We Talk to Everybody

A quick look at some of the people who helped make Linux possible.
Eric Youngdale

Eric became involved with Linux before the 1.0 kernel release, and very much enjoyed the camaraderie among the various developers. He found the Linux community to be friendly and supportive of newcomers, as opposed to the BSD community that had a “tendency to argue, flame, and in general, eat their own young”.

During the day, Eric was a research scientist at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC. At night, he worked on the kernel, adding support for core files. Doing this work convinced him that the a.out file format needed to be replaced, so he began working on kernel support for ELF. He also did a lot of work on the linker, assembler and dynamic loader. Later, he worked on writing an iso9660 file system to handle CD-ROMs and on the SCSI subsystem. These days, the SCSI subsystem is the only place he “still sticks [his] fingers.”

When asked if there was a world outside computers, he replied:

Absolutely, I have to frankly admit there are times when I really resent the amount of time I spend on free software, and these are the times when I completely stop reading e-mail. In order to make the most of what limited time I have, I am trying to be fairly selective about what I get involved with, and really only work on things where there isn't anyone else taking a leadership role. There are also times when things get quite intense at work [so] that I don't have the interest or the energy to sit down in front of my machine when I get home.

His outside interests are many and varied, from roller hockey to classes on reading, writing and speaking Chinese. He likes to scuba dive and ski when he gets the chance and spend time near the ocean in the summer.

Eric feels Linux wouldn't have been possible without the GNU tools and that we owe the free software community a “huge debt of gratitude, but calling it GNU/Linux seems silly.” Regarding threats to Linux, he sees two: Windows NT and fragmentation. About fragmentation, he said:

The danger I see for Linux is all of the different distributions that are appearing—there have to be close to six different boxes down at CompUSA these days, and we are already starting to see subtle differences in the way these things work (KDE/GNOME is an example, here). I see no good that can come out of having all of these different choices.

Eric has many strong views and is not afraid to say things that might not be agreed with by the majority—an excellent trait in one of the leaders of our community. He can be reached by e-mail at eric@andante.org.