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Exclusive Q&A: Linus Torvalds

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If open source were a religion, Linus Torvalds, the Finnish engineer who wrote the core of the operating system that would become Linux, would be its prophet.

In 1991, Mr. Torvalds created the kernel, or core software, that would eventually be adopted by millions of computer users and lay the foundation for a vibrant open-source community.

Fifteen years later, Mr. Torvalds, after whom the Linux system is named, wears his crown lightly. He lives in Portland, Oregon, out of Silicon Valley’s spotlight, and has often expressed his dislike for the cult-like worship by open-source enthusiasts.

Three years ago, Mr. Torvalds, 37, joined the Open Source Development Lab, a consortium that promotes the adoption of Linux, where he now oversees development of the system.

In an email interview with Red Herring, Mr. Torvalds says the increasing focus of venture capitalists and large companies on open source can only be good for a community that, until now, was on the fringes of the commercial realm.

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