Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds

Infobox Celebrity
name = Linus Torvalds

caption =
birth_date = birth date and age|1969|12|28
birth_place = Helsinki, Finland
residence = Portland, Oregon
nationality = Finnish
known_for = Linux, Git
employer = Linux Foundation
occupation = Software engineer
spouse = Tove Torvalds
children =
parents = Nils Torvalds (father)
relatives = Ole Torvalds (grandfather)
website = []
footnotes =

Linus Benedict Torvalds (Audio|Sv-Linus_Torvalds2.ogg|pronunciation; IPA| [ˈliːnɵs ˈtuːrvalds] ; born December 28 1969 in Helsinki, Finland) is a Finnish software engineer best known for having initiated the development of the Linux kernel. He later became the chief architect of the Linux kernel, and now acts as the project's coordinator.


Early years

Linus Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland, the son of journalists Anna and Nils Torvalds, [cite book | last = Torvalds | first = Linus | coauthors = David Diamond | title = | publisher = HarperCollins | year = 2001 | id = ISBN 0-06-662073-2 ] and the grandson of poet Ole Torvalds. His family belongs to the Swedish-speaking minority (5.5%) of Finland's population. Torvalds was named after Linus Pauling, the American Nobel Prize-winning chemist, although in the book "Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution", Torvalds is quoted as saying, "I think I was named equally for Linus the peanut-cartoon character," noting that this makes him half "Nobel-prize-winning chemist" and half "blanket-carrying cartoon character."cite book
last = Moody
first = Glyn
title = Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution
publisher = Perseus Books Group
date = 2002
pages = 336
url =
isbn = 0738206709
] Both of his parents were campus radicals at the University of Helsinki in the 1960s.

Torvalds attended the University of Helsinki from 1988 to 1996, graduating with a master's degree in computer science. His M.Sc. thesis was titled "Linux: A Portable Operating System". From 1997 to 1999 he was involved in 86open helping to choose the standard binary format for Linux and Unix.

His interest in computers began with a Commodore VIC-20. ["Just For Fun" pages 6-7] After the VIC-20 he purchased a Sinclair QL which he modified extensively, especially its operating system. He programmed an Assembly language and a text editor for the QL, as well as a few games. ["Just For Fun" pages 41-46] He is known to have written a "Pac-Man" clone named "Cool Man". In 1990 he purchased an Intel 80386-based IBM PC and spent a few weeks playing the game "Prince of Persia" before receiving his MINIX copy which in turn enabled him to begin his work on Linux.

Later years

Linus Torvalds is married to Tove Torvalds (née Monni) – a six-time Finnish national Karate champion – whom he first met in the autumn of 1993. ["Just For Fun" page 123] Torvalds was running introductory computer laboratory exercises for students and instructed the course attendants to send him an e-mail as a test, to which Tove responded with an e-mail asking for a date. Tove and Linus were later married and have three daughters, Patricia, Daniela, and Celeste. [ Torvalds' bio on] ]

After a visit to Transmeta in late 1996, [ [ Linux Online - Linus Torvalds Bio ] ] he accepted a position at the company in California, where he would work from February 1997 through June 2003. He then moved to the Open Source Development Labs, which has since merged with the Free Standards Group to become the Linux Foundation, under whose auspices he continues to work. In June 2004, Torvalds and his family moved to Portland, Oregon to be closer to the consortium's Beaverton, Oregon-based headquarters.

Red Hat and VA Linux, both leading developers of Linux-based software, presented Torvalds with stock options in gratitude for his creation. [cite web
url= Tovalds]
title=Linus Torvalds: By giving away his software, the Finnish programmer earned a place in history
work=60 Years of Heros
author=Gumbel, Peter
] In 1999, both companies went public and Torvalds' net worth shot up to roughly $20 million. [cite web
title=Leader of the Free World
author=Rivlin, Gary
] [ Linus Torvalds: A Very Brief and Completely Unauthorized Biography] ]

His personal mascot is a penguin nicknamed Tux, which has been widely adopted by the Linux community as the mascot of the Linux kernel.

Unlike many open source icons, Torvalds maintains a low profile and generally refuses to comment on competing software products.Dubious Torvalds generally stays out of non-kernel-related debates. Although Torvalds believes that "open source is the only right way to do software", he also has said that he uses the "best tool for the job", even if that includes proprietary software. [ [ Linus Torvalds at Google, on Git] , 9:50-10:00] He has been criticized for his use and alleged advocacy of the proprietary BitKeeper software for version control in the Linux kernel. However, Torvalds has since written a free-software replacement for BitKeeper called Git. Torvalds has commented on official GNOME developmental mailing lists that, in terms of desktop environments, he encourages users to switch to KDE. [ [ Printing dialog and GNOME] ] [ [ Linus versus GNOME] ]

The Linus/Linux connection

Initially Torvalds wanted to call the kernel he developed "Freax" (a combination of "free", "freak", and the letter X to indicate that it is a Unix-like system), but his friend Ari Lemmke, who administered the FTP server where the kernel was first hosted for downloading, named Torvalds' directory "linux".

Authority on Linux

About 2% of the current Linux kernel is written by Torvalds himself. Since Linux has had thousands of contributors, such a percentage represents a significant personal contribution to the overall amount of code. Torvalds remains the ultimate authority on what new code is incorporated into the standard Linux kernel.Henrik Ingo. Open Life: The Philosophy of Open Source. Ingram, 2005. 42-45. [ Online version] ]

Linux trademark

Torvalds owns the "Linux" trademark, and monitors [ [ Linus Explains Linux Trademark Issues] ] use of it chiefly through the non-profit organization Linux International.


*In 1996 Asteroid 9793 Torvalds was named after Linus Torvalds.
*In 1998 he received an EFF Pioneer Award. [ [ Torvalds, Stallman, Simons Win 1998 Pioneer Awards] ]
*In 1999 he received honorary doctor status at Stockholm University.
*The 1999 novel Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson features several characters who use "Finux" a Unix-like operating system developed in Finland.
*In 2000 he received honorary doctor status at University of Helsinki.
*In 2000 he was awarded the Lovelace Medal. [ [ Talking to Torvalds] , British Computer Society, September 2007.]
*In the "Time" magazine's Person of the Century Poll, Torvalds was voted at #17 at the poll's close in 2000. [ [ The Person of the Century Poll Results] ]
*In 2001, he shared the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Well-Being with Richard Stallman and Ken Sakamura.
*The 2001 film "Swordfish" contains a Finnish character – the number one computer hacker in the world – named Axl Torvalds.
*In 2004, he was named one of the most influential people in the world by the "Time" magazine article [,9171,994026,00.html "Linus Torvalds: The Free-Software Champion"] by Lawrence Lessig, Time Magazine, posted Monday, Apr. 26, 2004, retrieved October 3, 2006.
*In the search for the 100 Greatest Finns of all time, voted in the summer of 2004, Torvalds placed 16th.
*In 2005 he appeared as one of "the best managers" in a survey by "BusinessWeek". [ [ The Best & Worst Managers Of The Year] ]
*In August 2005, Torvalds received the Vollum Award from Reed College. [ [ Linux creator Linus Torvalds honored with Reed College's Vollum Award] ]
*In 2006, "Business 2.0" magazine named him one of "10 people who don't matter" because the growth of Linux has shrunk Torvalds' individual impact. [ [ 10 people who don't matter] ]
*In 2006, "Time" Magazine—Europe Edition named him one of the revolutionary heroes of the past 60 years. [ [ Linus Torvalds] ]
*In 2008, he was inducted into the Hall of Fellows of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. [ cite web | url= | title=The Computer History Museum Announces the 2008 Fellow Awards Recipients | date=2008-06-18 | accessdate=2008-06-20 ]

See also

* Linus's Law
* Tanenbaum-Torvalds debate
* Revolution OS
* Just for Fun




External links

* [ Torvalds's home page] (quite outdated)
* [ Linus' Blog]
* [ Linus Torvalds' LinkedIn profile]
* [ Linus Torvalds biography by Finn Film Entertainment]
* [ Linus Torvalds by Virtual Finland]
* [ Linus Torvalds: A Very Brief and Completely Unauthorized Biography]
* [ Torvalds On Where Linux Is Headed In 2008]
* [ Leader of the Free World - How Linus Torvalds became the benevolent dictator of Planet Linux, the biggest collaborative project in history (Wired News)]
* [ Benevolent Dictator. A slightly skeptical unauthorized biography and the first ten years of Linux (Softpanorama) ]
* [ Part of Business 2.0's List of "10 people who don't matter"]
* [ The Code] , a documentary featuring Torvalds
* [ The birth of Tux: Why Linus Torvalds chose a penguin as the Linux mascot]
* [ "What would you like to see most in minix?"] , thread begun by the first Usenet post by Linus Torvalds referencing his new project, followed by the advice and requests for features he received in those early weeks when Linux was first being planned
* [ Linus Torvalds interview on the Charlie Rose Show]
* [ Linus Torvalds giving a tech talk at Google about source code management systems]
* [ Linus Torvalds and His Five Entrepreneurial Lessons]
* [ "Linux Journal"] - 1 March 1994
* [ "Linux Journal"] - 1 November 1999
*Fresh Air episode|url_date_arg=4-Jun-01|date=4 June 2001
* [ "Wired Magazine"] - July 2003
* [ BusinessWeek] - 18 August 2004
* [ The Seattle Times] - 11 October 2004
* [ CNN] 18 May 2006
* [ Interview oneOpenSource] - July 2007
* [ apcmag -- Linus Torvalds talks future of Linux] - August 2007
* [,130061733,339285669,00.htm "ZDNet Australia"] Jan 2008 at
* [ "Tech Talk: Linus Torvalds on Git at Google"] transcript from
* [,-geek-of-the-week/ "simple-talk: Linus Torvalds, Geek of the Week"] - July 2008

NAME=Torvalds, Linus
DATE OF BIRTH=Birth date and age|1969|12|28|df=y
PLACE OF BIRTH=Helsinki, Finland

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