Linus Benedict Torvalds. December 28, 1969 –. Finnish-American software engineer. Creator of Linux – the most widespread free operating system.


Life and Work:

1. In the labyrinths of my skull, Leonardo, Einstein, Wiener, Wirth, Dijkstra, Berners-Lee are resting in the shade, roasting in the sun. This is how one of the poems by Linus Torvalds sounds in the Russian translation from Swedish. Few people are aware of the Swedish-speaking Finn’s poems. His other work – Linux – is much more popular.


2. For those who are far from programming, we should explain: Linux is the core of the GNU/Linux operating system, the most common free operating system at the moment.


3. People of Finland put Linus Benedict Torvalds on the sixteenth place in the list of the most famous Finns.


4. The future contender for the title of Person of the Century and an overall influential person, according to the American magazine Time, he was born in 1969 in Helsinki to his father and mother – radical students. They named their son after the American chemist Linus Pauling.


5. At school, the future celebrity was teased for his father’s political views – he was a communist, but respected for his good brains. Since his school years, Torvalds received scholarships for his achievements in mathematics.


6. Linus Torvalds was twelve when his grandfather, Leo, who was a professor at the University of Helsinki, bought him a Commodore VIC-20 home computer. But the quick-witted boy got tired of standard programs and started to learn programming himself.


7. Later, Torvalds wrote, “A special kind of indoor sport helped me pass the winter: programming.”


8. The turning point in Linus Torvalds’ fate was the book by Andrew Tanenbaum Operating Systems: Development and Implementation, which he had read. Torvalds bought a new computer and installed the Minix operating system, developed by the author of the book. Finding flaws in the system, he undertook to create a system of his own.


9. On September 17, 1991, Torvalds, a student at the University of Helsinki, published the source code of the Linux program for public download. To this day, Linux has been distributed freely. Linus Torvalds put it this way, “Software is like sex – it’s better when it’s free.”


10. Among computer scientists who profess free software distribution, the following caricature is very popular: a penguin is swinging a fly swatter at a butterfly – one of Microsoft’s symbols. How did the penguin Tux appear in the Linux symbolism? In his book Just for Fun. The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, Torvalds writes that he chose the penguin as a logo because a penguin once pecked him at the zoo.


11. “No,” his wife, Tove, says, “the penguin was my idea. Linus was trying to find a symbol for Linux because people were asking, ‘Shouldn’t there be a symbol?’ He was thinking of things he’d seen. He said he would like to have something nice, something sympathetic. I thought of penguins.”


12. “But Linus didn’t want just any penguin,” continues Tove Torvalds, a six-time Finnish karate champion and former student of Linus Torvalds, as well as the mother of his three daughters, “Above all, Linus wanted one that looked happy, as if it had just polished off a pitcher of beer [...] Even beyond that stipulation, he wanted one that was distinct. Hence, while all other penguins have black beaks and feet, those features are orange on the Linux mascot, making it look almost like a penguin whose father was a duck.”


13. Linus Torvalds looks like a happy penguin himself. His life is a success – he is talented, rich and famous.


14. And Torvalds does not stop there, but teaches others to be happy: “There are like two golden rules in life. One is ‘Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.’” Following this rule, you will know what to do in any situation. “The other rule is: be proud of what you do,” Linus adds. And the third one is to do everything with pleasure.


15. Today, Linus Torvalds lives in Portland, Oregon, USA and works at home.


16. The member of the Internet Hall of Fame and Doctor of Stockholm University is showered with various awards. An asteroid has already been named after him, and he is not even 50 years old yet.