Linus Torwalds on the Linux kernel community


Posted:   |   More posts about FreeSoftware Free Software Software Foundation LinuxKernel
A few days ago, Linus send a very interesting mail on why he considers C the programming language that is most suitable for the Linux kernel. Despite the language specific arguments, the text contains quite a few insights on how the Linux kernel community works and communicates that might be interesting to non-kernel-hackers as well:


People working for free still doesn't mean that it's fine
to make the work take more effort - people still work for
other compensation, and not feeling excessively
frustrated about the tools (including language) and getting
productive work done is a big issue.


When attending Open Source conferences or contributing to free software projects I have made the exact same observation multiple times: Developers may not get money out of contributing to a free software project (though often they may do) there are other rewards that keep them working on any particular project: Learning from excellent peers usually is one reason. Being able to work on a topic you like at any time that suits you may be another one.

Developing free software is largely different than your usual professional work: People work voluntarily, putting as much effort into the code as is needed for them to be satisfied with the end-result. There may not be any deadlines fixed by contracts, still developers honour release cycles with the goal of providing a reliable product to their end users.

In the end it all boils down to being passionate about what you work on. To be involved in any open source project takes a huge amount of energy - but usually you get more in return than you are even able to invest. However if passion is a pre requisite to working on any free software this also means it is extremely hard to pay developers to work on any free software project: You just cannot buy passion or love for money.


But the thing is, "lines of code" isn't even remotely close
to being a measure of productivity, or even the gating
issue. The gating issue in any large project is pretty much
all about (a) getting the top people and (b) communication.


Can only quote that - totally agree with the analysis. This applies to any software project - free or proprietary. So if you own a software development business: What is your strategy for getting the top people and facilitating communication in your company? What is your measure of productivity?