Interview with Linus Torvalds -- "On Being Linus" (page 5)

Interview with Linus Torvalds

Apr 9, 2001

Q: Looking at your decision, when you decided to release Linux as an Open Source project, you were a student. That tends to be the most carefree period of most people's lives. Now you've got a family that you have to support and if you were in the same situation, if you were to come up with a new project like Linux would you have released it as Open Source?

A: I would actually. I can see where you're going, but actually when I released and did most of the early Linux work, I was a student, but I was also a TA (Teacher Assistant-editor) at the university and the most important part maybe was the fact that I wasn't nervous about the fact that I would get paid. I'm not trying to make money per se, but at the same time, I wasn't having trouble actually being fed. Whatever students eat, drink, pizza and beer, was plentiful. And even now I don't have this feeling that okay, I need to think about money all the time. I still do computers because they're fun. It so happens that they're also my work. But I still do my work, get paid for that, and if I did something on the side, which I would do just because it's fun, I'd do that Open Source. Considering that Linux ended up paying for my house, I have made more money out of Linux than out of my real work, even though it wasn't really meant to be that way. It just happened.

Q: How did Linux pay for your house?

A: Linux companies basically gave me friends and family stock, and I was the most friendly of the lot, [LAUGHTER] and it was like no ties attached. They said, hey, thanks, and here's a few options, and maybe they'll be worth something some day. And everybody was laughing about that and not actually believing it, and then -- The IPO's came around. Uhm-hum.

Q: How much of your stock have you sold?

A: Yes, I've sold the stocks. I'm not stupid. I sold when the market was crazy. I said I'd rather have a house than worry about where the stock market is going.