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Linus Benedict Torvalds

In the euphoria of the last years of the 20th century one of many revolutions took place. Virtually over night an operating system called Linux attracted the attention of the world. With an explosive bang it freed from the room of its Creator, Linus Torvalds and advanced to a cult object of a following of freaks. Suddendly it affected the commercial centers running the world. What started as a party of a single student, inspired millions of people all over the world containing the antarctis and the outer space. The operating system not only controlled a number of servers distributing the content of the World Wide Web, but has also become the biggest community project in the history of mankind. The Open-Source-Philosphy behind it was very simple: Information, in this case the source code or the basic commands behind the operating system, should be accessible free and freely to everybody who wanted to advance it. In return all advances should be available unrestrained. This concept had already supported scientific perceptions over hundreds of years. A few people caught a glimpse to the future, and where not really satisfied. Linus' spectacled face got an aim of the dartboards of the Microsoft Corporation, which firstly felt confronted with a real threat. But most of the people just wanted to know sth. about the guy who had started all. But he was not really interested in telling sth. about the success of Linux and Open Source. He only had developed it, because doing sth. on his computer was his life. When he was asked to deliver speech he friendly proposed to take part at a Dunk-Tank (where he sits on a platform over a tank and people want to gethim into the water). That could be more interesting, he explained. And furthermore a possibility to make money ;-)

The organizers deprecated. They understood sth. different as a revolution. Revolutionists are not born. Revolutions cannot be planned. Revolutions cannot be directed.
Revolutions simply happen.
(freely translated from David Diamond)


Torvalds was born in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, as the son of Anna and Nils, and the grandson of poet Ole Torvalds. Both of his parents were campus radicals at the University of Helsinki in the 1960s, his father a Communist who in the mid-1970s spent a year studying in Moscow. This caused embarrassment to Torvalds at the time since other children would tease him about his father's politics.

His family belongs to the Swedish-speaking minority (roughly 6% of Finland's population). He attended the University of Helsinki from 1988 to 1996, graduating with a master's degree in computer science. He wrote his M.Sc. thesis about Linux entitled "Linux: A Portable Operating System"

Torvalds lived for many years in San Jose, California with his wife Tove (six-time Finnish national Karate champion), whom he first met in fall 1993, his cat Randi (short for Mithrandir, the Elvish name for Gandalf, a wizard in The Lord of the Rings), and his three daughters Patricia Miranda (born December 5, 1996), Daniela Yolanda (born April 16, 1998) and Celeste Amanda (born November 20, 2000). In June 2004, Torvalds purchased a home in Lake Oswego, Oregon and enrolled his children in school in that area.

He worked for Transmeta Corporation from February 1997 until June 2003, and is now seconded to the Open Source Development Labs, a Beaverton, Oregon based software consortium. Torvalds and his family recently moved to the Portland, Oregon area in an effort to be closer to his employer.

Unlike many open source "evangelists", Torvalds keeps a low profile and generally refuses to comment on competing software products, such as Microsoft's commercially dominant Windows operating system. He is neutral enough to even have been criticized by the GNU project, specifically for having worked on proprietary software with Transmeta.

For example, in one e-mail reaction to statements by Microsoft Senior-VP Craig Mundie, who criticized open source software for being non-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 ... 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.

External links

Linus and family