Summary: This book would be a totally unremarkable memoir about a man who just loves to write software code . . . except that the man is "the accidental revolutionary" whose work led to the Linux operating system (considered by many to be the best for Web servers and personal computers) and the open source movement. Those who are interested in the potential for Linux and open source will find that Mr. Torvalds corrects many misimpressions about his life, work, and motivations that have been reported in earlier books by others. The book is entertaining in its candor and humility, but falters with its ending mini-essays on subjects like intellectual property. I graded the book down one star for its more serious efforts, which didn't work so well as the base material.
Review: Mr. Tolvalds says that he wanted to create "a fun book . . . and have fun making it . . . ." He mostly succeeded. You will enjoy learning about his views through verbatim accounts describing he and his wife taking care of their children at the same time. "I was an ugly child." He also reports that he had "atrocious taste in clothes." In sum, "I was a nerd."
From the time he got his first computer, that's the companion with which he spent most of his life. In the winters in Finland, that's one of the best ways to have fun. "If you're good enough, you can be God. On a small scale." Programming is "an exercise in creativity" and "it's the greatest feeling in the world." It was also a lot more interesting that his schoolwork.
Linux started out with his desire to write a disk driver. He posted a message about it to get feedback and the open source movement was underway. But there was no intention to create Linux at that time. It just sort of evolved into a revolution.
His personal philosophies are simple and powerful. "Greed is never good." "Well, I want to explain the meaning of life" which he summarizes as being "survival . . . social order . . . entertainment." Each activity moves through those stages. As a result, "civilization is a cult."
Those who program will love his descriptions of the machines he owned, the problems he ran into programming them, and how the problems were solved.
Although the book is a little bit technical, only those who are technophobes will find it too heavy in this area. He tells you where to skip to if you don't want to read the more technical sections.
His explanations of Linux and open source are powerful and simple. "People trust me." But "people can choose to ignore me because they can just do the stuff themselves."
He admonishes everyone. "People take me too seriously."
After you read this interesting memoir, think about how you could establish more trust with more people. What would you like to accomplish for others, if you could?
Be prepared to be an accidental revolutionary. The world needs more of them!