Feeds

Torvalds splits 2012 Millennium Technology Prize with gene scientist

'Socialist' Linus on capitalism in Silicon Valley

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Linus Torvalds picked up his share of the world's largest technology award, the Millennium Prize, along with a check for €600,000 ($752,000) at a ceremony in Finland.

For the first time in the history of the award, the judging panel from the Technology Academy Finland couldn't choose among the contenders and decided to split the $1.5m prize. Torvalds was recognized for his creation and subsequent development of Linux as an open standard and shared the prize with Japanese stem cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka.

"The International Selection Committee has to judge whether an innovation has had a favourable impact on people's lives and assess its potential for further development to benefit humanity in the future. The innovations of both this year's winners embody that principle," said the Technology Academy Finland in a statement.

"Dr Shinya Yamanaka's discovery of a new method to develop pluripotent stem cells for medical research could help combat intractable diseases. And Linus Torvalds's work has kept the web open for the pursuit of knowledge and for the benefit of humanity - not simply for financial interests."

Lest you think a Finnish organization might be prone to favoritism in this award, Torvalds is the first local to be awarded the honor. Technology Academy Finland, a joint venture between the Finnish government and industry, awards the €1.2m ($1.54m) prize every two years for "life-enhancing technological innovations" and past winners have included Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

In a video for his acceptance, Torvalds said that he'd got many things in Linux wrong, including initially the name. He'd originally called the operating system FREAX but this was changed to Linux by the uploader, adding the unassuming Finn's name to one of the most important code bases in the world.

Warning: Contains Finnish humor

He first knew that it was taking off around 1992, he said, when he realized he didn't know everyone on the message boards any more, or how they were using the code. Getting to version 1.0 in 1994 was a major step in getting industry to accept Linux and Torvalds said the conflict with Microsoft was useful for publicity but not as rancorous as some have suggested.

Steve Ballmer's infamous description of Linux as communism aside, Torvalds said that if you thought being socialist meant being motivated by social conscience, then he counted himself such. But he acknowledged that moving to the US in 1997 had opened up new opportunities.

"You can do anything here. The money-grabbing approach, even if it's slightly tasteless - especially if you come from Europe - it's a really good motivational factor and it's a really good way of getting things done," he explained. "Has it changed me? I assume so. But I don't think it's made me more money-conscious than I used to be."

Torvalds is sanguine about the future of Linux, saying that it is inevitable that the evolution of technology will make the operating system obsolete. But thanks to open source he said, even 50 years down the best computer systems of the day will still have access to the Linux code.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.