Just For Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary

Diamond, David; Torvalds, Linus
HarperBusiness 2001
ISBN 0-06-662072-4
Date finished: 2003-06-12

Linus's autobiography is entertaining reading. The first section is autobiographical, talking in great detail about his childhood and his early experiences with computers thanks to the Commodore Vic-20 (just like me!) and the Sinclair QL.

The middle section goes into some of the technical details of pre-1.0 Linux, such as its birth as a terminal program and the start of the famous monolithic vs. microkernel flamewar, but post-1.0 development is glossed over. Serious hackers won't find enough detail in this section for it to be very educational.

The final section turns to the business side by describing the effect of the IPO-rich Linux boom years and concludes with some random observations on life. All of this is mildly entertaining, but written near the peak as it was, it's mostly of historical interest now. The idea of a book co-authored by Linus sounds cool, but ultimately you don't really learn much about Linux development or organization beyond the usual vague open-source generalities.

(I do wish HarperBusiness had done a better and more technically-aware job on the editing; the Unix ls command is mangled to "1's" in the text, and there are a few occasions where the wrong word is used in a fashion that an editor should have caught.)

Tagged: autobiography, computing

Permalink: http://books.amk.ca/2003/06/Just_For_Fun.html

%T Just For Fun
%S The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary
%A Torvalds, Linus
%A Diamond, David
%D 2001
%@ 2003-06-12
%I HarperBusiness
%G ISBN 0-06-662072-4
%P 249pp
%K computing, autobiography


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