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Video Interview With Linus On Linux 2.7 178

Posted by kdawson
from the surprising-stability dept.
daria42 writes "ZDNet Australia has put up a video interview of Linux creator Linus Torvalds talking about the kernel development process, explaining why the unexpected resilience of kernel version 2.6 has delayed the move to 2.7." From the interview: "One of the original worries was that we would not be able to make big changes within the confines of the development model... I always said that if there is something so fundamental that everything will break then we will start at 2.7 at that point... We have been able to do fairly invasive things even while not actually destabilizing the kernel... Having stable and unstable in parallel: I think it used to be a great model, and I think we may see that the kernel has actually become more mature and stable and it just doesn't seem to be that great a model, for the kernel."
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Video Interview With Linus On Linux 2.7

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:09PM (#17640880)
    It would be nice if the video on Linux could be viewed on Linux.
  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:09PM (#17640888) Journal
    How difficult is it to release a video about linux kernel development in a format that is easy to watch by people running linux? At least use flash 7...no need to blow their minds talking about ogg/theora.
  • Video interviews (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:14PM (#17640940)
    I've never bothered to look at a video interview on the net (part often not being able to, part just not liking video on my desktop, part that the moving images distract me from all the multitasking I somehow can do while reading), but if someone could post a transcript of what was said, I'd be sure to read it :)
  • by poopie (35416) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:27PM (#17641082) Journal
    The resiliency of the 2.6 kernel is most certainly due to corporate involvement in the development of and support for Linux. Companies can't design, build, test, and support product for a moving target.

    If anyone wanted to seriously break the Linux kernel ABI, I don't think corporate interests or major distros would support it or follow.

    OSes or platforms seem to change rapidly up until the point they reach a critical mass - at which point, the next ABI change is cause for general revolt. After that, $ENTITY learns their lesson and vows to never significantly break backwards compatibility again.
  • Re:Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by springbox (853816) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @12:00AM (#17641406)
    It's harder to get a kernel that works nicely if a lot of people end up flocking to another version. This would leave 2.6 in a bad position because fewer people would be finding and reporting bugs, critical or not. One person can only do so much. Linux is very much a community project that needs participants to work well.
  • Resilience? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @12:17AM (#17641522)

    explaining why the unexpected resilience of kernel version 2.6 has delayed the move to 2.7.

    Uh...resilience?

    2.6 releases have "shipped" numerous times with some serious bugs, probably because Linus and company have let lots of people slip major new features into the 2.6 kernel, when it's supposed to be stable. 2.6 kernels regularly make it SEVERAL "point" releases into each point release:

    • 2.6.19.2
    • 2.6.18.6
    • 2.6.17.14 (!)
    • 2.6.16.37 (thirty seven releases. From 3/20/06 to 12/28/06. That's one release, on average, once a week.)
    • 2.6.15.7

    Go and look at the timestamps on 'em on ftp.kernel.org. Some of the sub-versions are just a few days apart. How the hell are end-users supposed to know when the kernel is ACTUALLY useable, if there are THIRTY SEVEN bug-fix releases?

    One of the more amazing bugs involved a bug in md that would hose raid partitions, and I assure you, it was not the only serious filesystem bug. I lost a reiserfs partition thanks to a half-baked 2.6 release.

  • by harkabeeparolyn (711320) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @12:22AM (#17641558)
    In other words, instead of doing things the right way, they are going to start taking shortcuts until things get bad again, and then, chastened, they'll go back to doing what they never should have stopped doing to begin with. Laziness, in other words.
  • Re:Resilience? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by notamisfit (995619) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @12:38AM (#17641720)
    In the interests of fairness, about 20 or so of those 37 bugfix releases were done after 2.6.17 was released as stable (2.6.16 is still being maintained as a "super-stable" type kernel). Bugfix releases pretty much seem to be a non-issue, considering that most people are going to be using the kernel provided with the distribution, as opposed to a vanilla one.
  • bad website (Score:4, Insightful)

    by towsonu2003 (928663) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @12:57AM (#17641894)
    can anyone post this "fragmented" and unaccessible interview video to youtube or google video as one or two big file(s)?
  • Re:Resilience? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @01:52AM (#17642306) Journal
    Go and look at the timestamps on 'em on ftp.kernel.org. Some of the sub-versions are just a few days apart. How the hell are end-users supposed to know when the kernel is ACTUALLY useable, if there are THIRTY SEVEN bug-fix releases?

    The people that go to kernel.org to choose a kernel to download and compile hardly qualify for what most people will call a "user".

    What Linus is calling "unexpected stability" is probably due to the distros intermediating between the kernel devs and the actual users. To put it another way, what's really happened is that the "stable" kernel is now being maintained by the likes of RedHat and Debian, while the "unstable" kernel is what you find at kernel.org.

    We'll see how this plays out - but for the real world, this leaves Linus doing what he does best - develop and oversee cool developments - while the more rank-and-file organizations lead by the distros intermediate for the end users.

    I've been using CentOS and Fedora Core, it's been at least 5 or 6 years since I felt the need to go to kernel.org!
  • Re:Ummmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zsau (266209) <slashdot@theca[ ... t ['rto' in gap]> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:04AM (#17642410) Homepage Journal
    Umm... still doesn't work from PPC/Linux. And considering that's the platform Torvalds develops on, you'd think they could at least release the video in a format he could watch from his own computer. It's not hard to release a video in MPEG format people!
  • by 10Ghz (453478) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:26AM (#17642904)

    It's Easy, I'm assuming you're using Firefox, so fire up Nano and open the file "/etc/firefox/firefoxrc" (as root)
    Add this line: FIREFOX_DSP="aoss" (remove FIREFOX_DSP=)
    Install the alsa-oss package.
    Restart FF, and you are playing sound!
    Um, I'm not sure what planet you are living on, but that's not "easy". It's tedious and frustrating.
  • by just_another_sean (919159) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @09:28AM (#17644862) Homepage Journal
    I take it you've never had to fix anything with regedit either then?
  • by 10Ghz (453478) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @09:36AM (#17644956)

    Changing one line in a text file, then typing "apt-get install alsa-oss" is at least as simple as operating a coffee machine.
    I don't have to anything like that with any other OS I have used. I don't have to go around installing weird stuff and editing text-files just so I could get frigging sound working in a web-browser.

    And yes, I use Linux (among other OS'es). Have been using it since 1999, and I'm a card-carrying member of a national LUG. But anyone who says that "It's easy, just edit this text file and install these apps and you are all set" is totally, 100% missing the point. Tasks like that are way beyond the capabilities of most users. They just want their systems to work. And if it's so easy to fix the problem, why isn't it fixed by default? Why are tasks like that left to the user to figure out?
  • Some 2.7 ideas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:44AM (#17646972)
    I'm a linux user, my company's products depend on it and I've contributed to it. I see a a couple of painful transitions coming though. I haven't seen the kernel quality go down, I'm not sure how people say "2.6 isn't stable" without specific issues they can point to. Overall the code keeps getting better. I say this as a warning, not as a doom and gloom kind of message.

    VFS probably needs to be addressed. Reiserfs4 sort of exposed some of the issues. There are others though. To my knowledge ext2/3 are the only OSes that actually code strcitly against VFS and the other layers. XFS, JFS, Reiserfs, etc.. are all hacked in to it. If you follow the kernel list, you'll see nobody uses JFS and XFS seems to have regular crash reports. Upon using it myself (for 5 years) it has memory leaks, it routinely has trouble with new kernels. There have been regular performance regressions. Now, I don't really care about the filesystem itself that much but it seems fundamentally broken to me that a non-experimental filesystem has such routine problems. Either the API is uses is broken, the filesystem is broken or both. I'm becoming more inclined to think that it's VFS. This creates a circular sort of problem, you don't need VFS if ext2,3,4 are the only filesystems that are really supported, it's not nearly as important as it is treated. Either that or the process of having something included and non-experimental needs to include some kind of support aspect and maybe be rethought. So far as I can tell, IBM isn't really doing much more with JFS and nobody uses it, let's move to remove it (bummer too because it's a quite clean and elegant FS, much better than reiserfs or xfs in terms of code and design quality and cleanness.) There isn't a clean process for removing stuff from the kernel. Reiserfs is a prime example, Reiserfs3 isn't supported, time to move to remove it; it has known bugs and design flaws which are not being addressed. This particular area is more complex also because selinux depends on filesystem support, LVM behaves differently with different filesystems, different filesystems have different and variable tools support.. System filesystems need some work too, what's debugfs? configfs? How is sysfs different than configfs or procfs?

    Filesystems are just an easy to see and expose portion of this problem there are other APIs which have the same issues. We retooled the build system a few years back, it's much better but there are major flaws still. There are drivers which cannot work unless loaded as a module and yet they can be linked in. There are a huge number that depend on other subsystems and you can easily misconfigure them (SATA depends on parts of SCSI. So I can static link some SATA modules in and dynamic link parts of the SCSI system in and the build system won't complain. Worse, if I break it just so, I can actually get it to build cleanly and freak out at runtime) I'm not advocating making it more difficult to hack on the kernel or add new modules to the build but it's fucked if it doens't catch that stuff. Worse, the driver is fucked if it can't be statically linked and if that's an acceptable limitation then it should be an option. (the Fusion series of RAID/SCSI/SAS type drivers is one that suffers from this problem) At the same time the build system is holy, good luck changing that without pissing off half the free world, and I don't even want to think about what would have to happen if it required a change to a .config file to take it to the next level. Part of the beauty of Linux in this regard is that it is remarkably simple to build and get involved with, there really aren't any tricks or anything to building it. This is something else where there needs to be a support component. There are good companies with well supported drivers and there are orphans. I'd rather have modules marked as supported or unsupported than whether or not they are GPL clean or tainted, I'd like to see that

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