Linus Torvalds offers a peek at his messy office and 'zombie shuffling' desk

Linus Torvalds offers a peek at his messy office and 'zombie shuffling' desk

Summary: The father of Linux has showcased his working environment, and explained why his desk is cluttered with "crap".

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TOPICS: Linux
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Linus at the desk.
Linus at the desk. Image: The Linux Foundation

If you've ever thought your desk was a mess, don't worry — you're in very good company. Linux kernel founder Linus Torvalds has offered a peek into his hardware-littered home office and the treadmill desk he uses for reading email but not coding.

Torvalds, like most people working with or on computers, has spent a fair amount of time sitting in a chair. Back in January, the Finnish-born American bought a treadmill desk. But while some people have found they can take a brisk walk and do everything from reading email to writing breaking news stories with the treadmill desk,Torvalds has found the combination of walking and working — at least anything faster than a crawl — isn't so productive.

"I call it my zombie shuffling desk because if I put it any faster than one mile an hour my mouse movements get very erratic and I no longer can close my windows," he says in a video tour of his home office posted by the Linux Foundation this week.

"I only have a web browser, which is how I read email, and a couple of terminal windows open, which is where I end up doing my git pulls and any coding — although the coding part is not that common anymore." As he mentioned when he bought the walking desk earlier this year, it's also given him trouble typing.

Torvald's old home office is so "full of crap" that it's now unusable, he says in the video. "I don't know what to do with it anymore," he added.

One item he has taken a shining to though is the MakerBot2, which he bought for his kids but so far hasn't inspired the interest he would have had in it at that age.

"When I grew up, if I had something like this, I would have been all over it. My oldest has been using this for a few school projects and things like that, so it has gone to some use."

Perhaps not surprisingly, the trash cluttering Torvalds' desk is largely old gadgets and a stack of hard drives, which does shed some light on how he thinks and feels about technology.

"I'd like to say all this is priceless possessions but it’s actually just garbage. I'm just not very emotional when it comes to technology so old technology is just all broken and I'd much rather play with the new stuff," he said.

One item he can't let go of though are hard disks, though he said that's because he can't be bothered smashing them to prevent others recovering data from them. 

"When I get new technology which happens quite often I don't want to throw the hard disks out. So I literally have a pile of hard disks that have accumulated over the last 15 years. I know I'm supposed to wipe them or use a hammer on them and then throw them out but I'm just too lazy."

As an avid scuba diver, he's also got a pile of diving equipment and fireplace mantle chock full of penguins which, "for some reason", people keep sending him.

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Topic: Linux

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Looks like my own desk

    .... (without the treadmill thing). Drives my wife crazy, especially when we expect visitors. :P
    pjotr123
  • Linus is a character...

    ...and a true modern day hero. The world thanks your parents for having you sir.
    tek_heretik