Torvalds: Commercialization balances Linux

There's plenty of room at the Linux party for both profit-seeking vendors and technical purists, according to Linus Torvalds, founder of the open source platform.

In an interview at LinuxWorld Expo Wednesday, Torvalds said that commercialization can be a good thing, even if vendors are looking to make money through the open source platform whose free distribution has made it so popular.

"One of the things I like about the commercial companies is, I mean, they're supposed to try to make money off of it," said Torvalds, who at one point during the interview had to pause to accommodate a photo request from a conference attendee.

Linux can be commercialized to make it more accessible to non-technical people, but the platform must continue to thrive as a platform for technical innovation, according to Torvalds.

"What's important to me is I get to do what's fun and at the same time, I think it's very important to have some kind of balance in the system and to a large degree, a lot of the commercial interests have brought a certain kind of balance to it," he said.

Several years ago, Linux was only usable by technically oriented people. But commercial Linux distributions made Linux easier to install and more accessible to lay persons, Torvalds said.

"Basically, all the commercial people have their own agenda and that's very healthy because you want to have these often-conflicting agendas to push the system into something that actually works for everybody," said Torvalds, who currently holds the title of fellow at Transmeta.

However, Linux should not become so commercially oriented as to dissuade innovations, he stressed.

"A lot of interesting features have come out of really oddball projects," such as file system caching, Torvalds said.

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