Linus Torvalds

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All the little emptiness of love!
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Do you pine for the days when men were men and wrote their own device drivers?

Linus Benedict Torvalds (born December 28 1969) is a computer programmer, best known as the creator of the Linux kernel.


  • I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones.
  • I can (well, almost) hear you asking yourselves 'why?'. Hurd will be out in a year (or two, or next month, who knows), and I've already got minix.
  • My name is Linus Torvalds and I am your god.
    • Jokingly introducing himself, at the 1998 Linux Expo in Durham, North Carolina, as quoted in Under the Radar : How Red Hat Changed the Software Business — and Took Microsoft by Surprise (1999) by Robert Young and Wendy Goldman Rohm, p. 111; also quoted in Just for Fun : The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary (2001) by Linus Torvalds and David Diamond
  • Do you pine for the days when men were men and wrote their own device drivers?
    • Torvalds, Linus and David Diamond (2001). Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, Collins.
    • Notes: Announcing Linux version 0.02 [ibid]
Some people have told me they don't think a fat penguin really embodies the grace of Linux, which just tells me they have never seen an angry penguin charging at them in excess of 100mph....
  • Some people have told me they don't think a fat penguin really embodies the grace of Linux, which just tells me they have never seen an angry penguin charging at them in excess of 100mph. They'd be a lot more careful about what they say if they had.
  • Note that nobody reads every post in linux-kernel. In fact, nobody who expects to have time left over to actually do any real kernel work will read even half. Except Alan Cox, but he's actually not human, but about a thousand gnomes working in under-ground caves in Swansea. None of the individual gnomes read all the postings either, they just work together really well.
There are literally several levels of SCO being wrong. And even if we were to live in that alternate universe where SCO would be right, they'd still be wrong.
  • I'm a bastard. I have absolutely no clue why people can ever think otherwise. Yet they do. People think I'm a nice guy, and the fact is that I'm a scheming, conniving bastard who doesn't care for any hurt feelings or lost hours of work, if it just results in what I consider to be a better system. And I'm not just saying that. I'm really not a very nice person. I can say "I don't care" with a straight face, and really mean it.
  • Is "I hope you all die a painful death" too strong?
    • Linus to the hardware manufacturers that refuse to release the specifications of their hardware so they could operate with the Linux kernel.
    • Torvalds, Linus (2007-08-22). Linus Torvalds talks future of Linux. Retrieved on 2007-08-22.
  • Personally, I'm _not_ interested in making device drivers look like user-level. They aren't, they shouldn't be, and microkernels are just stupid.
  • Really, I'm not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect.
    • "The Way We Live Now: Questions for Linus Torvalds", New York Times, 2003-09-28.
  • Modern PCs are horrible. ACPI is a complete design disaster in every way. But we're kind of stuck with it. If any Intel people are listening to this and you had anything to do with ACPI, shoot yourself now, before you reproduce.
  • There are literally several levels of SCO being wrong. And even if we were to live in that alternate universe where SCO would be right, they'd still be wrong.
  • Anybody who tells me I can't use a program because it's not open source, go suck on rms. I'm not interested. 99% of that I run tends to be open source, but that's _my_ choice, dammit.
  • 2.6.<odd>: still a stable kernel, but accept bigger changes leading up to it (timeframe: a month or two).
    2.<odd>.x: aim for big changes that may destabilize the kernel for several releases (timeframe: a year or two)
    <odd>.x.x: Linus went crazy, broke absolutely _everything_, and rewrote the kernel to be a microkernel using a special message-passing version of Visual Basic. (timeframe: "we expect that he will be released from the mental institution in a decade or two").
  • I'd like to say that I knew this would happen, that it's all part of the plan for world domination.
  • Which mindset is right? Mine, of course. People who disagree with me are by definition crazy. (Until I change my mind, when they can suddenly become upstanding citizens. I'm flexible, and not black-and-white.)
  • The fact that ACPI was designed by a group of monkeys high on LSD, and is some of the worst designs in the industry obviously makes running it at _any_ point pretty damn ugly.
  • I personally just encourage people to switch to KDE.
    This "users are idiots, and are confused by functionality" mentality of Gnome is a disease. If you think your users are idiots, only idiots will use it. I don't use Gnome, because in striving to be simple, it has long since reached the point where it simply doesn't do what I need it to do.
    Please, just tell people to use KDE.
  • My personal opinion of Mach is not very high. Frankly, it's a piece of crap. It contains all the design mistakes you can make, and even managed to make up a few of its own.
    • Torvalds, Linus and David Diamond (2001). Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, Collins.
  • For example, the GPLv2 in no way limits your use of the software. If you're a mad scientist, you can use GPLv2'd software for your evil plans to take over the world ("Sharks with lasers on their heads!!"), and the GPLv2 just says that you have to give source code back. And that's OK by me. I like sharks with lasers. I just want the mad scientists of the world to pay me back in kind. I made source code available to them, they have to make their changes to it available to me. After that, they can fry me with their shark-mounted lasers all they want.
  • You see. I don't think any new thoughts. I think thoughts that other people have thought, and I rearrange them. But Sara, she thinks thoughts that never were before.
    • Torvalds, Linus and David Diamond (2001). Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, Collins.
    • Torvalds to his mother, about his sister
  • Most days I wake up thinking I'm the luckiest bastard alive.
    • Torvalds, Linus and David Diamond (2001). Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, Collins.
  • I like colorized diffs, but let's face it, those particular color choices will make most people decide to pick out their eyes with a fondue fork.
    And that's not good. Digging in your eye-sockets with a fondue fork is strictly considered to be bad for your health, and seven out of nine optometrists are dead set against the practice.
    So in order to avoid a lot of blind git users, please apply this patch.
  • I will, in fact, claim that the difference between a bad programmer and a good one is whether he considers his code or his data structures more important. Bad programmers worry about the code. Good programmers worry about data structures and their relationships.
  • I claim that Mach people (and apparently FreeBSD) are incompetent idiots.
  • ...even if the Hurd didn't depend on Linux code (and as far as I know, it does, but since I think they have their design heads firmly up their *sses anyway with that whole microkernel thing, I've never felt it was worth my time even looking at their code), I don't believe a religiously motivated development community can ever generate as good code except by pure chance.
    • LKML, September 27, 2006 [2]
  • I'm a huge believer in evolution (not in the sense that "it happened" - anybody who doesn't believe that is either uninformed or crazy, but in the sense "the processes of evolution are really fundamental, and should probably be at least _thought_ about in pretty much any context").
    • LKML, September 28, 2006 [3]
  • It's one of those rare "perfect" kernels. So if it doesn't happen to compile with your config (or it does compile, but then does unspeakable acts of perversion with your pet dachshund), you can rest easy knowing that it's all your own damn fault, and you should just fix your evil ways.
  • So the whole 'We have a list and we're not telling you' should tell you something. Don't you think that if Microsoft actually had some really foolproof patent, they'd just tell us and go, 'nyaah, nyaah, nyaah!'?
  • You try to claim that the GPLv3 causes "More developers", and that, my idiotic penpal, is just crazy talk that you made up.
    • LKML, June 18, 2007 [4]
  • C++ is in that inconvenient spot where it doesn't help make things simple enough to be truly usable for prototyping or simple GUI programming, and yet isn't the lean system programming language that C is that actively encourages you to use simple and direct constructs.
  • It's a bird.. It's a plane.. No, it's KernelMan, faster than a speeding bullet, to your rescue. Doing new kernel versions in under 5 seconds flat.. (Linus, in the announcement for 1.3.27)
  • I think Leopard is a much better system [than Windows Vista] ... but OS X in some ways is actually worse than Windows to program for. Their file system is complete and utter crap, which is scary.
  • Nobody should start to undertake a large project. You start with a small _trivial_ project, and you should never expect it to get large. If you do, you'll just overdesign and generally think it is more important than it likely is at that stage. Or worse, you might be scared away by the sheer size of the work you envision. So start small, and think about the details. Don't think about some big picture and fancy design. If it doesn't solve some fairly immediate need, it's almost certainly over-designed. And don't expect people to jump in and help you. That's not how these things work. You need to get something half-way _useful_ first, and then others will say "hey, that _almost_ works for me", and they'll get involved in the project.
  • Security people are often the black-and-white kind of people that I can't stand. I think the OpenBSD crowd is a bunch of masturbating monkeys, in that they make such a big deal about concentrating on security to the point where they pretty much admit that nothing else matters to them.
  • Sometimes "pi = 3.14" is (a) infinitely faster than the "correct" answer and (b) the difference between the "correct" and the "wrong" answer is meaningless. And this is why I get upset when somebody dismisses performance issues based on "correctness". The thing is, some specious value of "correctness" is often irrelevant because it doesn't matter. While performance almost _always_ matters. And I absolutely _detest_ the fact that people so often dismiss performance concerns so readily.
    • Git mailing list, Fri, 8 Aug 2008


  • We all know Linux is great…it does infinite loops in 5 seconds.
    • Linus Torvalds about the superiority of Linux on the Amsterdam Linux Symposium
  • If you want to travel around the world and be invited to speak at a lot of different places, just write a Unix operating system.
  • The memory management on the PowerPC can be used to frighten small children.
  • Ok, I admit it. I was just a front-man for the real fathers of Linux, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus.
  • Let's put it this way: if you need to ask a lawyer whether what you do is "right" or not, you are morally corrupt. Let's not go there. We don't base our morality on law.
  • "Guess what? Wheels have been round for a really long time, and anybody who "reinvents" the new wheel is generally considered a crackpot. It turns out that "round" is simply a good form for a wheel to have. It may be boring, but it just tends to roll better than a square, and "hipness" has nothing what-so-ever to do with it."
  • The only limiting factor of the Linux operating system, is his user.
  • Microsoft isn't evil, they just make really crappy operating systems.
  • Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done.
  • I don't doubt at all that virtualization is useful in some areas. What I doubt rather strongly is that it will ever have the kind of impact that the people involved in virtualization want it to have.
  • Now, most of you are probably going to be totally bored out of your minds on Christmas day, and here's the perfect distraction. Test 2.6.15-rc7. All the stores will be closed, and there's really nothing better to do in between meals.
  • If you have ever done any security work; and it did not involve the concept of 'network of trust'; it wasn't security work, it was masturbation.
    • Linus at Google talking about GIT
  • First off, I’m actually perfectly well off. I live in a good-sized house, with a nice yard, with deer occasionally showing up and eating the roses (my wife likes the roses more, I like the deer more, so we don’t really mind). I’ve got three kids, and I know I can pay for their education. What more do I need? The thing is, being a good programmer actually pays pretty well; being acknowledged as being world-class pays even better. I simply didn’t need to start a commercial company. And it’s just about the least interesting thing I can even imagine. I absolutely hate paperwork. I couldn’t take care of employees if I tried. A company that I started would never have succeeded -- it’s simply not what I’m interested in! So instead, I have a very good life, doing something that I think is really interesting, and something that I think actually matters for people, not just me. And that makes me feel good. -- 8/15/07 -- --
  • So LSM stays in. No ifs, buts, maybes or anything else. When I see the security people making sane arguments and agreeing on something, that will change. Quite frankly, I expect hell to freeze over before that happens, and pigs will be nesting in trees. But hey, I can hope. -- 10/1/07 --
  • So I would not be surprised if the globbing libraries, for example, will do NFD-mangling in order to glob "correctly", so even programs ported from real Unix might end up getting pathnames subtly changed into NFD as part of some hot library-on-library action with UTF hackery inside. -- Wed, 23 Jan 2008 --

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