Alan Cox

Infobox Person
name = Alan Cox

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caption = Alan Cox at FOSS.IN/2005
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birth_date = July 22, 1968
birth_place = Solihull, England
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residence = Swansea, Wales
nationality = British
other_names = ac
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employer = Red Hat
occupation = Programmer
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spouse = Telsa Gwynne
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Alan Cox (born July 22, 1968 in Solihull, England) is a British computer programmer heavily involved in the development of the Linux kernel since its early days 1991.

Involvement in the Linux kernel

While employed on the campus of University of Wales, Swansea, he installed a very early version of Linux on one of the machines belonging to the university computer society. This was one of the first Linux installations on a busy network, and revealed many bugs in the networking code. Cox fixed many of these bugs, and went on to rewrite much of the networking subsystem. He then became one of the main developers and maintainers of the whole kernel.

He maintained the 2.2 branch, and his own versions of the 2.4 branch (signified by an "ac" in the version, for example 2.4.13-ac1). This branch was very stable and contained bugfixes that went directly into the vendor kernels. He was once commonly regarded as being the "second in command" after Linus Torvalds himself, before reducing his involvement with Linux to study for an MBA. [ [ Linux: Alan Cox To Take One Year Sabbatical] .] His informative and friendly comments have guided many programmers on the Linux kernel mailing list.

Alan is employed by Red Hat. He lives in Swansea, Wales with his wife, Telsa Gwynne.

He has also been involved in the GNOME and X.Org projects, and was the main developer of AberMUD, which he wrote whilst a student at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.


Alan Cox is an ardent supporter of programming freedom, and an outspoken opponent of software patents, the DMCA and the CBDTPA. He resigned from a subgroup of Usenix in protest, and said he would not visit the United States for fear of being imprisoned after the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov for DMCA violations.

In January 2007, he proposed a series of "RMS", or "Rights management systems". [ List of Alan Cox patents] ] It is said that he has filed a patent for Digital Rights Management. Red Hat Inc., Cox's employer, has stated (in a document drafted by Mark Webbink and Cox himself [cite video
people=Webbink, Mark (Interviewee)
title=Mark Webbink On: The Patent Promise
format=Ogg Theora
publisher=Red Hat Magazine
] ) that it will not use patents against free software projects, [cite web |url= |publisher=Red Hat |title=Statement of Position and Our Promise on Software Patents |accessdate=2007-08-23] so it is believed that these patents try to prevent future use of DRM technologies.

Cox is also an adviser to the Open Rights Group . [cite web |url= |publisher=Open Rights Group |title=Board and Advisory Council |accessdate=2007-08-23]


Cox was the recipient of the Free Software Foundation's 2003 Award for the Advancement of Free Software at the FOSDEM conference in Brussels. [cite web |url= |publisher=Free Software Foundation |title=2003 Award For the Advancement of Free Software |accessdate=2007-08-23]

On October 5 2005, Cox received a lifetime achievement award at the LinuxWorld awards in London. [cite news |title=Linux pioneer wins lifetime achievement award |author=Matt Loney |date=2005-10-06 |url=,1000000121,39226539,00.htm |publisher=ZDNet UK]

External links

* [ Alan Cox LinkedIn profile]
* [ Alan Cox: The maintainer of production version of the Linux kernel] . Ch. 5 of ebook "Open Source Pioneers", includes a lot of difficult to find interviews.
* [ Interview on his biography]
* [ LWN interviews Alan Cox]
* [ Interview with Alan Cox - January 15 2002]
* [ LugRadio interview]
* [ Linux Format interview - August 2005]
* [ Cathedrals, Bazaars and the Town Council - 1998-10-13]
* [ Ogg audio recording of a talk in Limerick, Ireland 2006-05-13] , and a [ transcript of an excerpt, about GPLv3]
* [ Video interview with Alan Cox at Hannover Industry Trade Fair, Germany, May 2008]
* [ Alan Cox interviewed in Cardiff]


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