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Is Linus Killing Linux? 273

halbritt writes: "An article over at TechWeb asks the question, 'Is Linus Killing Linux?' The story outlines an interesting perspective with regard to Linus having complete control over the kernel and how that may not be in the best interests of the $2 billion industry looking to exploit Linux for fun and profit. It goes on to describe how a non-profit, industry funded organization should take control of kernel development so that kernel development would better suit the interests of said $2 billion industry." Actually this story amused me, since its essentially the same story that some genius journalist writes every few months. Linus is killing Linux just as horribly as I'm killing Slashdot.
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Is Linus Killing Linux?

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  • I don't know much about the differences between what the enterprise needs and what the low end needs, but wouldn't developing for more highend hardware help the low end? Eventually having dual processors will be the norm so wouldn't developing for multi-processor systems and the like actually help the future lowend market?
  • Some might argue that you ARE killing Slashdot.

    I don't know if Linus is killing Linux, though. It's a fine operating system, as far as I'm concerned. However, if you look at something like FreeBSD, you find more mature code, with a more unified direction. If might not be a bad idea to have a set of core maintainers, responsible for the kernel AND the base system. It might produce better code.

    Of course, that's what FreeBSD is for, isn't it? Linux has its own niche. Let Linus do what he will, it's his kernel.

    A new year calls for a new signature.

  • I would not let get businesses to control what goes into my kernel. So they control a group of hackers by paying their rent fancy cars etc. to make linux better. Now there are two or three organizations. One pays more money, to the group and demands that these features are not to go into the kernel because it will slow their graphics card drivers, and the other sponsors say that they will not transfer large amounts of money if they will not put in the patch.
    Most reasoning people laugh at the article here. I also like to extend, that if there was to be a group of funded people to maintain kernel, there will be subject to financial, as well as political pressures, to make a decisions. Each one having different ideas will pusue their own agendas, and thats where total anarchy in kernel code will be.
    It is slippery slope, and it is possible to reap benefits of such transition, but only in case if there would be a set of people that will make some strong rules about donations, people talking one to the other, who has to do what and all that stuff. Making rules now, for such group will be hard, because every company thats linux, will want to get their hands in there...

    Point being here, it will be hard for multiple people to control kernel, because for organization, each person has to communicate to all why feature is good or bad, as well as find out for themselves why it is so. The more people you got the slower the process is.
  • Thank you. You said that much better than I could. I'm sure those thoughts echo how many GNU/Linux users feel.
  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @09:24AM (#477325) Journal
    Re:Why not? (Score:0, Flamebait)
    by kikta on 09:25 AM January 27th, 2001 PDT (#89)

    But, that's what Unix did and look what happened to those assholes. That why there's so much talk against proprietary crap - the last thing we want to do is fork the kernel. Unless Linus start taking it down the shitter (and he's not), there's every reason to avoid it.
    (quoted in whole due to a shithead moderator)

    Yeah, but what really doomed UNIX was not kernel forks, it was user space forks and different hardware, dooming binary and even source compatibilty in most cases. Not to mention that admining UNIX meant knowing a different toolchain for each vendor.

    Well, now we have the GNU user space and complier emerging as a standard part of even commercial Unix installations (like Solaris), and we have cheap, mostly standard x86 hardware working fine for 90% of the problems out there. And the Linux distributors have already fucked up the admin tool issue, so that will have to solved later anyway.

    To k-whore a bit, the unifying part of "Linux" is not the kernel -- it's the free userspace. Commercial vendors are starting to catch on with this with things like AIX-L (runs Linux PPC binaries), and free software vendors know that source compatibility is easy if you can at least make some assumptions about the runtime environ (to a greater degree than you could with commercial UNIX). Once UNIX software vendors have completely standardized on GNU/Gnome/KDE/etc, their really won't be a fractured Unix anymore, and you can mix and match kernels to your hearts content. It's totally likely that we'll see a "Linux-like" OS with a BSD or the Solaris SysV kernel.
  • Sounds more like those retards who are duped into thinking that big business, market forces, cutting taxes, and greed to be the true leadership of the world. (attitudes typicaly held by a US politcial party that doesn't like fair counting of votes when they count the most) Linux isn't about money. If IBM needs its own special kernel, they can use any number of those billons of lines of code they all ready own. And, they well as soon as it becomes good for them to do so. The "market" for Linux base systems is derived from the fact that "consumers" have developed faith and trust in the GLP projects and distrobutions based on the Linux kernel. All that would evaperate under the control of big business.
  • There really needn't be multiple kernals. When the time comes we compile the kernal *we* want and that's what makes Linux stronger. Has Linus been turning away anyones kernal development contributions? Hello? Not that I have ever heard. Even if he has I would definately not question his judgement at this point.

    If you want to see something in the kernal you are free to develop it right? So go ahead and do so... it will be easy to incorporate your work into the standard kernal once your development is relatively complete.

    On a side note, supposed someone or some group wanted to make fundamental changes to the kernal ala a 3.0 release. The same rule applies really... form whatever groups you want to, start your work, and spit out an alpha example of what you are doing. Depending upon your success, you make or may not garner the interest and support of other Linux developers, including Linus himself.
  • They mention in the article that Torvalds's word on when to release kernels is an important one to distribution makers. While certainly true, I think they miss the reason why.

    The example in the article is RedHat, who is the only company that opted to offer a distribution based on a test kernel. But now that Torvalds has released 2.4.0, companies all over are planning to deploy distributions based on 2.4.0. They think that 2.4.0 was the first release that Linus was comfortable calling stable.

    However, anybody who's run a 2.4.0-test kernel will know differently. I ran test kernels from test8 to test12, and then used 2.4.0 for awhile. It comes as no surprise that 2.4.0 is trivially different than test12... no more different than test8 is from test9. The reason Linus released 2.4.0, as you can tell from his announcement, is that he got tired of people griping at him, and he didn't think the test base would increase at all.

    Companies were holding back, not because a test kernel is inferior, but because Linux newcomers would be scared off by a test kernel. It's simply a matter of PR. Maybe Linus isn't the all-knowing Linux God that the article makes him out to be? Think on that for awhile... he's only a man.

    A new year calls for a new signature.

  • Please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Hurd supposed to correct this?

    I mean, it's the linux macrokernel architecture, and the fact that even minor kernel changes force a recompilation (and possibly a rewrite) of the drivers, which means they have to be submitted to Linus, approved, etc.

    The Hurd uses a microkernel, and the concept of translators (instead of kernel drivers), and these translators run in user space, via a stable and well defined interface.

    Companies can keep the translators on their website, with no need to submit them for review or kernel patching. I don't think they even need to be recompiled if the kernel changes.

    Granted, I think there is a slight hit in performance, but you sure seem to get a lot for this tradeoff.

  • That was hilarious! Too bad Taco won't learn a damn thing from it.
  • Past experience and observation would indicate that Open Source projects of high general interest, in the condition of massive disagreement between factions will result in project forking.

    You bring up a truly excellent point, but I don't think I totally agree. Two objections immediately come to mind:

    • There's such a cult of personality around Linus personally that an unblessed fork might have a difficult time getting the sort of recognition and user base needed to survive.
    • In this case there's also the FreeBSD option providing a "release valve" for the pressure to fork. People who get tired of being pushed around by the Linux cabal often find a new home in FreeBSD, and that allows them to pursue their technical (and possibly other) goals, but that doesn't help to improve Linux...or maybe it does, eventually, considering how much technology Linux is importing from FreeBSD nowadays. I sometimes wonder how we let FreeBSD become the advanced-development OS breaking trail for Linux to follow.

    In short, I don't buy the argument that if there were anything wrong Linux would inevitably have forked already, and therefore that the absence of a fork proves the absence of a problem. There are just too many other factors and options that might explain why Linux hasn't forked yet.

    BTW, if you follow this link [] you'll find the head of a discussion tree from just a couple of months ago on this very topic.

  • that you NEED one individual at the helm. However, the question is, WHAT does Linus consider the greater good? He may think the greatest good is to produce something that he and his cohorts consider fun, educational, neat, etc. While that may be just swell for him, you must also remember that there are hundreds of thousands of people in IT that are looking for something that makes their job easier, cheaper, faster, etc. By this I mean ease of use, high stability, scalability, low maintanence, etc. For all the complaints about business, they are ultimately accountable to whomever will consume their product, whereas Linus need not be at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You killed Linux! .. D'oh.
  • Linus is killing Linux just as horribly as I'm killing Slashdot

    Sep. 23, 2004
    Today, after yesterday's release of a patch for the FreeBSD, Linus claimed that FreeBSD was now a great OS, afterwhich half of the Linux users switched over to BSD and claimed that "The other OS" was crap.
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @08:23AM (#477352)
    You do bring up two excellent points. However, the posting was about an article that refers to big business interests. If the big business interests want to steer it another way, they are free to. They in no way would be subject to the cult of personality surrounding Linus. However, you are right that they would probably suffer a lot at the hands of the majority of Linux users.

    The BSD point you make is excellent. But again, from the perspective of big business, why are they buying into Linux rather than *BSD, when it's the *BSDs that have the supposedly business-friendly licenses? I believe it's because these business interests are only being propelled by the massive geek-centric focus on Linux.

    I have often thought that those of us who were the early adopters of Linux, who used it before it was cool, because it was _good_, would probably be the first to migrate in disgust to the *BSDs. It's interesting that a lot of us have stuck around in Linux land though. We don't seem to mind the fact that for a while at least, our interests are in line with some big money, big business interests.

  • ...Which, in my view, anyway, is that it is CONTROLLED ANARCHY. The controlled part comes from the GNU GPL forcing anyone who forks the kernel or any other software to release their changes, and prevents them from making it the "one true Linux". The anarchy part comes from the fact that you are welcome to do whatever you want to it, because no central authority, such as Linus, is going to stop you from doing it. The way I see it is, who cares if an industry consortium wants to "take over" the Linux kernel? Anyone is free to do so, and, hey, if you are doing it and making money off of it, then more power to you! If they feel like Linus's version of the kernel is not meeting their needs, all they need to do is make their own version of the kernel to meet their requirements.

    One of the responses of OSS projects to people demanding new features has always been "You have the source, go code it yourself," which I believe applies here very well.

    AFAIK, Linus has considered Linux as a hobby from the beginning, which seems like a sensible attitude, since maintaining GPL'd software was never meant to be a full time job.
  • Is Linus killing Linux? Of course, as well he should. Linux could go in any ONE of thousands of directions. Linus has been pruning that probability tree for years now, and it shows. Linux could have gone the old-guard direction that the BSDs are maintaining. It could have become the bloated feature-pig that Windows is. It could have become an SMP-workhorse.

    As it is Linus has taken pieces from each of these paths, but created something which is uniquely Linux. This is neither bad nor good, you have to judge it on its own merits. But, in the end, he has killed all of those could-have-been Linuxes. Some of those options would have benifited companies like Red Hat or SuSE more than what we have now, but if it's really too much of a burden to go down Linus' path, any one of these organizations can fork.

    Hell, a fork can be maintained in a very sane fashion if you really try. We did it at KSR while the company existed (it died for internal reasons, but the OSF/1 development was going strong).

    Linus has killed Linux hundreds of times, and here's to hoping he keeps doing so for decades to come!
  • Well, the point is that with Linux, you can take it and do your own thing - that's the point of the GPL. The java language hasn't been standardized, and Sun tries to use its copyright on the spec to control anyone who tries to implement the language. So it's not really the same thing at all.

    People give a lot of credence to Linus because they respect him; Conversely, Sun tries to enforce control over Java through lawsuits and threats.
  • Maybe it's just me, maybe not. But if some organization wants to start a fork of Linux that is going to better meet business needs for the OS, go ahead. There is nothing other than your own ability to organize it that is stopping you.

    But, I suspect the reason that no one has taken the time and effort to do so is because there is no agreement from Linus to step down, and without that, no one will use the forked version. I know I probably wouldn't. Heck, we even have the -ac series, and still almost everyone uses the straight stuff.

    IMHO, this guy is nuts if he's asking Linus to step down. He's looking at the Linux kernel as if it were run by a corporation who cares about a dollar driven bottom line. He's not looking at it like I suspect Linus looks at it: as a piece of art. In other words, it's something that Linus does as an expression of himself. If other people get something good out of it, then that's great. If not, then who cares. Asking Linus to step down is like telling Mozart that his opera had too many notes. Can't he just cut a few? Or like saying that Mozarts operas could be great if only Mozart weren't the one writing them. Can't we get a non-profit organization involved so that the acts will have the nice punch at the end to tell the audience the show's over?

  • libc isn't the entire API. Stuff like the format of the virtual file systems (/proc and /devfs) also matters. My point is that forks shouldn't be allowed to happen unless they are forced to follow a standard. This can easily be done by Linus not allowing forks to use the "Linux" trademark without standards compliance. Without being forced like this, it is all too easy (because programmers are lazy, I know I am!) for companies to make proprietory interfaces (say through another library like ALSA does) just to make their job easier.
  • The kernel is GPL.. so..

    The developers work with linus' version of the tree by choice. What else is there to say?

    Anyone doesn't like it, they are free to do their own thing.

  • Linus is killing Linux just as horribly as I'm killing Slashdot.

    So Linux is 6 feet^H^H^H^Hmiles under, huh?

    Shit... and here I was thinking that I had a future as a Linux sysadmin...

  • Sooo...according to the article and some of the posts here. Linux (GNU/Linux) consists entirely of the kernel and nothing else besides the kernel. Lets open up a terminal and see what happens. Holy fucking shit it's a c shell! Wait is that part of the kernel? If this guy really wanted to make a statement he would have complained that the tools included with Linux are all GNU tools that repilicate programs on closed source Unix systems. These tools are developed at the whim of a handful of coders which authorize a stable release as Linus does with the Linux kernel. I've read all these arguments before and they've been just as backwards. First of all Linus owns the Linux kernel, you can't just demand he give it over to some group of developers. Secondly there would be little point in doing so. If you're going to use someone else's emulation of Unix you're going to have to put up with their flights of fancy. IBM, Compaq, and HP all have their own versions of Unix floating around. If they really wanted to they could port said Unix systems to any architecture they wanted and blast Linux out of the water on the hardware they stuck it on. If big wig software ever DID want to oust Linus and his kernel all they would really have to do is port the main Linux libraries and write into their own kernels a Linux compatibility layer in their kernel (a la FreeBSD and Solaris).
  • by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @01:24PM (#477387)
    Your well reasoned view is a far cry from "fuck industry." I do realize that companies need to be socially responsible, but comments such as "fuck industry" really show a lack of knowledge about the events of the past. Things are the way they are for a reason. Of course industry can become more humane and responsible, but outright being hostile to it "fuck industry" is ignoring stuff that the situations elsewhere in the world have taught us.
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @10:31AM (#477390) Homepage Journal
    Whenever the suits get a hold of some new technology they have obligations to their shareholders to make a profit and they bastardize that technology to do that.

    Corporate interest in GUIs lead to Windows 3.x. Corporate interest in the internet lead to demands that the internet be regulated to protect their profit margins and to "protect" the children.

    Linux and free software are enigmas to them, they're something that they can't control no matter how much money they spend. How can the principles of free software be upheld if the most visible success thereof is handed over to the controlling interests on the big money tech sector? They can't be. If the suits got frustrated with Linux and turned their backs on it, would that really be such a bad thing?

    Is this about getting the best free software available, or is it about making money and putting boxen on desks?

  • Is Linus killing Linux? Yes. Is this because he's not devoted to Linux full-time or because he's overloaded or for the other sorts of reasons the article covers? No. He's killing Linux because part of a leader's job is to set a good example for others and Linus sets a very bad example. Linus has some very weird ideas about things like debuggers, real-time, enterprise systems, and so forth. He doesn't seem to be a strong believer in things like specs and regression tests and controlled releases. He's not very well read about OS theory and his distrust of ideas from the commercial world borders on paranoia, so a lot of inferior reinvented-wheel proposals get his approval.

    Because of the extremely high regard in which many hold Linus, and perhaps rightly so, all of his habits both good and bad tend to be emulated by other developers around the world. When that leads to the widespread adoption of his bad habits, that's bad for Linux. I seriously think that Linux would be healthier if opinions contrary to Linus's own could be expressed freely without hordes of his worshippers acting like the Inquisition.

    Linus could ameliorate this problem by recognizing the impact of everything he says and trying to ensure that the impact is a good one. He should be open about the limits of his own expertise, and not make such a habit of shouting down experts in areas where he himself is ill informed. He could actively discourage people from supporting technical viewpoints out of blind loyalty, and from treating dissenters as heretics. His failure to do these things, which are all part of a leader's role and responsibility, is what is killing Linux.

    I have several essays providing fuller explanations of these views on my website [], for those who are interested.

  • rusty owns k5 just like Linus owns Linux. It is not your site so stop complaining.
  • > ...and the industry really wants the reverse,

    part of the industry that is, i.e. the part of the industry creating large servers, not the part of the industry creating small special purpose devices. Even IBM and Compaq have interests in both sides.

    It is always a judgement call whether splitting the development in two is preferable from having a single three with some compile times options.

    In any case, I think the improvenemts in 2.4 and 2.4.1 are more server oriented, than small device oriented.
  • I suspect Linus already put in more work on Linux, than what one can expect from even a good full-time engineer.
  • A competing fork/implementation would be good for both the Linus version and the "industry consortium" version.

    There is a competing implementation to the Linus kernel! It's called the Alan Cox kernel!

    Seriously though...Alan does seem to be a rittle less (un)retentive about letting things into his tree. It's nice that he uses his tree to help with getting these things fixed up, tested, and properly fed into Linus tree. This undeniably helps get things into Linus tree that might not otherwise have been accepted.

  • That why there's so much talk against proprietary crap - the last thing we want to do is fork the kernel.

    Forking is a huge issue in proprietary systems. With open source systems it isn't that much of an issue. Since the open nature means that nothing worthwhile is lost.
  • by GC ( 19160 )
    Isn't any non-profit organisation prepared to supply the source code for free able to do this under the current license?

    Just let the kernel evolve. If it's under Linus's control or otherwise, the kernel is sure to evolve as long as there is a substantial user-base prepared to take advantage of it's features and demand more.

  • He chose not to have a Linux related job because of this.

    His job at Transmeta could hardly be described as "not Linux related". Transmeta gives Linus an incredible amount of leeway to conduct his Linux business, including frequent travel, on corporate time and expense. I very much doubt that Transmeta cares one bit if Linux ever writes one line of code for them, and I wonder how much he really has done for them that's not Linux-related.

    I don't even think he thinks of himself as the "leader" of the linux kernel.

    Do you read the man's own posts, or just stuff that's written about him? His own words make it very clear that he has a strong sense of territory wrt Linux.

  • Did you notice the tone of the article?

    Some Linux solution providers view the constantly evolving process of the posting of Linux libraries, patches, and updates to the Internet as inefficient and cumbersome, Davison said.

    Translation: "I hate my freedom! Please, someone take it away from me!"

    Kind of like democracy. It's simply not as clear and effecient as dictatorship. I work with proprietary packages every day and have to wait months for a patch or update. I would love it if I could just search and apply my own patches.

    "VARs are reluctant because they don't see a clear channel. They don't see a Microsoft or strong corporate company saying, 'We're going to be here forever,'" he said.

    This was the tone I got from the article. He's pleading for a return to the old model of a single, proprietary operating system company and everything comes from the Cathedral. They don't like the Marketplace model of open source. They aren't comfortable with it. It's kind of like wishing some benevelant dictator will come to power and order the world.

    The thing he forgets is a company, even a non-profit one, becomes a single target for Microsoft to kill. With the current model, Microsoft would have to kill every single Linux user in the world to kill Linux.

    He also doesn't get the idea that nothing stops people from forking the Linux kernal into a different direction. As others have posted, the fact that hasn't happened is a market vote of confidence in Linus. IBM had an opportunity to fork the Kernal, but chose not to because they respected Linus's decision.

    The other thing he doesn't get is that the "market" of distributed Open Source is permanent. The "cathedral" of a Linux Non-Profit Corporation risks losing permanence because development will become focused into the programmers at the Corp and if the Corp folds, who will support Linux then?

    In my nearly 20 years (has it been that long already??) of dealing with computers, I've learned that the "marketplace" model of software development lasts longer and usually is better than the "cathedral" of a single, proprietary company or organization.

  • by FallLine ( 12211 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @08:54AM (#477425)
    With Linux in its current state, Linus is unquestionably at the helm. The concern for me is not that he (or any individual) is at the helm, but rather WHERE and HOW he is steering it. It's not that I question the man's integrity, rather I question his motivations. Although there's nothing wrong with a singular hobbyist perspective (or even a grouping of divergent hobbyists), it's difficult to argue that the output of such an effort is equivelent to that of a company that needs to sell to consumers. Issues like ease of use may not be sexy to someone like Linus, but it can make or break a company.

    On the other hand, I'm highly skeptical of the ability of a large panel of "experts" to lead a complex development process. Trying to fit all the different opinions and demands under roof can strain the final product, not to mention slow it down with endless talks. Furthermore, even where the group would all benefit, they don't necessarily all know it at the moment it would be proposed. There is a certain value to breaking away from the rest of the flock at times, striking out on your own, and coming back when you have a finished product.

    In other words, I feel most current Open Source projects are, or will be, ultimately limited by their leadership and developers. However, the recent events with IBM, et. al, putting in millions of dollars into the Open Source Labs looks like the one shining prospect--sort of hybrid between traditional capitalist methods and the new open source model. 24m can do a lot of good, initially. I just wonder if the economics of Open Source will encourage sustained contribution to the continued development of technology that, in all likelyhood, will not give any company an edge over its competitors.
  • Linus hasn't spent any effort requiring the use of the ®, and spent any effort controlling what is called Linux.

    So, first, it's unlikely that Linus would try to stop the consortium from calling its project Linux. Second, these very wealthy corporations could go to court and have Linux be declared a generic term very easily, because of Linus's non-enforcement so far.

    And third, such a consortium of wealthy corporations has the $$$ to advertise a new name, anyway.
  • by The Man ( 684 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @08:56AM (#477430) Homepage
    That is, if you define Linux as "the Linux industry." The decisions Linus makes are often based on the idea of making what Linus considers a better, cleaner piece of code. In business, it's much more profitable to build and release pieces of code that are impossible to maintain and badly integrated with the rest of the project so long as they provide the feature of the week that customers crave. I don't necessarily agree with every decision that Linus makes about what's technically best, but it's his OS, not mine, and so he can make whatever choices he damn well pleases. This product bears his name, not Red Hat's or Oracle's or SGI's. The choices are his to make, and he may make them using whatever criteria he may choose. And if those choices happen to make the stock kernel less saleable for the Industry, tough luck.

    This is typically argued three ways: Linus is killing Linux by insisting on certain kinds of changes that generally leave out the things the Industry wants. The Industry is killing Linux by forking off and releasing all kinds of weird patches, many of which don't work as advertised (probably why Linus rejected them), and giving Linux a bad name when in fact their products are not Linux any more than any hacker's mangled, broken source tree is Linux. Nobody is killing Linux because the entire process is demonstrating the strengths of the open development model that's so hip today.

    To be honest, I consider a fourth argument more accurate: Linus is killing Linux by proxy; he is actually accepting too many patches. The kind of patches that are needed are things like the PCI rewrite and Softnet and Netfilter. To me there is no similar effort more important than analogous rewrites for the block and scsi layers, with a FreeBSD-style VM close behind. Therefore, no major patches should be accepted until that work is done and has been tested. To continue all kinds of unrelated development when much of the core code is in total disarray, a mess of hacks and black magic that break half the time, is simply foolish. The 2.5 series should be dedicated to three major points: Dead code removal, major structural overhauls with substantial and rigorous testing, and a complete and systematic review of all existing code to ensure that it is using the most up-to-date and efficient ways of doing things (ie make sure that drivers aren't using the back-compatibility PCI cruft, then remove the cruft). This would result in a 3.0.0 that contains not one new feature, and probably would have fewer drivers since unmaintained drivers would be dropped completely from the codebase. But the tarball you download would probably be 20-30% smaller, and the entire system would be much more reliable and predictable. The greatest advantage is that 3.x would have a solid foundation to build on, free of back-compatibility cruft, broken code, dead code, unmaintained code, spaghetti code, and all other manner of obnoxiousness. The interfaces specified during the rewrites would be considered fixed (ie minor bugfixes are ok but no rewrites no matter how clever the idea) for the entire major version (as opposed to the current plan to preserve them only within a minor version). This gives some stability to the project and helps industry, as well as independent hackers who have to maintain code.

  • I wonder if Linus and the core kernel developers could benefit from the help of a Project Manager.

    I don't wonder. They would.

    Linus is a technical genius, and there is no better way to waste everyone's time by tying down a technical genius with project-management tasks. Let Linus do what he's good at, and let someone with the proper skills do the things Linus doesn't do so well. Of course, that person would have to have Linus's full and explicit support to be effective, and Linus would have to resist the temptation to override decisions appropriate to the project-management role, and I'm not sure he's the sort of person who would abide by those terms.

  • Please remember that desktop != small devices, for example "plug and play" is not relevant to small devices, which typically have very limited expansion capabilities, if any.

    Most of the industry money are in servers and small devices, however, most of the users are desktop users, in particular the fraction of the users who care about the OS (few people care about what OS their toaster or laundry machine run).
  • Jealousy is a terrible thing dude, especially when you say things with no facts to back up your trolling.
  • In the long run, Linus' preference for enhancing Linux's support for small and embedded systems instead of big multiprocessor mainframes will probably have greater impact. Many visionaries claim that ubiquitous computing is the future, although their views of "ubiquitous" may differ. I suspect Linus finds small and embedded systems interesting because they will be ubiquitous.

    How many people are affected by whether Linux runs on big mainframes? A few people in a number of large corporations. If Linux eventually becomes adapted to and widely adopted in set top boxes, handhelds/PDAs, cellular phones, etc (yeah it's a few years away at best), it stands to impact a lot more people than if it is made to scale to 256 processor boxes (the latter will surely happen when 256GB, 256-processor boxes are your average desktop).

    Linus is going for the bigger potential market in the long run and in 10 to 20 years, if he pulls it off, he will probably be recognized as a major visionary. Those people who claim he is hurting Linux by his focus are just annoyed he doesn't share their own narrow view.

    Personally, I wonder if Linux would have been as much of a success if Linus' parents had named him differently. Larsux and Bjornix just don't have quite the same ring, do they ? :-)
  • And Santa is killing Christmas.
    MLK killed human rights.
    And errr...Video killed the radio star...
  • 'I've basically thrown away all patches sent to me so far, and I will continue to do so at least over the weekend. I'm not going to bother thinking about patches for a few days.'

    The reason that Torvalds is throwing away patches is that it is his judgement that the state of the 2.4.0 kernel is such that it needs to be tested for a while so that whatever problems it might have become better understood. It's all described in the kernel mailing list, and is a perfectly normaly part of the software development process.

    People who think Linus is killing Linux have no understanding of open source. If somebody thinks they can do a better job, they are perfect free to fork Linux are run with it. The fact taht such forks don't exist is a very good indication of how good a job Linus is doing.

  • Long as you continue to post, you validate slashdot. I'm just getting off a few parting shots before I drop /. off my bookmarks entirely.

  • Not that anyone should be expected to, you know, actually read an article before running off at the mouth about it but "$2 billion industry looking to exploit Linux for fun and profit" is the submitter's words, not a quote from the article.
  • That's especially interesting because it isn't true. In fact one of the complaints about 2.4.0 was:
    "BSD already does stateful firewalling. Why'd you have to do it a different way?"
  • This is where open licenses take over. If Linus were killing Linux, what's to stop Red Hat or someone from starting their own non-Linus blessed version of Linux? Nothing except name recognition and the use of the name Linux...which Linus would have already run any notoriety into the ground. So they take the last known stable kernel and run with the ball.
  • Careful, you're idealism is showing. If everything was as rosy as you told it, then computing would never have any problems!

    Then why GPL the kernel if you won't let people use it as they wish.
    Freedom is one thing. Success and quality is another. Take your pick. I'd argue that a slight limit in freedom is worth big gains in quality and compatibility. But that's just me ;)

    (1) How are the programers creating " proprietory interfaces", IT'S OPEN SOURCE
    Maybe prorpietory was the wrong word (though anyone with some sense would have picked up what I meant based on the context of the post.) I meant that they can create interfaces specific to a particular kernel. While this is sometimes necessary, programmers in general do it far more often than they need to.

    (2) ALSA or Advanced Linux Sound Arch. is slated to be the replacement to OSS lite in the current kernel. There is NOTHING "proprietory" (there's that word again...) about it, it's developmental and doesn't belong in the stable tree so the author kept it out as a seperate project. BTW- it will probably be merged in 2.5 or so the rumor goes....
    Do you have any semblence of reading comprehension? I said they could make propriatory interfaces (admitedly the wrong word) , maybe through a custom library like ALSA does. I said that ALSA was custom library (as opposed to a standard one like libc), not that it was a proprietory interface.
  • The day Linux turns out to be an OS for the corporations and not for the people

    Why do you see those objectives as mutually exclusive? People that work in corporations have the same goals as those who work in small business, those who work for themselves, or those who don't work at all. Many of those kernel hackers work for said corporations.

    They simply want a stable computing environment. If something like, for example, kernel debuggers or a fine-grained permission system [read: ACLs] will help is that goal, and a group of poeple need to fork Linux to do that, more power to them. We`ll all benefit from it. Why would a corproate forked Linux be bad, compared to a non-corporate forked Linux? The same people would still be working on it. The lciensing wouldn't change.

    Id like to see if there's reasons here beyond `all corporations are inherintly evil'. Since you didn't qualify your initial post, I honestly doubt there is. But please post back and prove me wrong.

  • I never said that it was. The problems in the US are not so much due to industry, but irresponsible people. (Believe it or not, nobody is causing moral, social, and environmental decay but the people themselves. I love this country, but to tell the truth, the prevalent thinking that the current situation is anybody's fault but their own is hugely irresponsible. That's why George Bush's moral message is such a load of bull. The government can't fix society, only the people can.) True, industry in this country does pollute a lot, but that's because there is a lot of it. If you take a look at industry in other countries, they don't cause as much pollution, but only because there is less of it. In Asia, for example, the taxi industry often doesn't install correct air control systems in their scooters (those of us who've been there know what I'm talking about ;) and they use very poorly refined fuel. While those things don't cause as much polllution as all of Los Angles, they make more per unit. The reason they do so is because those countries simply don't have enough money to make things more efficient. (Kinda like the US at the turn of the century.) I'd argue that by building industry first, and stabilizing the economy, you end up (eventually) being cleaner than if you try minimize industry to begin with.
  • If designing by committee is so bad then how does Apache seem to function? I'm under the impression that it is composed of a "core" of developers that vote on whether to add a feature or whatever. It seems to be successful. Or does this type of development require different politics than OS development?
  • by catseye_95051 ( 102231 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @11:47AM (#477467)
    And this is the same Slashdot that thinks Sun is awful for shephearding Java????

    Slash-ethics seem highly situational.
  • hahahahahahahahahahaha

    That was funny, are you going to call me a buster next?

    Put down your "gangsta" rap tape and pick up a book.

  • by Nailer ( 69468 )
    hell redhat/ibm/compaq all employ kernel hackers, and i think linus listens to them when he makes decisions.

    Indeed - I believe Linux accepted DevFS into the main tree due against his own personal judgement based on consensus from other well known Linux kernel authorities.

  • by lal ( 29527 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:01AM (#477471)
    while ($story_needed) {
    @idiots = find_idiots($senseless_yakkers);
    foreach $moron (@idiots) {
    $story = intersperse_speculation(@comments);
    print html_format($story);
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:01AM (#477472) Homepage
    A competing fork/implementation would be good for both the Linus version and the "industry consortium" version. It's all GPL, so mix, match and cross-breed at will.

    Linus has stated that he cares more about small devices than 'enterprise' features, and the industry really wants the reverse, so that would give everyone something they like.

    Better than using SCO.

    - - - - -
  • by dolbywan_kenobi ( 168484 ) <> on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:01AM (#477473)
    Is it me or did everyone just take drink a gallon of knee-jerk reactionary juice? Most people are reacting to one phrase "linus killing Linux". The article had some valid points to me. One, if Linux is to grow as it has done, shouldn t what Linus does with respect to the kernel, be a full time job? By dividing his responsibilities is he not giving short shrift to one or the other or both? To me the article is proposing that Linus devote himself to Linux full time or let another org do it. If Linux is to grow as its done the idea just makes sense.
  • Yeah, but they couldn't call it "Linux" without Linus's approval, right?

  • Without looking deeply, there are at least three forks of Linux.

    rtlinux - A realtime, low latency kernel

    uclinux - Designed / designing for microcontrollers

    ELKS - For embeded devices
  • Won't somebody think of the kernel?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Arguably, you are. Your illiteracy does a great disservice to slashdot in the long run. It's past the point where amateurish is somehow charming.
  • If everything was as rosy as you told it, then computing would never have any problems!
    You do realize that you can't argue with a statement like that! It's like saying, "I've told you a million times..." It's not scientifically thought out, it's an exaggeration and all you are supposed to get from it is meaning, not detail.

    well not just you, i bet MS would too
    To each his own. However, "total freedom" is not always best for the user. People who seek complete freedom (anarchy) are just as bad as people who seek no freedom (autocracy) The happy balance lies closer to complete freedom, but some constraints must be imposed to insure quality of product.

    Without ALSA lib how are you supposed to use the features of ALSA? Magic?
    I never said you weren't supposed to use ALSA. I have nothing AGAINST ALSA, or the method it uses. You (in your original post) said that the common API was libc. I said that extensions could be added via libs like ALSA, and that some of these exensions could be specific to particular forks. You can't read ANYTHING else from that aside from what I just said.

    How is it "custom",
    It's not a standard part of the Linux kernel or OS as compared to something like libc. I think you'd get the meaning by now.

    OSS is on the way out and ALSA the way in so ALSA has OSS support, ALSA lib is the way of the future. I have no idea what the hell your trying to say with the interface/lib thing...
    ESL classes failing you? How clear do I have to make it? I'm not making a comment about ALSA, I just used it as an example of a library that can be used to add an API to the kernel without going through libc.
  • by phoxix ( 161744 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:05AM (#477488)
    Who cares about a $2 billion industry

    Linux is about its users, not some mega-money sucking corperation

    Did all those kernel and code hackers spend their time into something that coperate America will just suck up in the end?

    NO!! They did it for themselves, and other Linux users. Its stupid how slashdot always tries to force Linux into main stream corporate America. I'm prefectly happy by the way the kernel is shaping to be. And IMHO Linus is doing a great job too.

    The day Linux turns out to be an OS for the corporations and not for the people, is the day that the kernel hackers either fork the source and continue with what they wish, or they start making a whole new OS altogether.

  • Wait, you voted for Bush? And you don't like corporations sticking their fingers into everything you hold dear?

    I vote primarily on the issues of gun control and abortion. Given the choices, Bush was the only alternative that I had.

  • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:06AM (#477492)
    There's a common misconception that people seem to make regarding this scenario: Linus has complete control over the kernel.

    It just ain't true.

    Just because Linus has headed kernel development up until now doesn't mean he always will. IBM (or anyone) could suddenly split off from the main tree and begin development on their own. And provided they remain true to the GPL, there is no reason this couldn't happen (and frankly, I'm amazed it hasn't happened yet).

    I think that fact that Linus still heads development is just a testament to his phenomenal abilities as a project manager. But it doesn't have to be that way.
  • For very specialized purposes that are not what the general purpose Linux kernel aims to be. They are based on the Linux kernel codebase, but they aren't forks in the same sense of the word that I was using. Somebody doesn't decide to make the uclinux kernel because they think Linus and the gang of kernel hackers suck, but rather because they _like_ the Linux kernel but want to use it for a different purpose.
  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:08AM (#477497) Journal
    Im not a Linus Worshipper, and this comment is not in _his_ defense.

    What the fuck do we give a shit if "$2 billion industry looking to exploit Linux for fun and profit" Fuck dollars - fuck industry!!!!! Why should Linus be accused of leading Linux poorly? Because he is not some TransNational Board of Directors looking to homoginize something for the mass market? It makes me sick to think that people are so caught up in 'market economics' and the like that they DO NOT EXIST OUTSIDE OF THEIR MARKET FUNCTIONS ! People everywhere adopting the word 'Consumer' in place of 'Citizen' or 'Person' is a telling example of the transformation of everything we do to being a 'Business Function'.

    I dont give a damn what 'industry' thinks of GNU/Linux - they can goto fucking hell. Im interested in Linux because of the possibility that it will change people and society by freeing them from a future of proprietary IP controlled by those who would seek to exploit them... if 'industry' thinks that the success of Linux should be 'co-opted' for their ends, and not for this liberation of users I say 'Fuck them'.

    This makes me absolutely irate - when did "Person" and "Society" get replaced with "Consumer" and "Market"?!?! And when did it become necessary to measure everything by a 'dollar yardstick'?!?
  • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:08AM (#477498) Journal
    I'm really not sure what sort of heirarchy for making decisions exists, but it seems to me that having one person who can say for sure where the core goes is a fairly effective way to do it. It's sort of like the whole argument that the most effective form of government is a benevolent dictatorship. Although I don't necessarily agree with this, the main argument for it is the efficiency it allows. Having a single person at the top also helps keep a little more conformity among the linux world, which is important. Linux is a fairly complicated world with all the different distros and such, giving them a chance to create friction and arguments between people at the highest level probably wouldn't be very productive. With Linus, that problem doesn't really exist, unless he has more than one personality bouncing around in his head. I think he's also got the greater good of Linux as an operating system as his prime concern, rather than its viability as a monery making product. Hence the nonapologetic delays, and the whole it'll be released when it's ready mentality. Although this might bug some of the people that are trying to make money off of it, and need to impress clients, it's more in line with the ideals of Linux.
  • Right, it's his trademark by right. His kernel is his kernel, he makes nobody use it and a lot of kernel hackers contribute back to the codebase and other patches get rolled in as he sees fit (they must be GPLed of course).

    IBM is free to take the Linux kernel base and roll in whatever they want, do whatever they feel they want to do with it under an industry consortium. They can release it and call it "Foonix" as long as it follows the GPL. Linus, Alan Cox and others will still continue to work on the kernel *they* want to work on. And we, the users, can use whichever kernel we want.

    And IBM can release their Foonix distro, and nobody will be unhappy about it. If they sufficiently break compatibility with Linux, well, nobody might want to use it, but that's IBM's fault. If Foonix is significantly better than Linux, we'll all probably start using something based on Foonix soon enough, or Foonix will get rolled into Linux.

    This all seems fairly self-regulating to me. I don't get the issues people make over it. I feel no pain or anguish about the current Linux kernel. If I did, and I was IBM, I'd go get my 10 billion dollar industry consortium together and fork it and write some code instead of whining.

  • Excellent points.

    There is still plenty of opportunity to make lots of money on this. Aside from wanting to see certain changes in the kernel, like support for certain devices and certain processors, what the industry wants is to bypass competition. As you say, they want to lock it in their way. Ironically, everyone, including they, benefit from from the competition and openness, because they cannot be locked out by someone else.

    The other thing business likes, but is bad, is pushing things to be delivered before it's ready. Linux's great advantage in my mind is that Linus won't release it as official until it's ready. Now I was running 2.4.0-test10 on several machines before 2.4.0 came out. But business seems to want to have it now, but doesn't want to call it anything but the final release. If Linus had released it early, you might have 2.4.0-test10 or some other earlier version. It wouldn't be any better if it were called 2.4.0. But it would be a lie if the developer-in-chief didn't think it was ready. I trust Linus far more than software marketing types. Their schedules and deadlines (which is what runs business now) are for the birds. And I'm glad Linux works the way it does.

  • On the 3rd rock around a small star in a small galaxy nearby is a lifeless spot called Redmond.

  • He he that's funny. "D3D isn't popular outside of the Windows game market." From a total-units-shipped standpoint, the Windows game market IS the 3D market. Second, your comments about D3D and OpenGL are entirely baseless. I don't want to resurrect the API wars, but DirectX8 not only has more features than OpenGL, but is faster, reasonably stable (given the limitations of its target platform) and has great developer support. Also, it is a no-extensible API. While hippies consider this a bad thing, they don't realize that extendible APIs suck for consumer space, where compatibility is paramount. Just take a look at and look at all the extension announcements. You've got extensions from NVIDIA, ATI, SGI, etc, all doing the same thing in incomptible ways. That's a Bad Thing(TM) The minute an extension is released, you might was well forget about having a standardized API to begin with. Also troubling is the fact that the ARB is so damn complacent, and all of the new/cool features being released are implemented as propriatory extensions several months (or an entire product cycle for NVIDIA) before they are implemented as ARB extensions. To use a GeForce2 at 100%, for example, one has to use more than half a dozen NVIDIA propriatory exensions. Same thing with ATI and its Radeon extensions. Such uncontrolled "forking" of the OpenGL API effectively reduces its effectiveness as a cross-platform/cross-hardware interface. This isn't a problem in "big-iron" space, where hardware changes once every couple of years, but in consumer space, this is major. If Linux starts forking with some constraints (they don't have to be major, maybe just a certification or something) then you get a system that won't be as good as it could be.
  • And I'll certainly continue to 'farm things out'--having others maintain the things that I don't have the heart for. I think that a lot of the talk about the 'succession' is due to this--people see the project growing, and see other people having a large impact, and don't realize that it's already long since grown past being just 'Linus.'

    from a zdnet interview [] with linus. he goes on to say:

    hope that in another few years, people will still remember me, but they'll also consider me more of a traditional 'technical lead' person and 'senior architect,' rather than 'Mr Linux.'

    THAT's what I'm aiming for. The ability to be 'just' the technical guy some day. I'm in no real hurry, and I'm convinced it will happen, so I'm not worrying. You'll just have to find the next quotable wünder-kid to spice up your stories ;)

    so linus realizes that linux is growing, and it will be to big for him (or any other singular person) some day. the community will deal with it. hell redhat/ibm/compaq all employ kernel hackers, and i think linus listens to them when he makes decisions. at some point a decision has to be made and currently i think those decisions are best made by linus.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • Well, my reaction was not to the headline but more to "non-profit, industry funded organization". Well, i know a lot of these organisations, and most of the time i ask myself who is bought by which corporation. The more people are included in decision making the more formalized and obscure the process becomes and the more it gets slowed down. We will soon ask ourselves which people are bought by a certain redmont software giant to slow down Linux development to a grinding halt (conspiracy theories blooming everywhere), we will expect kernel 2.6 no earlier than 2010, and in general we will see so many interest groups feuding over the direction of kernel development that it won't be remotely funny anymore. This organisation may even take the US Patent Office's position as the organisation most hated by the internet community as a whole.

    Apart from points mentioned elsewhere, like:
    - should we really care about a million dollar Industry, if they want a piece of Linux it should be the other way round
    - Linus' success in handling kernel development is demonstrated by the fact that there are no major forks
    ... theres also the fact that Linus' handling of the development process resulted in very fast decisions and rapid development. Also one of the major strengths of Linux lies in it's independence on industrial corporations. Had Linux been developped by something like Redhat then Microsoft would have bought it long ago.

    The next thing is the philosophy behind it. When i read stuff like:
    "In the early stages of open source, it was more of a charitable affair and developers didn't attach a fee," said George Weiss, an analyst at Gartner. "But the vendors are in it for financial success, and they'll think twice about being charitable while answering to their stockholders."
    i see some conflicts with the meaning of the GPL here. If they want to develop Linux we want them to do that under the GPL, meaning that anyone who wants can take all that work and fork it whereever he wants. if he finds enough people thinking he's doing a good thing and helping then what? Will all the stockholders ask them to please stop? Will some lawyers look for loopholes in the GPL?

    I'm sorry, but i think if the Industry wants to take part in Linux i prefer them doing it at Linus' terms. If they want part in an OS controlled by a big corporation and saying in TV and newspapers all over the world "We're gonna stay forever" they can turn to Microsoft Windows. If they want part in Linux, they can take influence on the development, by setting some developpers to work and submit patches that plainly can't be ignored (and stop calling that "charitable", if intel sets some developpers to work on a kernel working better with their P4 it's surely not because they like Linus Thorwalds so much). But they should not just say "wow, that Linux is a fine thing, let's take it and make it ours".
  • by aphasic ( 26181 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:12AM (#477525)
    This story doesn't even make any sense, its just techweb trolling for hits.

    If an industry consortium wanted to take over linux, they can go right ahead and do it under the license. They can release their own LinuxByTheMan(tm) version, with their own kernal based on the linux kernal, forking it is perfectly legal.

    Moreover, the premise is damaged. Just because a bunch of companies have invested in supporting MS products, does that mean the author believes windows should be controlled by an industry consortium.

    Don't feed the techweb troll, this article is obvious bait.
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:12AM (#477527)
    In reality, there's a very clear piece of evidence that Linus isn't killing the kernel. NOBODY HAS FORKED IT.

    Past experience and observation would indicate that Open Source projects of high general interest, in the condition of massive disagreement between factions will result in project forking. In other words, if enough smart people think Linus is screwing things up, or not directing kernel development in the right way, or refusing to merge in important patches, then dammit, they can and will fork and make their own kernel fork. This hasn't happened to any significant extent. Therefore things are probably doing okay. Hell, if they look like they have _MY_ interests better in hand, then I'll support a forked effort too. I just doubt that a megacorp consortium will in any way have my interests at heart.

  • Do we really want to turn Linux into another Windows?

    The way I see it, the minute Linux is regulated by any person, company, or consortium that is in any way shape or form subject to commercial considerations, the game is up. We do NOT need an entity who's mind is in any way dwelling upon "what is the best for the stockholders?".

    Why do you think MS produces as crappy a series of OSes as it does? Simply because Bill Gates was and still is in it for the money. Linus ISN'T, and IMO, that's what makes it great.

    The Linux kernels constantly come out better and more stable than their counterparts. Why? Because the man who controls the kernel says "it will be released when it's ready".

    I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Akardam Out
  • Essentially, the writer of the story is saying "I'm not understanding Open Source, because I haven't learnt about it in business school".

    The truth is: as soon as Linus would try to kill of Linux, he will be put aside and someone else would take the lead in Linux development. While offcourse that would be a shocking event in Linux-land, it would still ensure the continuing excistence of Linux in the future.

    And did I mention 'fork' yet?

  • "We need a full-time leader and a nonprofit organization that can be funded by IBM, Compaq, and Dell and the [Linux] distributors," said Hal Davison, owner and president of Davison Consulting, Sarasota, Fla.

    Well, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. It occurs to me that these nonprofit organisations might end up causing more division then they're worth...what if, heaven's forbid, Compaq disagrees with Dell and, shock, horror, one threatens to pull funding. What you're looking at is the potential sanction of seperate forked versions of the kernel...including a lame assed version released for use under the GPL, with more and more lawyer workarounds for proprietory(sp-?) versions.

    "Despite Torvalds' technical reign over Linux, IBM and Compaq have quickly become the industry's de facto Linux leaders, and tensions over the kernel's direction will heighten as market forces intensify, experts say..."
    These damned, physcic, unamed experts again. Would that be the expert working for Microsoft, or the 20 year old college student skipping all his classes to hack code? (HACK, not crack 8)...and when they say industry, do they mean the Hardware industry? Last time I checked there were a few other companies that held popular LINUX distros/solutions(mind you, I did blink yesterday to moisten my eyeballs...maybe everything changed then).
    I think that covers it. Put that puppy to rest...won't stop me writing the same article in a few weeks time, but it satisfied by Linux frenzy for the moment.


  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:15AM (#477537) Homepage

    They're free to go make their own. That's what true free and open software is all about. If Microsoft or some other company wanted to make their own distribution, or fork the kernel their own way, they are certainly free to do so, under the openness requirements of GPL. That allows us to go pick and choose what they develop to include, or not include, in our version.

  • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:29AM (#477542)
    If the 2B$ industry requires a different branch of kernel development, it will do so. Obviously, as of now, it doesn't. Now, as for replacing CmdTaco, we may have something.
  • by garett_spencley ( 193892 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:19AM (#477547) Journal
    You don't understand.

    Linux is a hobby to Linus and nothing more. I can't speak for him (no one can) but from what I've read that he's written he doesn't care if people want to start an orginization that will control kernel devel because all it would control is their kernel, not the Linus kernel which is all he's interested in. He chose not to have a Linux related job because of this. He just wants it to be a hobby. I don't even think he thinks of himself as the "leader" of the linux kernel. He's only the leader of his linux kernel.

    The other important thing is the word "grow" that the article mentions. What do you mean grow??? If you want the kernel to have a certain feature then DO IT! It's not Linus's responsibility to ensure that what other people want in the kernel is there. It's everyone's own responsibility to ensure that what they want in the kernel is there. The kernel will grow as much as it's user's want it to. And I really don't think anyone cares if a few companies lose some money because the kernel didn't "grow" in the direction that would have been profitable for them.

    Linux has always been about what it's user's want and that will never change unless by some wierd twilightzone effect Linus gives up the trademark and all of the code that he has written (because everyone else's code would still be GPL) to some big company so they can make money off of it.


  • One should remember the industry track record for creating consortia for developing and promoting Unix. These have been dominated by backstabbing among the members, and demands of holding back technology that competed with the members proprietary solutions.

    I suspect some of the players (IBM, SGI) actually remember this period, and are happy to have a independent benevolant dictator running Linux, instead of a consortium.
  • I read this and a thought popped into my head. Hitler was THE authority when it came to making a decision for the German army. All decisions had to be made by him. By doing so he crippled his army by not allowing them to quickly make important decisions.

    While I wouldn't go nearly to that extent with Linus' control over Linux, I certainly think there is some similarity. I know I'm going to get flamed out the wazoo for comparing Linus to Hitler, but my comparison isn't like that.

    I'm just saying that Linux might advance a little more quickly if Linus delegated authority to different people over different areas of the Kernel. I don't know how these divisions would be drawn up, since I haven't done much kernel development.

    I'm not sure how much a committe would really help matters. Think of a bunch of kernel hackers in a big group debating and voting on changes to the kernel, when their time could be spent better coding. I could imagine meetings lasting into the wee hours of the morning with little getting accomplished.

    In the end, I think that Kernel development should be structured like a good army. Find good divisions with well-defined tasks, and give those divisions a lot of authority. Linus should act like the General to assure that all of the divisions are working well together, while still having relative autonomy to do their job. Well, that's my historical take anyway.

  • If Linux Kernel development were ever to become sensitive to market pressure, it would quickly degrade into the quality we've come to expect from many other OS's. It just takes time to do these things right. We've already seen the first signs of yielding to market pressure, when other Kernel hackers threatened to release their own 2.4 kernels end of 2000, because they (he) felt Linus was dragging his feet. This is not a good sign and it's important for everyone to catch on to this situation now that's it's not yet too late. Reminds me of what I heard when Red Hat went public. "The greatest danger to Linux is not M$, it's Red Hat". Not meant personally, against Bob & Co, but against the pressures of the commercial world that were being introduced into the Linux community. Pressures we'd never had to contend with. And once you're talking billions of dollars, you're basically playing on Bill's (and George's) turf. You're in a different world, with a different culture, in fact, as anyone that has read The Cathedral And The Bazaar [] must realise. It's possible that things will go smoothly though. An equilibrium is most certainly possible Take a hint from what Sun has been doing with Solaris kernels. Even though they are clearly a commercial organisation, they have *never* let market pressure threaten software quality at kernel level. I'm figuring Linus sees this and will be as strong.
  • I'm not going to argue about whether Linus is smothering kernel development or not. Quite frankly, I lean a bit more to the "yes" side of it. Of course, that doesn't matter, because his system seems to be working :)

    But let's, for a moment, consider what the author is suggesting.

    Would anyone here trust IBM, Compaq, and other heavyweights with the development of the kernel? Would you trust them to be honest and open? Would you trust them to keep other people's needs in mind, as well as their own?

    Most importantly, do you honestly believe they'd make a compromise (in kernel functionality, or anything else) that would cost them money?

    I didn't think so.

    Barclay family motto:
    Aut agere aut mori.
    (Either action or death.)
  • "Fuck Industry!!!" Shame on you! You don't know where it's been!

    Seriously, though, I'd be careful about saying stuff like that. Industry is the whole reason fucks like you can sit on their computers and whine about it. Industry is the backbone of this country (and most of the developed world) and without it, you guys wouldn't have homes, much less computers. THere are dozens of countries out there that are having major growing pains trying to build industries own. They have to deal with pollution, worker-abuse, monetary drains, etc. And you know what? It's worth it. Because eventually, industry will allow countries like that to not only gain wealth and feed its citizens, but will allow them to become more environmentally responsible and more socially free. (Surprise surprise! Got to have money before you can worry about the environment!)
  • I think there's an element of truth in this. I think perhaps its time Linux let go of the reigns for a while, perhaps letting Alan Cox have a bit more say over what goes into the kernal. However I think rumors of Linux's death are exaggerated.

    Just take a look at 2.4 if you don't believe me ;-)

  • The writer of the arcle misses the entire point of why Linux is so strong. Simply put, it is because it's not controlled by a single corporation.

    Having seen Linux develop since the days before before the 1.0 kernel, it is amusing to see it morph from a "computer hobbyists toy" OS to an "industrial strength" OS. Or at least that's what the mainstream IT press would have you believe. I don't buy it. To me, Linux has always been my choice and passion. They just can't accept the fact that Linux is what is

    I think what frustrates the IT press thinks that the "Johnny Come Latelys", aka IBM, Oracle, HP, are not in control. Linus is. Believe me I appreciate the corporate support, but not having it around at the start didn't hurt Linux one bit. Nor if they "packed their toys up" and left, it wouldn't bother me a bit. Linux would keep on being developed.

    As far as accountability goes, does anyone else see the statement:

    "VARs are reluctant because they don't see a clear channel. They don't see a Microsoft or strong corporate company saying, 'We're going to be here forever"
    as just good old fashioned FUD, or maybe just innacurate. People thought DEC would be around forever, or maybe that Montgomery Ward would be around forever, or maybe "insert your your favorite company that isn't in business anymore" here. Linus said very clearly when asked how Linux would survive if he were hit by a bus that "I would wouldn't care, as I would be dead." Simply put Linux is more than Linus. More than Alan Cox. More than anyone else. Dare I say it - Linux just is. That's more than any corporation can promise.


    P.S. Since when has corporate backing == accountability? Has anyone ever won an IT related lawsuit related to suitability to task. If so, please let me know me I've got a few companies in mind.

  • by p3d0 ( 42270 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:38AM (#477568)
    The question is not "is Linus killing Linux?" but rather "is Linus killing the Linux industry?". And I say, who cares? If the big companies can't make a profit from Linux under Linus, they'll either fork it or give up and move on to something else. Either way, who cares?
    Patrick Doyle
  • by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:40AM (#477571)
    Forking is a nice thing to allow the kernel to do, but I'd be very careful about doing it on a whim. If it can be avoided, that would be the best thing. This all harks back to the whole KDE/GNOME mess. The problem with that isn't duplicated work, but duplicated APIs. Its also the same reason why OpenGL still isn't as popular as D3D, comptibility. It is critical that different implementations remain source (and preferably binary) compatibile with each other. I'd hope that somebody would have the sense to create a Linux Standards Committie (oh, wait...) that would decided changes to the API standards. Without such a body, you get the whole UNIX fragmentation mess all over again. The problem stems from the fact that people are willing to change things that they own. Because Linux owns the kernel right now, IBM can't change the API. However, if they create their own fork, then they'll go changing APIs that, with some work, they could avoid changing. Like it or not, programmers are human, and they are inherently irresponsible. You can't just say "fork it, it'll work out" because frankly, it won't.
  • Really. Let's get out of angry reactive mode and seriously ask ourselves that question. While the phrasing is deliberately provocative (I really wouldn't say 'killing Linux') we should take a look at Linus' management skills.

    Obviously, it's his project, and his perogative. But if you follow the 'Kernel Traffic' website to see what's going on in the list, you'll see a lot of prevaricating on Linus' part. We all know that he's a brilliant developer. But his management skills seem to be less than ideal. He lets deadlines slip, which by itself is no big deal for an open source project, but it happens because he often doesn't stick to his guns when it comes to drawing the line on feature creep for production kernels. Entire interfaces and huge subsystems were changing, very late into the 2.4.0 development process.

    I wonder if Linus and the core kernel developers could benefit from the help of a Project Manager. Not to make important development decisions for them, but rather to keep it coordinated and moving in the right direction, and prevent the tangential stuff from turning kernel development into a big mess.
  • This article is too alarmist. I would rather Linus take as much time as he and the other people need to get things right then for them to release too early. This is the way it should be. Where I work we have a system going into production on Monday and the only reason it's been done is to satisfy the politicos. It's not ready, the developers know it, but they are forced to do what's required especially since it mostly works anyway (except they have never had a chance to test it under load yet....heh heh). Monday will be hell for me because of this. Managers should NEVER have the final say on when something is ready. I see Linus as a informed manager. Informed mangers, or managers who know what they are managing, can maked good decisions. I would have even like to have seen Linus wait even longer then he did, but it was his decision to say it's good and not mine or yours. I already knew it was good because I was running it. The beauty of open source is if something's not quite there it's YOUR choice to run it. Unlike when Microsoft foists something upon us in a package update or service pack promising that it's better. At least when you update a kernel on Linux you can keep the old one around unlike when Microsoft does this. Noone is FORCING IBM to run a specific kernel or anything like that. In fact, IBM is helping to improve the kernel by pouring resources into it (programmers).
  • The decision making processes in a corporation are rather chaotic at best. First, there are politics. But most of it is CYA2KYJ politics. Profit drives most of the rest. Decisions are often delayed by management, then finally made a couple days after arbitrary deadlines imposed on the budget limited small staff of underpaid people to work miracles of quickly pulling code out of their .......

  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:42AM (#477577) Homepage
    As leader of the sad world of open-source fandom, the weblog buck stops at CmdrTaco's keyboard.

    The 24-year-old CmdrTaco, a leisure-class hero to lazy developers who prefer web surfing to work, is the inventor and guardian of a technology website that reports unsubstantiated rumors about a $2 billion industry, one whose rapid rise is unnerving executives at Microsoft Corp. (stock: MSFT).

    Yet some solution providers, vendors, and industry observers are beginning to question how long one man can steer the evolution of slashdot, and whether CmdrTaco's sole oversight of the site, now at version 1.0.9, is slowing its corporate adoption.

    While he's not driven by aesthetic motives, CmdrTaco has significant power over the look of the website. /. however, is a registered trademark of

    Kuro5hin, in contrast, is the trademark of Rusty Foster.

    They note CmdrTaco lacks both color vision and good taste for web design, and as an inept but persistent amateur guitarist, has considerable professional obligations outside his slashdot activities.

    What's more, industry titans such as IBM Corp. (stock: IBM); Compaq Computer Corp. (stock: CPQ); Intel Corp. (stock: INTC); Hewlett-Packard Corp. (stock: HWP); and Oracle Corp. (stock: ORCL) are losing billions of dollars in developer time as their employees spend the entire day reading the site and those developers to exert more influence on the development of a less garish color scheme, not based on a bad acid trip.

    "We need a designer that understands why the BSD section shouldn't be a combination of teal and fire engine red. Employees at IBM, Compaq, and Dell and the [Linux] distributors have taken to wearing welding masks while viewing some portions of the site," said Hal Davison, owner and president of Davison Consulting, Sarasota, Fla.

    Some overweight, bearded, slovenly Linux users view the unpleasant site design as proof that CmdrTaco isn't gay, Davison said.

    "Linux wookies reluctant to see the site change because they have channeled their sexual frustrations into homophobia. They don't want to see a Maurice or Antoine saying, 'Pastels would be nice,'" he said.

    Torvalds opposes the notion of aesthetic principles controlling the look and feel of the slashdot website.

    However, experts say he'll face pressure from big OEM VA Linux which is attempting to bankroll the transformation of the inaccurate technology reporting into a lucrative industry.

    The slashdot user base stands to double this year to 600,000 accounts, according to Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, a Wall Street investment firm. Users are hopeful but leery about Taco's casual indifference to usability and readability.

    Shoeboy's recent pledge to spend $1 to advance slashdot usability in 2001 comes with a no-strings-attached promise today, but observers say that won't last if Taco doesn't pick up steam in the form of making the site less shitty.

    For example, at the LinuxWorld conference in New York, a passing marketer cried out in horror after viewning the apache section. She is currently in therapy working to resolve her new found aversion to the color purple.

    "In the early stages of slashdot, it was more of an amateur affair and developers didn't have high expectations," said George Weiss, an analyst at Gartner. "But CmdrTaco has acheived financial success, and they think he should maybe fix the fucking site already."

    Publicly, blue-chip posters recognize Taco as the lead slashdot user, but note that they aren't beholden to his final nod to carry out their posting plans, as they are with other websites.

    Still, insiders say Taco's casual e-mail flip-offs of the user base carry tremendous weight in the user community - down the food chain from Karma Whores to Trolls, slashbots, and first posters.

    For instance, when Taco declared Microsofts web outage unimportant several days ago, many posters opted to call him a "fucking shithead."

    "[Taco's] decisions are ones he quickly pulls out his ass," said Signal 11, senior director of database marketing at Oracle, Redwood Shores, Calif., who contributed to the decline of slashdot.

    "After he's had a few too many, that's when he's ready to check the submission queue. He flames users, reposts old stories and then vomits. He makes CowboyNeal lap it up," Signal 11 said. "Having a little bit of alcohol is a good thing, but Taco takes it to far."

    Despite Taco's technical reign over slashdot, Timothy and Michael have quickly become the sites de facto editors, and tensions over the sites direction will heighten as they continue to post pointless articles, experts say.

    "I don't believe open submission queus work well for commercial sites because they can't control submissions," said Michael Cusumano, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management who sits on the board of solution provider NetNumina Solutions. "This leaves them open to accidentally posting links to the Amsterdam hooters and shit."
  • by The Pim ( 140414 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:47AM (#477581)
    If this guy wants a fork, he can have it (but he should have the honesty to state it plainly). He'll just have to do without the skills and judgement of the people who have made Linux what it is today. My bet is that he and his proposed consortium would turn it into a smoking heap of rubble in five years, but they can try.

    If he wants to change the mainstream development model--well, that isn't up for discussion. It's Linus's kernel, and everyone else can take it or leave it. If you haven't heard, Linus has made it clear that he doesn't care about the financial interests surrounding Linux.

    Asking Linus to change his development principles is like requesting the repeal of those quantum phenomena that (the nerve!) prevent us from making our transistors smaller.

  • Not all industries are bad, certainly. Your points are well taken.

    But the complaint here, as I see it, is that everything these days is viewed from the perspective of "How much money will it make me?" I'm not bothered about folks wanting to living well, but when that's all they think about- when they can't see that something has merit even if it doesn't have financial value-then that's a very one-dimensional (and unhealthy) view.

    I read an article awhile back in some financial magazine about how expensive it was to have a kid, and how people were opting out because of cost. I just shook my head- they just don't get it.

    - Cliff, father of a beautiful 3.5 yr boy

  • Where to begin. This whole aritcle is just a bunch of idiotic fluff, probably written just to generate a few more hits on Thechweb's completely irrelevant site. Let's see a couple of gems:

    "We need a full-time leader and a nonprofit organization that can be funded by IBM, Compaq, and Dell and the [Linux] distributors," said Hal Davison, owner and president of Davison Consulting, Sarasota, Fla.

    Let's see, Oops, wrong company, thats some web design outfit in maryland. Surely then there's Hmm. Nope, no such site. Nothing against this poor guy personally, I've read some of his posts on some mailing lists and I'm sure he's done a fine job being a consultant. But he hardly qualifies as a headline-grabbing clairvoyant worthy of pulling the industry's needle off the proverbial record with his opinions.

    Here, I can play that game too:

    Phil DeBecker, of DeBecker Consulting, owner and president of DeBecker Consulting, says "We are really concerned about the sources that TechWeb uses. When we can't locate any actual company owned by a quoted source, that source's status as industry spokesperson is placed into serious doubt."

    Oh, and then there's

    "I don't believe open source works well for commercial companies because they can't control schedules," said Michael Cusumano, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management who sits on the board of solution provider NetNumina Solutions. "Software companies try to have regular development cycles. That's how you build a rhythm for a company."

    Umm yeah. Because we all know that companies that operate on schedules and release products on time, like Apple Computer, IBM Corporation, and Microsoft, just to name a few, release far superior products that completely meet the needs of their target markets and are met with rave reviews by everyone who tries them.

    Oh my god, they're right! We have to stop this open source insanity NOW! We absolutely must give control of these open source products back where it belongs, in the hands of the companies whose products are so good, so infallible, so well managed... that they prompted the creation of open source alternatives in the first place!
  • by locutus074 ( 137331 ) on Saturday January 27, 2001 @07:56AM (#477591)
    This'll probably get moderated down as flamebait, but gee, you'd think that a publication that calls itself TechWeb would have a better grasp on technical issues.
    They note Torvalds lacks formal accountability for Linux...
    He has about as much accountability for Linux as commercial companies have for their products. Ever hear of a "No Warranty" clause? (Okay, maybe he has slightly less, since he's not beholden to any stockholders.)
    What's more, industry titans... are pouring billions of dollars into developing Linux products and want to exert more influence on the direction of the kernel, based on customer feedback.
    So they should do what nearly every commercial Linux vendor does; they should apply whatever patches they see fit to the kernel they ship with their distributions.
    "VARs are reluctant because they don't see a clear channel. They don't see a Microsoft or strong corporate company saying, 'We're going to be here forever,'" he said.
    Yes, if Linus decides that he doesn't want to do Linux any more or gets hit by a bus, the availability of the source code is really going to hurt you.
    Publicly, blue-chip vendors recognize Torvalds as the lead Linux developer, but note that they aren't beholden to his final nod to carry out their product plans, as they are with Microsoft's Bill Gates.
    This is one of the most intelligent statements in the whole article. They show signs of getting it...
    "I don't believe open source works well for commercial companies because they can't control schedules," said Michael Cusumano, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management who sits on the board of solution provider NetNumina Solutions. "Software companies try to have regular development cycles. That's how you build a rhythm for a company.?
    Hmm, SuSE and RedHat seem to be doing just fine releasing new versions of their distributions every 6 months.
    "We need a full-time leader and a nonprofit organization that can be funded by IBM, Compaq, and Dell and the [Linux] distributors,"
    Outstanding! Go here: .4.0.tar.bz2 []
    Once you have that, you are the master of your own kernel, and you can start a non-profit based on the direction of that kernel.

    I think that at this point, the big vendors are scared of forking the kernel because of the old Unix wars and the ammunition it would give to the MSFT FUD machine. They needn't be worried, though; I think most people (outside of industry) agree that an amicable fork would be in the best interest of many people. IBM could take some of that $1B they were planning to invest and pay someone to oversee development of their forked version. And since both projects would be GPL, they could learn and borrow from each other. If Linus should happen to make a bad design decision, for example, he may reconsider if it's shown that the other kernel, using the decision he rejected, performs better.

    As other people have pointed out, Linux is a hobby for Linus. He just wants something that will run well for him; if people submit patches for something that he'll never use, he'll include it in "his" kernel if it's good code and doesn't adversely affect other systems.



  • If the $2 billion Linux industry doesn't like Linus's kernel, they can write their own. No one is holding a gun to anyone's head here. We use Linus's kernel because we like it.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982