Linus Torvalds becomes an American citizen

Casual remark on mailing list lets community in on the news

Having brought his open-source work and family to the United States from Finland some time ago, Linus Torvalds has marked an important personal milestone by attaining U.S. citizenship.

Linus Torvalds

Congratulations, Linus.

("2011's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries")

Torvalds mentioned the achievement in passing yesterday in a message on the linux.kernal mailing list that was posted on LWN.net.

"I'll test that myself (but in a bit - I need to go do voter registration and socsec update first, though - I became a US citizen last week)."

Comments on the LWN.net post offer Torvalds congratulations, too, but also quickly devolve into the style of political invective (albeit relatively mild here) that makes so many public forums virtually unreadable these days, and, as you'll see in a moment, may have given Torvalds pause on the path to citizenship ... and voter registration.

I've sent Torvalds a few questions about becoming a citizen. Meanwhile, this 2008 post on his personal blog, addresses some of his thinking on the topic at that time.

Yeah, yeah, we should probably have done the citizenship thing a long time ago, since we've been here long enough (and two of the kids are US citizens by virtue of being born here), but anybody who has had dealings with the INS will likely want to avoid any more of them, and maybe things have gotten better with a new name and changes, but nothing has really made me feel like I really need that paperwork headache again.

So I'm a stranger in a strange land, and seldom more so than when voting season is upon us.

Most of the rest of the time I can kind of ignore it. We've been in the US for over a decade, and it's definitely "home", and we like living here. But being an alien means that you can't vote, and seeing all the news being about the presidential election (and all the streets here locally littered with signs about the local school bond) tends to remind you about that issue.

But being reminded about not being able to vote is actually the much smaller thing: much more than that, election season reminds you about what an odd place the US is.

By odd he was referring to the hand-to-hand combat that accompanies so much of American political activity; the kind that even pops when a guy like Linus Torvalds mentions in passing that he's become an American citizen.

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