10 Interesting facts about Linux Torvalds

About Linus Torvalds

Discover the fascinating world of open-source software and Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, through 10 surprising and little-known facts that will broaden your understanding of the impact of open-source on the tech industry.

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Linux Torvalds is one of the most famous and influential people in the tech world. Known for creating the Linux kernel, which powers a significant portion of the internet, he has become a household name among computer enthusiasts. However, there’s more to Torvalds than just his contributions to open-source software. In this article, we will explore 10 interesting facts about Linus Torvalds that you might not know, including some quotables from the man himself.

Open-source software and Linus Torvalds

He’s Finnish

Linus Torvalds was born on December 28, 1969, in Helsinki, Finland. He grew up in a family of journalists and politicians, but he was more interested in computers from a young age. He began programming in elementary school, and by the time he entered university, he was already an experienced coder.

Linux as a Student Project

In 1991, when Torvalds was a computer science student at the University of Helsinki, he created the Linux kernel as a hobby project. He was inspired by the Unix operating system, but he wanted to create a free and open-source version that anyone could use and modify.

He Named It After Himself

When Torvalds first released his creation to the world, he named it “Freax” – a combination of “free,” “freak,” and “Unix.” However, a friend who hosted the code on his FTP server renamed it “Linux” as a play on Torvalds’ first name and “Unix.”

Never Intended to Make Money From Linux

Linus has always been a strong advocate for free and open-source software. He never intended to make money from Linux, and he has always been critical of companies that try to profit from it without contributing to the community.

“I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones,” he famously wrote in a Usenet post in 1991. “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).”

a Big Fan of Open-Source Software

Torvalds has always been a big fan of open-source software, and he believes that it is the future of computing. He has spoken out against proprietary software, arguing that it limits innovation and prevents people from building on each other’s ideas.

“I think that open-source is the future of computing,” he said in an interview with Wired in 2003. “I think that it makes commercial sense for companies to embrace open source and to be part of that community.”

Not Afraid to Speak His Mind

He is known for his outspoken nature and his willingness to speak his mind. He’s not afraid to criticize other people in the tech industry, including some of the biggest names in the business.

In an interview with ZDNet in 2018, he criticized Intel for the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws in its processors, calling them “the worst CPU bugs ever.” He also criticized the Linux community for not doing enough to prevent the flaws from being exploited.

a Big Fan of Science Fiction

Linus is a big fan of science fiction, and he has often cited it as an inspiration for his work. He has mentioned “Star Trek” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” as two of his favorite sci-fi franchises.

Devoted Family Man

Despite his status as a tech celebrity, Torvalds is also a devoted family man who prioritizes spending time with his loved ones. Despite his busy schedule and the demands of being a prominent figure in the tech industry, Torvalds has been known to make time for his family and to take breaks from work to attend to their needs. For example, in a 2017 interview with the New Yorker, Torvalds mentioned that he sometimes takes breaks from working on Linux to spend time with his wife and children, emphasizing the importance of family in his life.

The iconic “middle finger salute”

Torvalds is known for his outspoken and sometimes controversial comments on the Linux kernel mailing list. One of his most famous moments occurred in 2012 when he responded to criticism from a developer with a now-infamous “middle finger salute.” While some may view this as unprofessional behavior, others appreciate Torvalds’ willingness to speak his mind and stand up for what he believes in.

His thoughts on open-source software

He is a staunch advocate for open-source software and has spoken out against proprietary software companies like Microsoft in the past. He believes that open-source software is not only better for users but also for developers, as it encourages collaboration and innovation.


Linus Torvalds is a highly influential figure in the world of technology, and his contributions to the development of the Linux operating system have had a significant impact on the industry. Through his leadership and vision, he has created a community of developers and users who are committed to the principles of open-source software and the power of collaboration. Whether you are a Linux enthusiast or simply interested in the history of technology, there is much to learn from the life and work of Linus Torvalds.

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