Torvalds hails commercialisation of Linux

No clash with open source values

For someone who "doesn't like doing talks", Linus Torvalds makes a pretty good fist of public speaking. Yesterday, the self-described Poster Boy for Linux took to the stage at the main conference hall in New York's Jacob Javits Center and played the packed audience (several thousand strong) like a seasoned pro. And, from his LinuxWorld Expo keynote speech, it's clear that Torvalds is big on other seasoned pros -- the commercial Linux community. There is, he argues, no clash between open source and commercialism. Commercial companies helped to turn Linux from a good technology which "not many people wanted to use" into a good product, he says. "It is not the point of Linux to be uncommercial -- the real point is to create something that is nice to use and for people to control what they are using." These are values that all companies should strive for, according to Torvalds. And commercial (Linux) companies, he says, do have these values -- unlike some unnamed "shamanistic" (yes, he really did use that word) companies, who "tell you what to do". So why the plug for profit-seeking Linux firms? Surely they can look after themselves? Tens of billions of dollars in market capitalisation, much of it in the hands of the major Linux distros, are represented at the 160 or so companies exhibiting on the LinuxWorld Expo show floor this year. Huge amounts of VC cash continues to swill into what is (in money terms) still a pretty small market. That's the Linux Money Pit. Back in Linux Userland where, according to Torvalds, most advances take place, many continue to oppose the commercialisation of Linux. In the nicest possible way, Torvalds is telling purists that they have lost this no-money battle, and they should feel good about it. The important thing (we guess) for Torvalds is for the entire Linux community to work in harmony towards a bigger, better OS. And if people and companies make money along the way, then so much the better. ®

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