Just for Fun | Linus Torvalds

Summary of: Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary
By: Linus Torvalds

Introduction

Enter the captivating world of Linus Torvalds, as he takes readers through his captivating journey in “Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary.” From his early days as an introverted computer enthusiast in Finland to the creation of Linux – an open-source operating system that has since transformed the technological landscape, this summary provides an insightful and engaging peek into Torvalds’ personal life and the beginnings of an accidental revolution. Prepare to explore key themes such as the Unix operating system, the open-source philosophy, and the growth of Linux as its community spans the globe.

The Birth of a Computing Genius

Linus Torvalds, a Finnish born Swede, was a child prodigy in math and physics but struggled with social interactions. His interest was piqued when his grandfather introduced the first computer he ever saw, a Commodore VIC-20, to their home. Despite its limited capacity, Torvalds began working passionately with the computer and started writing programs with BASIC. As a teenager, he became exclusively fixated on this computer, teaching himself machine language and finding exhilaration in pushing the computer’s limits. Torvalds’ passion for computing allowed him to become a successful computing genius, later inventing the Linux operating system.

The Origin of Linux

At age 16 or 17, Linus Torvalds acquired the Sinclair QL, one of the first 32-bit machines available for home use, after exhausting the possibilities of the Commodore. Torvalds used Q-DOS operating system to write programming tools which created extra memory modules and a faster editor, and cloned the games he played on the Commodore using his programs. Torvalds acquired his first PC in college, which was based on Andrew S. Tanenbaum’s Operating Systems: Design and Implementation book, and he ran Minix on it as well. Torvalds loved the Unix system and its six basic processes or “system calls,” used to make the operating system act, and decided to start on the hardware level with the BIOS instead of using Minix. Linus Torvalds learned about open-source philosophy, which is now at the heart of the Linux system at a conference at the Polytechnic University of Helsinki in Espoo where he heard Richard Stallman discuss the General Public License (GPL) approach to licensing software, based on the caveat that the source code must be made available to the public.

The Birth of Linux

A young programmer named Torvalds becomes captivated by the power of programming, specifically operating systems. He begins creating his own operating system using Unix’s clean and simple design as inspiration. His creation, initially called “Freax,” is later named “Linux” by a teaching assistant who invites Torvalds to share it on the Helsinki University of Technology’s website. This marks the beginning of the Linux system’s spread.

The Rise of Linux

In 1991, Linux began as a personal project by a software developer named Linus Torvalds. As feedback from other developers came in, Torvalds fixed bugs and continued to upload new versions. By 1992, he made Linux available under the GPL open source standards, allowing those who license the software to feed improvements back to the licensor and user community. With the addition of a windowing project, Linux gained its first graphics interface and enabled networking. Linux grew in popularity, and Torvalds overcame his fear of public speaking to give speeches at conferences. The philosophy of open-source allowed for the growth and improvement of technology while creating a community driven by a shared passion for innovation.

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