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Torvalds on Where Linux is Headed in 2008 305

Posted by Zonk
from the prognostigatory-penguin-predictions dept.
Stony Stevenson writes "In an interview at the ITNews site, Linus Torvalds lays out his current excitement about the future of Linux. Torvalds is looking forward to hardware elements like solid-state drives, expects progress in graphics and wireless networking, and says the operating system is strong in virtualisation despite his personal lack of interest in the area. 'When you buy an OS from Microsoft, not only you can't fix it, but it has had years of being skewed by one single entity's sense of the market. It doesn't matter how competent Microsoft — or any individual company — is, it's going to reflect that fact. In contrast, look at where Linux is used. Everything from cellphones and other small embedded computers that people wouldn't even think of as computers, to the bulk of the biggest machines on the supercomputer Top-500 list. That is flexibility.'"
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Torvalds on Where Linux is Headed in 2008

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  • by David Off (101038) on Monday November 26, 2007 @06:34AM (#21476877) Homepage
    So 2008 is finally the year of Linux on the desktop?
    • Re:Desktop Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday November 26, 2007 @06:43AM (#21476917)
      No. The desktop is dead. It's the year of Linux in your pocket.

       
    • by killjoe (766577)
      It grows every year. There is no reason to think it won't keep growing in 2008.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by scmartindale (1188813)
      It's entirely possible that 2008 *will* be the year of the Linux desktop. Here's why: 1. KDE 4.0. 2. Resolution (hopefully) of the ongoing Open XML vs. ODF debate will (hopefully, again) lend some might to the OpenOffice.org front, thus removing the last remaining hurdle in the Linux-in-the-office track. 3. Ubuntu 8.4 *will* be influential. It will either sink the distro or cement its position as the most usable Linux distro - ever. 4. Windows Vista will continue to hurt Microsoft by annoying big corporate
      • by darthflo (1095225)
        1] What's so special about KDE4? Qt4 with Windows support sure is nice, but I doubt it's going to catch on very fast, especially in the somewhat influential enterprise market. Same goes for most other innovations it incorporates. Plasma and Raptor are nice new ways of doing things, but don't forget we're (partially) talking about people sticking to Windows' classic start menu in spite of XP's innovations round there.
        Also, don't forget 2008 will bring KDE 4.0, which many just won't consider stable yet. I ha
      • What about users? (Score:3, Informative)

        by SerpentMage (13390)
        You keep thumping on the features. What about usability?

        Here is one single little feature that I wish were fixed. I want to install VMWare on a Linux distro without having to need a compiler installed. I can do this on Windows, why not Linux?

        For example I bought VMWare and I am forced to upgrade because my version is old, and something in the Linux headers has changed that needs a new patch to fix up. WTF... This is a prime reason why I have given up on Linux on the desktop. It just requires too much work
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheSunborn (68004)
          Quote: I want to install VMWare on a Linux distro without having to need a compiler installed.

          Then run a linux distribution that is supported by vmware. You can't expect to run vmware on some random linux distro, no more then I can expect to run my Windows version of vmware on Windows mobile.

          (And vmware 5.5, don't have any problems with the newer linux kernels. I am runnig it on 2.6.22 right now), so how old exactly is your wmvare?
          • Re:What about users? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@yah o o .ca> on Monday November 26, 2007 @09:57AM (#21478271)
            I am running VMWare 5.5. I tried to get it running on the latest Ubuntu distro, and the one before that. What happens is that it asks if I have a compiler handy in install.pl file. Then when it attempts to compile and one of the headers buggers up.

            The problem is as follows:

            http://www.debuntu.org/how-to-vmware-server-workstation-under-ubuntu-feisty [debuntu.org]

            I tried using the prepared binary patches with Ubuntu, but they did not seem to work for me. The only thing that worked was to go back to an old Ubuntu version and then be done with it. AND not upgrade the Linux kernel.

            I am tired of this. I am tired of needing a compiler installed. Tired of doing an installation of an installation. I just want it to be installed and running.

            Now talking about getting VMWare to run on some random Linux distro. Actually I can expect that. I can install VMWare workstation on Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Vista, Windows 2000 Server, and Windows 2003 server without any hassles whatsoever! I can't say that of Linux.
            • Re:What about users? (Score:4, Informative)

              by jsoderba (105512) on Monday November 26, 2007 @11:14AM (#21479153)

              I can install VMWare workstation on Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Vista, Windows 2000 Server, and Windows 2003 server without any hassles whatsoever! I can't say that of Linux.

              You can run VMware on RHEL 3, 4 and 5 without any hassle whatsoever. If you want to use proprietary software, use a stable platform like RHEL or SLES or Ubuntu LTS. The reason Ubuntu and Fedora are able to release frequently is that they do not put much effort into binary compatibility.

              What you don't seem to understand is that there is no such thing as a "Linux" desktop. There are Fedora desktops and Mandriva desktops and Debian deskstops and they are all different.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Hatta (162192)
              Then use qemu.
            • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:14PM (#21480761) Homepage
              > I am tired of this. I am tired of needing a compiler installed. Tired of doing an installation
              > of an installation. I just want it to be installed and running.

              What's to be tired of? It's Ubuntu/Debian. There's a meta package for this. Just install the meta package.

              If vmware weren't more lame, they could do this as part of their installer.

              This is strictly a packaging and engineering issue. Vmware insists on
              making software that needs to engage in kernel level shenanigans and
              won't bother to take the extra packaging effort that entails.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Probably not. BUT, it's not because Linux isn't ready.

      I've been waiting for over 10 years for this moment but I've finally been able to use Linux not just as a techo curiousity and plaything, but on my primary work and home machines. I can print with whatever I want, I can run just about any hardware, I can play any video or DVD, I can listen to any music, I have a decent Office competitor (The only thing I miss is a good Outlook clone - whatever you think otherwise, Outlook and Exchange is highly compellin
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Man, if Linux isn't running on your desktop yet, you are doing something wrong.

      Of course it will take a few years before this joke dies out on Slashdot...
  • No mention in TFA of this [engadget.com]. Could this be the breakthrough?
  • Quick Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XMode (252740) on Monday November 26, 2007 @06:39AM (#21476891)
    Not really much to the interview.. It can be summed up with 1 Q&A

    Interviewer: Where is Linux going.
    Linus: Its going where it wants to.
  • and didn't care much about the politics or market share of Linux... just in writing goog code; and preferring GPL2 to GPL3? So why should we care to read his views on topics that do not interest him?

    The EEE PC from Asus shows the extents to which vested interests will go in ensuring drivers for display, ACPI, wifi etc. will be DRM-ridden binaries... and Linus hasn't had much to say about these things.

    Maybe if he cared about the future of Linux so much, he would try and make as much of it GPL3 as he could?
    • See, you were modded down for posting rational things critical of Linux. This is how slashdot works.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MrHanky (141717)
        It's not rational. He's dismissing the views of Linux's leader just because he doesn't take a great deal of interest in whatever he himself cares about. It's about as rational as criticising a philharmonic orchestra for not playing Metallica.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
        • ah yes, this is why we see all the 'flamebait' tags for the gratuitous "RIAA suxxx / m$ suxx" posts. Puh-leeze. He was raising legitimate ancillary issues.
          • by MrHanky (141717)
            He was off topic, raising an ad hominem. I think we all can agree much (most?) of the moderation on Slashdot sucks, especially the fact that the most inane fanboyism will end up at +5 if it's pro Apple or Ubuntu or whatever the current fashion dictates, but there's nothing worth anything in the comment above. Flamebait? Certainly. Troll? Yes. A "RIAA /m$ suxxx" comment, on the other hand, isn't flamebait, as it's hardly a controversial statement here. Redundant, overrated, off topic, but definitely not flam
            • He was off topic, raising an ad hominem.

              Bullshit.

              Read his initial post again. It was a short critique of what linus did say followed by a discussion of what he thought linux should have said.

              entirely appropriate.

    • I thought Linus was just an engineer and didn't care much about the politics or market share of Linux... just in writing goog code; and preferring GPL2 to GPL3? So why should we care to read his views on topics that do not interest him? The EEE PC from Asus shows the extents to which vested interests will go in ensuring drivers for display, ACPI, wifi etc. will be DRM-ridden binaries... and Linus hasn't had much to say about these things. Maybe if he cared about the future of Linux so much, he would try and make as much of it GPL3 as he could?
      A good engineer may not care about market share or politics, but who said a good engineer doesn't care about the quality, flexibility and real-world usage of something he's spent more than a decade working on? And which engineer in his right mind wouldn't be happy and proud of his life's work being a huge success?

      This is not about politics, and this story has absolutely nothing to do with licensing, so let's not drag that dead horse up again. Sure, it's a valid debate, but there's a place and time for it, and this isn't it.
    • by superwiz (655733) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:44AM (#21477279) Journal
      Well, maybe once you get old enough you realize that the test of any theory is practice. And maybe Linus is old enough to realize that the test of how useful Linux happens to be is how it is used.
  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday November 26, 2007 @06:45AM (#21476927)
    If games made for Windows worked 1% faster in Linux, we'd have a generation of kids who would only know windows as the OS used in businesses.

    The day I see in a game forum "Use Linux, n00b." as the usual reply to "OMG! Low fps! Getting pwned! HALP!" will set the ten year count to Linux victory over Windows.
    • Only if 2008 turns out to be Year of desktop users who care about a 1% performance boost in games.
    • by Bert64 (520050)
      Some games do, some don't...
      It's not a cut and dry "linux is always 5% faster", but it's getting there...

      Nvidia drivers are typically about 5% faster on linux when running native games, but wine can often reduce or cancel out that advantage. ATI's drivers tend to be noticeably slower on linux.

      I think someone recently compared wine, xp and vista running a selection of games on the same hardware. XP was faster in most tests, wine was fastest in a few and vista came in last on all of them i think.

      But i do thin
    • The *do* work faster under Linux. Sometimes by a significant amount.

      I'm talking about native ports of course, not wine.
      It also depends on how well the port was made.

      If a game was written for Linux from the beginning then Windows wouldnt stand a chance.
    • by soliptic (665417) on Monday November 26, 2007 @09:34AM (#21478071) Journal
      You seem to place excessive faith in PC gaming. Just because it's important to you, doesn't mean it dominates the computer-using population as a whole. For starters, you've got people like me - not immune to the odd blast of UT a couple of times a year, but haven't installed any games since then. For seconds, you've got a lot of people who do their gaming on a separate device (ie. console(s)).

      Basically, Linux could be the undisputed ultimate gamers platform, but I don't see why that would translate to "Linux victory over Windows" unless you have a significantly inflated sense of the importance / population % of gamers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cp.tar (871488)

        Basically, Linux could be the undisputed ultimate gamers platform, but I don't see why that would translate to "Linux victory over Windows" unless you have a significantly inflated sense of the importance / population % of gamers.

        The point is, children are gamers; they spend quite a lot of time gaming and are the ones who'll do all kinds of stuff to get an additional FPS, especially if it's free.

        Thet's why GP mentioned the ten-year frame: while the children's parents would still use Windows for work, the kids would play on Linux. And then they'd do other stuff on Linux as well.
        Ten years later, former children would be quite used to Linux, probably even defaulting to it.

        So in OS selection, just like in religion, just give me a c

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:06AM (#21477023)
    Can someone summarize Linus' earlier claims on Linux? He must have been asked where he saw Linux in 2005, 2006 and 2007. While there must be some "right on" predictions, I am sure there are some predictions that could be seen as way off course. I slashdotter is eager to know.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      What predictions are there to make? It's just a kernel.

      "We're going to focus this year on making Linux more stable and task-switching more efficient."

      There, that's the summary for every year. Getting an article on GNOME or KDE would be much more interesting.
  • by eulernet (1132389) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:15AM (#21477083)
    2008 is seeing the birth of laptop computers below $300: XO, Asus EEE, and I guess some new will appear soon.

    Vista alone is almost more expensive than the hardware !

    Microsoft was a good alternative when computers did cost $1500, but now the price is just too heavy.
    But they really can't win when the hardware is cheap.

    If they keep remaining in the high performance market (which seems their belief, see DirectX 10), they'll lose their market share in 2 years, along with Dell !
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248)
      Isn't Windows Home something like $30 to big box manufacturers? On a $300 computer, that is still only like 10% of the price.

      And if you have just one killer app that only runs Windows, it unfortunately becomes worth it. One reality we have to face is that some major publishers will have to start writing for Linux before most people completely shake off Windows.
    • by gosand (234100)
      Microsoft was a good alternative when computers did cost $1500, but now the price is just too heavy.
      But they really can't win when the hardware is cheap.

      I am not sure "can't" is the right word. They price it at what the market will bear, and of course there are volume and corporate discounts. Oh, and the discount you eventually get if you decide to run Linux instead. Microsoft made the (IMO good) business decision to go heavily after the business and bundled markets. Why try to sell something to the ma

  • by tomknight (190939) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:20AM (#21477121) Homepage Journal
    I misread "One of the things I personally am really interested in is the move over to SSD" as "to BSD " and nearly lost my coffee all over my laptop....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26, 2007 @08:05AM (#21477389)
    ...it comes as a business platform, not an operating system. The difference is: the OS has to do its job flawlessly in the best possible way in order to minimize the amount of work (read: time, money) required, while the business platform is something that resembles an OS but also comes with a load of business services built around it in order to generate a flow of money.
    The problem with the business platform is that it was built for the sole purpose of selling services, therefore when it eventually works and there's less demand for services (data recovery, repairs, etc.) it must be tagged as obsolete and replaced by something newer and shinier but still defective in order to generate again a strong demand for services.

    This is the exact reason why Microsoft stopped developing XP the moment it started being a decent OS, pushing instead the adoption of that Vista crap, and also explains why anybody who cares for his/her data or systems should consider Linux, BSD and other operating systems built to work with no strings attached.
  • I really don't think there is anything real behind that whole intellectual property FUD machine.
    You see, Linus, reality is vastly overrated...
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Monday November 26, 2007 @10:13AM (#21478435) Homepage Journal
    'When you buy an OS from Microsoft, not only you can't fix it, but it has had years of being skewed by one single entity's sense of the market. It doesn't matter how competent Microsoft -- or any individual company -- is, it's going to reflect that fact. In contrast, look at where Linux is used. Everything from cellphones and other small embedded computers that people wouldn't even think of as computers, to the bulk of the biggest machines on the supercomputer Top-500 list. That is flexibility.'

    The above has been in use since 1999. It needs to be retired. "We're not Microsoft," alone isn't going to cut it for much longer. If Linux advocates keep trying to use that line to the exclusion of all else, they'll eventually find that it isn't Microsoft they'll be competing with...it's Apple. That is one battle that they can't hope to win. OSX is both UNIX based, and with close-to-mainstream user friendliness. Next to that, people have no incentive to use Linux at all.
    • by Zspdude (531908)
      You've missed his point entirely. It applies directly to Apple, too ;)

      His point is that Linux is a tool that many different entities can pick up, customize, and apply according to their own vision. This is a core idea of open source.

      You're right that his point is old. "Would you buy a car with the hood welded shut?" is a very old open source argument. But it's still in use because it reflects the truth. What Linus is emphasizing is that when you buy a welded-hood mobile, not only are you unable to fix it, b
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bogjobber (880402)

      Next to that, people have no incentive to use Linux at all.

      You're forgetting what's so special about OSS. It's completely free. "Linux" isn't trying to compete with anybody. People that contribute to OSS do so because they want software to do what they want it to do without any restrictions.

      By definition, as long as people are developing for Linux people will be using Linux. Who cares how many people run proprietary OSes as long as Linux does what the people who write it want it to do. That's real

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sloanster (213766)
      > OSX is both UNIX based, and with close-to-mainstream user friendliness. Next to that, people have no incentive to use Linux at all.

      LOL, right. I have a mac, in fact my wife and daughters all have macs as well. But I missed the part where that would somehow take away my incentive to use linux. Sure, I use the mac for doing my taxes, and for the cool karaoke program that runs on it, but for my day in and day out web browsing, email, gaming and multimedia stuff, I'm on linux, and don't have any plans to d
  • SSD vs. RAM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skapare (16644) on Monday November 26, 2007 @10:45AM (#21478801) Homepage

    One thing I find my computer quite often busy doing is swapping. With only 512MB of RAM, and many bloated programs running, it can't hold everything in RAM all at once. But worse, I find, is when a program is doing a lot of I/O output, which gets buffered in RAM more than it should. If the data being copied is a 40GB HD video file, the assumption that I might be reading the file back in soon (so it should be cached in RAM) just doesn't cut it. An SSD dedicated just for swapping might be faster (eliminates the seeks, but still uses I/O bus bandwidth). And it won't prevent existing pages from being swapped out, requiring them to be swapped back in again (usually a lot sooner than I would be reading those large files back in, which obviously cannot be read in whole).

    But is SSD the answer for this (swapping)? If it were significantly cheaper than regular RAM, I might think so. For other uses (live copies of /usr, and such) it certainly could help. What I think is the answer for my case is to go overboard on RAM. My current estimate of normal RAM usage I need for my next computer build (in progress ... 1/3 of the parts already purchased) is 2GB. But what I plan to do in this case, however, is go with 8GB of RAM ... and not enable any swap space at all. Normally, the amount of swap space I would allocate is the lesser of 1: 2x the RAM ... and 2: the amount of data that can be transferred in one direction in 30 seconds. I'm switching to SATA so the latter figure will be larger. Still, the 8GB figure well exceeds the 2GB I expect to need for a while.

    Suppose with that 2GB of RAM I deploy 6GB of swap space. That gives me a total of 8GB of space for dirty pages (not counting I/O output buffers which have a destination elsewhere). But during the course of normal use, dirty pages often get forced out to swap because of things like I/O output buffering, which also in turn slows down that I/O (more so if it's in the same disk as the swap space, due to head seek times). Now compare that to 8GB of RAM with no swap space at all. The capacity for keeping dirty pages is the same. But when heavy I/O starts to get pushy, there's no where else for those dirty pages to go (to make room to needlessly overbuffer the I/O). The end result should simply be that the I/O can do nothing more than be written where it belongs as fast as it can (and it can be faster since swapping isn't using up any I/O bus bandwidth nor tying up the disk heads into other locations in the case of non-SSD).

    So what else is SSD good for? Maybe for /usr if the price is right. But if SSD is just RAM, bottled up through a SATA/SCSI/IDE/etc, how is that any better than RAM? Is 16GB (high end of what /usr needs for nearly everyone) of SSD cheaper than 16GB of RAM by enough to make it worthwhile? I suspect not, unless the SSD is just using cheap RAM.

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