FLOSS Leaders 2: Linus Torvalds

libre software, mswl, mswl-devmotiv, mswl-intro

Hi folks!!!

Continuing with the set of post abut FLOSS leaders, today is the turn of Linus Torvalds, yeah, the Linux creator!!

Linus Torvalds (December 28, 1969) is a Finnish software engineer more known as the creator of the Linux kernel and less known but also very important the control revision system Git.

In April 1991, Torvalds who was 21 years old student at the University of Helsinki started working on some simple ideas for an operating system, On 25 August of that year, Torvalds wrote in the comp.os.minix newsgroup a very famous post which said this:

I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. 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).

I’ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months […] Yes – it’s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT portable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that’s all I have :-(.

[…] It’s mostly in C, but most people wouldn’t call what I write C. It uses every conceivable feature of the 386 I could find, as it was also a project to teach me about the 386. As already mentioned, it uses a MMU, for both paging (not to disk yet) and segmentation. It’s the segmentation that makes it REALLY 386 dependent (every task has a 64Mb segment for code & data – max 64 tasks in 4Gb. Anybody who needs more than 64Mb/task – tough cookies). […] Some of my “C”-files (specifically mm.c) are almost as much assembler as C. […] Unlike minix, I also happen to LIKE interrupts, so interrupts are handled without trying to hide the reason behind them.

After that post, many people started to collaborate with him, in September 1991 Linux 0.01 was released, it had 10,239 lines of code.

On February 1992 Torvalds released the version 0.12 and with this release, he adopted the GNU GPL over his self-drafted license, which had not permitted commercial redistribution.

On March 1994, Linux 1.0.0 was released with 176,250 lines of code.

Other important releases were:

  • January 1999, Linux 2.2.0 with 1,800,847 lines of code.
  • January 2001, Linux 2.4.0 with 3,377,902 lines of code.
  • December 2003, Linux 2.6.0 with 5,929,913 lines of code.

The other important project that Torvalds is the creator is Git.

Git is a distributed control version system, was created to replace the control version system that the Linux developers used previously, the proprietary BitKeeper. To avoid use proprietary tools in the manage of Linux, Torvalds thought that was a good idea to create a new control system based on that and Monotone, but much better and open source.

The development began on April 2005 along that month, Git was completely created and on June 16, the Linux kernel 2.6.12 was released managed by Git.

Git is licensed under GNU GPLv2.

As we can see Linus Torvalds is surely one of the most (maybe the most with RMS) important, influential and known FLOSS leader, not only for his mainly work (as we have seen before) but also for his opinion about FLOSS, much more pragmatic that the vision of RMS (much more ethical, like a style of life) and he doesn’t doubt in use privative tools if he thinks for his work are the best.

And that’s all of course we could talk much more about Torvalds, but with this, at least today is enough 😉

See u my friends!!


Linus Torvalds (wikipedia)

Linux kernel (wikipedia)

Git (wikipedia)


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