Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary

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9780066620725: Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary

"I was a nerd. Geek. From fairly early on. I didn't duct-tape my glasses together, but I might as well have, because I had all the other traits. Good at math, good at physics, and with no social graces whatsoever. And this was before being a nerd was considered to be a good thing."

In this witty and engrossing narrative, Linus Torvalds, the brilliant mastermind behind the latest Internet revolution, in collaboration with writer David Diamond, chronicles his transformation from a pale, skinny Helsinki college kid to an international folk hero. What began as a childhood hobby soon became the astonishing phenomenon known as the LINUX operating system.

LINUX was created because Linus was curious to see if he could improve upon the operating systems already out there, such as UNIX. How could he create a system that could run all of his favorite software with fewer crashes and faster productivity? Linus posted his early versions of LINUX on the Internet and called upon the most brilliant minds in computer science to enhance his system. What happened next took the world by storm.

Linus wasn't the first to use the power of the open source movement, but the excitement he generated when he offered his system to the world was unprecedented. What made LINUX revolutionary was its journey to become the marvel it is today -- and how the system grew from the meeting of thousands of minds around the world. Suddenly, Linus's creation was available for everyone to use, for free! Anyone could improve LINUX at whim. No monopolies, no trade secrets, no whispering behind closed doors. LINUX wasn't controlled by a select few -- this remarkable creation was accessible to absolutely anyone -- and still is. The LINUX system is still constantly evolving and improving every day a decade after its inception. Linus describes the history of LINUX in graspable terms and details how the system itself works, without lapsing into mindboggling technical jargon.

Part autobiography and part business philosophy, Just for Fun brims with biographical detail about the radical spirit and creativity of Linus Torvalds. It offers a unique glimpse into the mind of an accidental revolutionary and how the altruistic creation of LINUX flourished so successfully in the open source movement.

For general readers, Torvalds spins a witty tale of his fascinating life. Here is the story of a young man who, as a still-rising star, keeps his feet on the ground through a combination of self-deprecating humor and the realization that life is simply about having a good time. Linus's narrative teems with clever anecdotes and his captivating opinions on the future of competition in the computer world. Linus even reveals his own take on the meaning of life.

For techies, this is a candid glimpse at the life of this honored, yet unintentional hero. Linus offers a compelling look at how he sees the road ahead for LINUX and the computer industry. He also divulges how LINUX began as a small spark and spread like wildfire across the world.

Although he's the first to admit that roaring down the freeway in his shiny new BMW has its benefits, Linus never intentionally sought fame and fortune. Yet both found him when Linus Torvalds radically changed the world of technology for one selfish reason: He did it just for fun.

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Review:

Most 31-year olds can't boast of being the instigator of a revolution. But then again, the world's leading promoter of open source software and creator of the operating system Linux does humbly call himself an accidental revolutionary--accidental being the operative word here. Just for Fun is the quirky story of how Linus Torvalds went from being a penniless, introverted code writer in Helsinki in the early 1990s to being the unwitting (and rather less than penniless) leader of a radical shift in computer programming by the end of the decade.

OK, perhaps "story" in the traditional sense of the term is stretching it a bit. This whole book is more like a series of e-mails, an exercise in textual communication for someone more used to code language than conversation: choppy sentences packed into short paragraphs, and sometimes just one-liners. The pace is fast, but the quippy tone can get somewhat tiring, though it definitely suits the portrayal of a computer-dominated life. And like an e-mail conversation, the tense often changes, the topics jump back and forth, and the narrators occasionally change, mostly alternating between the Linux man himself and Red Herring executive editor David Diamond, who convinced the difficult-to-pin-down Torvalds to write his story (or at least allow Diamond to poke, prod, and pull it out of him, all the while giving his own impressions and interpretations). But Torvald's tale contains enough informative and entertaining tidbits--on growing up in dark, strangely silent but communication-gadget-obsessed Finland (which boasts more cell phones per capita than anywhere else), on what makes passionate code writers tick, on making the transition from unknown computer geek to world-famous computer geek, on the convergence of technology and ideology, on his work for Transmeta and involvement (or lack thereof) with all the players worth mentioning in Silicon Valley - to keep more than just computer programmers engrossed in his story. For the latter, of course, Just for Fun will be required reading.

If you pick up this book as a geek's guide to the meaning of life (which, believe it or not, Torvalds does ramble on about at the beginning and the end), then you're in for a bit of a shallow take on the whole thing. But if you're interested in the idea of technological development as a global team sport, and how a nerdy Finnish transplant to California got the whole game going in the first place, check out Linus's story... just for fun, of course. --S. Ketchum

About the Author:

Linus Torvalds was born in Finland. He graduated from the University of Helsinki and lives with his wife, the six-time karate champion of Finland, and his children. Linus currently works as a programmer on several projects for Transmeta.

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Book Description HarperCollins, 2001. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "I was a nerd. Geek. From fairly early on. I didn't duct-tape my glasses together, but I might as well have, because I had all the other traits. Good at math, good at physics, and with no social graces whatsoever. And this was before being a nerd was considered to be a good thing."In this witty and engrossing narrative, Linus Torvalds, the brilliant mastermind behind the latest Internet revolution, in collaboration with writer David Diamond, chronicles his transformation from a pale, skinny Helsinki college kid to an international folk hero. What began as a childhood hobby soon became the astonishing phenomenon known as the LINUX operating system.LINUX was created because Linus was curious to see if he could improve upon the operating systems already out there, such as UNIX. How could he create a system that could run all of his favorite software with fewer crashes and faster productivity? Linus posted his early versions of LINUX on the Internet and called upon the most brilliant minds in computer science to enhance his system. What happened next took the world by storm.Linus wasn't the first to use the power of the open source movement, but the excitement he generated when he offered his system to the world was unprecedented. What made LINUX revolutionary was its journey to become the marvel it is today -- and how the system grew from the meeting of thousands of minds around the world. Suddenly, Linus's creation was available for everyone to use, "fo. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0066620724

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