Ground control to Major Torvalds
The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs
December 05, 2006
Linus, man, I feel your pain. First the "community" turned on you because you wouldn't swear an oath of loyalty and adopt the GPL version 3 license. Now IBM has pulled the plug on OSDL [ http://news.com.com/2100-7344_3-6140514.html ], firing everybody but you from that cozy little gig up in Portland. Nothing like it when IBM shows you love, right? And nothing worse when they take that love away. Oh, it's so cold, isn't it? You're just sitting there on the dunk tank platform in your Speedo, shivering, waiting to get dropped. Brother, I feel your pain. I've been there. Remember, I got fired by my own company, the company I founded. Same with you, right? You created this friggin Linux stuff (which I still haven't tried but I'm meaning to, one of these days) and IBM rode the hype and pushed a lot of boxes and sold a lot of IGS engagements and got all sorts of great free publicity. Now they're folding their tent. Seen any of those IBM Linux ads with the scary blonde Eminem kid lately? Me neither. No, IBM has moved on. They're out looking for the next big craze that can sell loads of hardware and ridiculously expensive consulting engagements. As for you, well, they put you in a bear hug, squeezed all the juice out of you, and now they've sent you packing. I know, you feel like some chick who got a little drunk at a frat party and fell for some line of bullshit from some handsome clean-cut All-American football jock named Sam, and now it's Sunday morning and your panties are missing and you're doing the walk of shame across the quad with messed up hair and a broken heel on your fuck-me pumps and a little itch that you suspect might require a visit to the university STD clinic in the near future. Don't feel bad. You're not the first one. Lotus was once a great, sexy, exciting software company. In fact they were once bigger than Microsoft. No really. It's true.
I mean, sure, you've still got a nice little gig, sitting in your basement up
there in Portland, staring at computer screens. And don't worry, IBM will leave
you out there for as long as you want, like the guy who stays behind on the space
station when everyone else returns to earth. Keep cranking out your free code, and
maybe they'll even use some of it. Or maybe not. Payback's a bitch as they say here
in the U.S. and A. Because for years you've been turning up your nose at the code
people at IBM and elsewhere were sending to you. Now there are as many different
versions of the kernel running as there are users. Every bank on Wall Street runs
its own version of Linux with their own mods that you didn't want. Google doesn't
even bother sharing back anymore, at least not on the good stuff, from what Squirrel
Boy tells me. Sure they're happy to look at whatever you and your pals crank out,
and they might even use some of it. But they've got what they need, and thank you
very much for all your hard work, here's your gold watch and if you need a reference
we're happy to write up something nice about you.
Meanwhile your old pal Richard Stallman is making plans to kill Novell and frig you up too with his farkakte license; Red Hat is run by retards and analysts are freeting about its "viability"; Sun is making noise about giving away Solaris under GPLv3 which will add another touch of much-needed complexity and confusion to an already murky market; the wackos are all atwitter about dumping Linux and switching to Solaris or HURD or BSD; and Microsoft is watching all this with glee. Haven't we seen this movie before? I think it was called Unix: Better, Yet Destined to Lose. (Except when harnessed by Apple Computer in which case it wins.) Oh, dude, the shame is that it all could have been so good, right? I mean, man, you were gonna change the friggin world. Yeah, me too. Instead I've got 3 percent market share. But at least I've got a few billion bucks in the bank to soften the pain. I know, you don't care about money. All you want to do is sit in your basement and eat potato chips and write code, and you don't care whether anyone uses it or not. So hey, things have worked out perfectly for you.
But look. Squirrel Boy is probably gonna offer you a job, so you can move back to the Bay Area and hang out with your buddy Andrew. But if you want to come to Apple instead, and work on a real operating system, you've got my phone number. We'll even let you work at home, and give you a couple of free iMacs, and some MacBook Pros for the kids. And we'll buy you all the chips and non-diet soda you want. Whatever you like. Call me.
Posted by Steve at 6:44 AM