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Steve Jobs Tried To Hire Linux Founder Linus Torvalds for Mac OS Development

Steve Jobs Tried To Hire Linux Founder Linus Torvalds for Mac OS Development

A profile of Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux, on Wired.com reveals how back when Mac OS was just starting out, Steve Jobs made him a job offer to come and work at Apple. He refused as it meant he would have to stop his Linux work, but things could have been a lot different had he accepted.

Wired explains:

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.

“I said no,” Torvalds remembers.

Had Torvalds accepted the offer, almost everything would be different today. All you have to do is think how many web servers run Linux to realise that a huge number of websites would not exist today. Torvalds definitely did the right thing, even though it would have been awesome to see two great minds working together.


  1. Scotty W says:

    Non sequitur alert: “All you have to do is think how many web servers run Linux to realise that a huge number of websites would not exist today.” Er no, most of them would likely just run on something else, just like all those other websites do today.

    1. HenryTaylorGill says:

      The point I was trying to make is that Linux is everywhere, from servers to aeroplane screens. All use some version of Linux. I’m not so sure that there would be such a huge, open source OS like Linux if Torvalds hadn’t invented  the kernel.

      1. R Michaels says:

        Linux would have marched on, even if Apple hired Linus. I doubt the Linux scene would have looked much different today.

      2. Fri 13 says:

        Linux kernel is THE Linux operating system. They are same thing. Linux is not a micro kernel but monolithic kernel aka operating system. 😉

        There ain’t many monolithic OS’s left and especially Open Source ones, but closest come BSD family and then there is SunOS what is used in Solaris what Oracle got when they bought Sun. Few others but today most OS’s are by Server-Client architecture and people talks about OS’s as all would be Server-Client architecture and Monolithic architecture would not exist anymore since 1990 when it was a trend to make all OS’s as Server-Client and about 95% of them were such instead monolithic so people talked about OS’s as they all were Server-Client and even today people make mistakes believing that Linux is just a kernel as it would be a micro kernel and not a monolithic kernel what is the original operating system architecture for Multics and Unix. The Server-Client architecture is much younger architecture and so over hyped and marketed that it has caused lots of problems to peoples knowledge what Linux is.

    2. Fri 13 says:

      And probably someone from Linus “leutnants” would have stepped to fill Linus position.

      The question isn’t that how Linux would have missed changes, as even today Linux operating system what Linus development leads is most used in WWW-servers, Supercomputers, DVB-devices, Embedded systems and now Linux is #1 operating system in smart phones and thanks to Android system for that as well.

      Linux is great example how even today a monolithic operating system is functional and very much needed and when it is even GPLv2 licensed it will be developed by thousands of hackers, coders and companies for their products and for their needs and everyone gains in it.

      But could Linus have changed a XNU operating system (use Mach microkernel) functionality to better direction (XNU is operating system what OS X and iOS use and it is licensed Apple Open Source license what OSI and FSF have accepted as Free Software license), even if Linus hated the Server-Client architecture (because many technical and political reasons what other have done and claimed) what it uses? Probably yes but it still would be actually used only by Apple.

      World (including all competitors and IT corporations) should thank Linus from rejecting Steven offer.

  2. JG says:

    Now that’s an alternate universe I’d like to take a quick peek at.  One where Linus accepted Jobs offer and applied his skills to Mac OS.  I think it might have been at least equally if not even more brilliant.

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