Evolutionary Engineering, Linus Torvalds’ Preference

The First of Many Voices of Linux

This share is from a collection of comments gathered by Jeremy Andrews (thanks Jeremy) in a post on kernel trap back in 2002, Linux: Linus Says, Linux Not Designed; It Never Was. In it he goes over how Linus Torvalds views technological design versus evolutionary engineering.

This was one of my favorite posts early on (from Linus), but I highly recommend reading the entire series:

You know what the most complex piece of engineering known to man in the whole solar system is?

Guess what – it’s not Linux, it’s not Solaris, and it’s not your car.

It’s you. And me.

And think about how you and me actually came about – not through any complex design.

Right. “sheer luck”.

Well, sheer luck, AND:
– free availability and _crosspollination_ through sharing of “source code”, although biologists call it DNA.
– a rather unforgiving user environment, that happily replaces bad versions of us with better working versions and thus culls the herd
(biologists often call this “survival of the fittest”)
– massive undirected parallel development (“trial and error”)

I’m deadly serious: we humans have _never_ been able to replicate something more complicated than what we ourselves are, yet natural selection did it without even thinking.

Don’t underestimate the power of survival of the fittest.

And don’t EVER make the mistake that you can design something better than what you get from ruthless massively parallel trial-and-error with a feedback cycle. That’s giving your intelligence _much_ too much credit.

Quite frankly, Sun is doomed. And it has nothing to do with their engineering practices or their coding style.

Linus

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