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Alan Cox
Cox at FOSS.IN/2005
Born (1968-07-22) 22 July 1968 (age 55)
Solihull, England
Other namesac
Alma materSwansea University Aberystwyth University
SpouseTelsa Gwynne (d. 2015)[1][2] Tara Neale[3]

Alan Cox (born 22 July 1968) is a British computer programmer who has been a key figure in the development of Linux. He maintained the 2.2 branch of the Linux kernel and continues to be heavily involved in its development, an association that dates back to 1991. He lives in Swansea, Wales, where he lived with his wife Telsa Gwynne, who died in 2015[1][2][4][5] and now lives with author Tara Neale,[6] whom he married in 2020.[3] He graduated with a BSc in Computer Science from Swansea University in 1991 and received an MBA from the same university in 2005.[7]

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.[8] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Cox 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.[9]

On 28 July 2009, Cox quit his role as the TTY layer maintainer, after disagreement with Torvalds about the scope of work required to fix an error in that subsystem.[10]

Alan was employed by the Linux distributor Red Hat during 1999–2009.[11] Starting from 2011 he was employed by Intel Corporation but left both Intel and Linux kernel development in January 2013[12] to care full-time for his wife during a critical period of medical treatment, and returned to both later that year,[13] until taking early retirement at the end of 2019.[citation needed]

He has also been involved in the GNOME and X.Org projects, and was the main developer of AberMUD, which he wrote whilst a student at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.[citation needed]

On 31 Oct 2014, Alan Cox announced Fuzix OS, a tiny system V kernel, initially for Z80 on Google+.[citation needed]

Model trains

Alan Cox used to run Etched Pixels, a model train company that used to produce N gauge kits. However it suffered "a rather more sudden closure", as described by the message that is left on the company's website, caused by a rise in operational cost.[14]


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".[15] Red Hat Inc., Cox's former employer, has stated (in a document drafted by Mark Webbink and Cox himself)[16] that it will not use patents against free software projects.[17]

Cox is also an adviser to the Foundation for Information Policy Research and the Open Rights Group.[18]

Career and awards

Cox was the recipient of the Free Software Foundation's 2003 Award for the Advancement of Free Software at the FOSDEM conference in Brussels.[19]

On 5 October 2005, Cox received a lifetime achievement award at the LinuxWorld awards in London.[20]

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David Awarded Cox an Honorary Fellowship on 18 July 2013.[21]

He received an honorary doctorate from the Swansea University, his alma mater, on 20 July 2016.[7]


  1. ^ a b Öberg, Jonas (3 November 2015). "In Memory of Telsa Gwynne". Archived from the original on 7 April 2018. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b Gardiner, Mary Elizebeth (4 November 2015). "Remembering Telsa Gwynne". Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b "My Wedding Day". 1 May 2020. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  4. ^ "In Memory of Telsa Gwynne". GNOME website. 6 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015. after living with cancer for a while she passed away this last Tuesday, 3 November 2015
  5. ^ Owen, Huw Dylan (4 November 2015). "Telsa Gwynne (1969 – 2015)" (Blog y Sesiwn). Sesiwn yng Nghymru (in Welsh). Retrieved 19 November 2015. (English translation in comments.)
  6. ^ "My Hero". 1 May 2019. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Swansea University honours world class Linux computer programmer". Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  8. ^ "SUCS - History - Hardware". 1 December 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  9. ^ "Linux: Alan Cox To Take One Year Sabbatical". Archived from the original on 30 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Linux: Alan Cox Quits As Linux TTY Maintainer — "I've Had Enough"". 29 July 2009.
  11. ^ "Alan Cox: Moving on from Red Hat".
  12. ^ McAllister, Neil (24 January 2013). "Kernel hacker Alan Cox quits Linux, Intel". The Register. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  13. ^ Cox, Alan. "I'm leaving the Linux world and Intel for a bit for family reasons". Google+. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  14. ^ "Etched Pixels: N scale etched models and details". Archived from the original on 11 January 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  15. ^ "List of Alan Cox patents". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011.
  16. ^ Webbink, Mark (Interviewee) (8 November 2007). Mark Webbink On: The Patent Promise. Red Hat Magazine. Archived from the original (Ogg Theora) on 11 January 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2007.
  17. ^ "Statement of Position and Our Promise on Software Patents". Red Hat. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  18. ^ "Board and Advisory Council". Open Rights Group. Archived from the original on 3 June 2008. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  19. ^ "2003 Award For the Advancement of Free Software". Free Software Foundation. Archived from the original on 19 August 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  20. ^ Matt Loney (6 October 2005). "Linux pioneer wins lifetime achievement award". ZDNet UK. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  21. ^ Cox, Alan. "They seem to have made me an honorary fellow, although in truth a little bit of this really belongs to everyone who I've worked with on patches, reporting bugs and making Linux great. Thats a lot of people!". Google+. Archived from the original on 26 March 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2013.