’t suffer from Not Invented Here syndrome before he implies he can’t learn anything from Solaris 10, one of the most sophisticated operating environments on the planet.

One of my favorite O’Reillyites – Nathan Torkington – turned me onto this ironical meme – which is that many open source projects are just as guilty of NIH as any commercial software organization. He has got a point .I see examples of open source reinventing the wheel every day of the week.

I guess Jonathan must be irritating Linus with his attacks on RedHat. Can’t see why Linus should be bothered, except of course that Sun does have an eye on Linux as competitor, even while it supports the RedHat and SuSe ISV train (developers prefer to write to fewer, stable distros).

Jonathan is a very intelligent guy, and witty (even at times ironic), but i am often struck by contradictions in his thinking (i also get the feeling he is well aware of them). Thus, while he worries about the chilling effects of big company patenting, he is also looking to patent business methods around software licensing. Some people like Joel Allen think the second idea is stupid. Others forcefully point to the contradictions, while believing in patents. Scott McNealy had out forward contradictory doozers too – calling Microsoft products hairballs, all the while Sun, along with BEA, IBM and a cast of thousands, were establishing the J2EE specification. A useful hairball (ISVs need platforms to write to, enterprises need production environments they can forget about) but surely a hairball nonetheless.

I love the moments when you feel the dissonance – “did you hear what you just did, that cognitive gear change was kind of hinky” . i sometimes i wonder if one of the characteristics of a successful CEO is that they don’t have an irony gland. Certainly Mr G W Bush had a successful irony-dectomy long ago.

Carly Fiorina has also mastered the art of saying one thing while her company does another.

We get great recent examples like Larry Ellison saying its not the role of a software company to second guess sovereign governments (in context of Chinese policies on inward investment), soon after after winning a case against the DoJ which allowed his company to finally acquire PeopleSoft.

One interesting point to note – Sam Palmisano, like his predecessor at IBM, Louis Gerstner, doesn’t make many public pronouncements. Can’t call someone on their contradictions if he dont keep digging holes to sit in. eh.

All in all i was was glad to see than Linus is just as guilty of double think as anyone else. evidently its not just commercial interests that create contradictions in the minds of powerful people, or the rest of us.

One of my last posts of the year and i am calling out CEO contradictions, and knocking an icon of openness. Oh well, what are sacred cows for anyway?


  1. Fascinating piece. As a guy who works at Scott’s & Jonathan’s place, I can tell you we are all perfectly consistent over here at all times. Mostly.


    Jim G.

  2. (I work for Sun). There’s nothing wrong with thinking that the patent system is busted while using the current busted system to maximum business advantage. It’s the game-theoretic thing to do. Surely, you can find some exemption or claim somewhere in the tax code that benefits you, that is patently silly, and that you nonetheless take advantage of.

    Recall how Warren Buffett got in trouble the Governator when he criticized the tax breaks that he got from Prop 13? Same thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *