Linus Torvalds (1969-) is the creator and maintainer of the famous, free, Open Source Linux kernel. He was born on December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland. He attended the University of Helsinki. Linus grew frustrated with the MS-DOS and Minix operating systems. A true hacker, Linus decided to make one himself. Today he works for the Transmeta corporation, helping to design hardware which will work flawlessly and quickly with Linux.

Linus's parents divorced when he was very little. He lived mostly with his mother, Mikke Torvalds, who was a journalist. He went off to the University of Helsinki to study computer science, where it took him eight years to obtain his masters' degree. In 1991, the first release of the Linux kernel came to life. Though at this time it was only capable of running the GNU C compiler (GCC) and the Bourne Again Shell (bash), the Linux kernel showed promise. As it became more and more stable and functional, people began to take notice. Soon, Linux distributions began popping up. The creators of these distributions combined the Linux kernel with the utilities of the GNU Project and some other useful programs such as XFree86, GNOME and KDE. Popular distributions include Red Hat, Debian, SuSE, and Mandrake.

Linus originally licensed the kernel in such a way that no one can sell it to make profit, not even himself. The kernel is now released under the GNU General Public License, or GPL. Becoming a rich multi-billionaire is not a big goal for Linus; he just wanted to make an alternate OS for his own use, and now it has spread around the world. Throughout the years, many versions of Linux have been released, and Linus has guided Linux through its development. He has hand-picked a few hackers to help him with this development, and one of the most skilled among them is Alan Cox. Cox developed many of the networking capabilities of the kernel. With Linus's time focused in on Transmeta, Cox is becoming a bigger influence on Linux.

Linus has a wife, Tove Torvalds, and two daughters, Patricia Torvalds and Daniella Torvalds. Linus's autobiography (with the help of co-author David Diamond) is titled Just For Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary. It's a really good read if you'd like to take a deeper look into the mind of Linus Torvalds.

Linus is a very clever guy, and is quoted often. Here are a few of his gems:

"While in Australia, Dennis Ritchie said that the one feature of Unix he was most pround of was that it was portable. When it comes to Linux, the one decision I am most proud of is not the actual physical design of the system, but the decision to make it free."

"Linux does endless loops in six seconds."

"Some people have told me they don't think a fat penguin really embodies the grace of Linux, which just tells me they have never seen an angry penguin charging at them in excess of 100 mph. They'd be a lot more careful about what they say if they had."

"Only wimps use tape backup: _real_ men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it."

"The most important design issue...is that Linux is supposed to be fun..."

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