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Programming Perl (3rd Edition)

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Linus Torvalds Bio

About Linus Torvalds

Official Portrait

Early Life

Linus Torvalds was born on December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland. He is the son of Nils and Anna Torvalds. Both parents pursued careers in journalism. Linus took an early interest in computers mainly through the influence of his maternal grandfather. He excelled in math in secondary school. Linus and his family are part of a minority in Finland whose first language is not Finnish but Swedish, a fact which is not widely known. For this reason, early references to his pronunciation of Linux in Swedish were not understood or often cited as an error.

University Student

Linus Torvalds enrolled at the University of Helsinki in 1988 where he studied computer science. After buying a PC with an Intel 386 CPU, he began using Minix, an Unix-inspired operating system created by Andrew Tannenbaum for use as a teaching tool. Linus was not impressed with the system in general and in particular he lamented its inability to do terminal emulation, which he needed so he could connect to the university's computers. Linus decided to do the terminal emulation program himself, independently of Minix. These were the first steps toward creating Linux.

Linux Development

Linus quickly developed the terminal emulation program and it was sufficient for his needs for a while. However, Linus began thinking that it would be nice to be able to do other things with it like tranferring and saving files. This is where Linux was really born. Originally, Linus wanted to name his creation 'Freax' (pronounced like the English word freaks). He changed it to Linux at the prompting of a friend. In August, 1991, Linus announced on Usenet that he was working on this operating system:

From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system
Message-ID: <1991Aug25.205708.9541@klaava.Helsinki.FI>
Date: 25 Aug 91 20:57:08 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki

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.  This has been brewing
since april, and is starting to get ready.  I'd like any feedback on
things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat
(same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons)
among other things).

I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work.
This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and
I'd like to know what features most people would want.  Any suggestions
are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

               Linus (

PS.  Yes - it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs.
It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never
will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.

Linus uploaded the first version of Linux, version 0.01 in September of 1991. Then Linux belonged to the world.

Marriage and a Family

In 1993, Linus was teaching an introductory computer course at the University of Helsinki. A young woman in the class named Tove Monni emailed him and asked him out on a date. She would later become his wife. Tove and Linus went on to have three daughters, Patricia, Miranda and Daniela.

To the USA and Transmeta

In late 1996 Linus accepted an invitation to visit the California headquarters of Transmeta, a start-up company in the first stages of designing an energy saving CPU. Linus was intrigued by their work and in early 1997 he accepted a position at Transmeta and moved to California with his family. Along with his work for Transmeta, Linus continued to oversee kernel development.

Open Source Development Laboratory

In June of 2003, Linus left Transmeta in order to focus exclusively on the Linux kernel and began to work under the auspices of the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) a consortium formed by high-tech companies which include IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, AMD, RedHat, Novell and many others. The purpose of the consortium is to promote Linux development. OSDL merged with The Free Standards Group in January 2007 to become The Linux Foundation.

Last Updated: Friday September 07, 2007

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