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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Of the many characters who've arisen in 50 years of the computer revolution, few are more intriguing than Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. Here's a guy who created the first Linux kernel in his bedroom, as a hobby -- starting a snowball rolling that may yet bury Microsoft in an avalanche. He seems to preside over his own personal global revolution with amiability, equanimity, bemusement -- and far less evident greed than you'd expect from your typical technology titan.
Ever wonder what it's like being Linus? How he got that way? What motivates him? Read his new quasi-autobiography, Just for Fun, and wonder no more.
We suspect when the mainstream press reviews this book, they'll cluck over amusing tidbits like Linus describing who picks his wardrobe: "...it's the marketing staff for high-tech companies, the people who select the T-shirts and jackets that will be given away free at conferences. These days, I dress pretty much exclusively in vendorware, so I never have to pick out clothes."
Or, Linus on meeting his wife: "She had more of an impact on my life than even Andrew Tanenbaum's book, Operating Systems Design and Implementation."
The tidbits are embedded in a narrative that starts with a look at growing up in Finland, where "we have a healthy share of both alcoholics and fans of tango dancing. Spend a winter in Finland, and you understand the roots of all the drinking. There's no excuse for the tangoistas..." You'll learn why he started writing Linux, why he open-sourced it, and how he handles celebrity: "Take a person whose life-long philosophy has been to have fun and do something interesting, then add some money and fame, and what do you expect will happen? Instant philanthropist? I don't think so."
The whole book's laid-back fun with a purpose. Here's Linus's management philosophy: "...the same as it was when I coded away in my bedroom: I don't proactively delegate as much as I wait for people to come forward and volunteer to take over things.... I try to manage by not making decisions and letting things occur naturally. That's when you get the best results."
As Torvalds sees it, fun isn't just, well, fun: It's the inevitable, desirable direction of human evolution. "...neither business nor technology will change the basic nature of human needs and yearnings...[which] move away from plain survival through a society based on communication and finally into the realm of entertainment..."
If you're not having fun, you're not meeting your evolutionary destiny. In the longterm, you'll have to solve that problem for yourself, but in the shortterm, read this book. You will have fun. (Bill Camarda)
Bill Camarda is a consultant and writer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.