Linus Torvalds And Linux

Linus Torvalds and Linux

By LBeard


Linus Torvalds is a software engineer, who started the development of the Linux kernel. He still holds the authority to decide what new code is put into the basic Linux kernel.

Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland in the year 1969. Linus Torvalds claims that his parents named him after both Linus Pauling, a Nobel-Prize winning chemist, and Linus from the famous comic strip Peanuts. He says that makes him, “Half nobel-prize-winning chemist and half blanket-carrying cartoon character." Torvalds says that he was first interested in computers after having purchased a Commodore VIC-20. (A Commodore VIC-20 is an 8-bit home computer.) He attended the University of Helsinki in 1988, but then delayed the rest of his education in order to join the Finnish Army. He went through an 11 month officer training program, thus completing the required military service in Finland. While in the army he achieved the rank of second lieutenant; and was assigned to calculate the positioning of guns, targets, and trajectories before ordering the gunmen where to shoot. After his enrollment in the army he returned to the University of Helsinki to finish his education. He graduated from the University in 1996, with a master’s degree in computer science. He had already started his work on Linux (he started his work on it in 1991) and actually wrote his thesis paper on it. The title of his thesis paper was Linux: A Portable Operating System.

After he graduated he accepted a job in California working for Transmeta. In 1999, when the companies VA Linux and Red Hat, two leading developers of Linux based software, went public they gave Torvalds stock options and his net worth shot up to almost $20 million. In 2003, he began working for Open Source Development Labs, which since has merged with Free Standards group and was renamed Linux Foundation. His job at Linux Foundation is the one he holds to this day.


Linux is a free open source operating system that contains the Linux kernel. Torvalds started his work on the Linux kernel in April 1991, as a hobby. Torvalds never expected his free program to ever become a mainstream program. The MINIX community contributed a lot (both code and ideas) to the original version of the Linux kernel. The Linux kernel, version .01 was first released in September 1991, with 10,239 lines of code. When he released version 0.12 in February 1992, Torvalds adopted the GNU General Public License (GPL) over his previous self-drafted license, which did not permit commercial redistribution.

The Linux kernel mascot is a penguin named Tux. Although, for the 2.6.29 release only, Tux was swapped out for a character called Tuz, to bring awareness to the efforts to save the tasmanian devil from extinction.
Approximately 2% of the current (as of 2006) Linux Kernel was written by Torvalds. Although, considering the number of contributors to the program, 2% is still a considerable amount.
On March 23, 2009 Linux 2.6.29 was released with 11,010,647 lines of code.


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