Linus Torvalds

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Linus Benedict Torvalds developed (and continues to develop) the Linux kernel. Inspired by the demo-system Minix developed by Andrew Tannenbaum, he felt the need for a capable UNIX operating system that he could run on his home PC. Torvalds developed Linux primarily on his own time and equipment.

Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland on December 28, 1969. He is one of the Finlandssvensk, a Swedish-speaking group that represents about 6% of the population of Finland. He attended Helsinki University. He currently lives in Santa Clara, California with his wife Tove (a former (six-time?) national Karate champion in Finland) and his two daughters Patricia Miranda and Daniela. He is currently employed by Transmeta Corporation.

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

"Linus' Law," a tenet of the Open source model inspired by Linus and coined by Eric S. Raymond is, "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow."

Unlike many open source "evangelists", Torvalds is keeping a low profile and generally refuses to comment on competing software products, such as Microsoft's dominant Windows operating system. Nevertheless, Torvalds has occasionally reacted with strong statements to what is perceived as FUD from proprietary software vendors like Microsoft.

For example, in one e-mail reaction to statements by Microsoft Senior-VP Craig Mundie, who criticized open source software for not being innovative and destructive to intellectual property, Torvalds wrote: "I wonder if Mundie has ever heard of Sir Isaac Newton? He's not only famous for having set the foundations for classical mechanics (and the original theory of gravitation, which is what most people remember, along with the apple tree story), but he is also famous for how he acknowledged the achievement: If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants." Added Torvalds: "I'd rather listen to Newton than to Mundie. He may have been dead for almost three hundred years, but despite that he stinks up the room less."


See also:

Books:

  • Linus Torvalds, David Diamond: Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary. New York, HarperBusiness, 2001.