Why Linus Torvalds would rather code than make money

What does Linux's end-of-level boss think?

LXF: Has the Linux desktop failed because there's too much choice? [Laughter]

Linus Torvalds: I don't think the desktop is doing too well, and there's technical reasons.

You've probably seen my rants about how, to some degree, I think the desktop is going in the wrong direction, but the big reason is normal people don't want to install an operating system.

You can't get a desktop unless you have pre-installs, and that hasn't happened.

There are cases where, if you knew where to look, you could get Linux pre-installed if you bought Dell.

But, realistically, nobody has done pre-installs.

LXF: But if the KDE teams and the Gnome teams hadn't spent so much effort creating failed first versions of their desktops?

LT: I think that's maybe more painful for people who... I know people who decided to give up on the Linux desktop even though they're technical people, just because they got so fed up with Gnome and KDE, so that has been a negative.

But at the same time, even if they hadn't done that, I don't think you'd get the normal... the grandmas, people who don't actually like computers, wouldn't have used the Linux desktop.

Even if we wouldn't have had these painful 'change everything' moments.

I'm very unhappy with what Gnome and KDE have done, but in the big picture, I think that's a small, small detail.

LXF: We've always wondered why you don't use the Linux trademark to create a default Linux environment.

LT: I'm not interested. I never wanted to do anything about the technical side.

I'm perfectly happy complaining, because it's cathartic, and I'm perfectly happy arguing with people on the internet because arguing is my favourite pastime - not programming.

But at the same time the trademark, in particular, I want to have as little as humanly possible to do with that because it's just been a huge pain.

It was a pain from the very first, when we had the whole trademark squatter person, but trademarks are ludicrously bad.

And, in fact, the legal situation in trademarks encourages corporations to do stupid things, because their lawyers feel if they don't do the stupid things they will lose control of the trademark, and it's bullshit, but lawyers are paid to be anal about things.

So I wouldn't want to use the trademark anyway. Plus, I actually enjoy the situation where... like some people complain about how Google and Ubuntu don't say 'Linux', but just say 'Android' or 'Ubuntu'.

Technical people will complain 'it's Linux, and now people don't know they're using Linux'. Which is true, a lot of people don't even know they're using Linux.

LXF: And that doesn't bother you?

LT: And that doesn't bother me at all, because I'm interested in the technical side. And I actually think it's the right thing to do, to say: "Hey, we're doing our OS".

And when they say OS, they mean more than just a kernel, and when I say OS I usually mean just the kernel.

But if you're doing your OS, Linux is a central, but it's still just a small part of the overall thing - you shouldn't need to name your stuff just because you use the Linux kernel.

So, I actually wouldn't want to use the trademark thing, plus I think it would be stupid anyway because I think people should just rename their things.

LXF: What we were getting at was we think the LSB has been a bit of a failure in kind of defining, I mean RPM is still the default package manager on the LSB, and whether there was some other way...