The Wayback machine is unreliable, so I thought I'd repost this so that I could always link to it.

"What If Linus Torvalds Gets Hit By A Bus?" - An Empirical Study

The question on the lips of everyone in the Linux community is, "What if Linus Torvalds (affectionately known to the trade press as 'Linux Torvalds') gets hit by a bus?" Reams of virtual paper have been wasted on idle speculation about the results of what is a fairly simple experiment. We decided it was high time someone actually took the trouble to find out what would happen if Linus Torvalds were to get hit by a bus. Our preliminary findings are printed below; we hope that this study will eventually be published in peer-reviewed Linux publications such as Linux Journal and Slashdot. Well, Linux Journal.


Our sample consisted of 200 Linus Torvaldses separated into a test group of 100 and a control group of 100. 97 members of the test group were hit by buses at speeds ranging from 5 MPH to 70 MPH. The other three test subjects ran into stationary buses on their own power. A different bus was used for each trial so as to ensure that the trials would be independent.

The control group was observed over a period of six months, in which none of the subjects was hit by a bus.


Only nine members of the test group survived; two of these were seriously injured. All survivors had been assigned to the lower end of the velocity scale, as can be seen in Figure 1.

[IMAGE: Figure 1: Survival rate versus bus velocity]
Figure 1: Survival rate versus bus velocity

No fatalities were reported in the control group. One member choked on a muffin during the second week, but recovered after an application of the Heimlich maneuver. No buses were present during the incident.

Conclusions and Recommendations:

Our study's bottom line: given standard traffic patterns, Linus Torvalds has an 8.9% (plus or minus 1.4%) chance of surviving and fully recovering from a collision with a bus. Due to Torvalds' development skills and acknowledged importance to the Linux community, we hereby recommend that Linus Torvalds be kept out of the path of oncoming buses. Also, his muffin intake should be monitored.

Linux kernel development was not significantly affected by our experiment; however, we attribute this to the large sample size used.

The Future:

We plan to do similar tests to determine the effects of buses on Miguel de Icaza, Larry Wall, and Eric S. Raymond. Our confident prediction is that we will obtain similar results.

Instructions on getting hit by a bus will soon be posted to our project Web site, so that the average developer will be able to gauge his or her importance to the Open Source community.

Posted on Wed 23 Feb 08:45:54 2000 PST
Written by Leonard Richardson <>


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12 October 2006