Linus Torvalds: Mac OS X and Windows can't hold a candle to Linux

Sometimes really smart people say really dumb things. Here's a case in point.

Linus Torvalds woke up on Mars today (or maybe it was Oz), and had this to say about Windows Vista and Apple's OS X:

I don't think they're equally flawed. I think Leopard is a much better system. On the other hand, (I've found) OS X in some ways is actually worse than Windows to program for. Their file system is complete and utter crap, which is scary. I think OS X is nicer than Windows in many ways, but neither can hold a candle to my own (Linux). It's a race to second place.

I guess when you're famous you can say inane things and get away with it. Yes, Linux does some things better than Mac OS X and Microsoft's Windows Vista on the desktop (security, maybe), but let's be honest: the Linux desktop is "utter crap" compared to either OS X or Windows when it comes to the thing that matters most: usability.

If normal people can't use it, it just doesn't matter how beautifully architected it is. Sorry, Linus. Everyone has to be wrong sometimes. This is your turn to shine.

That said, I found his comments on whether Google is a good open-source citizen much more illuminating:

It used to be ... this black hole, (people) went inside and you never heard anything at all from them again. That's partly just because (they) found very interesting work that they put a lot of effort into....But as far as the (Linux) kernel is concerned they seem to be consciously trying not to be this black hole....Google used to have their own version of the kernel and they didn't push it out because it was very specialized to what they did, pushing it out didn't even make sense. They did hacks and ugly things that they would not be proud of pushing out. But they have been very active now as far as the kernel is concerned.

That's a good sign, and it's an indication that the Googleheads are waking up to the realization that they're not in the operating system business. They're in the search business, and the clever tweaks they do to Linux really aren't going to put them out of business if others know about them.


Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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