What we can learn from Linus Torvalds' life

What we can learn from Linus Torvalds' life

Happy Birthday Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds, the geeky computer scientist and the Finnish-American software engineer known for his two best creations, the Linux kernel and Git. This man requires no introduction apart from this.

Today, hardly any software developer works without these technologies. The Linux kernel, at over 8 million lines of code and well over 1000 contributors to each release, is one of the largest and most active free software projects in existence.

Today 28 December, is his birthday and on this very occasion let's analyze Linus' life. So what exactly can you learn from a guy who happily chooses geekiness over greediness? Let's find out!

Early Life

Linus used to play around with his morfar's (maternal grandfather) computer Commodore VIC-20 at age 11. His grandfather was a professor of statistics at Helsinki University who wasn't much comfortable with computers so he used to take Linus on his lap and made him type his programs which were written on a piece of paper. Those were written in BASIC and pretty much this was the beginning of Linus' journey in the world of programming.

The Curiosity

Even if Linus was unaware of all the programs he used to type for his grandfather, he was curious about how things worked, he read out all the manuals and try all the example programs. So the very first lesson which we can learn from Linus is,

"When in doubt let CURIOSITY do the work."

Programming is Fun

According to Linus, to somebody who does programming, it's the most interesting thing in the world. It's a game much more involved than chess, a game where you can make up your own rules and where the result is whatever you can make of it. And yet, to the outside, it looks like the most boring thing on Earth.

What makes programming so engaging is that, while you can make the computer do what you want, you have to figure out how. Within the confines of the computer, you're the creator. You get to ultimately control every­ thing that happens. If you're good enough, you can be the God on a small scale. On this Linus says,

“Most good programmers do programming not because they expect to get paid or get adulation by the public, but because it is fun to program.”

You are not the Hero!

Harsh but true. As per Linus Torvalds, you are not the only one in this world who is thriving to make the world a better place. But what makes you different is your efforts and consistency toward what you are doing. Most famous people whom we see nowadays were not born special, on this Linus says,

“I'd argue that everybody wants to do something that matters”

Look Around not Up

One common mistake people do on the verge of doing something great is they try to think way far than what is possible. This not only distracts them from their end goal but also hampers their thought process. Don't think of yourself as a God but as an engineer who cares about the common problems of the world and tries to solve them effectively, on this Linus says,

“I am not a visionary. I'm an engineer. I'm happy with the people who are wandering around looking at the stars but I am looking at the ground and I want to fix the pothole before I fall in.”

Try and Try and Try

Trial and error is the best method one can approach for getting the desired result. We cannot undertake all the factors that influence the result. We must go through the process of trial and error before determining the best solution for a particular problem. I would doubt if I get the perfect solution in a single attempt. On this Linus has something to say,

“Don't ever make the mistake [of thinking] that you can design something better than what you get from ruthless massively parallel trial-and-error with a feedback cycle. That's giving your intelligence much too much credit.”

The Meaning of Life

Linus explains the meaning of life in his book Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary. He says,

“There are three things that have meaning for life. They are the motivational factors for everything in your life––for anything that you do or any living thing does: The first is survival, the second is social order, and the third is entertainment. Everything in life progresses in that order.”

Final Words

These are all my grabs from the life of Linus Torvalds, you might have got some more. Please drop in a comment and let me know what you liked the most in this article also your valuable feedback is always welcomed. Thank you, best regards.

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