A computer operating system called Linux powers most of the servers running the Internet, much of the world’s financial trading systems, nearly all of the world’s super computer and is the basis for Android, which runs on tens of millions of Android mobile phones and consumer devices.
Linux is everywhere and it was the invention of the colourful, brilliant and sometimes controversial Linus Torvalds.
Linux is an open-source operating system, meaning anyone can use it for free and change it for their own needs. And more than 12,000 developers from more than 1,200 companies have not only done that, but have gotten their work added back to the main Linux project (the “kernel” in geek-speak), according to a recent report from the Linux Foundation.
It’s a real badge of honour for a developer to contribute to the Linux kernel.
And to do that, they have got to go through Torvalds. He has the ultimate say over what code gets added to the Linux kernel and what doesn’t.
And he manages this, one of the world’s most important software projects, from a tiny stand-up walking desk that he calls the “Zombie-shuffling desk.”
He named it that because he keeps it a 1-mile/hour pace, otherwise he has trouble using his computer mouse while he works. Here’s Torvalds doing the Zombie shuffle.
The desk lives in his home office, where he works full-time when not travelling.
The room still holds his old desk, which he doesn’t use anymore because it got so messy and filled with old tech junk, he couldn’t stand it. Instead of cleaning it, he got himself the Zombie shuffling desk.
He says that after his kids got to be school age, he quit working all kinds of crazy night time hours, too. “It’s not exactly a 9-5 job, but it is fairly close,” he explains.
That’s a surprisingly normal schedule and modest amount of time for such a huge project.
His office is also where he stores his scuba equipment, a 3D printer, a collection of stuffed animal Linux penguin mascots (the mascot is named Tux), and a framed picture of a Scott Adams Dilbert cartoon that references Linux.
Here’s the full tour: