Linus Torvalds promises 'no fingers' to Nvidia - just don't ask him about Nokia

Linus Torvalds promises 'no fingers' to Nvidia - just don't ask him about Nokia

Summary: Linus Torvalds made a return visit to the Finnish University that saw him drop an F-bomb in Nvidia's direction, but this time he promised to hold his tongue on both the chipmaker, and on Nokia.


When Linus Torvalds visited Aalto University in June, the visit resulted in the Linux pioneer giving Nvidia the finger — an outburst that became the university's most watched YouTube clip. Torvalds made a follow-up visit on Tuesday, but promised students there would be "no fingers this time". 

In his return to the Finnish university, this year's winner of Technology Academy Finland's Millennium Technology Prize promised to discuss almost any question thrown at him. Off the cards were two notable subjects: Nvidia, which famously attracted Torvalds' ire for refusing to ensure its hardware worked with his open-source software, and Nokia.  

2012-10-23 01.11.58 pm
Linus Torvalds has a chuckle about the Nvidia F-bomb outburst. Image: Bambuser

Torvalds would not be drawn on Nokia's choice of Windows Phone over the Linux-based MeeGo smartphone platform.

"I'm not going to answer the Nokia question. There is no upside for me. Whatever, don't even ask me," he said. 

Torvalds did discuss other mobile OSes, however, saying he was grateful to Google's Android for doing for consumer mobile what Linux so far has not been able to achieve on the desktop.

"I'm not going to answer the Nokia question. There is no upside for me. Whatever, don't even ask me" — Linus Torvalds

"Before Android there had been people trying to do Linux on cell phones, more or less successfully — mostly less — but people used to feel that hey, user interfaces and actual consumer products was not something that Linux was necessarily famous for and Android changed that," he said.

While Torvalds highlighted Android's positive impact on Linux, he also suggested that Linux may yet provide a successful alternative to the Google platform's dominance.

Asian device makers, such as Samsung or LG, could eventually create their own open-source Android competitor, according to Torvalds, as a result of concerns about their lack of control over the Google OS.

"Android is clearly very dominant in that space, but there are companies working on MeeGo and working on Tizen in Asia in particular and Korea, which have noticed that they used to be hardware manufacturers. Partly thanks to Linux some of these companies that used to create hardware for software that other people wrote have now been able to say, 'We can control our own destiny and write our own software on top of Linux'.

"I was in Korea a few weeks ago and talked to Samsung and LG. They are a bit nervous about Android because they are not Google. They also want to do their own operating system also because they want to be in control."

Could Jolla, the Finnish smartphone start-up founded by ex-Nokia workers, provide an alternative? Torvalds said he hadn't followed the "MeeGo resurrection company" but he was "hopeful that they will be successful and that there will be a plan B".

"Maybe Jolla will convince Nokia to rethink their stance," he added.

Topics: Linux, Android, Mobility, Nokia, Open Source, EU

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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  • Interesting statement from Linus Torvalds

    "he also suggested that Linux may yet provide a successful alternative to the Google platform's dominance

    MeeGo, Tizen, Jolla and WebOS (not mentioned) are all possibilities. SJVN, when are you going to start waving some flags other than Android?

    P.S. @SeanConnery007, be more respectful to primate species that are above humans on the tree of life.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • I like your last statement

      >>P.S. @SeanConnery007, be more respectful to primate species that are above humans on the tree of life.
      Ram U
  • Linus Torvalds promises 'no fingers' to Nvidia - just don't ask him about N

    Linus is still bitter about Nvidia rejecting him. Nokia already gave Linus the finger when they went with Microsoft Windows Phone. Other phone manufacturers are dropping android for their own phone systems. There is absolutely no hope left for linux. You have all these major OEMs just ditching linux. Did I call this one or what? Why yes I did!

    Now if only we can keep Linus over there in Finland and bar him from coming back to the United States. No one wants to hear his whiney hissy fits.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Afraid, very afraid

      I think Microsoft-fans are very afraid right now. Android, Linux, Chrome OS, Google docs, LibreOffice, HTML 5, Ubuntu tablets etc

      Thats right, cost of wordprocessing and operating systems are nearing ZERO. There is absolutely no hope left for Wintel.
      • Well HTML 5 is not

        not Google's nor Linux's. It is standard under review by W3C and Microsoft also has its fork in it like Google and Apple. Why should Microsoft be worried about HTML5 and except for Android there is nothing Microsoft should be worried about in your list and Microsoft is getting its pie from Android anyway.
        Ram U
        • Html 5

          Html 5 is important for making platform independent web apps. That means that free operating systems can use them as well as expensive windows. The success of for example Chrome OS will depend on good web apps, inexpensive hardware and ZERO license fees.
          • Web browser

            Basically having the operating system build as a glorified browser means less surface for attack. Both hackers and patent lawers have a very narrow target for attack, compared to more complicated systems.
    • You DID notice that they're switching to a different Linux, no?

      What a troll. They aren't switching to your personal deity, Windows. The discussion is they're nervous, so they're hedging their bets with a different Linux-based platform ...

      What a maroon.
    • Your posts are getting

      more and more desperate sounding by the day. While I didn't think your claims could get any more ridiculous, here you are, more outlandous than ever.
  • Kudos Linus Torvalds, great job

    Linus suggesting a successful alternative to Android, interesting times ahead.

    Another article about Linus and Loverock responded, you can teach an old dog to fetch.
  • Even funnier

    Another article about Linus and SeanConnery007 responds off topic with an MS reference.

    You can teach an old dog to fetch. ;)
    William Farrel
  • No offence, but people don't buy a phone because of the OS

    They buy because of the apps.

    If Linus thinks that people are Buying Android because it's derived from Linux, he's crazy. Those people are buying Android because they don't want an iPhone.

    It is very ironic that it's implied that he's not happy with Nokia for trying Phone 7/8. I thought the Linux mantra was all about choice (choice not to pick windows, choice to run the desktop manager you want, etc). I guess in his world choice is only good as long as you pick Linux.
    • The reason he's pissed at Nokia is:

      That as a Finnish company, Linus' homeland, he doesn't want to see Nokia go out of business, as it is one Finland's biggest companies, or was. Linus knows, as I do, Nokia is doomed now that it has all its eggs in the MS basket.

      Relax, I am not predicting MS's end, just Nokia's. Can anyone name a single company that has ever succeeded after subjigating itself to MS? Intel doesn't count, because it is not dependent on MS.
      • Nokia was doomed regardless

        Calm down, I'm not saying MeeGo was bad. Would it have sold, though? Remember why WebOS didn't do so well? Apps. It lacked tens of thousands of apps that everyone else had.

        No, they shouldn't have become another Android manufacturer.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Wintel! Ever hear of it?

        Chances are that, without Microsoft, Intel probably wouldn't even exist, or, if it did, it wouldn't even be close to the size it is now.

        Also, most companies that ever made any kind of computer, since the 1980s, has been affiliated with Microsoft, in one form or another. Windows has been the OS that ran most computers, from many different companies (OEMs), and, for a long while, most of them did pretty good, and many of them were successful while partnered with Microsoft.

        Perhaps you were born in this decade, and you aren't aware of the tech history of the past 30+ years?
        • History is just that - history.

          So what if Microsoft has started the whole desktop thing? Why would that mean we have to stick to Microsoft products forever then? It's like saying some king has done so much for his country, so let's bring him back into power. Times change. It's time to move on.