Why Linus Torvalds would rather code than make money

You probably use Linux and don't even know it. We meet the man who started it all

If you're a person who's interested in operating systems... you don't want to get involved if you feel like your contributions would simply be 'taken advantage o'', but with the GPLv2, that simply was never an issue."

He shared the prize with Shinya Yamanaka, a Japanese stem cell researcher, who was recognised for his work with adult stem cells.

Both men received around $600,000, but Linus seemed more annoyed at having to fly halfway round the world to collect it.

The desktop

Linus has a long history of being dissatisfied with the state of Linux desktops, a problem that seems to have got worse for him with the move to the next generation of desktops.

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Originally, he was a big advocate of KDE and couldn't stand Gnome.

In a post to the Gnome usability mailing list, he said:

"I personally just encourage people to switch to KDE. This 'users are idiots, and are confused by functionality' mentality of Gnome is a disease. If you think your users are idiots, only idiots will use it. I don't use Gnome, because in striving to be simple, it has long since reached the point where it simply doesn't do what I need it to do."

Fast forward to KDE 4.0, however, and Linus revised his opinions.

When asked in an interview how, as a KDE user, the move had affected him, he said:

"I used to be a KDE user. I thought KDE 4.0 was such a disaster, I switched to Gnome... I realise the reason for the 4.0 release, but I think they did it badly."

Fast forward once more to the release of Gnome 3.0, and is Linus still a Gnome user? No, he's now using Xfce.

On Google+, he said that the way Gnome 3 handles multiple windows is "an example of the kind of 'head up the arse' behaviour of Gnome 3".

LXF: What distribution do you run?

LT: Fedora, on everything. I tried to run openSUSE, but I get so fed up at some of the things they do.

LXF: Have you tried KDE recently?

LT: I tried KDE, not recently recently, over a year ago I guess.

I don't think it can be made good again.

It's not about technology, and the same is true that I hate about Gnome, is that the people who decide on the interfaces are visual people who like this notion of big... and they think the visual part is important because that's what they work on, but for someone who uses it for real work like me, I don't care about the visual part - I want it to be out of the way, and everything KDE did since version 3 or whatever, made the visuals more interesting and more in your face.

And the Plasmoids now are all these active things, so when you touch them they get borders around them, and I don't want that. I want to get my work done.

LXF: We think the problem is free software attracts developers because there's something good about writing and sharing code, but it doesn't do the same for user interface people and designers, who seem really reluctant to do their work for free.

The ones who do their work for free don't seem to be the ones who make a good job of it.

LT: A lot of them do good jobs too, but to some degree UI people seem to have turned to caring more about the UI than the work you actually get done.

The thing that drives me mad, KDE doesn't have this problem, but do you use Alt+Tab on Gnome?

I don't use it myself, but it's completely broken because it thinks every terminal window is one single terminal window, and that's like, 'you are a fucking moron'.