Why Linus Torvalds would rather code than make money

My argument is why would the market want that? And if the market doesn't want that, why would anybody do it?

LXF: We don't understand why Secure Boot can't be used just to boot Windows with a signed key, and then anything else you can boot anyway?

LT: The problem is it will refuse to boot if it's not signed.

If you were Microsoft and you wanted to make sure that you were the only thing that's installed on that, then... Microsoft's not all powerful, but they're powerful enough that they may be able to convince a few device manufacturers to say 'if it isn't signed by our key, you're not going to boot'.

It's a real worry, and at the same time to me, I don't think it's going to happen because I don't see the point for anybody but Microsoft.

And if it happens on a small scale, we have that right now in every single area, except for PCs anyway. Cellphones all work that way.

LXF: But it's what has made PCs, and Linux successful...

LT: I agree, and if people start limiting their PCs it's actually a self-defeating move. This is why I'm not nervous, because I think you'd be crazy to do it.

That's not to say there aren't tons of crazy people, so it will be done, but I don't think it's going to be this all-encompassing thing, where every PC sold will come with 'you have to run Microsoft or Apple'.

Apple, I would be much more worried about.

LXF: The thing that also worries us with Apple is the way they're making sandboxes out of developers.

LT: Right, and Microsoft are much more open than Apple. I actually use Apple hardware because I tend to like it...

LXF: It does just work.

LT: It doesn't just work, the hardware design is fine; the hardware itself, they're often doing stupid things.

I like the Macbook Air, but I don't use OS X on it obviously; but they did stupid things, so it's more inconvenient than a PC.

Torvalds the philosopher

This year, Linus was declared joint winner of the Millennium Technology Prize.

This is the largest technology prize in the world, and celebrates innovations that have a positive impact on quality of life, well-being or sustainable development.

It's worth about $1.3 million, and is awarded by the Technology Academy Finland.

The Academy, when awarding the prize, said that Linus' work had "had a great impact on shared software development, networking and the openness of the web".

The President of the Academy went on to add that "Linus Torvalds' work has kept the web open for the pursuit of knowledge and the benefit of humanity - not simply for financial interests".

Invisible hands

There's no denying that the free software movement represents a community coming together, collaborating rather than competing, to make something that everyone can benefit from.

Many hold this up to be an example of people overcoming selfishness and greed, of doing something for others rather than just themselves.

However, following the award of the Millennium Technology Prize, the BBC asked Linus about how the open source model can be successful, and in his answer he challenged this belief:

"In many ways, I actually think that the real idea of open source is for it to allow everybody to be 'selfish', not about trying to get everybody to contribute to some common good."

That answer alone sounds counter-intuitive, but he went on to qualify what he'd said and revealed a rather nuanced position on the issue. "The early 'selfish' reasons to do Linux centred about the pleasure of tinkering...