Steve Jobs Tried to Hire Linux Creator Linus Torvalds to Work on OS X

Wired profiles Linus Torvalds the creator of the popular open source operating system Linux. The article reveals that Apple's Steve Jobs tried to recruit Torvalds to Apple with a job offer.
Torvalds has never met Bill Gates, but around 2000, when he was still working at Transmeta, he met Steve Jobs. Jobs invited him to Apple’s Cupertino campus and tried to hire him. “Unix for the biggest user base: that was the pitch,” says Torvalds. The condition: He’d have to drop Linux development. “He wanted me to work at Apple doing non-Linux things,” he said. That was a non-starter for Torvalds. Besides, he hated Mac OS’s Mach kernel.
In 2000, Apple had had not yet shipped the first version of OS X 10.0 to the public. Apple had adapted the NeXTSTep operating system after acquiring NeXT in 1997. It wasn't until March, 2001 that the first version of OS X was launched.

Steve Jobs' job offer was at a time when Apple was heavily investing in Mac OS X which would later serve as the foundation for their iPhones and iPads.

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36 months ago
Anybody who looks down on Torvalds.

For all his arrogant style and other bad traits. You still have to acknowledge that he created two extremly popular and wellwritten software: linux and git. And giving away it for free to the public. That's a huge thing.
Rating: 14 Votes
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36 months ago

Linus would have been a good fit at Apple. In some ways, he's like Steve Jobs: he insists on correct solutions, even if they are harder to do. He knows what he wants, and he's not afraid to push people to get it. And yes, he can be a bit of an ass.

But he basically hated OS X. But his personality would have been a good fit. And there's no chance that he would stop working on Linux.



Oh, it seems we have a new uber-negative person in the forum. Good luck with Ubuntu.


Hardly like Steve Jobs. The Kernel Team determined he wasn't a good fit. At NeXT we already had experience with a similar personality in the kernel team who was a one-way street, came from CMU to work under Avie and turned out to be a completely intolerable person to work within a team.

To be clear, Linux [I'm writing this on Debian] would be a complete disaster of an OS if it weren't for the billions invested by Corporations like IBM, Intel, Oracle, RedHat, and many more. However, the FOSS zealots would argue differently as if they'd have ever gotten it off the ground and turned into a modern OS without Corporate sponsorship and software collaboration.

Let's just say the team that is the LLVM/Clang Team at Apple working with devs at Google, ARM, Sony, IBM, Intel, Cray, etc., is the types of genius that Steve liked to cultivate. Linus's little Napoleon concept of authority is not how Steve worked. Technical development was firmly under the control of Steve's Engineering Generals.

The advancements seen at LLVM/Clang/Polly/Libc++/Libclc [OpenCL]/LLDB and more in just two years is staggering. It's an incredibly well managed team of experts from several corporations where Lattner [overseeing LLVM] doesn't have the role of benevolent dictator. The team is a finally tuned system of talent and continues to explode in contributors coming on-board.
Rating: 13 Votes
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36 months ago

Exactly. It only took the Steve Jobs fan club eleven years to dig up that little gem and talk about it.


That's a little harsh, since it was Wired that thought this was something nobody had heard about before.
Rating: 10 Votes
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36 months ago
I get the allure of the story, but I'm sure that not only did more than just Steve try to hire Linus, but I'm sure this kind of big-name-guy tries to hire other-big-name-guy happens a lot more than most would think.
Rating: 9 Votes
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36 months ago


But yes, Ubuntu IS getting there - and, sadly, OS X is losing it rapidly. It's apparent that OS X is nothing but an afterthought for Apple and that iOS is their future. And that won't be my future. I'm preparing to migrate the Macs in our house to Ubuntu.[COLOR="#808080"]


I have to agree with you, the number of bugs in OS X these days is shameful.
Rating: 9 Votes
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36 months ago


But yes, Ubuntu IS getting there - and, sadly, OS X is losing it rapidly. It's apparent that OS X is nothing but an afterthought for Apple and that iOS is their future. And that won't be my future. I'm preparing to migrate the Macs in our house to Ubuntu.


Good luck with that. Ubuntu is still a user experience nightmare compared to OS X or Windows 7. The fact is that even an iOS-like OS X is better suited to the needs of most of the computer using population than anything resembling the current state of Ubuntu.
Rating: 9 Votes
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36 months ago
Linus would have been a good fit at Apple. In some ways, he's like Steve Jobs: he insists on correct solutions, even if they are harder to do. He knows what he wants, and he's not afraid to push people to get it. And yes, he can be a bit of an ass.

But he basically hated OS X. But his personality would have been a good fit. And there's no chance that he would stop working on Linux.

The last time anybody had to compile a Linux kernel was like ten years ago. You're really spreading last decade's news here.

But yes, Ubuntu IS getting there - and, sadly, OS X is losing it rapidly. It's apparent that OS X is nothing but an afterthought for Apple and that iOS is their future. And that won't be my future. I'm preparing to migrate the Macs in our house to Ubuntu.

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Exactly. It only took the Steve Jobs fan club eleven years to dig up that little gem and talk about it.


Oh, it seems we have a new uber-negative person in the forum. Good luck with Ubuntu.
Rating: 7 Votes
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36 months ago
I heard about this long ago. Like several years ago. I'm not sure that was it mentioned in Linuses autobiography (released in 2001) or what.
Rating: 6 Votes
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36 months ago

Thank god that didn't get to be through. The guys annoys the hell out of me.

Plus I still have flashbacks of the days where you had to recompile because you sneezed... (exagerated example...). Not that I couldn't managed, but I had other things to do (still do)... Ubuntu is getting there, but too late, I've moved to OS X...

I truly love GIT, though, even knowing he developed it.


I think your conclusion is far-fetched. Torvalds working for Apple would not have meant that OS X would have become another Linux. I'm pretty sure Steve would still have made the final decisions on ideas - Torvalds being the guy who turns ideas into actual code.
Rating: 6 Votes
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36 months ago
This is news to folks? Yes, Linus was asked in 1997 when us NeXT folks merged with Apple and we had MkLinux being used to bootstrap onto PowerPC Hardware.

We reached out to Linus for that process.
Rating: 5 Votes
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