Just for Fun

memoir by Linus Torvalds and David Diamond

Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary is an autobiography of Linus Torvalds, the Finnish software developer who created Linux and (later) Git. The book was published in 2001. Torvalds wrote it with journalist David Diamond, who had interviewed him in 1999 for the San Jose Mercury News.

In print editions of the text, Diamond's sections appear in italics. Diamond and Torvalds both write in the first person, but in editions of the abridged audiobook, Diamond reads Torvalds' parts in the third person.


  • 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.
    • Linus Torvalds, as paraphrased by his mother, Anna "Mikke" Torvalds, in her essay "On Raising Linus from a Very Small Nerd". David Diamond quotes the essay in Chapter IV of "Birth of an Operating System". Anna tells the anecdote to illustrate Linus's respect for his sister, despite their arguments.
  • I'm personally convinced that computer science has a lot in common with physics. Both are about how the world works at a rather fundamental level. The difference, of course, is that while in physics you're supposed to figure out how the world is made up, in computer science you create the world. Within the confines of the computer, you're the creator. You get to ultimately control everything that happens. If you're good enough, you can be God. On a small scale.
    • Linus Torvalds. "Birth of an Operating System", Chapter V: "The Beauty of Programming"
  • The course was so basic—this was the fall of 1993, before the popularity of the Internet—my homework assignment for the class one day was to send me email. It sounds absurd today, but I said: “For homework, send me email.” Other students’ emails contained simple test messages, or unmemorable notes about the class. Tove asked me out for a date. I married the first woman to approach me electronically.
    • Linus Torvalds. "Birth of an Operating System", Chapter XII
  • Jobs made a big point of the fact that Mach’s low-level kernel is open source. He sort of played down the flaw in the setup: Who cares if the basic operating system, the real low-core stuff, is open source if you then have the Mac layer on top, which is not open source? He had no way of knowing that my personal opinion of Mach is not very high. Frankly, I think it’s a piece of crap. It contains all the design mistakes you can make, and managed to even make up a few of its own."
    • Linus Torvalds. "King of the Ball", Chapter IV
  • Most days I wake up thinking I'm the luckiest bastard alive.
    • Linus Torvalds. "King of the Ball", Chapter VII
  • I wanted to introduce him to surfing, but it made sense to start out with boogie-boarding. We drove over to Half Moon Bay one afternoon in early May, rented wet suits and boards, and Linus protested heavily at the thought of wading into the chilly waters of the Pacific, even in a wet suit. But within minutes something amazing happened: He delighted in riding the waves. “This is great,” he enthused like a five-year old at one point, slapping me a high five. Of course, about fifteen minutes later he developed a nasty leg cramp—from being so out of shape, he reasoned—and had to stop. (When the cramp hit, he just sat there in the white water, apparently unable to get up, as waves washed over him. My first thought was: “Oh fuck. If I kill this guy, I’ll have millions of nerds on my case.”)
    • David Diamond. "King of the Ball", "Fame and Fortune"