The world according to Linus

He eschews mobile phones, is not into virtualisation and likes an argument. We catch up with the man behind Linux, Linus Torvalds, at Linux.conf.au, which took place in Melbourne, Australia.

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What do you think of KDE 4?

I haven't used it myself yet, I am a KDE user but that's one area where I don't want to be on the leading edge. I actually used to send in my bug reports and stuff like that but I haven't had the time to really make that jump. I think I will probably wait for 4.1 or something when some of the initial issues have been smoothed out.

Do you have Linux on your mobile phone?

I don't even have a mobile phone! I hate phones in general because I'm the kind of person that when I work I want to concentrate on my work and if somebody calls me that completely destroys my concentration. I hate phones because they just disturb you, and mobile phones are even worse because you have them with you all the time, so I don't do mobile phones at all. I have one of the early Linux mobile phones in my workroom because I got it for free, but it's not turned on. I have Linux on all my machines but not on any phones.

When do you think we'll see the first batch of kernel patches from the OLPC project?

I'm wondering if we haven't seen some of those already. One of the big things they had was the power usage, because they actually keep the screen on and turn off the CPU when nothing is going on. This is something that went in not that long ago. We have a much more dynamic view of time - we can literally stop our timer interrupts from happening over longer periods. I think the OLPC people were involved, even though the developers may have sent stuff onto me directly or not.

You're not big on virtualisation, why doesn't it excite you?

I think it has been over hyped a bit, it's one of those hot buzz word type of things. Part of it is that for the people who tend to be more interested in virtualisation there tends to be three usage cases. One is the desktop usage case where you want to use virtualisation to run another operating system, so you actually run like VMware in order to run Windows on your Linux box for example. For me personally, that is completely uninteresting because why would I want to run Windows on my Linux machine?

The second reason is a lot of commercial people want virtualisation as they want to utilise their computers better, so they have one very powerful computer but they have many different things they want to run on that and keep them separate, so they use virtualisation to kind of create these independent boxes. This is nice for IT where you kind of manage things better, even if you have one big computer you manage them as smaller entities, and again that's not what I do.

The third reason is to run legacy operating systems, even if it's the same operating system but you run an older version because you have certain programs that you want to run. But none of those reasons are things that I do, so I personally have not been very into virtualisation, it's just not something that I'm doing. One of the things about open source is the fact that I'm completely uninterested in virtualisation doesn't mean that we don't support it; we have many different models for virtualisation that Linux actually supports, because I don't have to be interested in something for it to actually happen.

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