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EN | Personajes ilustres – Torvalds

Torvalds, Linus (1969 - )

L inus Benedict Torvalds, the father of the Linux operating system and head of the Linux community, a group of computer engineers that have turned free software into a way of life, was born on 28 December 1969 in Helsinki, Finland.

He took to computers as a child, when his grandfather bought a Commodore in 1980 and asked him to help him use it.

In 1988, he began his studies at the Helsinki University of Technology, where he devised Linux.

In spring 1991, Linus started to develop a Unix-based operating system kernel, and gradually modified the Minix kernel (created by Andrew Tanenbaum in 1987) for computers with Intel microprocessors. On 5 October 1991, he announced the first “official” version of Linux, 0.02, which he named Freax (free + freak + x) and made it universally available via a FTP server of his university.

However, the person who administered the server preferred the name Linux, which was Linus’s college nickname (computer alias). This version was able to execute little more than the Bash (Bourne Again Shell) and GCC (GNU C Compiler).

As of then, many programmers joined the initiative, and the 50,000 lines of code posted by Linus are now more than a million. They soon started to work on making the Linux project conform to the GNU philosophy (GNU is not Unix) designed by Richard Stallman until they had a fully functional operating system: GNU/Linux. GNU/Linux software is free and all components are available with their source code. GNU/Linux has been growing constantly since its creation and is now Windows’ great rival. Its penguin logo is very well-known.

Since 1996, Torvalds has been working as a software engineer at Transmeta, a Silicon Valley company founded in 1995 and owned largely by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and the George Soros Foundation. Linus works on the Crusoe project to design a versatile compatible microprocessor with a very low power consumption.

Linus combines his work at Transmeta with the development of new versions of the Linux kernel along with an exclusive team, which released Linux version 2.4 in 2001. He does this for fun, not for money.

In 1997, Linus Torvalds received the Nokia Foundation Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tlso in 1997, after 10 years as a student and since 1992 as a researcher coordinating operating system kernel development at the Helsinki University of Technology, he finished his studies.

He now lives in Santa Clara, California, with his wife and three daughters.

His original personal web page can be visited at