Linus Torvalds

What Does Linus Torvalds Mean?

Linus Torvalds is a Finnish-born American software engineer
most notably known for creating the Linux kernel, a core system code used
in many operating system distributions in use today. He remains the
principal developer of Linux, managing tens of thousands of developers that
contribute code for functions and bug fixes for the kernel. He also created
GIT, a distribution control system widely used by development teams across the


Techopedia Explains Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1969 and was named after the American Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Linus Pauling. He became interested with computing in 1981 at age 11 when he began programming in a Commodore VIC-20 system, initially using BASIC and then assembly language. He then moved on to a Sinclair QL, which he extensively modified, especially the operating system, and wrote his own assembler, editor and games for it since software for it was hard to come by in Finland.

Torvalds attended the University of Helsinki between 1988 and 1996, where he graduated with a master’s degree in computer science from the NODES research group. During his university years, one of his course books was Andrew Tenenbaum’s book “Operating Systems: Design and Implementation,” where he was introduced to MINIX, which was a stripped-down version of Unix that led him to a fascination with Unix’s clear structure and underlying philosophy.

In January 1991, Torvalds purchased an Intel 80386-based IBM PC clone and then later received his copy of MINIX. The new processor and MINIX started him on the path of coding his own drivers, such as disk drivers, serial drivers and a file system, as well as different OS processes because he needed them in order to participate in news groups to learn more about the POSIX standard. By doing these things, he had already unwittingly created Linux, but it was not until Ari Lemmke, his friend who administered the FTP servers gave him a directory called “linux” that the name was coined. He eventually wrote his Master’s thesis titled “Linux: A Portable Operating System.” Torvalds officially announced the OS in the MINIX Usenet newsgroup “comp.os.minx” on August 25, 1991.

The Opens Source Development Lab (OSDL) was established in 2000, which later merged with the Free Standards Group to form The Linux Foundation. Linus Torvalds is still an active contributor and moderator of the Linux kernel under the foundation and manages contributions from thousands of developers.


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Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.