One of the things I always admired about Linus is that he managed to stay very neutral amongst all the Linux vendors. Back in the dot com days, he could have had pretty much anything he wanted from Redhat, VA Linux, Linuxcare, etc... etc.... but he managed to stay with Transmeta, and then go to the Linux Foundation, which is neutral territory. That's allowed him to focus on Linux without having a Corporate Overlord, benign though it may be.
One of the problems with open source software is that it can be very difficult to capture some of the value that people get from it, and cycle it back to the creators/workers of some project. Except, of course, for code contributions, but you can't pay the rent with those.
It's a bit of hyperbole on his part, but yeah, I think he likes seeing how something ought to be done, and doesn't enjoy sitting down and actually pecking at the keys to make it happen. I can understand that.
Speaking of dot coms and Linuxcare and such, much as I don't care for working with PHP, Rasmus is a really smart, friendly and nice guy who is well worth talking with even if his language is not 'hip'.
I take that and other similar things he has uttered in the past to mean that he puts pragmatism over perfectionism. He wraps it in a self-deprecating tone of humor, which may come out as ignorant but is in fact just him being humble. Or that's how I understand him anyway.
I'd love to know how Ruby is one of the two most popular web programming languages. I love ruby but from what I see here in NYC, I'd say python is more popular. Are we trading anecdotes here? Or is that two most popular based on a metric from somewhere?
Based on anecdotal evidence it seems like python is generally much more popular then ruby, being frequently used for just about any general purpose programming (other then some speed sensitive and low level stuff) such as os scripting, application scripting, web programming, number crunching, desktop applications, ect.
While ruby(usually rails) is unfortunately only popular for web programming (probably because python is a very similar language that out-competes it, partially due to specialized libraries and more stable interfaces) where it seems to be more popular then python.
I'll throw in my anecdotal evidence as well then. At work use ruby for a lot of configuration management with puppet mainly due to it just being easier to just throw some extra ruby in place than shell out to another script. So ever so slowly we have been getting more and more ruby into our "enterprise".
We also have another more "corporate" type piece of software that uses python that gets... less use, but that is more due to it really being written in java and having performance closer to a glacier. Which is why we have puppet now in the first place.
I've used both ruby and perl for equal amounts of time, and I've recently started to use it at work to replace old perl and shell I have. That and I've switched vm's to rubinius so those old "ruby is slow" gripes to be honest never cause problems. That and having a jit+vm that isn't java on each of our os's is really awesome.
Don't get me wrong, Python is a great language but you are 100% right, there isn't much need for learning both Ruby and Python. They both are roughly equivalent featurewise, but they both take completely different roads about how you approach general purpose programming. That said I know both but rarely use my Python knowledge much. But it does have some great libraries out there for numeric computation/etc... I also know of a few companies that use ruby as their goto language to get failing (java) projects out of the door.
Disclaimer: I never use rails at all, haven't since I looked at it source in the 1.x days. Was REALLY put off with all of the monkey patching they did.
We track the programming language that our customers are using on sign up. Our customers aren't particularly early-adopter-ish, so I assume it's a reasonable approximation (taken over a decently large sample of sites):
I remember when RubyGems got forked as SlimGems, there was a discussion about Rails' importance in the overall Ruby community. patio11 wrote:
I use Rails, and love Rails, but back home Rails is not yet the core Ruby use case, not by a long shot. Rails has peculiar needs with regards to typical Ruby applications, and a certain portion of the developer community feels that people who write themselves peculiar needs can write their own solutions to them. 
With Matz working on the most Rails-oriented hosting platform, perhaps this will change.
I don't think matz was ever unaware of how important rails is. But what I assume patio11 meant is that most of the japanese devs may not have that as a priority, changing the priorities of a single person would not change much.
This is really great to see. It's so seldom that a company goes from strength to strength post acquisition. With notable exceptions like Android, companies at best hold their trajectory while most disintegrate.
Heroku just keeps getting better though. The releases of things like Cedar and node support are a huge indication of the platform's forward momentum and this news is quite the coup d'etat. Kudos to the Heroku team and Kudos to Salesforce for an acquisition gone right.
'Marketing and bragging rights' sounds critical to me. In an interview, Matz describes it this way:
>> He [Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce] said he could provide us some support and that's why I decided to join Salesforce.com through Heroku (Note: Several members of Ruby Core are currently under negotiation to join Heroku).
>> So, the core of our work will not change. Our mission is to develop Ruby Core, to make Ruby more functional and higher quality. Having said that, I am expecting that the job security we are being provided and Ruby usage feedback we get from heavy Ruby users such as Heroku will accelerate the progress of Ruby development. Otherwise, there would be no point to accepting the offer.
The "support" there refers to a conversation between Benioff and Matz where Matz said a primary concern of his was for Ruby devs who either work on Ruby in their spare time or worry about job security. It sounds like Salesforce is committed to helping by hiring multiple Ruby-core devs. I think that's very real support, not just PR of any kind.
This is totally awesome, and is a huge boon for both Heroku and Ruby, but I'd much prefer to see them hire Rich Hickey or Guido van Rossum or Martin Odersky or ...well, the list goes on. Heroku is already knows Ruby cold, they should be on-boarding the people that can help them bring their A-game to other platforms. I look forward to a world where I can ask myself the question "which platform is quickest to get up and running on" and have the answer be a list with 10 entries. Lots of people are trying this, but Heroku has the experience to make it work.
It seems it's more about giving focus to the ruby dev effort, and (paraphrasing from Matz) getting feedback from Heroku as to how ruby can be adapted to fit more comfortably in a cloud computing environment.
My ex-employer (a tech consulting company) tried to on-board him & I am assuming that Matz certainly have received offers from many other tech companies too..
Kudos to heroku for making offer that excited Matz.., it is an interesting move by Heroku..
Matz was rather excited to get the Heroku t-shirts last week. This is a few days before the RubyKaigi so the timing is indicative. I think Heroku wants some expansion in the Japanese Ruby market. (which is sadly still under-developed)
I'm wondering if there's not a single person out on HN that sees this the way I do? It's not a bad thing that Matz is joining Heroku, but it does give them a very different stature in the Ruby community than they had pre-Matz. Nothing inherently evil or snarky about that.
I'm a Heroku user who hopes that this produces an even better experience on the platform. But I find it hard to see this as just another hire. Google's got a huge leg up in Go since they've got the two Robs and Ken, Joyent has Node + Ryan Dahl.
They don't own the language, but they do "own" it.
Did Google start owning Python when Guido went to work there? Replace Google by Transmeta and Guido by Linus and you have another earlier example. This kind of thing happens all the time. You can generally count on long-time system designers and implementors to have enough integrity and pride in their creation that they won't succumb to corporate agendas even from their own employers. It's not like they're so desperate they have to suck corporate cock to hang onto a job.