Linux founder Linus Torvalds delivers a smackdown like no other

Written by Belle Beth Cooper on August 9, 2012

My name is Linus Torvalds, and I am your god.

You don’t have to be a Linux user, or even a nerd, to love Linus Torvalds. His arrogant and irreverant sense of humor draws scores of views, shares and upvotes on almost anything he says online.

He cares very little about what others think, and will publicly lambaste anyone he deems deserving. Which to be honest, appears to be most people.

From an abundant smorgasbord, we’ve chosen 14 of our favorite smackdowns from King Linus.


In response to negative comments about the Linux penguin logo, Linus had this to say to the ‘penguin-haters’:

Linux now has a logo thanks to the artistic talents of Larry Ewing, and one version (the “pretty” version) is included with the kernel. 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…

In short, at least give the penguin a fair viewing. If you still don’t like it that’s ok: that’s why I’m boss. I simply know better than you do.


When he received this comment about git source code:

‘Pure C as opposed to C++. No idea why. Please don’t talk about portability, it’s BS.’

Linus explained his choice thus:

*YOU* are full of bullshit.
C++ is a horrible language. It’s made more horrible by the fact that a lot of substandard programmers use it, to the point where it’s much much easier to generate total and utter crap with it…

So I’m sorry, but for something like git, where efficiency was a primary objective, the “advantages” of C++ are just a huge mistake. The fact that we also piss off people who cannot see that is just a big additional advantage.


After saying that Mach and FreeBSD people are incompetent idiots and subsequently being Slashdotted, Linus went on to add these claims:

I also claim that Slashdot people usually are smelly and eat their boogers, and have an IQ slightly lower than my daughter’s pet hamster (that’s “hamster” without a “p” btw for any slashdot poster out there. Try to follow me, ok?).

Furthermore, I claim that anybody that hasn’t noticed by now that I’m an opinionated bastard, and that “impolite” is my middle name, is lacking a few clues.

Finally, it’s clear that I’m not only the smartest person around, I’m also incredibly good-looking, and that my infallible charm is also second only to my becoming modesty.

So there. Just to clarify.

Linus “bow down before me, you scum” Torvalds


In a Google+ post earlier this year, Linus told us all why we shouldn’t use OpenSUSE:

I don’t think I can talk about “security” people without cursing, so you might want to avert your eyes now.

I gave OpenSUSE a try, because it worked so well at install-time on the Macbook Air, but I have to say, I’ve had enough. There is no way in hell I can honestly suggest that to anybody else anymore… today Daniela calls me from school, because she can’t add the school printer without the admin password.

Whichever moron thought that it’s “good security” to require the root password for everyday things like this is mentally diseased.

So here’s a plea: if you have anything to do with security in a distro, and think that my kids (replace “my kids” with “sales people on the road” if you think your main customers are businesses) need to have the root password to access some wireless network, or to be able to print out a paper, or to change the date-and-time settings, please just kill yourself now. The world will be a better place.


In response to an issue with git, Linus explained what the real issue was:

Gentlemen, I have found the solution to your problem.

Umm. YOUR problem.

… Your problem has nothing to do with git, and everything to do with emacs. And then you have the _gall_ to talk about “unix design” and not gumming programs together, when you yourself use the most gummed-up piece of absolute sh*t there is!



When asked to compare OS X Leopard and Windows Vista, Linus said Leopard was a better system overall. He didn’t let them off the hook entirely, though.

OS X in some ways is actually worse than Windows to program for. Their file system is complete and utter crap, which is scary.




Linus admitted to that letting other people have a say means you sometimes have to admit you were wrong. He went on to explain how he makes this work:

I make it easier for me by often writing my flames something along the lines of: “You’re a complete incomplete idiot, and I’m not going to apply this patch because it’s obviously broken and is a total piece of sh*t. And here’s why…” But then at the end I’ll include:

And hey, maybe I’m just being a d*ck, and you can prove me wrong, so please explain to me why you did that horrible thing. Please? Hmm?


Apparently, Linus has a couple of definitions for git (depending on your mood):

“Global information tracker”: you’re in a good mood, and it actually works for you. Angels sing and light suddenly fills the room.

“Goddamn idiot truckload of sh*t”: when it breaks.




Although he thinks security is important, Linus made it clear in a discussion on bugs that ‘it’s no less important than everything else that is also important!’

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.


When offering a a new kernel for download, Linus explained to users just how good it was:

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 d*mn fault, and you should just fix your evil ways.



In reply to a comment from Gnome saying they’re focused on developing for ‘users who are smart,’ Linus called the devs on their excuses:

Gnome seems to be developed by interface nazis, where consistently the excuse for not doing something is not “it’s too complicated to do,” but “it would confuse users”.



When SCO claimed to have intellectual rights to Linux files, Linus told BusinessWeek just how wrong SCO was:

SCO doesn’t own the copyright on the files they are talking about – the University of California at Berkeley does. But even if they did, the Linux files weren’t even copied in the first place. And even if they had been copied, no copyright notices would have been removed, since they didn’t exist in the original. 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.


As Sun Microsystems’ Solaris system fell into steady decline, Linus was often quoted regarding his distaste for Solaris:

A lot of people still like Solaris, but I’m in active competition with them, and so I hope they die.




Any programmer knows that Linus is king for a reason – he makes calls that need to be made, for the good of the product. There’s no stuffing around, no long-winded explanations; just “this is what we’re going to do.”

In true Linus fashion, when discussing the implementation of colorized diffs, he put the needs (and health) of git users first:

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…

Know a better Linus quote? Share it in the comments.

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About the Author

Belle Beth Cooper

Belle is a co-founder of Melbourne startup Hello Code, creators of Exist—a personal analytics platform that helps you find work/life balance.

  • Bohdan Zhuravel
  • Sree Raj A

    “Nvidia, Fu*k You”
    –EPIC Tolwards

  • Bl@ster

    “Nvidia, f**k you!”

    • Jeff Strehlow

      I like Linus. He speaks honestly and has a great sense of humor. He has a lot of common sense when it comes to how to design things.

  • Dragnucs

    Linux is just epic.
    I like the way he express himself and explain things.

  • Kiki Novak

    I just love Linus. We seem to share the same sense of, ummm, diplomacy.

  • Mohamed Semlali

    …And the best one is: “nVidia, F*** you”

  • Christophe Muller

    Other quotes:
    – When you say “I wrote a program that crashed Windows,” people just stare at you blankly and say “Hey, I got those with the system, for free.”
    – Hoping the problem magically goes away by ignoring it is the “microsoft approach to programming” and should never be allowed.
    – Software is like Sex, it’s better when it’s free!

  • Srinivas Gowda

    Fuck you Nvidia!

  • jeff litelton

    “I know it’s offending, but I like to offend people. because I think, people who get offended should be offended!”

  • Sankhadeep Pujaru

    <3 LINUX

  • MO

    I dislike Bill Gates evil Microsoft empire, I didn’t like Steve Jobs much either.
    Was (was being the the operative)a big fan of Linux
    (even before it had a GUI)until I read all of this tirade (especially the nonsense about C++, I code in C, C++ and assembly).
    As for quote:
    “Finally, it’s clear that I’m not only the smartest person around, I’m also incredibly good-looking, and that my infallible charm is also second only to my becoming modesty.”
    A few well placed blows to the head ought to fix all of your problems then, Linus you insufferably arrogant TWAT !

    • Belle Beth Cooper

      The funny thing is, Linus doesn’t care if people think he’s arrogant anyway!

  • Lucio Maciel

    “Subversion has been the most pointless project ever started… Subversion used to say, ‘CVS done right.’ With that slogan there is nowhere you can go. There is no way to do CVS right.”

  • Yaro

    I personally don’t get why C++ gets so much hate. I prefer the language, and I’m hardly a substandard programmer. The problem is not that C++ sucks or that people who use it suck, it’s that C++ makes it too easy for programmers to suck. The context for him going after C++ on the LKML, by the way, was because some pinhead proposed rewriting the Linux kernel in C++ pretty much for the sheer sake of having the Linux kernel in C++, when there was virtually no benefit whatsoever, and when doing such a thing would have basically condemned the kernel to falling back into an alpha state until the C++ “works.”

    His hate on nVidia, I’m on the fence about. Yes, I think nVidia should more fully document their stuff so Nouveau can itself stop sucking, on the other hand, two things. One is that nVidia hardly owns all the IP for the technology behind their hardware and probably would get sued out of existence if they did this. T

    The other is from a practical standpoint: Of the following three companies: Intel, AMD, and nVidia, nVidia is currently the ONLY company to provide official drivers that perform just as well as their Windows counterparts, if not better, and makes nVidia pretty much the only serious choice for a Linux gamer.

    Now, almost every time Linus flames someone on LKML it’s because they deserve, however, I don’t take everything he says as gospel.

    I personally work a lot with C++, as few other OOP languages compare to it, not to mention its crossover into the truly low level makes it immensely more powerful. If I need RAD I’ll use Python, and I’m not afraid of C, though I personally believe between C and C++, C actually makes it easier to shoot yourself in the foot than C++. And as stated before, nVidia may have made life hard for the Nouveau developers, but objectively speaking I can’t see how they can do anything other than what they are already doing.

    • Andrew

      “…nVidia is currently the ONLY company to provide official drivers that perform just as well as their Windows counterparts…” I take it that you have tried this with Ubuntu? :/

  • JoRgE-1987

    I cant stop laughing. Linus is amazing and have a very particular personality.
    I love this article!
    Greetings from Argentina!

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