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Linus Torvalds' lifestyle tips for hackers: Be like me, work in a bathrobe, no showers before noon

Also be curious and constructive by working on Linux instead of breaking it

Linux Lord Linus Torvalds has offered some lifestyle advice for hackers, suggesting they adopt his admittedly-unglamorous lifestyle but also his ethos of working on things that matter.

In an on-stage interview with Linux Foundation founder and executive director Jim Zemlin at the Open Source summit in Los Angeles on Monday, Torvalds admitted that “I have long since gotten over the fact that the UPS guy brings me a package from Amazon at 3:00PM and I am still in my bathrobe.”

Zemlin joked that the Linux Foundation has a shower before noon policy and Torvalds shot back that it's the reason he works from home instead of coming into the office.

Torvalds later invited hackers to adopt his lifestyle in two ways, first explaining that while coding a kernel in his bathrobe is far from glamorous he derives immense satisfaction from the many uses to which Linux is put. That makes his job fun, an outcome he feels is more likely to be attainable when working in technology than in other fields.

He therefore encouraged anyone looking for a career to pursue technology, but said he wants to make a special effort to recruit those who work on the dark side of tech.

Asked about the state of Linux security, he said the kernel development team does its very best and finds fuzzing tools are improving its potency. “We will always have bugs where we overlooked some detail and a smart person comes in and says 'Hey, that is a bug I can take advantage of'.”

Even if the kernel team gets better at security, he said “absolute” security is impossible because someone will build a project on the kernel that introduces a vulnerability. Even if those projects do their very best, he added, someone will deploy it badly.

Hence his interest in recruiting more hackers.

“I am always very impressed by people who are attacking our code,” he said. “Sometimes I get the feeling these smart people are doing bad things, but I wish they were on our side because they are so smart and they could help us.”

“That is where I want us to go. We need to try to get as many of those smart people before they go to the dark side and improve security that way by having a lot of developers.”

“I want to encourage people who are interested in security to come to us instead of attacking us.”

And better yet, they'll get to do it in their bathrobes.

The full interview is below. ®

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