Open Thoughts

Linus's Lessons on Software

Posted by Cheng Soon Ong on September 27, 2011

Linus Torvalds talks about how to run a successful software project.

Two things people commonly get wrong:

“The first thing is thinking that you can throw things out there and ask people to help,”

“The other thing—and it's kind of related—that people seem to get wrong is to think that the code they write is what matters,”

The main points on how to run a successful project:

  • It is not about the code, it is about the user
  • A good workflow for the project is important, and tools may help to create a good workflow.
  • For big projects, development happens in small core groups
  • Let go, and don't try to control the people and the code

Have a look at the full article.


Mike Gashler (on November 9, 2011, 18:58:10)

I recently attended a colloquium by Dr. Charles M. Schweik, who has been doing empirical studies of the factors that lead to successful open source projects. One of his points that I found insightful was this: Successful projects tend to be those with simple and well-communicated objectives.

In hindsight, this may seem obvious, but I had made the mistake of trying to be as general-purpose as possible. I assumed that if I built a really great platform, then everyone would want to build on top of it. I am coming to realize, however, that most developers already have a specific objective in mind, and few of them are going to start by looking for a great general-purpose platform to build upon. Developers will only take the time to learn my code base if they are convinced that it will save them time in achieving their specific and pre-determined goals. Very few people are interested in messing with a big project that does a lot of things they don't care about right now. Being too helpful can be bad.

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