Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary

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9780066620725: Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary

This is the story of Linus Torvalds, the maverick Finnish computer genius who invented the powerful LINUX operating system. As well as being free, LINUX is more powerful and stable than anything that Microsoft can offer, thus making Torvalds Bill Gates' number one enemy. Today, LINUX is exploding on to the market, and its creator is household. Linus Torvalds is already a folk hero within the technolgy world, often mobbed at trade shows and forever asked to give interviews by the media. But Torvalds is a most unlikely celebrity: a family man, he lives in a cramped house in Santa Clara with his wife, Tove, a Finnish karate champion, and their two daughters. He claims to this day that he invented LINUX "just for fun".

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Product Description:

Once upon a time Linus Torvalds was a skinny unknown, just another nerdy Helsinki techie who had been fooling around with computers since childhood. Then he wrote a groundbreaking operating system and distributed it via the Internet -- for free. Today Torvalds is an international folk hero. And his creation LINUX is used by over 12 million people as well as by companies such as IBM.

Now, in a narrative that zips along with the speed of e-mail, Torvalds gives a history of his renegade software while candidly revealing the quirky mind of a genius. The result is an engrossing portrayal of a man with a revolutionary vision, who challenges our values and may change our world.

Review:

Linus Torvalds wrote the Linux kernel but Just For Fun could refer to writing the book. It isn't about Linux, it's about Linus. Here he tells us about his childhood, his time at Helsinki University, his marriage to six times karate champion Tove, about his children and about his attitude to life.

He comes across as a nice guy who, until Linux made him a celebrity, interacted with the world only tangentially. This could be in part a response to his frankly weird early home life in Finland.

David Diamond (of Red Herring magazine) acts as editor while Linus tells it like it is. But while Linus appears open, the story he tells is polished. As Liberace used to say when asked why people liked his take on the classics, "I leave out the boring bits". His four years in a darkened room with a computer as a boy may not have made gripping reading for everyone.

Linus is probably brilliant, but it's obsessive hard work, alone behind closed curtains, which enabled him to create Linux. One of the most interesting aspects of his story is how success--in his marriage and the wider world--has changed him. If we're to believe his own words his wife and children together with a Californian lifestyle are now his chief source of fun.

Linus Torvalds will one day rate an academic biography. In the meantime, the message here is that one route to personal fulfilment is doing what you want to do, as well as you can, for your own reasons--even just for fun. --Steve Patient

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