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Linus Torvalds Will Answer Your Questions 460

Linus Torvalds was (and still is) the primary force behind the development of the Linux kernel, and since you are reading Slashdot, you already knew that. Mr. Torvalds has agreed to answer any questions you may have about the direction of software, his thoughts on politics, winning the Millenial Technology Prize, or anything else. Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please keep them to one per post. We'll send the best to Linus, and post his answers when we get them back. Remember to keep an eye out for the rest of our upcoming special interviews this month.
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Linus Torvalds Will Answer Your Questions

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:33PM (#41586685) Journal
    Recently you spoke out about software patents and the patent process []. But I was interested in what you said about how "nasty" copyright issues could get. You use SCO as the obvious nightmare case but what about violations against open source licenses like the GPLv3 []? Would you care if someone forked the Linux kernel and made major modifications to it and started selling it without releasing the code to the customers? What does your ideal situation look like for open source and commercial closed source? Would you just copy the Finnish model and aren't you afraid American experts are just as daft as American juries?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:19PM (#41587497)
      Linus: What's your tool of choice for giving eldavojohn the severe beatdown he deserves?
    • That sounds like a question more for Perens than for Torvalds.

      My question for Torvalds would be thus: Now that all mainstream OSes other than yours, BSD, Solaris, OSX, Windows, have a stable ABI to help make sure that drivers continue to work why do you think your way is better than all those other OSes? How can the kernel devs do QA and QC for tens of thousands of drivers when there are so few of you, so many drivers, and such a hectic release schedule? Why is an ABI such a bad thing when it seems to work for everybody else? If it is because you hope to use lack of an ABI to force drivers to be open what do you say to the fact that the most stable graphics driver in Linux is Nvidia, who is closed?

      If you are gonna ask the man questions don't play pattycake and throw softballs, give him the hard ones. While I'm sure to be modded down for asking the hard questions and I doubt anybody would have had the guts to ask him I for one would have liked to have seen if he had a truly legitimate answer or if it would have boiled down to dogma or "If things are stable then i can't tweak all I want" instead of having a legitimate programming reason why he thinks his design is better than everyone else on the planet.

      • This question has been answered. Many times. You know this. I know this. I know you know this. You know that I know that you know this...well perhaps not but I'm sure you can ascribe opinions to me regardless.

        I'm sure you can count this as being another example of how rude linux supporters are. [] If your question (and criticism) were in good faith, you would get more polite answers. As is, you simply manage to annoy people -- unless you're involved in writing drivers (and we know that you are not), this is a

        • So its a dogma issue then? because frankly that is ALL your "link" provides, a bunch of PR BS and dogma. Again if YOU are right then why does EVERYONE ELSE do it the other way? Not just proprietary but free OSes like BSD and OpenSolaris as well?

          But if you are right then step right up and take the Pepsi challenge. I will happily take the WORST MSFT OS of this decade, Windows Vista, and you can pick ANY regular release that came out in the same quarter, your choice. We'll install them on the same machine in a

          • It's not dogma, you just didn't understand it. You're only considering your own small corner of the computer world. Linux runs on a dozen or so architectures: which one of those do you want binary compatibility with?

            Linux has a dominant share of the embedded computing market, as well as the server market, and is the overwhelming choice for high performance computing. The minimum requirements for a Linux system would blow your mind -- and don't include frivolities like an MMU. Making assumptions about kernel

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:34PM (#41586707) Journal
    In 2007 [] you made some rather polarizing remarks about C++. Coincidentally, Slashdot absolutely loves language wars and I seem to only find evidence that you use C based on the lack of malice and contempt I can find you publicizing on it. Do you find anything terrible about C? Conversely, do you have anything nice to say bout C++, Java, Ruby, Perl, JavaScript, Lisp, Prolog, Microsoft's languages or any other language you feel particularly vehement about at the moment?
    • by i_ate_god ( 899684 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:40PM (#41586813) Homepage

      what about PHP?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      In 2007 you made some rather polarizing remarks about C++.

      If by polarising, you mean astonishingly ignorant and chock-full of logival fallacies, then sure, polarising.

      See [] for an excellent picking apart of some very silly remarks by Torvalds.

      don't get me wrong: I loce Linux, the kernel is excellent and Torvalds is a great engineer and a much better C programmer than me. However, his knowledge of C++ seems to centre around 25 year old information,

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        his knowledge of C++ seems to centre around 25 year old information

        Not really. C++11 is as bad as C++98; for every problem C++98 has that C++11 solves, C++11 introduces some other problem. C++ actually has more problems than C, which is where Torvalds is spot on (he is wrong, though, in saying that C is the only sane choice for anything).

        The problem with C++ is that the standard allows programmers to do things that cannot make sense at all. What is "undefined" in C is often "a total disaster, waiting to attack you like Jack the Ripper" in C++. Here, for example, i

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:06PM (#41588269)

          This is remarkably stupid. Your argument about return values is literally the same thing in C. Your program is just as prone to crash if you return garbage instead of a char pointer. You just hid that by using an int instead, which could also crash if you use the int somewhere where its validity is important. C or C++, you should just use -Wall -Wfatal-errors.

          For the record, Linus was obviously performing his usual exaggeration routine to get his point across, just like "NVIDIA... Fuck you" and several other remarks that make him notorious.

          • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:20PM (#41588475)

            Your program is just as prone to crash if you return garbage instead of a char pointer

            Unless you discard the return value. For example:

            char * f(void){
            if(some_condition) return "Some string";

            /* ... */
            if(some_condition) printf("%s\n", f());
            else f();

            Sure, this is horrible code, but it won't crash. The equivalent C++ code will crash whenever some_condition is false, because it still expects to have an object to destroy.

            you should just use -Wall -Wfatal-errors.

            1. If everyone should use that, then those should be in the standard.
            2. That is "folklore" -- it is not standardized, it is just something every C++ programmer is "supposed to know."
          • Your argument about return values is literally the same thing in C. Your program is just as prone to crash if you return garbage instead of a char pointer.

            C doesn't add implicit function calls to simple returns from a function like C++ does. When your C code crashes, it crashes in code you have called directly.

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            Yet he has credibility and you have none. Post under your account and do it in a way that is far less Dousche-baggy.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:48PM (#41588007)

        This site you link to is mostly gibberish. Linus is more concise and a much better writer.

        This author views it as a logical fallacy for Linus to say that C++ is terrible because terrible programmers use it. I think to call that a "logical fallacy" misses the point - the point that in practice, it's actually true.

        The idea that criticism of common practice in the C++ community comes from ignorance is also kind of amusing. I'm no stranger to C++ personally, there are things that are great about it. I dig that templates can generate good machine code while still allowing generics at the source code level (much better performance than doing generics with function pointers and void*, like libc's qsort for example). I think RAII is great and it's interesting that the technique replicates some of the practices I already do in my C code, but with less room for programmer error. That's all good. I'm a fan of some of what C++11 brings to the table, lambdas are nice, it's good to have the whole "move semantics" to fix those annoying issues with copy constructors getting called more than they ought to.

        At the same time in my career I haven't worked with any programmers who understand these points and what they mean. I mean, I know that the "good" C++ programmers are somewhere, I see them occasionally make intelligent points on forums or hear them give talks about C++11. But I never seem to work with these people. Instead what I get are either (1) people writing C++ with a Java accent, or (2) people writing C++ with a C accent. In both cases they tend to do this poorly. The results are pretty crap to work with.

        Yes there is bad C code out there, like there is bad code in every language. The mplayer example is fair. But I don't think that's as fundamental to the language as inefficient use of STL is. How many times have you seen a programmer introduce tons of heap allocations or copies without realizing it, due to un-careful use of STL? That's a problem that C has a lot less of. Sticking to a simple language to avoid those issues doesn't seem that unreasonable to me, especially in a development model where people contribute from all over, and being able to quickly audit for bad practices is important.

      • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:12PM (#41588355)

        That letter *completely* misses the point Linus was making.

        * C _forces_ a programmer to _always_ be thinking about efficiency.

        * C++ _allows_ programmers to be _sloppy_ and not even bother to _think_ about efficiency.

        When you have idiots calling a virtual function inside an inner loop because they don't know how a virtual function is _implemented_ that is PRECISELY the type of programmer Linus says is a crap programmer because they have never learnt the 0th rule of programming: TINSTAAFL

        There Is No Such Things As A Free Lunch

        Yes, C can be tedious, but it encourages a certain mindset. The GREAT programmer is always thinking about the high level theory AND the low level implementation. That is a more _balanced_ programmer then one who doesn't understand how to write atoi() and itoa() (aka printf) which is the typical C++ programmer.

        The STL is a great example of the "rebuttal" completely ignorant of real-world needs.

        The API _design_ of the STL is great because it is orthogonal and consistent. However STL is total crap when you need to :

        - debug a container
        - serialize and unserialize it in a FAST and PORTABLE manner

        Part of the problem is that C++ compilers are crap and put out verbose messages because they can't output a simple, short type alias.
        When you have tools like "An STL Error Message Decryptor for C++" you know your language _design_ AND _implementation_ is FUCKED. Sadly the C++ community doesn't have the balls to be honest and admit their ego is out of control. "OK, We screwed up in certain areas of the language. How could we simply the grammar and language for people _using_ the language AND people _implementing_ the language?" []

        _That_ is why Linus says STL is crap. Programmers start using C++ features without thinking about the _consequences_. A hard-core C programmer will go "OK, this looks like a great design -- where are the areas where it excels in, and where are the areas where it sucks in?" In C you are locked into someone else's bad design.

        To prove my point: WHY do you think EA (Electronic Arts) invented their OWN version of STL for game programming? Because the standard C++ STL has several KEY DESIGN FLAWS. Ignoring them doesn't make it go away! []

        C++11 _finally_ got Move Semantics. Gee, we've only had to deal with _that_ problem for the past 20 years. Typical over-engineer design-by-committee C++ ignoring real-world (performance) problems.

        In closing, there are 2 points I'd like to make:

        The *best* programmer is one who balances the simplicity of C with the features of C++; on that I agree that Linus is incorrect. Sadly you can't disable all the crap in C++. Linus' only _pragmatic_ solution was to ban the language outright. His project, his call.


        The author(s) of the rebuttal need to put up or shut up -- when they have shipped their own kernel THEN they will have earned the right to disagree with Linus.

        Hope this provides a little more insight into why C and C++ both suck. ;-/

        • C _forces_ a programmer to _always_ be thinking about efficiency.

          The problem is that being efficient in C is hard -- and doing it in a portable way is even harder. An example that comes to mind is CL-PPCRE, an implementation of a PCRE library for Common Lisp, which actually outperforms libpcre and Perl itself. The reason for that is that CL-PPCRE uses high level features of Lisp that are not available to C programmers, in particular, the ability of a Lisp program to invoke its own compiler (what it does is to write a Lisp program that matches the RE, then it compiles

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      He was absolutely, 100% right on this. The number of people who write "good" C++ (if you can get people to agree on what that means, which you can't) is very, very small. The number of unqualified people writing bad C++ is huge and vastly outnumbers the good code out there, and I can tell you that it's frustrating to work with the code bases that these people produce.

      This is probably true of every language, and there is also a lot of bad C out there. But writing your code in C with a sane set of styles a

    • are *any* operating systems (the kind that run on real bare metal) written using C++ or similar language? just saying there might be good reason most are written in assembly, C, Forth, Pascal, etc.

      • are *any* operating systems (the kind that run on real bare metal) written using C++ or similar language? just saying there might be good reason most are written in assembly, C, Forth, Pascal, etc.

        I do not think any operating system is written in any single language, and that is a good thing. You see a lot of built-in utilities written in Python in RHEL/Fedora/(clones), you see lots of C# applications in Windows, etc. On the other hand, kernels are typically written in C, and I would say that is mainly because:

        1. Kernels are one of the few places where programmers are concerned with where variables are stored in memory.
        2. Kernel programmers need to do unsafe things as a matter of course.
        3. Kernel program
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:35PM (#41586731) Journal
    Despite your accomplishments and some of your public comments about the dire state of American politics, you remain a resident of the United States of America. Clearly you have the clout to live where you please, why do you continue to reside in the United States []? Assuming your answer is simply "work", if there was one thing you could change in the United States what would it be and are you doing anything to move toward that accomplishment (aside from procreating and trying to help us out that way)?
  • by Art Popp ( 29075 ) * on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:35PM (#41586733)

    I spend some time designing things in Verilog and trying to read other people's source code at, and I recall you did some work at Transmeta. For some time I've had a list of instructions that could be added to processsors that would be drastically speed up common functions, and SSE 4.2 includes some of my favorites, the dqword string comparision instructions. So...

    What are your ideas for instrructions that you've always thought should be handled by the processor, but never seen implemented?

  • Books, Books, Books (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:36PM (#41586743) Journal
    As a software developer, I have a coveted collection of books. A few of said tomes -- both fiction and non -- have fundamentally altered the course of my life. Assuming yours aren't just man pages and .txt files, what are they?
  • The End (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:37PM (#41586769) Journal
    Describe the end of the Linux kernel. Symbolically and/or literally, your choice.
  • by Dishwasha ( 125561 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:38PM (#41586781)

    Isn't Linus still the primary force behind the development of the Linux kernel or did I not get the memo?

    • Well, when he made comments about US politicians and the complaints rolled in about how it makes Linux appear in the eyes of the public and the future willingness of government to adopt OSS software, Linus was described like an insignificant "has been" that isn't a key player in Linux unlike the CEO of Chik-Fil-A who is actively involved with making your chicken sandwich at every store and donates money to others who do not like gays being married.

      Obviously, this is because Linux is such a diverse culture o

    • See "and still is", above.

  • by jasno ( 124830 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:39PM (#41586797) Journal

    Hi Linus! Thanks for everything!

    How has getting older and raising a family changed the way you look at kernel work and programming in general? Do you see yourself still being involved in the kernel in 20 years? Do you ever just want to take a break for a few years, or do you feel like your time working on the kernel is a rest from the real world?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by cerberusss ( 660701 )

      I'm also interested in the reverse. Has the capability of kernel threads started you thinking about a girlfriend on the side?

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:40PM (#41586817) Homepage

    Why do you think Linux has been able to (mostly) avoid the fragmentation that plagued the competing Unixes of the 1980's? What would you say helps keep Linux a unified project rather than more forked system like BSD?

  • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:41PM (#41586837)
    Linus, what are your thoughts re: the coming war on general-purpose computing?

    PS: Thank you for everything you've done, and continue to do (the world is actually full of heroes but the vast majority of them - at least in this day and age - have limited spheres of influence. You on the other hand...) ;)

  • Considering how fragmented Linux is with so many different distributions, shouldn't you, or the community take a stand and pick a distribution that everyone can work together on? Everyone seems to have their own favorite flavor, but this makes developing software for Linux a problem.
    • No, no it does not make it difficult at all to develop software for linux. And anointing asingle distro is impossibly stupid. How many different ways are there to use linux? Should they all be shoe-horned into one distro? The same distro for desktops, servers, phones, routers, tablets, toasters and wall warts? What difference would it even make if one distro were so anointed, given the freedom the Free software licenses grant? How different would Linux be today if he had made that decision in 1994? Do you r

      • by na1led ( 1030470 )
        Well I've tried several different distros and each work different IMO. Some have issues with the current hardware I had, others have problems with software I try to use. I understand you need different variations for different platforms, like phones, servers, etc, but Microsoft has their variations too. They have their Mobile OS, Server OS, and Desktop OS, but its all supported by the same company. We need some sort of unification for Linux to be competitive with Windows, and Mac's. It looks like Ubuntu is
    • Or perhaps having a compliance layer added so people who want to write software for several distros can write to the compliance layer and the the distributions worry about making it work. I'm think something like what DirectX did for games interacting with video, sound and network drivers instead of have to configure a game itself to use the devices on windows. Perhaps this concept could be expanded to other aspects of the operating system and components so it is a write for one run for all scenario?.

      • This kind of thing already exists:
        1. The Linux Standard Base (LSB) [] has the goal of creating a standard set of libraries that you can code against that will be available on almost any Linux box.
        2. SDL [], which works on a wide varieties of Linux, as well as Windows and MacOS.

        • The SLD looks really interesting. Thanks.. I didn't know it existed.

          Perhaps I need to look at it and Linux again.

  • steam (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:45PM (#41586895)

    How do you feel about steam coming to linux? one of my friends is actually the one working on porting it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:47PM (#41586937)

    What is his stance on the subject today and why did he allow them in the first place? When will he kick them out?

  • Frustrations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:49PM (#41586973)

    What frustrates you most in the GNU/Linux ecosystem?

    • Re:Frustrations (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Alter_3d ( 948458 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:57PM (#41587157)

      What frustrates you most in the GNU/Linux ecosystem?

      I can answer that for him.

      People who insist on using the name GNU/Linux
      Naming controversy wars!!

      • by Bogtha ( 906264 )

        He's the Linux kernel developer. If I'd have asked what frustrates him most about Linux, he would assume I was talking about the kernel. There's absolutely nothing wrong with using the term "GNU/Linux" to disambiguate.

  • You are an inspiration to many in the geek world, and have pretty much reached the pinnacle of what any geek could aspire to. That being said, you are frequently accused of having an abrasive personality, and many of your public comments (euphemistically) "lack tact." Do you ever suffer negative repercussions from this? Have you ever considered trying a different approach, or reading Carnegie? (That last bit wasn't a snark, I was "laid off" from a job once for similar issues, I turned to Dale Carnegie, and

  • by junglee_iitk ( 651040 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:51PM (#41587023)

    Hi Linus,

    I have grown idolizing you and what you have done, probably as a side effect, in making accessible my passion to me. I am deeply interested in system level programming but I am confused about its current status. Linux is stable. Unix is unix. And windows might become less popular due to UI changes. Most people haven't even heard of Plan 9.

    Do you see any exciting new problems facing the academic area of computer systems? Any itch that Linux kernel is not good enough to scratch (due to pristine design decisions, for example)?

    I am not hinting towards Hurd, in case you thought so.

  • by javipas ( 1086007 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:52PM (#41587029)
    What would you ask to Richard Stallman if you had to interview him? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:52PM (#41587041)

    Hi, Linus. Thank you for your amazing work! I'm wondering what you think the big challenges will be in OS design for the next 20 years.

  • by Rob Kaper ( 5960 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:52PM (#41587063) Homepage

    It's been over twenty years since the inception of Linux. With 20/20 hindsight, what you have done differently if you had had today's knowledge and experience back in the early days?

  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:53PM (#41587079) Homepage Journal

    If you could give one piece of technical advice and one piece of non-technical advice to students seeking a technical career and/or early-career tech professionals, what would it be?

  • Favorite restaurant (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nkwe ( 604125 )
    Assuming that you are still living here in the Beaverton, OR area (or I guess even if you are not), what is your favorite restaurant?
  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:56PM (#41587137) Homepage Journal

    Every registered with halfway decent karma should get several free mod points for Q&A threads like this.

  • Cooles (Score:5, Interesting)

    by needs2bfree ( 1256494 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:57PM (#41587145)
    What is the coolest thing that you have heard of people doing with Linux recently?
  • Hi, Linus. What do you think the big challenges in OS design will be over the upcoming years? Will Linux be influenced more heavily by mobile devices, servers, or something else? What do you foresee coming along that will have the greatest impact on Linux?

  • Has there ever been a time in the development of the Linux Kernel where you've wished you'd gone the Hurd-style micro-kernel route espoused by the like of Tannenbaum, or do you feel that from an architectural standpoint Linux has benefitted from having a monolithic design?

    Linux has been massively more successful than Hurd, but I wonder how much of that is down to intrinsic technical superiority of its approach, and how much to the lack of a central driving force supported by a community of committed developers? It always seemed like the Hurd model should have allowed more people to be involved, but that has never seemed to be the case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:58PM (#41587187)

    You've said many times that not having a specific direction or goal for Linux has been a huge advantage and is the main reason it's flexible enough to run on everything from smart phones to super computers. Do you believe that this is a philosophy suited to all projects or is it unique to the kernel? How do the requirements and design phases with formal planning fit into the open source model?

  • Intellectual Property issues plage the IT field in many different directions....
    at the risk of going out of your comfort zone, how relevant do you think "our" issues are to other fields ?
    - pharma, health care
    - business
    - industry (particularly 3D printing driven next gen industries ...)

  • Joker question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Coeurderoy ( 717228 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:00PM (#41587209)

    What question was not asked or not transmitted to you and you'd really wish it was so that you can answer it ?

  • by Antipater ( 2053064 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:06PM (#41587287)
    I feel it would be awesome to be married to a national-champion level karateka. What's the most badass thing you've ever seen your wife do?
  • What do you think of using "Git" and crowd sourcing for shaping politics on the global and local level?
  • One of the biggest issues I see with the politicization of software licensing is that often advocates of software on a certain license will mentally gloss over major holes in the software/ecosystem, while at the same time gloss over major advantages of competing software/ecosystems.

    In your opinion, what are the biggest holes/"areas for opportunity to improve" in Linux at the moment?

  • GIT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:15PM (#41587431)

    If you had to do GIT over again, what, if anything, would you change?
    VERY closely related question, do you like the git-flow project and would you think about pulling that into mainline or not?

  • Android (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jacek Poplawski ( 223457 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:16PM (#41587441)

    What is your current opinion on Android? Do you consider Android as a "Linux", "Linux type" or "Linux child"? Are you connected somehow with Android development?

  • by bit trollent ( 824666 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:21PM (#41587517) Homepage
    What do you think will be the year of Linux on the desktop?
  • Windows 8 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What are your opinions on Window 8? Have you tried it?

    Windows 8 has a "fast boot" feature: AFAIK on shutdown it closes all userland apps and hibernates just the kernel + drivers (which has a small memory footprint and is fast written to disk). On boot the kernel is loaded from the hibernation image, the drivers initialize all the devices and userland boots normally. This makes Windows 8 to boot in just 2 seconds with a SSD (and I think the UEFI also bypasses the system checks).

    New motherboards like " Asus Cr []

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:21PM (#41587537)

    As the IT wheel endlessly rotates and noobs think they're the first to invent old ideas like tokenization or virtualization or storing stuff on the network, what is your favorite IT trend/fad that's NOT currently popular that you're looking forward to its inevitable rotation back into the limelight...

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:25PM (#41587577)
    I obviously have a great deal of respect for you. The world would be worse off without your contributions. Your insights into technology and software is unquestioned. But you've recently started speaking out publicly regarding politics, religion, and any number of issues are certainly not your area of expertise. In these subjects I often agree with you, some times I don't, but that's not really the point. Often we see those who achieve a certain level of fame get to the point where they are only surrounded by people that will agree with them simply based on their fame.

    Now, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, and I don't want to tell you what to say or not to say. But don't you think that by speaking publicly on subjects that you have comparatively little experience in (politics for example) you degrade your own integrity as an advocate for Linux and open source? It would be one thing if you simply said "I'm voting for so and so" or "This is my religion" but you're coming across like a rabid dog and slinging offensive language. I'm certainly guilty of the same from time to time, but then again, I'm not the leader of the open source software movement either.
  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:27PM (#41587607)

    To define my question, people would think it weird or bizarre to have a kernel that does NOT have ext3 or ipv4 compiled in or at least available as modules. Pretty much everyone expects to see a linux kernel with loop, or sg available. When or if or should people expect to see realtime extensions compiled in by default on pretty much any linux box? As a guy running CNC machines for a LONG time under linux using emc, I've always figured the sound, or video guys would demand realtime "soon" making life a little easier for me, but it never happens.

  • by gQuigs ( 913879 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:28PM (#41587625) Homepage

    I understand that you are completely fine with Tivoization (in that you don't want a license to restrict that), but the GPLv3 does do some other important things. As a user, I really like ending Tivoization, but I understand your position.

    More compatible with Apache and other licenses
    New ways to provide source (torrenting, the internet)
    Better path to compliance (if someone doesn't initially)
    Much stronger patent language

    More here: []

  • Now that Ceph is gathering momentum since having been included in the mainline kernel [], what other storage (or low level) advancements do you see on the horizon?

    (full disclosure: I work for Inktank [] now, the consulting/services company that employs most of the core Ceph [] engineers)
  • favorite hack (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:31PM (#41587681)

    I asked a bunch of hard architecture questions, now for a softball Q. Your favorite hack WRT kernel internals and kernel programming in general. drivers, innards, I don't care which. The kind of thing where you took a look at the code and go 'holy cow thats cool' or whatever. You define favorite, hack, and kernel. Just wanting to kick back and hear a story about cool code.

  • BK & Git (Score:5, Interesting)

    by A.K.A_Magnet ( 860822 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:32PM (#41587699) Homepage

    You were 'forced' to start working on Git as a result of Jeremy Allison's reverse engineering of the BitKeeper protocol and Larry McVoy's hostile reaction.

    At first you weren't too enchanted about the waste of time having to write your own DVSC system from scratch for lack of acceptable alternatives. I remember you complaining about that work preventing you to progress on the kernel.

    Now Git is becoming the de-facto tool for source control management in most F/OSS communities and inside companies. That's another very successful project you fathered, and while I guess Mercurial or other projects would have existed anyway, the usage of Git on the kernel has demonstrated its reliability and its performance and traction have made DVCS'es gain visibility and market in no time.

    Here come the questions:

    * Are there any features you still miss from BK?
    * As a happy Git user, I thank Jeremy Allison for his refusal to accept compromise and his tentative to create a Free BK client and I thank you for your refusal to accept a technically inferior/ill-suited solution like SVN. How do you reflect on this?

  • by copb.phoenix ( 1976866 ) <> on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:33PM (#41587743)
    What do you believe it would take to make Linux a mainstream OS on the conventional consumer desktop? We've already seen broad enough server adoption to not have to worry about being seen there and mobile is good with Android (albeit often not realized by consumers)... So how do we get desktops finally claimed? ... Or have we missed that boat long, long ago?
  • David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?
  • You ever get rickrolled or goatse'd or trolled on /. historically?

  • A short while ago you posted a couple of interesting programming challenges to google plus to crowd source an answer, in the end producing an acceptable result from some of your brighter followers. Being somewhat of a celebrity you have a league of followers technical and non technical people alike. Does the signal to noise ratio frustrate you in the comments of your postings?

  • by ka9dgx ( 72702 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:37PM (#41587821) Homepage Journal

    If you could redo it all over again, but use a Microkernel instead, would you?

    With the widespread use of Linux in mission critical hardware everywhere, what would you go back in time and change to make everything safer?

    I personally would have pushed hard on authentication of email (thus preventing spam, and the evil that it enables), and capability based security.

  • Linus, thanks for Linux, which makes our days better across the globe.

    My question is a hypothetical: assuming that software patents were more enduring and strictly enforced, such that you would not have been able to make a UNIX-like operating system, what would you have invented instead?

    In other words, if UNIX and VMS were defensible enough so that Linux and Windows (respectively) could not have been created, where would technology have gone? If the Mac OS GUI was so vigorously defended that nothing approxi

  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:42PM (#41587897) Homepage

    The Linux kernel has now been developed for more than 20 years, and is in ways now part of "the establishment" since it now runs on everything from consumer televisions to mass-marketed phones.

    If you could start something entirely new, or go back and do it all over again, what would you do? You've made comments in the past about disliking visualization, since getting close to the hardware was what attracted you to the kernel. So this question is largely about what you see as the next radical change at the kernel level might happen over the next 20 years, if anything.

  • Simple: Microsoft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:50PM (#41588043)
    Tell me how can we defeat UEFI and 'Windows Only' ARM devices?
  • Hi Linus, thank you for providing the intellect and good will that helped allow me to experience 15 years of happy GNU/Linux usage.

    For me GNU/Linux was the gateway not just to happier and more rewarding computing experience, but also the development of a set of beliefs that shape the way I understand economy, politics and Liberty.

    I see the success of the Linux kernel as something that could only have been brought about by the protections granted it via the GPL, these protections that allow free exchange o

  • ...what do you think/hope he might say?

  • Linus how do you make time to work on projects and balance family time? I'm finding it hard to get time for myself on projects while not neglecting my family obligations.
  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:23PM (#41588509) Homepage Journal

    Are you as surprised as the rest of us that corporations worth billions of dollars are now dependent upon an operating system developed by a Finnish hacker as a school project?

  • by kallisti5 ( 1321143 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:58PM (#41588945)
    You must of been burned out on Linux kernel development multiple-times over by now... how do you deal with it?
  • by void*p ( 899835 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:24PM (#41589881)

    Kind of a political question: I've always wanted to ask if you think your life would have gone differently had you grown up in the U.S. with similar means. Are there things about life in Finland (politically, socially, economically) that you feel made it more or less possible for you to pursue your interests and eventually develop an O.S. kernel?

  • by fotoguzzi ( 230256 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @06:20PM (#41591087)
    Hello, Linus, Do you know the time-of-day of your birth? This would fulfill a nerdly need to contemplate by how many seconds you predate the UNIX Epoch. Thanks.
  • by twistedcubic ( 577194 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @07:24PM (#41591575)
    Do you keep a to-do list on paper, on a computer, or do something else?

The debate rages on: Is PL/I Bachtrian or Dromedary?