It's a testament to the success of Torvalds's open-source ideas that he's on this list at all. His Linux operating system is fast, cheap, and out of control - and that's entirely by design. While Torvalds still oversees any changes made to the innermost core of Linux, most of the innovation is now done by others, and commercial businesses like Red Hat and Novell increasingly steer its future. Although he can claim credit for popularizing one of the most powerful ideas ever to sweep through the software industry, Torvalds's project has matured to such an extent that it's largely outgrown its illustrious creator.
We immediately sought out Torvalds for his reaction to the story, trying our best to be sensitive to his mortally wounded ego. Here's the Q&A that ensued via email.
NewsForge: What's your reaction to allegedly having fallen from grace?
Torvalds: I will hunt them down, and personally kill every single Fortune reporter.
That will teach them. Mwhahahhaaahahaa!
NewsForge: Will you and Steve Ballmer form a 12-step recovery group as a consequence?
Torvalds: No. We're rivals in this, and I worry that Steve "ninja" Ballmer will find
those reporters first, and use his magic chair-shaped shuriken to get to them before I do.
He's crafty, that Steve. And the company jet gives him a certain edge. But
I will prevail!
NewsForge: Have you really made a billion dollars from Linux?
Torvalds: No. Linux was just the cover story. I made all my money smuggling drugs while traveling to international conferences under the guise of talking about "the future of technology" or some such tripe.
Did it never strike you that a lot of the people coming to Linux conferences were the long-haired hippie type, and seemed a bit spaced out? You thought that was because they were geeks, didn't you? It's an easy
mistake to make.
It was the perfect cover.
NewsForge: Now that you're off the A list, will you go back to giving keynotes at LWCE?
Torvalds: I'm still on the A list of certain multi-national government agencies, so that's a very definitive no.
NewsForge: Do the kernel hackers still respect you anyway?
Torvalds: The long-haired hippie ones still do. Wink, wink.