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The Linux Identity Crisis 364

Jayze Calrtini writes "From an article from ZDNet:"If you've been following the current rift in the Linux community between Linus Torvalds and his minions squaring off against Con Kolivas and the mainstream Linux fanatics, you probably know that it's getting quite heated. You also probably know that these two entirely different ideas could create three possible paths Linux can take for the future: stay geeky and appeal to the advanced tech guru in all of us; go mainstream and leave the advanced functionality and reliable kernel behind to compete with Microsoft and Apple; or face a "civil war" that could lead to total Linux annihilation."
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The Linux Identity Crisis

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  • Yawn (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:35AM (#20727317)
    The Linux kernel isn't the cause of Linux's lack of pep on the desktop. Sure it isn't a particularly good desktop OS kernel as it's mostly made with the server in mind, but it isn't bad. The real reason why Linux hasn't been adopted be Joe Average everywhere is because of the high-level parts of the system: the KDE, the Gnome, the package mess, the difficulty installing software, the hard to use programs, and so on.

    If you're not happy with Linux, there are other [] places [] to find what you're looking for. The world doesn't need to be Linux.
  • Pure flamebait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:36AM (#20727323)
    TFA has no real substance and makes a number of major statements as if they were written in stone. From TFA

    The Linux community is an interesting group. Much like Republicans and Democrats, Linux is dominated by two factions with entirely different ideas. The conservatives want Linux to stay Linux and the liberals want to make money. Call me a conservative, or call me what you will, but the liberals are off-base.
    i.e. if you disagree with me then you're 'off base' - well that's a good start for a reasoned arguement!
  • by thatskinnyguy ( 1129515 ) on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:37AM (#20727335)
    One part of me likes the first two ideas. I mean, there could eventually be a Windows killer distro out there. And at the rate things are going, Ubuntu seems to be the likely candidate. On the other hand, Linux does have a place with hardcore geeks out there who like to tinker and tune the kernel.

    A second part of me is wondering why we all can't get along. Linux isn't going to be annihilated. Even if Torvalds were to walk out in front of a bus tomorrow, development of the Linux kernel will not cease entirely. Businesses have too much riding on Linux for it to fail. I could be wrong; but I highly doubt the doom sayer's claims.
  • by sqldr ( 838964 ) on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:45AM (#20727429)
    go mainstream and leave the advanced functionality and reliable kernel behind to compete with Microsoft and Apple

    Would help if the author knew what the trade-off was. Servers are simple. They maximise throughput fairly. Then there's desktops, which are supposed to remain responsive to mouse and keyboard and audio events even under high load. The latter is more complex. It is the one with the "advanced functionality", and it loses reliability in the process.

    There are geeky people in both camps. Geeks who want a server, and geeks who want a desktop.

    The geeks who want a desktop want advanced functionality at the expense of reliability, and since the entire hypothesis of the article falls over in the first paragraph, I'm not sure why I bothered to continue reading

    Then it continues with crap like If we want unstable systems, we can buy a Windows box.

    NOBODY, not even windows users WANT an unstable system! I want a good opensource system that will run reliably and efficiently on my desktop. By the same logic I could say "if we wanted a reliable server, we could just use BSD".

    Con Kolivas wrote some nice patches. I'm still yet to see if the CFS is as good.
  • by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred@fredsh o m> on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:57AM (#20727545) Homepage

    TFA is mainly not about lkml flamewars, but about a review by Walt Mossberg which might be important to a certain readership in the USA. He isn't very important to readers in the rest of the world. I read the review. It was fairly balanced, he found good points and areas for improvement. The fact that he reviewed it at all is more significant than any findings or conclusions he made.
    Quite so. I didn't agree with all that was said in the original review (by Mossberg) but I found the fact that it appeared in the WSJ much more interesting than the review in itself.

    I have to confess that I've had pretty much the same kind of problems with Vista (although mostly on the network side and when trying to access the flash card reader) when I poked at it for a couple hours on a new laptop as Mossberg has had with Ubuntu but then I never use Windows while I'm quite familiar with Linux...

    In all I concur that it would be more relevant if the comments on that review in the press were on the significance of the review. OTOH if other journalists want to review Ubuntu, it's not as if it's that hard to get hold of a disk. They don't have to rehash stuff they don't seem to fully understand. It's not as if it was high end reporting.
  • Re:My Vote (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Monday September 24, 2007 @09:51AM (#20728137) Journal
    Cancel or Allow man, Cancel OR Allow

    or maybe Abort, Retry , Ignore, Fail []

    In all seriousness, from the article:
    It's interesting to me that the liberal arm of the Linux community is trying to play it off like it's not trying to turn Linux mainstream to make money. Sure, some of them say it's to take Linux away from the enterprise and towards the consumer market, but let's be honest with ourselves--it's about the money.

    This guys asks about the Linux community "identity". Well, let me tell ya, he is completely wrong in the previous snippet, because of his assumption. There is no such thing as a general identity in Linux, Linux is just a program, and due to its nature, there are lots of groups interested in it with different identities. For example, I, and others want Linux to succeed in the mainstream but it is NOT because of money (I could care less... I am an AI researcher) but because we *know* Linux is better than current alternatives in some aspects, and because monopolies are bad.

    But I am sure there are others who want Linux to succeed in the mainstream to make money... and there are others who wants it to succeed because they like the penguin or whatever.

    I read all the article, and it is, as the tags say a non article. This guy is drowning in a glass of water. If the lkml is indeed being spamed with flames related to this, I would suggest Linus and the others to ignore the flamers and just continue to work. If they (we) want to fork the Linux kernel, go ahead, that is the nature of Open Source.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:28AM (#20729523) Journal

    The scheduler debate is entirely relevant to the "Desktop / Server" debate: It is a question of priorities. A server should never miss writing a log file to disk in order to avoid skipping a millisecond of music playback; a desktop needs to be working to the opposite goal.
    Apparently, windows Vista will halt network communications in order to play back music. Do we need to get linux to that advanced stage of desktop readiness? I don't see why you cannot have both. There doesn't seem to be a need to play music on a server. Unless you think you are able to run windows server as a desktop with no performance hit?
  • Re:My Vote (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nojjynb ( 1003593 ) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:41AM (#20729735)
    I run both Vista and Linux (Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS), and I find I am more often asked for sudo permissions in LINUX than in Vista. It is funny how linux and mac people hammer on Vista's Cancel or Allow, when in truth, the *nixes have been doing this for YEARS! Su this, sudo that, chmod 755 If you want to hammer on MS, hammer on the fact that it took them SOOOO long to implement this security feature!

    Now, as for DRM nonsense, let me remind you that the libraries you install to allow DVD playback in linux are (arguably, of course) ILLEGAL in the US, unless you buy commercial ones. Vista has built in support for both MP3's (most distros no longer have this by default) and DVD's (at least, in any version with Media Center)!!

    Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan boy. I still have my trusty XP SP2 box, and Vista is very bloated, slower to start up, and even more difficult to use in some aspects. But give credit where it is due, some of the enhancements have brought more security and an easier to use Start Menu (oh search bar! then again, there's no frigging Run by default).

    Now, if I could just play those Mp3's while I was transferring files, or let the screen saver come up while listening to them :)
  • by Skiboo ( 306467 ) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:47AM (#20729793) Homepage
    We've had a few of these articles here on slashdot now, and there's a few other FUD articles making the rounds too (The Register has had a pretty terrible article up for the last couple days about Microsoft v mankind). Groklaw's PJ has an article about it up: []

    Really, this supposed infighting doesn't exist, and having these articles on slashdot just helps us be part of Microsoft's mouthpiece. Even if there was a lot of infighting among the kernel developers (there isn't, by the way - not in the sense of a civil war causing total annihilation), all you'd get is a fork and people would move in that direction. I believe that all these articles about Con Kolivas's scheduler are part of this FUD machine and are blown way out of proportion.

    For the curious wanting to understand a bit better about Linus's tree not being the be-all and end-all, check out this gentoo kernel page [] that talks about some other branches and unofficial trees.

  • by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Monday September 24, 2007 @01:10PM (#20731029)

    Really, this supposed infighting doesn't exist, and having these articles on slashdot just helps us be part of Microsoft's mouthpiece.
    The infighting exists and it is arguably harmful, but it is nothing new. All the rapid progress in Linux that I know of has been accompanied by infighting, as strident, if not more. Just one example, the BitKeeper wars, which split the Linux kernel in half but never at any time slowed down progress. Quite the contrary.

    It may be that tension is actually helpful to the creative process. Though by the time it gets personal, the useful part effect has usually gone by. We could probably progress even faster by learning better how to defuse, back down, compromise at the interpersonal level. But please, never compromise at the technical level.
  • by WebCowboy ( 196209 ) on Monday September 24, 2007 @01:50PM (#20731661)
    I fail to see the any point at all in your entire posting. This article seems to try to make something out of a dispute amongst a bunch of very talented but very stubborn geeks over an algorithm that's inside a kernel that's inside most Free Software operating systems. This specific dispute has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the appeal of Linux-based OSes to the end user. Sure, perhaps one scheduling algorithm works better in high-performance clusters and servers, whilst the other is more "well-rounded" and thus more consistent for desktop use. So what? What does that mean to "Joe NotaGeek" anyways? 3 FPS faster animation on a 3D shooter game? OO.o opens 200 ms faster?

    Sorry, I fail to see the connection between the "great scheduler debate" and "the future path of Linux-based OSes as we know them". Plugging in another scheduler is not an issue anyone but kernel geeks will get emotional about. Period. "Libre" free graphics drivers, GPL versions, design changes in GNOME and KDE, uptake of standards like LSB for distribution-neutral packaging, .deb vs. THOSE are issues MUCH more visible to the end user. The outcome of THOSE kind of issues can affect whether I can install a package, whether it runs, whether it breaks if my OS is upgraded and whatnot. This scheduler debate is an academic debate--it's not like they're making wholesale changes to the kernel APIs. The moves from kernel 2.0 to 2.2 to 2.4 to 2.6 were far more significant. The move from a.out to ELF was huge. While the content of your post might be something that should be discussed it has nothing to do with the debate over the scheduler.

    It's like arguing over whether Ford could make the Fusion more appealing to the biggest market segment of car buyers by employing an Intel 8049 or a Siemens 80535 micro-controller to run the fuel injection module in the ECU. For 99.99 percent or more of potential buyers they WON'T EVEN CARE and wouldn't notice the difference. For the two dozen people in the world who DO care they'll have their little spat and move on, and perhaps both alternatives will exist in the market for a long time...and only those two dozen people will notice. It is the same thing with the kernel. Even if the scheduler was to fork and some distros use one and others use the other, neither fork is going to break compatibility with the other and consumers won't notice and won't care. It's all GPL anyways so they'll look at each other's stuff and make sure they both remain compatible
    at the API level, and we won't have the big mess the commercial UNIXes had in decades past.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.