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Torvalds on Where Linux is Headed in 2008 305

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

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  • Re:Keep Aim in sight (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Virgil Tibbs ( 999791 ) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:00AM (#21476991) Homepage
    I quite agree...
    What I find most strange about Linus is that the Linux kernel isn't an obligatory part of a Free operating system and can easily be replaced. Perhaps he should just keep his mouth closed.
    I think Linus should keep his head on the kernel, in particular how he can improve it to bring it to the level where it can compete with the opensolaris kernel when Sun GPLv3's it.
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:06AM (#21477023)
    Can someone summarize Linus' earlier claims on Linux? He must have been asked where he saw Linux in 2005, 2006 and 2007. While there must be some "right on" predictions, I am sure there are some predictions that could be seen as way off course. I slashdotter is eager to know.
  • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:10AM (#21477047) Homepage
    Linux wireless support is often better than windows (packet injection, rfmon sniffing etc)... You just need to shop around and buy decent cards if you want the best performance.
    All the cards I use are Atheros based, and work perfectly with Linux... I used to use Prism2 (802.11b only) based cards which also worked well.
    I've also found Intel's cards work very well.

    If you run some rare type of wireless card you may find that the windows drivers aren't too great for it either, and might stop receiving any updates rather quickly. You're also more likely to have other issues, like drivers breaking when you update windows (how many older types of card don't work at all with vista? and how many of these are no longer supported by their manufacturers and so will never work?).
    And don't get me started on manufacturers who sell the same model of card with different chipsets, that's wholly irresponsible. They should change the model number if they change the core chipset, as it effectively becomes a whole different card.
  • by szundi ( 946357 ) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:28AM (#21477169)
    pull your head out of your *ss.

    my grandma is using linux all-day, i never needed to put a cd other than the install cd into the drive. add/remove programs does everything not just remove, no hw issues (no crappy hardware at all, certainly ;)

    linux is geeky in some areas, but if you are a power user, you must learn ITS quirks and tricks THE SAME WAY YOU LEARN WINDOWS' ONES. it's an other world, your 10 years of windows practice means nothing for linux. clever people can learn a second operating system that serves them better. i'm playing on windows, working on linux. what's the problem? :)

    this whole flame is about highlighting issues in other's operating system. linux has it's strengths (on desktop too) and windows too.
  • Re:Desktop Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scmartindale ( 1188813 ) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:33AM (#21477203) Homepage
    It's entirely possible that 2008 *will* be the year of the Linux desktop. Here's why: 1. KDE 4.0. 2. Resolution (hopefully) of the ongoing Open XML vs. ODF debate will (hopefully, again) lend some might to the front, thus removing the last remaining hurdle in the Linux-in-the-office track. 3. Ubuntu 8.4 *will* be influential. It will either sink the distro or cement its position as the most usable Linux distro - ever. 4. Windows Vista will continue to hurt Microsoft by annoying big corporates. Phasing out XP will do untold damage.
  • Re:Desktop Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:40AM (#21477253)
    Probably not. BUT, it's not because Linux isn't ready.

    I've been waiting for over 10 years for this moment but I've finally been able to use Linux not just as a techo curiousity and plaything, but on my primary work and home machines. I can print with whatever I want, I can run just about any hardware, I can play any video or DVD, I can listen to any music, I have a decent Office competitor (The only thing I miss is a good Outlook clone - whatever you think otherwise, Outlook and Exchange is highly compelling over any other options), I have a good GUI to use to config if I want and this is with the roughest of the Ubuntus - Kubuntu. With the official Ubuntu with Gnome, everything just plain works, even on brand new hardware, Kubuntu is a bit odd in that it does throw a few odd things at you. Which is more than I can say for Windows, what with Vista's issues that make it difficult to stomach using and XP getting long in the tooth in that it doesn't support a lot of the new hardware unless you dump a whole load of drivers on it and get configuring. Samba even gives me a few options Windws doesnt, so I can conenct to different networks a few different ways that have made life easier. Wireless? Well yes, no problems at all, much to my surprise. Again that's easier in Linux that Windows. Anti vrus and anti spyware? No need. Firewall? Hey, there's a fuckign good one built right in. Security? Easier to manage. Updates? Well I upgraded from 7.04 to 7.10 online and it just plain damn worked, something Windows just could not do.

    Because I dont play games, I have good and sometimes superior options to any Windows apps I was using, except for noted Outlook clone. Minor quibble tho to me and I'm sure someone will present a good outlook replacement that interfaces to Exchange not long after I press post.

    Ubuntu is genuinely a better OS than any Windows now, which is a wonderful thing for us all. I suspect it's gaining traction too with the fuckup Vista is and frankly it's easier on my stress levels, plus morally I have no excuse for wanting anything illegal with Linux because it's all free for you if you want. That's actually a big point in it's favour.

    But Windows has too much of a stranglehold on the desktop so no, it's not the Year Of Linux On The Desktop. Be that as it may however, it's finally better and highly usable even by a complete n00b. That's no longer some sort of anecdote, it's there for all to see and you can if you want escape Microsoft completely right now. Oh and if I do have an issue I fond the solution faster now.

    I've been an interested follower of Linux since Red Hat 3, I'm stoked it's gotten this far and is now this good that it's my preferred OS. I doubt there will be a big cut over in the years to come, but hey fuck it. I'm personally glad Microsoft is completely gone for me.

    (The only issue I'm having is that Youtube every now and then locks Firefox, which I suspect has something to do with the Flash plugin. Doesn't happen anywhere else so I can only think it's something that Youtube is doing. And posted like a true coward so I cant be accused as a Karma whore :) )
  • Re:What about users? (Score:5, Interesting)

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

    The problem is as follows: []

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Re:Quick Summary (Score:1, Interesting)

    by timtimtim2000 ( 884095 ) on Monday November 26, 2007 @11:29AM (#21479349) Homepage
    This is the typical Linus Torvalds interview. Interviewer asks loaded question about war between Linux and Windows. Linus dodges fairly well and says he is just a happy developer hoping to incrementally improve the kernel. Interviewer really wants a "title line" about why Linux trumps Windows. So he asks why Win Server is much better than Linux. Linus again says he has no idea and just wants to talk about Linux. I think by now, we've all figured out that Linus doesn't use or care too much about Windows. It's like asking, "Hey, Linus, how has Windows Desktop Search changed your life in the past few months?"
  • Re:SSD vs. RAM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sparohok ( 318277 ) on Monday November 26, 2007 @03:54PM (#21482993)
    I've got to say, your clarification was itself more wrong than right.

    1) With properly designed controllers, bank interleaving, etc., Flash based SSDs are rapidly approaching RAM based SSDs in performance. In any case, the performance (particularly in latency) of either one will be so much better than hard disks that minor performance differences are virtually irrelevant. The major differences is that RAM based SSDs are expensive, power hungry, volatile, and have poor packaging density. As a result, RAM based SSDs are, or soon will be, dead. Hence SSD is correctly becoming synonymous with "flash-based SSD."

    2) Your perception that swap is no longer necessary is due to your own thinking being stuck in the past -- exactly what you accused the original poster of. SSDs will permit swap to be much faster than disk based backing store. It certainly does make sense to swap out hard disk buffer cache into SSD swap space, because the latter is so much faster than the former. This is basically the idea of hybrid hard drives, but it makes far more sense to have this process mediated by the VM system rather than some opaque controller on a hard drive.

    3) Incidentally, even ignoring using SSDs for swap, eliminating swap is probably a bad idea. In many situations, a swap partition will improve performance even if you have a lot of RAM. It permits stale application data to get swapped to disk so that RAM can be used for buffer cache, speeding up currently running applications. If you want to know more, Google "vfs_cache_pressure" and "swappiness." Also, it's likely that in 2008 and 2009, many people who are still running 32 bit kernels will find themselves running into the 4G memory limit, and swap will serve as a temporary solution -- so don't write off swap as "magical thinking" just yet.

    4) Few people properly appreciate how devastating the hard disk seek latency is to computer performance. A 32G swap partition on SSD serving as a large buffer cache would do more for perceived performance than almost any other upgrade. This is probably what Torvalds is referring to when he says that SSD is going to have a big impact on Linux in 2008.
  • by sloanster ( 213766 ) <> on Monday November 26, 2007 @06:28PM (#21485037) Journal
    > OSX is both UNIX based, and with close-to-mainstream user friendliness. Next to that, people have no incentive to use Linux at all.

    LOL, right. I have a mac, in fact my wife and daughters all have macs as well. But I missed the part where that would somehow take away my incentive to use linux. Sure, I use the mac for doing my taxes, and for the cool karaoke program that runs on it, but for my day in and day out web browsing, email, gaming and multimedia stuff, I'm on linux, and don't have any plans to dump it in favor of a pure mac experience.

    Bottom line, mac and linux will continue to coexist in my domain for some time. OTOH microsoft has been gone for over a year now, and it's been *great*!

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling