Browse Definitions:
Definition

Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, was born in Helsinki, Finland, on December 28, 1969. When Linus was ten years old, his grandfather, a statistics professor at University of Helsinki, purchased a Commodore VIC-20 computer. Linus served as an assistant to his grandfather by entering data into his grandfather's "programmable calculator" and, just for fun, taught himself some simple BASIC programs by reading the instruction books that came with the computer. By the time he registered as a computer science student at the University of Helsinki, Linus Torvalds was an accomplished programmer.

In 1991, after taking a course in Unix and C, Torvalds bought his own personal computer (PC). He was unhappy with the operating system that came with the computer (MS-DOS) and decided to write his own. Torvalds became interested in Minix, a small Unix-like operating system developed for educational purposes by Andrew S. Tanenbaum, a Dutch professor who wanted to teach his students the inner workings of a real operating system. Minix was designed to run on Intel 8086 microprocessors and had source code that was readily available for study. Torvalds decided to develop an operating system that exceeded the Minix standards. He called it Linux, a contraction for Linus' Minix.

Linus Torvalds did not copyright his computer code. Instead, he published his code on the Internet and asked members of the comp.os.minix newsgroup to help him build his operating system. On August 25, 1991, Linus Torvalds posted this famous message:

 

Hello everybody out there using minix -
I'm doing a (free) operating system
(just a hobby, won't be big and professional
like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones.

Linus Torvalds credits much of the success of his operating system to the Internet and to Richard Stallman's GNU project. Torvalds and his co-developers made use of the system components developed by members of the Free Software Foundation for the GNU project. The open-source philosophy behind the development of Linux, combined with the success of the operating system, has made Linus Torvalds into what can arguably be called a "cult figure." Unlike Windows and other proprietary operating systems, Linux remains publicly open and extendible by contributers. Anyone can use it without charge as long as any improvements they make are not copyrighted and remain freely available. At present, it's estimated that only 2% of Linux code today was written by Linus Torvalds himself, although he still "owns" the Linux kernel (the central part of the operating system) and remains the ultimate judge of what new code and innovations are incorporated into it.

After spending 10 years as a student and researcher at the University of Helsinki coordinating the development of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds accepted a job with Transmeta, a Silicon Valley start-up company known for its recruitment of high profile talent and its Crusoe chip. He is married and has two daughters.

This was last updated in July 2006

Continue Reading About Linus Torvalds

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

SearchCloudProvider

  • cloud ecosystem

    A cloud ecosystem is a complex system of interdependent components that all work together to enable cloud services.

  • cloud services

    Cloud services is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of resources provided over the internet, or to professional ...

  • uncloud (de-cloud)

    The term uncloud describes the action or process of removing applications and data from a cloud computing platform.

SearchSecurity

  • cyberextortion

    Cyberextortion is a crime involving an attack or threat of an attack coupled with a demand for money or some other response in ...

  • Cybercrime

    Cybercrime is any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device or a network.

  • National Security Agency (NSA)

    The National Security Agency is the official U.S. cryptologic organization of the United States Intelligence Community under the ...

SearchHealthIT

  • Practice Fusion

    Practice Fusion Inc. is a San Francisco-based company that developed a free electronic health record (EHR) system available to ...

  • RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator)

    An RHIA, or registered health information administrator, is a certified professional who oversees the creation and use of patient...

  • 21st Century Cures Act

    The 21st Century Cures Act is a wide-ranging healthcare bill that funds medical research and development, medical device ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

SearchStorage

  • Random Access Memory (RAM)

    Random Access Memory (RAM) is the hardware in a computing device where the operating system (OS), application programs and data ...

  • floating gate transistor (FGT)

    A floating gate transistor (FGT) is a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology capable of holding an electrical ...

  • bad block

    A bad block is an area of storage media that is no longer reliable for storing and retrieving data because it has been physically...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close