EppsNet Archive: Linus Torvalds

Torvalds on Specs


A “spec” is close to useless. I have _never_ seen a spec that was both big enough to be useful _and_ accurate. And I have seen _lots_ of total crap work that was based on specs. It’s _the_ single worst way to write software, because it by definition means that the software was written to match theory, not reality. So there’s two MAJOR reasons to avoid specs: – they’re dangerously wrong. Reality is different, and anybody who thinks specs matter over reality should get out of kernel programming NOW. When reality and specs clash, the spec has zero meaning. Zilch. Nada. None. It’s like real science: if you have a theory that doesn’t match experiments, it doesn’t matter _how_ much you like that theory. It’s wrong. You can use it as an approximation, but you MUST keep in mind that it’s an approximation. – specs have an inevitably tendency to… Read more →

Offshoring: What Can Go Wrong?


You might wonder whether the Linux operating system provides evidence that offshoring can pay off. I had often wondered about this point myself, so I put the question to Linus Torvalds, founder of the Linux project. Torvalds replied that the two models of software development aren’t comparable: I don’t think the Linux model works for offshoring in the commercial sense, or really ends up even being very relevant. The problem ends up being communication and the mental model pretty inherent in offshoring. My belief is that when you say “offshoring,” you very much mean “control the project on one shore, work on the other.” That is, the implication of the offshore work being “subservient” is very much there in the notion of offshoring. In contrast, the Linux model (and open-source in general) is that there’s no one-sided control, and that when work gets done overseas, it gets done because it… Read more →