Linus Torvalds

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Linus Torvalds
Linus Torvalds.jpeg
Torvalds in 2002[1]
Born Linus Benedict Torvalds
(1969-12-28) December 28, 1969 (age 44)
Helsinki, Finland
Residence Portland, Oregon, United States
Nationality Finnish, American (naturalized in 2010)[2]
Alma mater University of Helsinki
Occupation Software engineer
Employer Linux Foundation
Known for Linux kernel, Git
Spouse(s) Tove Torvalds (née Monni)
Children 3
Parents Nils Torvalds (father)
Anna Torvalds (mother)[3]
Relatives Ole Torvalds (grandfather)
Website
torvalds-family.blogspot.com (outdated)
www.cs.helsinki.fi/u/torvalds/ (outdated)

Linus Benedict Torvalds (Swedish: [ˈliːn.ɵs ˈtuːr.valds] ( ); born December 28, 1969) is a Finnish American[2][4] software engineer, who was the principal force behind the development of the Linux kernel. He later became the chief architect of the Linux kernel, and now acts as the project's coordinator. He also created the revision control system Git as well as the diving log software Subsurface. He was honored, along with Shinya Yamanaka, with the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize by the Technology Academy Finland "in recognition of his creation of a new open source operating system for computers leading to the widely used Linux kernel".[5]

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland. He is the son of journalists Anna and Nils Torvalds,[6] and the grandson of poet Ole Torvalds. Both of his parents were campus radicals at the University of Helsinki in the 1960s. His family belongs to the Swedish-speaking minority (5.5% of Finland's population). Torvalds was named after Linus Pauling, the Nobel Prize–winning American 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 Peanuts cartoon character", noting that this makes him half "Nobel-prize-winning chemist" and half "blanket-carrying cartoon character".[7]

Torvalds attended the University of Helsinki between 1988 and 1996, graduating with a master's degree in computer science from NODES research group.[8] His academic career was interrupted after his first year of study when he joined the Finnish Army, selecting the 11-month officer training program to fulfill the mandatory military service of Finland. In the army he held the rank of second lieutenant, with the role of a ballistic calculation officer.[9] In 1990, he resumed his university studies, and was exposed to UNIX for the first time, in the form of a DEC MicroVAX running ULTRIX.[10] His M.Sc. thesis was titled Linux: A Portable Operating System.[11]

His interest in computers began with a Commodore VIC-20.[12] 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.[13][14] He is known to have written a Pac-Man clone named Cool Man. On January 5, 1991[15] he purchased an Intel 80386-based IBM PC[16] before receiving his MINIX copy, which in turn enabled him to begin work on Linux.[7][17]

Later years[edit]

After a visit to Transmeta in late 1996,[3] Torvalds accepted a position at the company in California, where he would work from February 1997 until 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 OSDL's Beaverton, Oregon–based headquarters.

From 1997 to 1999 he was involved in 86open helping to choose the standard binary format for Linux and Unix. In 1999 he was named by the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the world's top 100 innovators under age 35.[18]

In 1999 Red Hat and VA Linux, both leading developers of Linux-based software, presented Torvalds with stock options in gratitude for his creation.[19] That same year both companies went public and Torvalds' share value temporarily shot up to roughly $20 million.[20][21]

His personal mascot is a penguin nicknamed Tux,[22] which has been widely adopted by the Linux community as the mascot of the Linux kernel.[23]

Although Torvalds believes "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.[24] He was criticized for his use and alleged advocacy of the proprietary BitKeeper software for version control in the Linux kernel. Torvalds subsequently wrote a free-software replacement for BitKeeper called Git.

In 2008 Torvalds stated that he used the Fedora distribution of Linux because it had fairly good support for the PowerPC processor architecture, which he had favoured at the time.[25] His usage of Fedora was confirmed in a later 2012 interview.[26]

Currently, the Linux Foundation sponsors Torvalds so he can work full-time on improving Linux.[27]

The Linus/Linux connection[edit]

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 download, named Torvalds' directory linux.[28]

Authority and trademark[edit]

As of 2006, approximately two percent of the Linux kernel was written by Torvalds himself.[21] Because thousands have contributed to the Linux kernel, this percentage is one of the largest contributions to it. However, he stated in 2012 that his own personal contribution is mostly merging code written by others, with little programming.[29] Torvalds retains the highest authority to decide which new code is incorporated into the standard Linux kernel.[30]

Torvalds owns the "Linux" trademark and monitors the use of it,[31] chiefly through the Linux Mark Institute.

Personal life[edit]

Torvalds in 2002

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.[32] Linus 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.[7] Tove and Linus were later married and have three daughters, Patricia Miranda (born 1996), Daniela Yolanda (born 1998), and Celeste Amanda (born 2000),[33] two of whom were born in the United States.[4] The Linux kernel's reboot system call accepts their dates of birth (written in hexadecimal) as magic values.[34][35]

Torvalds describes himself as "completely a-religiousatheist", adding that "I find that people seem to think religion brings morals and appreciation of nature. I actually think it detracts from both. It gives people the excuse to say, 'Oh, nature was just created,' and so the act of creation is seen to be something miraculous. I appreciate the fact that, 'Wow, it's incredible that something like this could have happened in the first place.'" He later added that while in Europe religion is mostly a personal issue, in America it has become very politicized. When discussing the issue of church and state separation, Torvalds also said, "Yeah, it's kind of ironic that in many European countries, there is actually a kind of legal binding between the state and the state religion."[36]

In 2010, Torvalds became a United States citizen and registered to vote in the United States. He is unaffiliated with any U.S. political party, saying, "I have way too much personal pride to want to be associated with any of them, quite frankly."[4]

Recognition[edit]

Internet Hall of Fame[edit]

On April 23, 2012 at Internet Society's Global INET conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Torvalds was one of the inaugural inductees into the Internet Hall of Fame, one of ten in the Innovators category and thirty-three overall inductees.[37]

Millennium Technology Prize[edit]

On April 20, 2012, Torvalds was declared one of two winners of that year's Millennium Technology Prize,[38] along with Shinya Yamanaka.[39] The honor is widely described as technology's equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Academics[edit]

In 1997, Torvalds received his Master degree (Laudatur Grade) from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki. Two years later he received honorary doctor status at Stockholm University, and in 2000 he received the same honor from his alma mater.[40] University of Helsinki has named an auditorium after Torvalds and his computer is on display at the Department of Computer Science.

In August 2005, Torvalds received the Vollum Award from Reed College.[41]

Industry[edit]

In 1998 Torvalds received an EFF Pioneer Award.[42] In 2000 he was awarded the Lovelace Medal from the British Computer Society.[43] In 2001, he shared the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Well-Being with Richard Stallman and Ken Sakamura. In 2008, he was inducted into the Hall of Fellows of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.[44][45] He was awarded the C&C Prize by the NEC Corporation in 2010 for "contributions to the advancement of the information technology industry, education, research, and the improvement of our lives".[46]

Media[edit]

Time magazine has recognized Torvalds multiple times:

InfoWorld presented him with the 2000 Award for Industry Achievement.[49] In 2005 Torvalds appeared as one of "the best managers" in a survey by BusinessWeek.[50] 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.[51]

In summer 2004, viewers of YLE (the Finnish Broadcasting Company) placed Torvalds 16th in the network's 100 Greatest Finns. In 2010, as part of a series called The Britannica Guide to the World's Most Influential People, Torvalds was listed among The 100 Most Influential Inventors of All Time (ISBN 9781615300037).[52]

Space[edit]

In 1996, the asteroid 9793 Torvalds was named after him. In 2003, the naming of an asteroid moon (Linus) was motivated in part by the fact that the discoverer was an enthusiastic Linux user.

Patents[edit]

As of March 2011, Torvalds has been granted 35 patents worldwide (application and granted patents).[53]

Desktop environment criticism[edit]

In 2005, on the official GNOME developmental mailing lists, Torvalds encouraged users to switch to K Desktop Environment 3 rather than use GNOME.[54][55] However, Torvalds thought KDE Plasma Desktop 4.0 was a "disaster" because of its lack of maturity, and so he had switched to GNOME by 2009.[56] Dissatisfied with his perceived loss of productivity, he switched to XFCE after the GNOME 3 release, making another harsh post against GNOME.[57] After improved KDE versions were made, he switched back to KDE Plasma Desktop 4[58] but soon switched back to GNOME 3 stating that "it has been getting less painful"[59] with Frippery and gnome-tweak-tool which he suggested to be merged into GNOME.[60]

Possible NSA approach[edit]

In September 2013, Torvalds was asked at the LinuxCon conference whether he had been approached by a US government agency to add backdoors into Linux; he responded with a verbal "no" while nodding his head "yes".[61] He later confirmed that it was obviously a joke, no government agency has ever asked him for a backdoor in Linux.[62]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert McMillan (December 2002). "The Great Dictator · Linus Torvalds: The Benevolent, Brilliant Keeper of the Kernel". FEATURES (Linux Magazine). Archived from the original on March 4, 2003. Retrieved June 9, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Citizen Linus, a September 13, 2010 post from LWN.net
  3. ^ a b "Linux Online – Linus Torvalds Bio". Linux.org. Archived from the original on 2004-06-26. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Mike Rogoway (September 14, 2010). "Linus Torvalds, already an Oregonian, now a U.S. citizen". The Oregonian. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Technology Academy Finland – Stem cell pioneer and open source software engineer are 2012 Millennium Technology Prize laureates". Technologyacademy.fi. April 19, 2012. Retrieved April 24, 2012. [dead link]
  6. ^ Torvalds
  7. ^ a b c Moody, Glyn (2002). Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution. Perseus Books Group. p. 336. ISBN 0-7382-0670-9. 
  8. ^ "NODES research group". Cs.helsinki.fi. October 16, 2008. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  9. ^ Torvalds, p. 29
  10. ^ Torvalds, p. 53
  11. ^ "Staff". The Linux Foundation. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  12. ^ Torvalds, pp. 6–7
  13. ^ Torvalds, pp. 41–46
  14. ^ Torvalds, Linus: GMOVE. Program listing. In MikroBitti 11/1986, p. 63.
  15. ^ "Linux News". Abc.se. January 5, 1991. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  16. ^ Torvalds, p. 60
  17. ^ Linus Benedict Torvalds (August 25, 91 20:57:08 GMT). "What would you like to see most in minix?". comp.os.minix. Web link. "I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones.". Retrieved 2014-04-23.
  18. ^ "1999 Young Innovators Under 35: Linus Torvalds, 29". Technology Review. 1999. Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  19. ^ a b Gumbel, Peter (November 13, 2006). "Linus Torvalds". Time. Retrieved March 13, 2010. [dead link]
  20. ^ Gary Rivlin. "Leader of the Free World". Wired. Retrieved June 14, 2008. 
  21. ^ a b "Linus Torvalds: A Very Brief and Completely Unauthorized Biography". The Linux Information Project. Bellevue Linux Users Group. January 24, 2006. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  22. ^ Re: Linux Logo prototype., a Thu, May 9, 1996 message from Linus Torvalds (torvalds@cs.helsinki.fi)
  23. ^ Why a Penguin? at the Wayback Machine (archived January 13, 2007). linux.org
  24. ^ Linus Torvalds at Google, on Git on YouTube, 9:50–10:00
  25. ^ Richard Morris (July 17, 2008). "Linus Torvalds, Geek of the Week". Retrieved August 3, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Interview with Linus Torvalds from Linux Format 163". TuxRadar. Linux Format. 29 November 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  27. ^ About Us. The Linux Foundation. Retrieved on June 19, 2013.
  28. ^ Moody, Glen. "The Greatest OS That (Never) Was". Wired. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  29. ^ "An Interview With Linus Torvalds". Tech Crunch. April 19, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  30. ^ Henrik Ingo. Open Life: The Philosophy of Open Source. Ingram, 2005. 42–45.Online version
  31. ^ "Linus Explains Linux Trademark Issues". Slashdot.org. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  32. ^ Torvalds, p. 123
  33. ^ "Torvalds' bio on". Nndb.com. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  34. ^ Linus Torvalds. "index : kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git". Linux kernel. Archived from the original on accessed git version. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Debian's reboot(2) man page". Retrieved August 16, 2011. 
  36. ^ Marjorie Richardson (November 1, 1999). "Interview: Linus Torvalds". Linux Journal. Retrieved April 2, 2011. 
  37. ^ "2012 Internet Hall of Fame inductees 2012". Internet Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Linus Torvalds wins the tech. equivalent of a Nobel Prize: the Millennium Technology Prize.". ZDNet. April 19, 2012. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  39. ^ "Yamanaka wins Finnish award for iPS work : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)". Yomiuri Shimbun. Japan. April 21, 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-04-22. 
  40. ^ Torvalds, p. 28
  41. ^ "Linux creator Linus Torvalds honored with Reed College's Vollum Award". Web.reed.edu. August 24, 2005. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  42. ^ "Torvalds, Stallman, Simons Win 1998 Pioneer Awards". W2.eff.org. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  43. ^ Talking to Torvalds, British Computer Society, September 2007.
  44. ^ "The Computer History Museum Announces the 2008 Fellow Awards Recipients" (Press release). Computer History Museum. June 18, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  45. ^ "Fellow Awards: Linus Torvalds". Computer History Museum. October 21, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  46. ^ Chris von Eitzen (October 21, 2010). "Linus Torvalds awarded 2010 C&C Prize". The H (Heinz Heise). Retrieved October 22, 2010. [dead link]
  47. ^ "The 2010 Time 100". Time. Archived from the original on 2007-01-03. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 
  48. ^ Lawrence Lessig (April 26, 2004). "Linus Torvalds: The Free-Software Champion". Time magazine. Retrieved October 3, 2006. 
  49. ^ Nicholas Petreley. This year's Award for Industry Achievement goes to the creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds. InfoWorld. Jan 17, 2000. Page 82.
  50. ^ "The Best & Worst Managers Of The Year". Bloomberg BusinessWeek. January 10, 2005. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  51. ^ By Business 2.0 Magazine staff (June 22, 2006). "10 people who don't matter". CNN. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  52. ^ "Linus Torvalds named one of the 100 most influential inventors". The H. February 4, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2010. [dead link]
  53. ^ "Patent Portfolio of Linus Torvalds". directoryinventor.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-08. 
  54. ^ "Printing dialog and GNOME". Mail.gnome.org. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  55. ^ "Linus versus GNOME". Desktoplinux.com. February 23, 2007. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  56. ^ Rodney Gedda (January 22, 2009). "Q&A: Linux founder Linus Torvalds talks about open-source identity". Computerworld. Retrieved April 24, 2012. "it was a half-baked release (...) I'll revisit it when I reinstall the next machine" 
  57. ^ Linus Torvalds Ditches GNOME 3 For Xfce - Slashdot. Linux.slashdot.org (August 3, 2011). Retrieved on June 19, 2013.
  58. ^ Linus Torvalds. "Linus Torvalds' post (02/11/2012)". Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
  59. ^ "Torvalds: I want to be nice, and curse less, but it's just not in me". The Register. November 7, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  60. ^ Nick Heath. (March 4, 2013) Linus Torvalds switches back to Gnome 3.x desktop. ZDNet. Retrieved on June 19, 2013.
  61. ^ Did NSA contact Linus for a backdoor in Linux? (updated)
  62. ^ http://mashable.com/2013/09/19/linus-torvalds-backdoor-linux/ No, the Government Never Asked Linus Torvalds for a Backdoor in Linux

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Himanen, Pekka; Linus Torvalds, and Manuel Castells (2001). The Hacker Ethic. Secker & Warburg. ISBN 0-436-20550-5. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Michael Grätzel
Millennium Technology Prize winner
2012
Succeeded by
Stuart Parkin