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Alan Cox

Alan Cox
Alan Cox at FOSS.IN/2005
Born (1968-07-22) 22 July 1968
Solihull, England
Residence Swansea, Wales
Nationality British
Other names ac
Alma mater Swansea University
Occupation Programmer
Spouse(s) Telsa Gwynne

Alan Cox (born 22 July 1968) is a British computer programmer who maintained the 2.2 branch of the Linux kernel and continues to be heavily involved in the development of the Linux kernel, an association that dates back to 1991. He lives in Swansea, Wales with his wife, Telsa Gwynne.


  • Involvement in the Linux kernel 1
  • Model trains 2
  • Activism 3
  • Awards 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Involvement in the Linux kernel

Alan Cox at the LinuxWorldExpo

While employed on the campus of Swansea University, Cox installed a very early version of Linux on one of the machines belonging to the university computer society. This was one of the first Linux installations on a busy network and revealed many bugs in the networking code. Cox fixed many of these bugs and went on to rewrite much of the networking subsystem. He then became one of the main developers and maintainers of the whole kernel.

He maintained the 2.2 branch, and his own versions of the 2.4 branch (signified by an "ac" in the version, for example 2.4.13-ac1). This branch was very stable and contained bugfixes that went directly into the vendor kernels. He was once commonly regarded as being the "second in command" after Linus Torvalds himself, before reducing his involvement with Linux to study for an MBA.[1]

On 28 July 2009, Cox relinquished his role as the TTY layer maintainer, after receiving criticism from Torvalds.[2][3]

Alan was employed by the Linux distributor Red Hat during 1999-2009.[4] Starting from 2011 he was employed by Intel Corporation, left both Intel and Linux kernel development in January 2013 for family reasons, and returned to both later that year.[5]

He has also been involved in the AberMUD, which he wrote whilst a student at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Model trains

Alan Cox runs Etched Pixels, a model train company producing N gauge kits.[6]


Alan Cox is an ardent supporter of programming freedom, and an outspoken opponent of software patents, the DMCA and the CBDTPA. He resigned from a subgroup of Usenix in protest, and said he would not visit the United States for fear of being imprisoned after the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov for DMCA violations.

In January 2007, he applied for a series of patents on "RMS", or rights management systems.[7] It is said that he has filed a patent for digital rights management. Red Hat Inc., Cox's former employer, has stated (in a document drafted by Mark Webbink and Cox himself)[8] that it will not use patents against free software projects.[9]

Cox is also an adviser to the Foundation for Information Policy Research and the Open Rights Group.[10]


Cox was the recipient of the Free Software Foundation's 2003 Award for the Advancement of Free Software at the FOSDEM conference in Brussels.[11]

On 5 October 2005, Cox received a lifetime achievement award at the LinuxWorld awards in London.[12]

The University of Wales, Trinity Saint David Awarded Cox an Honorary Fellowship on 18 July 2013.[13]


  1. ^ Linux: Alan Cox To Take One Year Sabbatical.
  2. ^ Linus Torvalds: Re: [PATCH] kdesu broken. LKML. Retrieved on 2013-09-19.
  3. ^ Linux: Alan Cox Quits As Linux TTY Maintainer — "I've Had Enough"
  4. ^ Alan Cox: Moving on from Red Hat
  5. ^ Cox, Alan. "I'm leaving the Linux world and Intel for a bit for family reasons". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  6. ^ "Etched Pixels: N scale etched models and details". Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  7. ^ List of Alan Cox patents
  8. ^ Webbink, Mark (Interviewee) (2007-11-08). Mark Webbink On: The Patent Promise (Ogg Theora). Red Hat Magazine. Archived from the original on 11 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  9. ^ "Statement of Position and Our Promise on Software Patents". Red Hat. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  10. ^ "Board and Advisory Council". Open Rights Group. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  11. ^ "2003 Award For the Advancement of Free Software". Free Software Foundation. Archived from the original on 19 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  12. ^ Matt Loney (6 October 2005). "Linux pioneer wins lifetime achievement award".  
  13. ^ "Google Plus post". Google. Retrieved 2013-07-18. 

External links

  • Alan Cox: The maintainer of production version of the Linux kernel. Ch. 5 of ebook Open Source Pioneers, includes a lot of difficult to find interviews.
  • Interview on his biography
  • LWN interviews Alan Cox
  • Interview with Alan Cox - 15 January 2002
  • LugRadio interview
  • Linux Format interview - August 2005
  • Cathedrals, Bazaars and the Town Council - 1998-10-13
  • Ogg audio recording of a talk in Limerick, Ireland 2006-05-13, and a transcript of an excerpt, about GPLv3
  • Video interview with Alan Cox at Hannover Industry Trade Fair, Germany, May 2008
  • Alan Cox interviewed in Cardiff
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