Who is exactly Linus Torvalds? Get to know the man behind the “x”

Few human beings enjoy the privilege of having given their name to an operating system (at least one that is known beyond the room of its creator). What about meeting one of them? His name is Linus Torvalds.

The creator of the Linux kernel is considered a genius and an “ogre” almost equally. However, very few people have had a similar impact on the technological world, and his recent public announcement about temporarily retiring from the Linux leadership to improve his way to deal with others made some people shed a couple of tears of emotion (more or less).

In this article we are going to get a little closer to a figure that might be unknown to the general public but it is very familiar for all of those who are professionally related to computer science. And to do it, nothing better than getting straight to the point…

Who is Linus Torvalds? Linus and Linux

The story of Linus Torvalds is undoubtedly linked to the creation of the GNU/Linux operating system. Although it is likely that Linus’ talent may had found other projects to develop, it is the creation of his operating system what made him famous and made him known by so many people. Let’s take a look at his creation process.

Torvalds was born in 1969 in Finland, within a Swedish-speaking family. His first contact with a computer took place when he was 11 years old, at the moment his grandfather, a renowned statistician and mathematician, asked him for help to use the Commodore he had just bought. The computer virus stung little Linus and then, as they say, the rest is history…

Years later, Linus began his studies in computer science at the University of Helsinki. Soon after, he would devote himself to a project that has reached historical dimensions today.

At that time, Torvalds used a system called Minix, created by Professor Andrew Tenenbaum, but the young student thought it could still be improved, so he started a personal project to develop his own operating system.

According to legend, the first public announcement about GNU/Linux took place through the publication of a Torvalds’ message in the Minix news group, oc.comp.minix, which would read something like the following:

“Do you miss the wonderful days of MINIX-1.1, when men were men and wrote their own drivers? Do you lack interesting projects and you’re dying to challenge an operating system that you can modify at will? Do you find it frustrating that everything works with MINIX? Are you tired of staying up late to get a program to work? So, this letter may be just for you. As I mentioned a month ago, I am working on a free version of a MINIX type system for AT-386 computers. Finally the environment has been improved, it can even be used, and I am eager to release the sources of a more powerful distribution. This is only version 0.02… but so far I have made it suitable for bash, gcc, gnu-make, gnu-se, compress, etc.”

The kernel of the operating system was based on Unix, to work with IBM/PC computers. After having finished his work, on September 17, 1991 he made it available to the public through an FTP server, baptizing it as Freax (which combines free + freak + x), although soon enough the person in charge of managing the server changed this name to Linux, that corresponded with the nickname used by Torvalds. That version, called 0.01, had 10,000 code lines. Soon it would grow much more…

From that moment on, the operating system began to spread and develop all over the world, under the philosophy of free software on which its creator based it, turning his figure into something almost mythological. In addition, and although only 2% of what is currently Linux was developed by him, Torvalds still retains the management direction of the system kernel.

Since then, Torvalds has not stopped receiving recognition, and also being the spotlight of some controversies.

In addition to multiple awards and appointments as a honorary doctor, Torvalds has been recognized as one of the “people of the Century” by Time magazine, he is also part of the “Internet Hall of Fame” and has been awarded as “pioneer” by the IEEE.

But, as we say, the figure of Linus Torvalds has also given rise to much controversy. His direct and “too” sincere character has generated a numerous series of statements over the years, in which he has had no mercy, lashing out against developers and companies from all over the world and even Linux developers themselves were not safe from such statements.

However, Linus surprised the world when, in September 2018, he published a letter in which he announced that he was going to take some time off to “try to fix his own behavior” and publicly apologized.

Whatever the case, the fact is that Linus Torvalds has earned, for years, the reputation of being one of the best developers in the world, and both his work and the philosophy with which he has impregnated his project have been decisive in making GNU/Linux one of the most used and most successful operating systems in history (which is no small feat).

And now that you know a little better who Linus Torvalds is and his story, what about taking a few minutes to know that of Pandora FMS? You can do it right here: https://pandorafms.org/community/pandora-fms-history/

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