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The Rampantly Unofficial Linus Torvalds FAQ

...a collection of trivia and personal facts about Linus.

1. Who is Linus Torvalds?

He wrote the Linux kernel. If you don't know that, why are you reading this?

2. What does he look like?

Finally we have a decent picture of Linus.

3. How should I pronounce `Linus'?

If you're speaking Swedish (his milk tongue) it's /lee'nus/. You can hear this in an audio file if you have a sound card.

If you're speaking English, Linus answers to either /lie'nus/ (long i) or /li'nus/ (short i).

4. Where is Linus from?

Finland. He grew up in Helsinki (the capital of Finland and its largest city). He wrote the Linux kernel while a student at Helsinki University.

5. When was he born?

December 28th 1969.

6. If Linus is Finnish, why is his birth language Swedish?

Finland has a significant (about 6%) Swedish-speaking minority population. They call themselves ``finlandssvensk'' or ``finlandssvenskar'' and consider themselves Finns; many of their families have lived in Finland for centuries. Swedish is one of Finland's two official languages.

7. What is Linus's middle name?

Many people seem to think think Linus's middle name is "God". A few claim it ought to be Eric. But in fact his middle name is `Benedict'. He doesn't use it much.

8. Where does Linus live?

He's now resident in Santa Clara, California, USA, having moved there from Helsinki in early 1997.

9. Does Linus have a home page?

He has one at; it's got an animated penguin and cute pictures of his baby daughter Patricia Miranda Torvalds.

10. What is Linus's email address?

You can reach him at

Note: because Linus is who he is, he gets a staggering amount of email that he has to deal with. Don't waste his time. Linus is too nice a guy to hurt you if you abuse this address, but there are probably about a hundred thousand people who would be displeased enough to mess with you if you did.

11. What does Linus do when he's not hacking Linux?

He works for Transmeta, a company whose mission was under extremely tight wraps until Fall Comdex 1999, 15 November. Rumor had it that they were building a fast RISC chip able to execute x86 code. This may be correct; their web page now suggests it's targeted in the appliance market. We're promised more details on 19 Jan 2000.

He plays with his baby daughters, Patricia Miranda and Daniela. We have a picture of his family.

He drinks beer (especially Guinness). Occasionally he shoots pistols. He does not combine these two activities.

Yes, he in fact has a life. We await enlightenment on his other leisure-time activities. Assuming he wants to talk about them.

12. Linus took a job with a non-Linux company?

Yes, he did. There is a rumor that he considered going to work for Red Hat, but did not want to show favoritism towards any one Linux vendor. Linus has declined to either confirm or deny this rumor, but he admits using Red Hat on his home machine, and has been seen wearing Red Hat shirts at Linux conferences.

13. Has Linus ever been wrong about anything?

Yes, once. He was, by his own admission, "not rational" about the binding of the Linux backspace key. This is also the only time he has ever pulled rank on anybody.

We suppose this just goes to show he really is human after all.

Eric S. Raymond <>
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