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Linus Torvalds For Nobel Peace Prize? 541

Posted by kdawson
from the nice-step-towards-world-domination dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm as much of a Linux fanboy as anyone else, but I've never thought of anything in computing as being worth a Nobel Peace Prize. Apparently, there are those who take global collaboration seriously, though..." The suggestion has been bouncing around the Portland Linux community, where Torvalds lives. Is it worthy of wider attention and discussion?
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Linus Torvalds For Nobel Peace Prize?

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  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:38PM (#30172504) Homepage Journal

    I come from 2051, in a timeline where Linux didn't exist. You don't want to hear about the Microsoft vs Apple netwar.

    • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:01PM (#30172964) Journal

      I come from 2051, in a timeline where Linux didn't exist. You don't want to hear about the Microsoft vs Apple netwar.

      Yes, it was terrible, all those Windows machines loaded with malware, all trying and failing to attack anything non-Microsoft, until Apple ended it by buying what was left of Microsoft in 2018 in an all-stock deal of 100 Microsoft shares for 1 Apple share, plus the lint in Steve Jobs' bellybutton.

      Now people's Windows machines work perfectly. Microsoft Windows - a product of Apple, Inc.

      • Re:He deserves it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... g ['s.o' in gap]> on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:22PM (#30173306) Homepage
        ...they work perfectly? So why are Apple products only #4 in reliability in this universe?
        • Re:He deserves it (Score:4, Informative)

          by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Friday November 20, 2009 @02:03PM (#30173956) Homepage Journal

          Number 4 according to Squaretrade, a company that sells warranties on computers and is a direct competitor to Apple's Applecare.

          Just saying.

          fwiw, Consumer Reports consistently ranks Apple at the top or near the top in satisfaction, reliability, and tech support. I can't draw any overall conclusions of my own since most laptop failures I have seen among my friends (covering the gamut of manufacturers) have been a result of physical abuse. otoh a laptop's ability to take abuse without breaking is a big selling point for me.

          -b

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by uncqual (836337)
            Apple has something of an advantage over notebook vendors such as HP, Acer, and Toshiba because Apple doesn't sell really low end notebooks.

            CR's notebook reliability numbers are somewhat meaningless for comparing Apple to vendors which manufacture sub $500 notebooks. The low end notebooks have to cut corners which will reduce reliability (more plastic, less metal etc.). CR should really compare reliability of notebooks by vendor based on price (perhaps in two classes - $750 for base product).
      • by Mike Buddha (10734) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:49PM (#30173710)

        Now people's Windows machines work perfectly. Microsoft Windows - a product of Apple, Inc.

        ...but they now cost 1000x more than they should and they only do what robot warlord Steve Jobs thinks you should be able to do.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I come from 2051, in a timeline where Linux didn't exist. You don't want to hear about the Microsoft vs Apple netwar.

        Yes, it was terrible, all those Windows machines loaded with malware, all trying and failing to attack anything non-Microsoft, until Apple ended it by buying what was left of Microsoft in 2018 in an all-stock deal of 100 Microsoft shares for 1 Apple share, plus the lint in Steve Jobs' bellybutton.

        Now people's Windows machines work perfectly. Microsoft Windows - a product of Apple, Inc.

        I come from a present where it's hard to convince people that greedy capitalist corporations are ruining everything good in the world, thank you for sharing the future with us. Maybe we can act now and change it.

    • Re:He deserves it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Interoperable (1651953) on Friday November 20, 2009 @02:41PM (#30174680)
      Linux deserves a Nobel Peace Prize but I don't think that Linus does. If he were to receive one, it would as a figure to represent the Linux community on the whole. While I think that GPL and Linux have done a great deal that is in line with the goals of equality and global freedoms, I think that it has been an effort by a huge number of people. Linus started that and represents that, but at the end of the day, what he did was write and maintain a UNIX-like kernel. I don't think that the act of releasing that kernel under a free license constitutes an act worthy of a Nobel Prize.
  • Why not? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Xebikr (591462) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:39PM (#30172518)
    I'm sure that at some point in his tenure as King of Linux he will do things worthy of the Nobel Peace prize. Let's just give it to him now to get it out of the way.
    • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:14PM (#30173166) Homepage Journal
      Linux would definitely be more deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize that a couple of the last recipients that come to mind....

      He actually has put something tangible together, and overseen it for years, as opposed to someone nominated recently before he had even done anything.

  • by gbrandt (113294) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:39PM (#30172532)

    Perhaps we could better decide if we saw a list of Linus' global peace initiatives...

    Gregor

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:41PM (#30172578) Journal

      Lets see Obama's as well...

    • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:50PM (#30172762) Homepage

      He created a multinational project of cooperation between tons of people all over the globe and made a project that has helped change the computer industry and lower costs, making computing more affordable for everyone. Sounds good to me.

      That's a lot better than saying you'll do things but not having done them yet.

      He'll never win. The prize is very political, and I doubt they would give it to someone who isn't in their group of admired people. As a PR tool, it could be much more valuable to give it to someone else.

      Are there better candidates? I'd certainly expect so. But look at the list of winners [nobelprizes.com]. While some are obviously good (Doctors Without Borders, The Dalai Llama) others are much more questionable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sixoh1 (996418)

        Nobel laureate would certainly be a good way to reward a man who has done something far more extraordinary than anything BillG or the Steve's ever did - without the benefit of a corporation (note MS needed IBM to be where it is) or a formal product (the Steve's SOLD hardware) and created a world-class operating system.

        Not only that, he is still there, still writing code, corralling the cats and making progress in developing, instead of just cashing in.

        This is in my not so humble opinion the ultimate leaders

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drakaan (688386)

          Nobel laureate would certainly be a good way to reward a man who has done something far more extraordinary than anything BillG or the Steve's ever did - without the benefit of a corporation (note MS needed IBM to be where it is) or a formal product (the Steve's SOLD hardware) and created a world-class operating system...

          Agreed, but not a Nobel *Peace* Prize...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by msimm (580077)
        Never say never. As computers become increasingly important in both emerging economies and first world economies his initial release of (and ongoing work on) the kernel under not just a free license, but an enforceably/perpetually free license has become a gift that in one way or another effects just about every computer user on the planet. Think about that for a second. It's become possibly one of the widest impacting acts of philanthropy in our history (with an amazing amount of people and companies now i
    • by MrHanky (141717) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:53PM (#30172820) Homepage Journal

      Since Obama got one for not being George W. Bush, Linus should get one for not being Theo de Raadt.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tomhudson (43916)

        Since Obama got one for not being George W. Bush, Linus should get one for not being Theo de Raadt.

        And we could give one to Hans Reiser for not being O.J. Simpson. Oh, wait a sec ...

        How about giving it to both RMS and Linus?

        Or for the lulz, Stallman and Palin. Can you imagine the two of them in the same room? The improbability is SO high that the universe might finally have to hork up a Higgs Bosun.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by QuantumRiff (120817)

      Hitler and Stalin have been nominated for the prize, heck, Hitler was time magazine man of the year!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Peace_Prize [wikipedia.org]

  • Linux Peace Prize? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Reason58 (775044) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:40PM (#30172544)
    There are real people making real change on this planet. While I like Linux as much as the next guy, this is not going to happen.
    • Actually, Linux has brought about real change, but not really in the let's-promote-peace-and-human-rights kind of way. It seems a stretch to even consider him. He has been extraordinarily influential, but as far as the Peace Prize, I don't think it's appropriate. (I don't dislike Obama but I didn't think he deserved it either).

    • by 0racle (667029)

      There are real people making real change on this planet.

      And the Peace Prize goes to none of them. Linus is just as deserving as any other winner (read: none of them were)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tomtomtom (580791)
        At least in the post-WW2 era, I think this is true. Even in the pre-WW2 era, you could argue that too much emphasis was placed on the negotiators of peace treaties (many of which were more like terms of surrender) than the other part of the definition. I do think that, in retrospect, Gorbachev did deserve it (or at least led a group of people who did so) "for the abolition or reduction of standing armies" by pushing the Soviet Union towards a peaceful end to the cold war. But... awarding it to him in 1990,
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ajlisows (768780)

          Hey, I'll give Ronald Reagan credit for being a part of it, but Gorbachev is the important one here. Gorbachev had to pull out of Afghanistan, he had to let the Eastern Bloc Warsaw Pact nations determine how to handle their internal affairs. All of this was guaranteed to greatly reduce his own personal influence, and had a good chance (As it turns out, great chance) of greatly reducing the influence of communism in the world. Seeing as how Soviet Dogma suggested that the communist revolution needed to s

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:58PM (#30172922) Journal

      Why not? I mean, sure Torvalds isn't exactly a Ghandi (who ironically never got one, IIRC)...

      ...but then again, look who else got one: Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Barack Obama - not as if these three gents had really done too much to earn it (okay, Carter brokered the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement back in the 1970's which later fell apart, and did a lot of post-presidential negotiation work, but really... not much done by any of 'em - esp. compared to the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, FFS...)

      • by R2.0 (532027) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:27PM (#30173398)

        "(okay, Carter brokered the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement back in the 1970's which later fell apart, and did a lot of post-presidential negotiation work, but really..."

        Look, I loathe Carter as much as the next gut, but at least get your facts straight. Carter won the prize for brokering the Egypt/Israeli peace agreement which, last I checked, still holds. That puts him pretty high on the list of people who have done something to further peace in the world, and he deserved the prize.

        Now, if he had only spent more time and attention on the US, maybe his presidency wouldn't be viewed as a total failure.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cupantae (1304123)

      I think it's not going to happen either, but it's interesting to think that if somebody managed to pull off a successful large scale OLPC-type venture involving Linux, it would be him or her to be considered for the prize. The truth is, the world is a lot better with Linux, even though the people who could really do with using it generally aren't. Apart from the fact that it allows so much to be kept from the corporate stranglehold, Linux is really the driving force behind the open source movement, which is

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by c0d3g33k (102699)
      Maybe you haven't lived long enough to realize the significance of Linux as a world-wide collaborative project on a scale capable of producing something as complex as an operating system kernel. Less than 2 decades ago, a project like Linux was unheard of and essentially considered impossible. Anything non-trivial required the resources of a government or a corporation and that was that. What you now consider commonplace was a huge revelation when it began. Linux is one of the first projects that showed
      • by 0racle (667029) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:27PM (#30173400)

        Less than 2 decades ago, a project like Linux was unheard of and essentially considered impossible

        First off, Linus didn't do anything but release some code out to the wild. What happened happened because of others, most of whom you'll never know the name of. Linus didn't do anything except keep hacking away at his tool.

        Secondly, the GNU Project [wikipedia.org] would most likely like to have a word with you. Founded (not by Linus) in 1983. Created most of an OS using a distributed development model (sound familiar) and was at the point that all Linus had to do was put a kernel under it in 1991. The Free Software community you attribute to Linus already existed. Linus used the fruits of their labor. The BSD project also already existed and if it weren't for a lawsuit from AT&T, you probably never would have heard of Linus Torvalds or Linux.

        FOSS is *much* larger then just Linux, and was around before it existed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by samkass (174571)

          Secondly, the GNU Project would most likely like to have a word with you. Founded (not by Linus) in 1983. Created most of an OS using a distributed development model (sound familiar) and was at the point that all Linus had to do was put a kernel under it in 1991.

          Oh please. If it was up to GNU we'd still be waiting for Herd and the concept of a viable Free operating system would still be considered impossible. And without MIT's X-Windows system, BSD's sockets system, others' file system(s), etc, etc, you w

    • Science and technology has driven more social change than any other factor in human history.

      Politicians and military leaders sure talk a lot and get the most attention, but its scientists and engineers that really make the world a better place and are most worthy of any kind of piece prize.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ZeroPly (881915)

      More importantly, the Peace Prize is not given just for creating positive change. It is given specifically for improving relations between nations, reducing standing armies, and promoting peace congresses. While that is interpreted loosely - especially in recent years, giving it to a software developer would be a huge jump. In a sense, it would be like giving the Peace Prize to the manufacturer of the hammer that was first used on the Berlin Wall.

      • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:35PM (#30173498) Homepage Journal

        It is given specifically for improving relations between nations, reducing standing armies, and promoting peace congresses.

        That sounds really nice, but doesn't explain Al Gore receiving it. Even if you totally buy into global warming hysteria it still doesn't work. It also doesn't, if you are going to be honest, explain President Obama, who despite all the hype, has never accomplished anything of substance, leave alone improving international relations or anything promoting peace.

        The truth is that Nobel Peace Prize is given by 5 guys in Norway to whomever the hell they want for whatever damn reason they want. Lately, that reason has amounted to little more than "Not being George W. Bush". Now, to a lot of people, "Not being George W. Bush" is a laudable accomplishment, but the Nobel Committee cannot pretend they are anything other than another bully pulpit for promoting their preferred flavor of politics.

  • Richard Stallman is bristling with righteous indignation that this proposal was not for a co-nomination!
  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:41PM (#30172562) Journal

    I can't say he is less worthy than Obama. Obama's biggest claim to fame is that he is not George Bush. Linus isn't George Bush either, so I guess his qualifications are in order.

  • Farcical (Score:3, Informative)

    by UbuntuniX (1126607) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:42PM (#30172594) Homepage
    Linus has certainly done more to deserve it than Obama.
    • Linus has certainly done more to deserve it than Obama.

      I'm sure you trying to be funny, but the peace prize is more often awarded as encouragement.
      See this from, Nobel Peace Prize Myths, Explained [cbsnews.com]:

      - Myth: The prize is awarded to recognize efforts for peace, human rights and democracy only after they have proven successful.

      More often, the prize is awarded to encourage those who receive it to see the effort through, sometimes at critical moments.

  • Is it worthy of wider attention and discussion?

    No. Next question?

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:42PM (#30172600) Journal

    Is it worthy of wider attention and discussion?

    Why do you talk about it? Find someone in this list:

    University rectors; professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology; directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes;

    Willing to Submit him for it [nobelprize.org] and go back to coding. Don't go campaigning for some person to win the Nobel peace prize, call up your contacts at Washington University and discuss it with them. If you can't convince them to nominate him, it's probably not going to work.

    This is not an elected award so I wouldn't waste my time trying to impose outside influence on a committee for a Nobel prize. The committee decides, not the community. I'm sure every profession has their savior/icon that they think deserves this award for revolutionizing something and altering humanity for the better. You're free to talk all you want but it's not going to change anything. Discussing it online is nothing but a waste of time unless your intentions are to embarrass Linus.

    • Wow, an informative comment with a useful link that allows the reader to verify your statements independently!

      Are you sure you aren't really a time traveler from, say, 2001 or thereabouts?

  • by Fished (574624) <amphigory&gmail,com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:43PM (#30172632)
    After all, he's not George Bush either. Or perhaps it's that he's not Bill Gates. *snark*
  • Yes! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mano.m (1587187)
    Absolutely. Peace isn't merely politicians negotiating treaties, public-spirited volunteers planting trees, religious leaders preaching tolerance, or organisations raising money to save endangered species. Peace is an instrument towards achieving open-minded and open-hearted coöperation amongst people from a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities and countries working towards creating solutions for the common welfare. If anyone deserves the Peace prize, Linus Torvalds probably does. Or perhaps the open-
  • Nobel prizes are not decided by popular vote. They are not decided by wider discussion and consideration. There is no forum for public nomination. There are no public announcements of the candidates under consideration, even after the fact. Despite what kdawson might hope, he, and the rest of the people around Portland get no say in deciding Nobel prizes.

  • by wandazulu (265281) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:48PM (#30172714)

    I've always been interested in seeing how computers get used in the far-flung parts of the world, and between OLPC and websites showing off pics of tribemen using Linux on laptops to check prices, weather info, etc., it would seem that Linux has made a difference both in the "developed" world as well as the places where computers may not be as prevalent.

    Certainly it stands to reason that not everyone needs access to email, say, but everyone would like to know whether it's going to rain tomorrow, and there may not be a local radio or tv station to provide that info, but a computer with some sort of internet access could. So if I'm only going to use a computer once in a blue moon, or if I'm one who provides computers to folks who only need an extremely limited data set, why not be Linux? It's totally dependable and, most importantly, it's free. This is critical when the local economy may rely more on bartering and the exchange of physical goods for services; I can't imagine Microsoft would be willing to sell Windows for a few dozen eggs.

    So yes, I'd be behind such an honor; the whole point of the Nobel Peace prize is to award people who have made other lives better, and providing the platform on which anyone, anywhere can build upon to provide anything, at the most local level, I can't see how this *doesn't* qualify.

  • by rishistar (662278) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:48PM (#30172724) Homepage

    It strikes me that a lot of good is being done by this body. Plus there's more to come. So it strikes me that Bill might be in line first, or maybe a shared one with Bill, Linus and Tim Berners-Lee or something.

  • Certainly his contribution to humanity as a whole should be recognized in some appropriate way but I'm not convinced the peace prize is the right one.
  • LKML (Score:2, Funny)

    by daceaser (239083)

    Peace prize? They plainly haven't been reading the LKML at the Nobel Institute...

  • "Your job is being a professor and researcher: That's one hell of a good excuse for some of the brain-damages of Minix."
    "An infinite number of monkeys typing into GNU emacs would never make a good program."
    "Your problem has nothing to do with git, and everything to do with emacs. And then you have the _gall_ to talk about "unix design" and not gumming programs together, when you yourself use the most gummed-up piece of absolute sh*t there is!"
    "When you say "I wrote a program that crashed Windows", people
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Linus, RMS, Eric Raymond, and Theo De'Rahdt are all exchanging ideas, sometimes harshly, they are not exchanging bullets. I'd say they all have a lot to teach politicians.
  • by castironpigeon (1056188) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:55PM (#30172858)
    Everyone knows KDE is better than Gnome. And really, Ubuntu isn't even a real distro. It's just Debian gimped and preconfigured.

    run away! run away!
  • Yes, Linus is worth of consideration, not only for his own achievements but also for what he symbolizes in the fight against Intellectual Monopoly. This is one of the great fights of our times... and the wealth-grab of widening intellectual monopoly is part of what makes the rich (nations) richer and the poor poorer. Nominating Linus for the Nobel Peace Price would draw needed attention to this fight.

    Linux is an equalizer for the poor. I am involved in a project in Brazil where we take old (and usually b

  • He did quite a bit of work, then gave it away because he thought it was best for his work and thought others would like to play with it. He puts the technology first above everything. He's not going to become insanely rich, but we as a global society should reward him in some way. Not sure peace price is right, but it's not wholly wrong either. Maybe not just him, but RMS for the creation of the GPL. I'm sure there are others. We should reward people who put progress/technology/people/freedom before themsel
  • Greg Mortenson really deserves it.
    http://www.gregmortenson.com/
  • He created a project that fostered international cooperation and was essential to the expansion of the internet. It made thousands of embedded devices possible and freed computers from the shackles of proprietary operating systems. It made computing possible for millions of people around the world who otherwise would not be able to afford computers. The non-profit, collaborative model opened doors to connect computer professionals from all around the globe. He would definitely be one of the best candida
  • Bill Gates (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Peregr1n (904456) <ian.a.ferguson@gmail.com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:10PM (#30173114) Homepage
    I know this is contentious, but I quite like being the devil's advocate. Isn't Bill Gates more suited to the Nobel Peace Prize?
    His philanthropy is unparalleled (by monetory value alone, anyway). His influence on the world of computing is undisputed. I'm not saying his influence has been good or bad... just that he's had influence. The world wouldn't be the same without Windows. Regardless of which operating system you favour (for me, it's a tie between OSX and Ubuntu), you cannot deny that Windows has been an important component in the spread of information and education across the world, and enabled all kinds of communication.
    A lot of this stuff would have happened anyway, without Windows... but then I could argue that the US civil rights movement would have happened at some point without Martin Luther King (a previous Nobel Peace Prize winner).
  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:26PM (#30173360)
    I'm a big fan of both Thorvalds and Obama, but I don't believe either of them deserves a Nobel Peace Prize... yet.
  • by MSG (12810) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:39PM (#30173564)

    I'd hate to see the guy who calls his co-opetition "masturbating monkeys" get a peace prize. :)

    That aside, I firmly believe that the GPL is the reason for the success of the Linux kernel and of GNU/Linux. Compare the success of Linux and GNU/Linux to other systems which are more stable and have better documentation (like OpenBSD). There are many reasons why this might be, but I think that there would have been far fewer contributions to the Linux kernel if its license did not provide equal access for all contributors. A substantial part of Linux was written by commercial entities who would undoubtedly not be willing to invest in a product which their competition could build upon without contributing likewise in return.

    We all owe a tremendous debt to RMS that I doubt will ever be repaid.

  • by joeflies (529536) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:46PM (#30173672)
    The example that Eric Schmidt stated to the New York Times was that Tim Berners Lee should have been given a Nobel Prize, but the Nobel community doesn't consider computer science to be in the same spectrum as other traditional life or physic sciences. I think both Tim is without question worthy of a Nobel, and there's a strong case for Linus as well, but it's questionable whether either has the political clout to win.
  • the nobel peace prize has entered the realm of farce (arafat, kissinger, and obama for smiling nicely) and has destroyed its legitimacy

    of course, maybe the whole idea was doomed from the start as a flawed idea

    perhaps the prize should be reconstituted as a way to recognize truly deserving underappreciated efforts, such as microlending in poor areas or water purification projects. in other words: no matinee idols or celebrities need apply. this would rule out deserving celebrities like nelson mandela, but it would also rule out the likes of kissinger and arafat. no more stunt prizes like obama's

    a prize only for the truly anonymous makes a heck of a lot more sense actually in the realm of what it really means to labor for peace selflessly, which is true peacemaking anyways

    so if not discontinued, the prize should be reconsituted with strict guidelines as a prize for the truly anonymous

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