Linux creator: "Microsoft hatred is a disease"

The Linux community tends to talk about Microsoft as if the company were the spawn of the devil, if not the devil itself. But Linux creator Linus Torvalds has a completely different perspective: He welcomes Microsoft's recent release of open source code, and berates those in the Linux community who focus on "exclusion and hatred" in their approach to technology.

Torvalds was recently interviewed by Linux Magazine about Microsoft's recent release of 20,000 lines of code to the Linux kernel. In the interview, he takes the opportunity to say that he is pleased that Microsoft released the code, and glad to see it make its way into the Linux kernel. Here's what he said about whether he would want to include the Microsoft code into the Linux kernel, and his criticism of those who constantly target Microsoft. (The added emphasis is mine):

"Oh, I'm a big believer in 'technology over politics'. I don't care who it comes from, as long as there are solid reasons for the code, and as long as we don't have to worry about licensing etc issues.

In fact, to some degree, I'd be more likely to include it because it's from a new member of the community rather than less (again, I'd like to point out that drivers are special. They don't impact other things, so they get merged much more easily than some core changes).

I may make jokes about Microsoft at times, but at the same time, I think the Microsoft hatred is a disease. I believe in open development, and that very much involves not just making the source open, but also not shutting other people and companies out.

There are 'extremists' in the free software world, but that's one major reason why I don’t call what I do 'free software' any more. I don't want to be associated with the people for whom it's about exclusion and hatred."

Torvald also defends Microsoft against those who argue that Microsoft's code release was only done for selfish reasons. In fact, he says, all open source code is written for selfish reasons, so Microsoft's motives are no different than anyone's in the open source community. Here's what he has to say. (Again, the emphasis is mine):

"I agree that it's driven by selfish reasons, but that’s how all open source code gets written! We all 'scratch our own itches'. It's why I started Linux, it's why I started git, and it’s why I am still involved. It's the reason for everybody to end up in open source, to some degree.

So complaining about the fact that Microsoft picked a selfish area to work on is just silly. Of course they picked an area that helps them. That’s the point of open source -- the ability to make the code better for your particular needs, whoever the 'your' in question happens to be.

Does anybody complain when hardware companies write drivers for the hardware they produce? No. That would be crazy. Does anybody complain when IBM funds all the POWER development, and works on enterprise features because they sell into the enterprise? No. That would be insane.

So the people who complain about Microsoft writing drivers for their own virtualization model should take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves why they are being so hypocritical."

Not much more needs to be said --- Torvalds is right on target.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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