Apple's giveaway of Mavericks is 'irrelevant' to Linux, says Torvalds

Linus Torvalds isn't concerned about Apple's decision to make its latest desktop operating system available free of charge. Dismissing the move as "irrelevant," he said it won't affect Linux, the open-source operating system he created.

In late October, Apple announced that its newest operating system -- OS X 10.9, or Mavericks -- will be a free upgrade for most Mac owners, including those with machines up to six years old. With past releases, Apple charged upgrade fees ranging from $20 to $139.

No-cost upgrades are standard procedure for Linux, which has been free for 22 years, Torvalds said at the LinuxCon Europe conference in Edinburgh. And apart from the price, Apple's gambit has little in common with the Linux model, he noted.

While Mavericks may be free, it isn't open source, and people still need expensive hardware to use it, he said. "The fact that Apple gives the OS away is completely irrelevant," Torvalds said. "I don't think that it impacts Linux at all."

In other comments, Torvalds said he doesn't do a lot of programming these days, but he still likes what he does. He said he likes to be responsive to those developers and maintainers of the kernel who reach out to him, even though some developers have "the attention span of slightly moronic woodland creatures."

Torvalds said he has no idea what Linux will look like in five years. "I never had a plan. I still don't have a plan," he said. "It is just that what works survives."

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from two stories that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com: "Apple's Free OS is No Threat to Linux, Ways Torvalds" and "Apple Gives Away OS X Mavericks."

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