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Linux

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 gbrandt (113294) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:39AM (#30172532)

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

    Gregor

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

    by Reason58 (775044) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:40AM (#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.
  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:41AM (#30172578) Journal

    Lets see Obama's as well...

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:42AM (#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.

  • Yes! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mano.m (1587187) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:45AM (#30172666)
    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-source movement, as a whole. Software may not be as visible as loud activists and marching protesters, but it has achieved the kind of collaboration amongst interested private individuals and companies that the environmental movement or any of various well-meaning political groups can only envy.
  • by wandazulu (265281) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:48AM (#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.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:50AM (#30172774)
    Political satire lost all meaning when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • by Jaysyn (203771) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:55AM (#30172850) Homepage Journal

    Maybe not the Peace Prize, but I can see him getting the Economic Prize for Linux's economic impact on the business world & Internet.

  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:58AM (#30172918) Homepage Journal

    Stallman's working for social justice, freedom and equality. He gets chosen less often as a posterboy, but he's the one doing the really important work.

    Linus is only popular because his style is convenient for IBM and the other megacorps. He goes with the flow, let's those with power do what they want.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:58AM (#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 cupantae (1304123) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (llienoram)> on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:59AM (#30172930)

    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 a very real and significant thing. Who would have thought ten years ago that CodePlex was to come?

    There should be more recognition for the people that are "behind the scenes" - the people without whom we couldn't have the big, headline-catching, landmark events that showmen get all the credit for. I think that's what is the desire in the article for someone who's not a politician getting the prize, although the argument wasn't terribly well formed.

    One reason that so many of us are initially (or permanently) dismissive of the notion is that it's so hard to gauge what Linus has done for the world. How can we really know what the world would be like without Linux? Would *BSD or HURD get the development attention to bring them to Linux's standard (apologies to fans of these OS's)? Personally, I believe that Linux is quite strongly responsible for the quality of these and Haiku and all the rest of the OS OS's in use now. Linux has been a strong driving force because of the philosophy, and vitally, because of Linus Torvalds.

    Don't use past recipients' unworthiness as reason to give it to him: Linus is worthy regardless.

  • by c0d3g33k (102699) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:59AM (#30172938)
    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 the world what the internet makes possible. Just about everything you now know as the FLOSS community happened because Linux set the example for what was possible. That *is* real change. Now, Linus was just in the right place at the right time and had the right personality to pull it off. But releasing the kernel under the GPL to encourage participation was also a big factor, so I agree with the poster below that a co-nomination with Richard Stallman would be more appropriate. I'll go so far as to suggest that Eric Raymond, Bruce Perens, Tim O'Reilly, Brian Behlendorf, Paul Vixie and Mitch Kapor belong in that group too. Maybe even Eben Moglen. In fact, considering the collaborative nature of free software, anything other than a group of key contributors would be incorrect and missing the point. I seriously think the people mentioned above (and a bunch of contributors who quietly gave of their time) changed the world in a significant way, for the better.
  • by Erbo (384) <obreerbo.gmail@com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:00PM (#30172956) Homepage Journal
    My thought exactly. I don't want to presume to speak for Linus, but I'd hope he'd be insulted by the thought of being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, since the track record of its awardees (not just Obama, he's merely the most recent example) shows that the prize itself is meaningless at best.
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:05PM (#30173034)

    Given that Obama got a nobel prize for doing NOTHING I don't see why not.

    Not starting a nuclear war with Iran is technically doing nothing, but I still think it's a very, very good idea.

    George W. Bush didn't start a nuclear war with Iran and he didn't get a Nobel Peace Prize.
    Also, keep in mind that Obama has a few more years in which he could start a nuclear war with Iran.

  • by sixoh1 (996418) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:11PM (#30173130) Homepage

    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 leadership by example - and it can and has been applied to thousands of other projects. Richard Stallman may have "invented" open source - Linus made it real for everyone, from greedy businessman to naive undergraduate CS student.

  • Re:He deserves it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:22PM (#30173294) Journal

    I tend to agree, though I wouldn't discount Linus that much. He wrote the first versions of the kernel and has been its guiding force ever since, so it's not just a matter of being some random guy in an age long gone. Still, the whole movement in which Linux blossomed was by and large Stallman's creation and initiative, and even though he's a bit loopy and can be a major prick, if anyone deserves it, it's Stallman.

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

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabred.dy n d n s . org> on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:22PM (#30173306) Homepage
    ...they work perfectly? So why are Apple products only #4 in reliability in this universe?
  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:26PM (#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 Maximum Prophet (716608) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:26PM (#30173376)
    For normal humans that would be correct, but this Dali Lama is the reincarnation of the last 14 Dali Lamas.
  • by 0racle (667029) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:27PM (#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:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:28PM (#30173408)
    They'll give a Nobel Peace Prize to ANYBODY these days...just look at the last guy who got it... Don't flame, I like Obama a lot, but I'll be damned as to why he won a peace prize for stuff he is 'going' to do
  • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:35PM (#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.

  • Re:He deserves it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:38PM (#30173556)

    If anyone, it should be Stallman, for writing the GPL, for starting the free software movement and spreading knowlege of the existence of free software and for explicitly backing a public cause, and basically dedicating his life to it. In comparison, Torvalds is just an above average software engineer/project manager, who doesn't care about the public good so much as writing good code and getting the credit.

    That is the point. Stallman founded a religion, and Torvalds gave us a tool. Yes, you needed the religion first, but a lot more people were willing to work on the tool. That was the real tipping point for FOSS.

  • by MSG (12810) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:39PM (#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 Physics Dude (549061) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:39PM (#30173566) Homepage
    Agreed. Those were my thoughts as well. Stallman's insight to see what was coming and draft the GPL has contributed immeasurably to the freedom and variety in the current software landscape. I honestly think it was a stroke of genius to use Copyright law itself in such a way as to create a code base that cannot be bought-out/subverted by corporations. Stallman had the vision to make it possible.
  • by drakaan (688386) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:48PM (#30173692) Homepage Journal

    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:He deserves it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ash Vince (602485) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:53PM (#30173790) Journal

    The problem is that without Linus I have a feeling that Linux would now be where Hurd is. Sometimes the people who have the best ideas are not necessarily the best people to implement them.

    Is there any reason they can't just give it to both of them?

  • by Bigby (659157) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:06PM (#30174026)

    What about giving the prize to someone who has the power to withdrawal troops, but continues the wars? Get this: someone who is actively perpetuating a war gets a peace prize...

  • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:08PM (#30174050)
    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.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by yossarianuk (1402187) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:10PM (#30174082)
    Obama got it because the whole world was overjoyed with having a non moron in charge of the worlds largest superpower, to top it off he could speak in real sentences !
  • 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

  • by samkass (174571) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:15PM (#30174198) Homepage Journal

    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 wouldn't have a viable operating system. Certainly GNU was a major contributor to Linux, but their contribution joins many others to make Linux what it is today. And it was really through Torvalds' guidance and systems engineering, not Stallman's or GNU's, that the operating system came together and became something great.

  • Re:He deserves it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erko (806441) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:21PM (#30174304)

    That is the point. Stallman founded a religion, and Torvalds gave us a tool.

    Really? Maybe you aren't aware of the tools Stallman wrote? Stallman wrote the first versions of gcc, gdb, emacs, etc.
    So if you still want to oversimplify it, this is more accurate: Stallman created tools and created open source. Torvalds created a tool.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:22PM (#30174326) Journal

    to top it off he could speak in real sentences !

    He's a great speaker when he's reading sentences that someone else wrote. Listening to him speak without a teleprompter aren't nearly as impressive.

    That still puts him ahead of the last president, who couldn't seem to talk with or without technological assistance.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ncc74656 (45571) * <scott@alfter.us> on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:25PM (#30174364) Homepage Journal

    Obama was given the award because he's been trying to build bridges and strengthen diplomatic ties between nations that have been estranged...

    ...at the expense of solid relationships with our long-term allies [spectator.co.uk]. Considering with whom our interests as a country more closely align, do you think this is a good trade? I don't. I think he has a particularly deep hate for the Brits out of some misplaced loyalty to the Kenyan baby-daddy who spawned him, but he's giving the rest of our allies the finger to varying degrees as well.

  • Re:He deserves it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak&eircom,net> on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:44PM (#30174734) Homepage Journal

    That is the point. Stallman founded a religion, and Torvalds gave us a tool.

    No. It was Stallman who gave us the tool; the GPL. This licence is the magic ingredient that makes open source software possible. Without it, without Stallman's contribution, we'd still be stuck with mostly BSD style licences. Private companies would be mooching off and appropriating the work of FOSS programmers, people would be cynical about writing software for nothing, and we wouldn't have a fraction of the fantastic array of software we all have running on our desktops, including the Linux kernel.

    We'd all be paying $500 per operating system, and our program suites would mostly consist of massively duplicated pay to use, single function programs or else expensively licensed monolithic program suites like MS Office. Programs provided by private companies with lots of scope to monopolise, little incentive to innovate, and with general contempt for their users. Ask yourself, how would you encode a CD in windows, how would you compile a program, what email client would you use if you couldn't use open source software?

    This is what Richard Stallman rescued us from. Restrictive, expensive, bug ridden and often vindictive closed source software. Perhaps you do not like stances. That's fine. But you had best acknowledge that the reason you have a modern web browser to read this site with is largely down to the efforts he made probably before you were even born.

  • by DieNadel (550271) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:45PM (#30174752)

    My thoughts exactly. I once saw Stallman talking about what he envisions for GPL and freedom of software in the future, and it really looks like he's aiming at a more collaborative and free society. Not only that, but he has taken positive and large steps in getting there, by turning copyright against itself and actively advocating free software and its benefits.

    Genius indeed.

    I see it as unfortunate that he doesn't get the recognition he deserves. If he were more "accepted", his ideas would probably have an even stronger impact.

  • by yorktown (947019) on Friday November 20, 2009 @04:27PM (#30177622)
    It is the most prestigious award in Computer Science. Here is what it is given for:

    It [acm.org] is given to an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The contributions should be of lasting and major technical importance to the computer field.

    It isn't as famous as a Peace Prize, but it does recognize real accomplishment.

  • by shirotakaaki (1613791) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:04PM (#30178272)

    I see it as unfortunate that he doesn't get the recognition he deserves. If he were more "accepted", his ideas would probably have an even stronger impact.

    A shave and a shower wouldn't hurt in this regard.

  • by dokhebi (89124) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:05PM (#30178284)

    Most of these prizes are political anyway. Reagan, Thatcher, and Gorbachev should have won the prize for ending the Cold War in a peaceful way, but since the committee that makes the decision is mostly made of socialist nut jobs they were ignored.

    As always, this is just my $0.02 worth.

  • Re:Bill Gates (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:55PM (#30179056)

    Computers would have become popular without Windows. All we have Gates to thank for is how well he can market a buggy, incompatible, rarely-updated OS.

  • Re:He deserves it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maxwell demon (590494) on Friday November 20, 2009 @06:01PM (#30179126) Journal

    Can you compile a Linux kernel without gcc?

  • Re:He deserves it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AttillaTheNun (618721) on Friday November 20, 2009 @06:26PM (#30179448)

    I'm not knocking Linus Torvalds' achievements, but I don't see the connection here.

    Stallman set out with a vision and objectives (freedom of expression) that are consistent with the merits associated with the Nobel Peace Prize.

    I'm not sure Linus' motivations were ever more than an itch to scratch to satisfy his own needs (the lack of a suitably available kernel). He has stated that if either the GNU or 386BSD kernels were available at the time, he likely would not have written his own. It just snowballed from there and he was a better project manager than Stallman in making it happen. The success of Linux may largely be attributed to Linus' technical skills as well as his dictatorial style, which may effective in managing a largely distributed open source project, but is hardly representative of the traits and merits of the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Re:He deserves it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ash Vince (602485) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:11PM (#30181092) Journal

    Personally, I respect Stallman's philosophical approach to the whole thing way more than Linus' business approach.

    I am very sorry to shit on your ego but I doubt you will feel the same when you are a real grown up and actually pay your own way through life.

    Are you actually a business person? What is your specialty? If mummy and daddy go broke could your business survive?

If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you. -- Muhammad Ali

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