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According to Linus, Linux Is "Bloated"

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the he-was-there-when-it-happened dept.

Linux 639

mjasay writes "Linus Torvalds, founder of the Linux kernel, made a somewhat surprising comment at LinuxCon in Portland, Ore., on Monday: 'Linux is bloated.' While the open-source community has long pointed the finger at Microsoft's Windows as bloated, it appears that with success has come added heft, heft that makes Linux 'huge and scary now,' according to Torvalds." TuxRadar provides a small capsule of his remarks as well, as does The Register.

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Problem (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29502639)

"Okay, so the summary of this is that you expect that 12 per cent to be back to where it should be next year, and you expect someone else to come up with a plan to do it," joked Bottomley. "That's open source."

That is also the problem. Everyone adds pieces and eventually it starts to become a mess. Then someone else should fix it.

Re:Problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29502721)

That's all software.

Re:Problem (1)

hansamurai (907719) | about 5 years ago | (#29502731)

That's called technical debt, it happens in every project: open, proprietary, big, small, one developer or a 100.

Re:Problem (3, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29502805)

But when its open source, it's easier to think that maybe I cant be bothered to look at this now, someone else can do it. When its proprietary software and you get the assignment to look at it, you pretty much have to do it.

Re:Problem (5, Insightful)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | about 5 years ago | (#29502867)

Properly managed opensource projects deal with this appropriately, some do not.

Properly managed proprietary projects deal with this appropriately, some do not.

Re:Problem (3, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 5 years ago | (#29503055)

How does that work? In a proprietary project if your boss says "do this" you either do it or find another job. In an open source project you could just flame the hell out of the guy that told you on the public mailing list and carry on working on something else.

And in a proprietary project if customers want something fixed they can threaten to not pay which in even the most incompetent company will tend to make your boss tell you to fix it. In open source that mechanism does not exist.

Re:Problem (2, Informative)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | about 5 years ago | (#29503125)

It's the same as any other volunteer work, you have absolutely no obligation to do the work but if you don't then your not going to be invited back and your work will be refused.

Re:Problem (3, Interesting)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | about 5 years ago | (#29503189)

In FreeBSD, you chose to accept a project. If you fail to perform, you are replaced with another volunteer. It doesn't matter if you're a core committer or a port maintainer, it all works that way. There are occasional problems but overall a successful approach. Many other opensource projects do the same. That's why hierarchies work in opensource--they hold people accountable just like in a proprietary project.

Re:Problem (5, Interesting)

oiron (697563) | about 5 years ago | (#29503283)

It gets done because ultimately somebody says "Fuck this, I can't work on this bloated codebase any longer. We're refactoring, guys!"

Then, if the old lead dev / maintainer / admin doesn't like it, a fork happens...

Projects where this has happened before: The kernel itself, several times (as well as various subsystems, again several times), X (XFree to XOrg), KDE (2-3, 3-4), Amarok (1.x to 2.x), SodiPodi -> Inkscape, Firefox from 2 to 3... These are off the top of my mind, of course - there are lots more.

Of course, there are some cases where this process has failed. I don't think the failure rate is any higher (or lower) than proprietary projects, though...

The incentives are different, but they exist, nevertheless...

Re:Problem (4, Insightful)

renoX (11677) | about 5 years ago | (#29503271)

That's false of course:
1) the deciding factor for project management is the non-commercial/commercial status of a project, not the closed/open state of the source.

2) for non-commercial projects, both developers 'goodwill' and proper management are needed to avoid bloat; whereas for a commercial project only proper management is needed (as the management decides where the money will go).

Note that the Linux kernel is a blend of non-commercial and commercial projects as many developers are paid to work on the Linux kernel and many aren't.

Re:Problem (1)

Eevee (535658) | about 5 years ago | (#29502913)

When it's proprietary software, management will be too busy handing out assignments to add new sales fodder, excuse me, features to worry about actually doing anything proactive to improve the code base. Having a slimmed-down code base may be good in the long run, but doesn't do anything towards getting the next bonus.

Re:Problem (5, Insightful)

bostei2008 (1441027) | about 5 years ago | (#29503011)

I agree.

The people hating messes are the developers which have to look at this day by day. Cleaning up code is never something managers care about - its always driven by developers with a sense for order and simplicity.

That means that Open Source software has a higher chance of getting cleaned up than propietary software, because there you have a higher percentage of truly motivated developers and no managers to bug them. Sigh...

Re:Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29502993)

In your vast experience, when have you been assigned to optimize some code or database scripts?

Only when the client reports significant slow-downs, right? Then you have to fix it, but not before.

In open source, the developers tend to care more for the code, so the cruft MAY be less, but that's all up to the developers priorities.
While NASA / rocket science type of code is probably superior to anything else, also because of priority.

Re:Problem (4, Interesting)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#29502863)

If only there was somebody at the top deciding what to let it/reject in such a way to keep the bloat out! While I am a linux/gpl fanboi, i think the bsd distros don't have this problem because they have much stricter people at the top of their kernels, and i think this is yet another sign that Linus should not be the only one running the show. If Linus isn't producing the kernel desktop users need (it's bloated, has the wrong scheduler, etc) then distros should step up and work around the problem GIT makes it very easy for them to start elsewhere, their previous release tree, mm tree, etc and add the patches they require!

Before you jump at me and say that this will ruin Linux by duplicating work, it will still be the (essentially) same code that goes into the pool, its just the administration that changes, and producing incompatible distro's isn't a problem as the userspace API is fairly stable and changes to the ABI for prop drivers can be agreed on by the major players (or they can just follow linus's changes to them, or go crazy and stabilise the ABI so that the prop drivers work)

Re:Problem (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29502991)

Keeping the bloat out is not just about rejecting patches, it's about encouraging code reuse. In the BSD kernels, for example, the WiFi drivers are very small and all use the same code for everything that is not hardware-specific. I believe this is the case in Linux now, but for a while Intel had their own (almost) complete WiFi stack for their drivers and no one else used any of that code. This is a pretty endemic problem in Linux. It gets even worse when you stray a little way from x86, and find that everyone is implementing their own, incompatible, code for platform-specific features without realising that a lot of it ought to be shared everywhere above the very lowest layer.

Re:Problem (5, Interesting)

jhol13 (1087781) | about 5 years ago | (#29503167)

Constant changes, i.e. lack of stable KBI (kernel binary interface) does not help.

Eventually keeping your incompatible stack is easier than keeping up-to-date with latest and "greatest", especially if you happen to test your code.

Re:Problem (4, Interesting)

WinterSolstice (223271) | about 5 years ago | (#29503071)

The BSD distros do not have this problem, but it's not just the strict top-down management.

It's the users.

Linux is trying to court three major user groups wih the exact same kernel, and trying to be all things to all people. The big corporations who make up most of the Linux coding/funding/purchasing want better server performance (more processors, more RAM, etc). The desktop guys want better desktop, laptop, and netbook experiences (3D graphics, sound cards, processor power scaling). The third are the end-users who contribute almost nothing but want the system to be easy and simple.

BSD however, really only has one user base - and they largely want the same thing. Stability, security, and performance. So all the cute little desktop friendly stuff that Linux keeps adding and all the server-specific stuff that Linux keeps adding aren't there. There's just the one major direction.

Or at least that's my experience, and I've been using it since 2.x.

Re:Problem (2, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29503123)

While I am a linux/gpl fanboi, i think the bsd distros don't have this problem because they have much stricter people at the top of their kernels, and i think this is yet another sign that Linus should not be the only one running the show.

Heh. BSD doesn't have this problem because nobody cares enough about them to contribute enough code. You don't really have to think about feature creep at 3 patches per week.

Simple solution (1, Insightful)

BhaKi (1316335) | about 5 years ago | (#29502881)

That is also the problem. Everyone adds pieces and eventually it starts to become a mess. Then someone else should fix it.

Or we can just use an old version. Unlike to the case of proprietary software, we are not being forced to upgrade to "bloated mess".

Re:Simple solution (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | about 5 years ago | (#29502997)

Unlike to the case of proprietary software, we are not being forced to upgrade to "bloated mess".

People keep mentioning that yet I use tons of old version of proprietary software all the time. I guess I've magically been able to resist this "forced upgrade path" that is always claimed.

Re:Simple solution (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 5 years ago | (#29503117)

Half of my proprietary software is from Circa 99-03, and I haven't needed to upgrade.

The *only* "upgrade" that I had to do (really a downgrade), was my new notebook couldn't be take an XP install, so I had to use Vista because the vendor doesn't supply XP drivers, and ATI doesn't want to release drivers to notebook users.

Re:Simple solution (3, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | about 5 years ago | (#29503229)

Clearly whoever modded you up has never tried what you are suggesting. I can only name a handfull of open source projects that backport security fixes to old versions and of those, they only backport to versions a few years old.

In fact, I'd say the longest lived "old version" is probably Apache 1.3. The 2.x series has been out for, what, forever and yet they continue to push out fixes for 1.3 (last was Jan. 2008).

I'd wager the biggest complaint I have with most open source is the a) dont understand what true stability means and as a result they b) rarely support old versions. It was one of the prime reasons I switched to FreeBSD. If I install FreeBSD 6.2 today, I know I'll get security fixes for at least a good half decade and probably a bit more if I track the 6.x series.

Yeah yeah yeah, debian, yeah yeah... but dont get me started on the other reasons I switched (cough crappy docs, cough, crappy unstable kernel, cough

Re:Simple solution (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 years ago | (#29503303)

Unless of course you want any new hardware support at all. If you're lucky you get security fixes backported, but that device driver? Good luck.

Re:Problem (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 5 years ago | (#29502939)

It's not necessarily a mess, but it does have a lot of code for compatibility sake, and the ever-increasing needs of safety. Add in processor family support, weird memory models and odd chipsets, and it simply blimps. The microkernel approach sounds wiser until you discover that the kernel might be small, but the drivers and other glue start taking up enormous amounts of space as well.

The distros are mightily bloated with lots of stuff that's irrelevant for most civilians, but fun for coders and glue artists. The reason: everyone believes that disk space is cheap. Why not throw it in, since we're all using dial-up modems to download massive amounts of code? /sarcasm

I've met the enemy (2, Insightful)

Zarf (5735) | about 5 years ago | (#29502659)

I've met the enemy and they is us.

Re:I've met the enemy (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 5 years ago | (#29502757)

I see where you are coming from, but I'll offer that bloat isn't necessarily *bad*. Personally, I've thought of Linux as somewhat to rather bloated for 5 or 6 years.

It just means there are a lot of available features. Many of which people need.

Bloat isn't a problem. In software, it's in a lot of places because that's what you need many (but not all) cases that target a wide audience. The problems come in two flavors. 1) the inability for an individual to turn off the bits he or she doesn't need, and 2) lack of documentation to make ascertaining which bits can be turned off for a particular use a relatively trivial task.

Bloat is often moot (1)

icepick72 (834363) | about 5 years ago | (#29502687)

Often the term bloated is misused meaning the speaker is at a point where he/she personally starts to find a technology confusing to wade through. Different people perceive different "bloat" points, so it's often relative. When it comes down to it, bloat is just software. As long as the pieces are loaded and run efficiently enough that the end-user, sysadmin, etc is happy then bloat is often a moot point and each person only needs to understand their own role and related facets of the software. We work as a team.

Translation: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29502743)

Windows bloat bad, linux bloat good.

Re:Translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29502823)

Even when the criticism comes from the Linux-Jesus himself, the zealots still see what the want to see. All of a sudden bloat has magically become a feature.

Re:Translation: (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 5 years ago | (#29502911)

What do you think is extra? What would you remove? Are you able to remove it?

For Ubuntu, I can easily answer these questions because the system is transparent
and I can act on my preferences without even being a developer because the system
is flexible, modular and open.

I can even get rid of a lot of Linuses kernel code because there's been a nice shiny
happy build GUI included with the kernel since the 1.x days.

Re:Translation: (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503155)

I think people are somewhat missing the big picture here. This is evolution in action. As time goes on and people need new things they get added. It's hard to say when to get rid of old vestigial features, so it doesn't get done. This leads to bloat. Eventually this will be corrected as the obsolete stuff gets more obviously unused. It's a problem, but unlike the dinosaurs, Linux will adapt due to the extreme ease of digital replication. If it ever gets so bad as to be unsustainable, someone will either use an old version, recompile or fork and get rid of the parts they will never use. You can't really do that with anything that you don't have source to. Of course the typical end user like me will have to wait for somebody to do this, but luckily my computer is fast enough that I haven't really noticed yet.

Re:Translation: (2, Informative)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#29502971)

the difference is
make menuconfig & modprobe -r
bloating in the windows kernel is compulsory!
bloat in the linux kernel is optional and much of it can be removed at runtime, ofc if the whole kernel is getting worse every release then that is bad. So before making comparisons to windows it's important do remember that an extra 10% of something small (once you trim the crap you don't need) is less than an extra 10% of something big (because you can't)

Re:Translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503095)

Yes because an 11 million line kernel is clearly "something small". Way to prove the point of the person you responded to, hypocrite.

Re:Bloat is often moot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29502795)

Each person only understanding their own role and related facets doesn't sound like working as a team. That sounds like working as a group of individuals each doing their own thing, and not understanding what the other people are doing.

And it's all fun and games until someone else
doing their own role, accidentally creates insecure code, code with a crash bug, and no-one else on the "team" notices, because the developer was allowed to go off on their own and introduce overly complex modules that are not easily understood by the rest of the team...

Re:Bloat is often moot (4, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | about 5 years ago | (#29502853)

Torvalds' use of the term "Bloated" in this case refers specifically to a loss of performance and an increase in size and memory usage, not of confusion.

I think there are two (competing) goals for the Linux kernel as a whole (well, there are as many goals as there are developers, of course, so the two competing goals are more of a continuum).

On one side, there is a desire for the Linux kernel to support more features so distros can be built to be more like popular mainstream operating systems like Windows and Mac. Ease-of-use, a pleasant user experience, separation/insulation from the dreaded Command Line, pretty graphics, massive hardware support, and support for more "oddball" configurations like multiple screens, etc. So it's desirable to have lots of driver support and lots of hooks into the operating system to support fancy stuff.

On the other, there is a desire for Linux to be small, sleek, and fast, particularly for embedded projects.

The former has been running the show for a while, and I think that's healthy and positive, but the kernel has gotten larger and slower at its basic job. For desktop users, this is good news since a lot of things that had to be done at "higher" levels can now be accomplished directly in the kernel, so they might actually have a faster user experience, and they've got resources to burn since most PCs are specced out for Windows, so Linux has a lot of spare growing room in that hardware.

But for embedded/minimalist supporters, it means they need to add more hardware to their machines to support the now-larger kernel, chock full of features they'll never need or want.

Re:Bloat is often moot (1)

sherriw (794536) | about 5 years ago | (#29503233)

This is a very good point. But isn't that was forks and different distros are for?

Re:Bloat is often moot (0, Troll)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 5 years ago | (#29503265)

Torvalds' use of the term "Bloated" in this case refers specifically to a loss of performance and an increase in size and memory usage, not of confusion

Tell me, when your girlfriend says that she feels "bloated" once a month, do you try and explain to her why the ironing won't do itself, because she said she's "confused"?

I've never known the word "bloated" to mean anything other than "fat, lazy, potentially leaking in an embarrassing way, temperamental performance issues, and a predisposition to just sitting there and going nothing."

Just like the Windows kernel.

Kind of like the US Federal government... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29502691)

It's becoming increasingly clear that Obongo views speeches and talk-show appearances as an acceptable substitute for competent governance. No wonder Jimmy Carter loves him. Carter is probably eager to shed his moniker of "Most Impotent President of the Last 100 Years."

So, Andrew Tannenbaum (5, Funny)

siddesu (698447) | about 5 years ago | (#29502697)

is finally having the last laugh? /dnrtfa

Re:So, Andrew Tannenbaum (1)

Tei (520358) | about 5 years ago | (#29503223)

I don't think so. The kernal has how much manhours? and his fullfilling how much different roles? The kernel is everything for everybody (or almost) and you can get that withouth bloat. A specialized kernel on "real time" and "small machines" could have the privilege to have no bloat. Or one that never will have to run on PC hardware. Etc..

Its probably more important how is mantained, how stuff is removed/added. IMHO.

Re:So, Andrew Tannenbaum (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503253)

Pretty much. He argued that monolithic kernels were obsolete in the 70s, and he was right. The kind of people that argue for monolithic kernels are the same people that argue C over C++ because it's "faster" and "more portable." Possibly true in slight corner cases but completely outweighed by other use cases.

Meanwhile, everyone else important (Windows, OS X) have been using hybrid designs forever.

It would be interesting... (1)

celibate for life (1639541) | about 5 years ago | (#29502705)

... if he decided to develop a new completely independent kernel.

Re:It would be interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29502947)

Like HURD?

Re:It would be interesting... (1)

Canazza (1428553) | about 5 years ago | (#29503085)

LinOx, who's mascot would be a flying Cow...

Obvious weird Windows comparison (3, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | about 5 years ago | (#29502725)

Of course nobody refers to Windows' kernel when people call it bloatware. Linus however is not talking about Linux as a distro or an operating system, it's just the kernel that's too bloated in his view. And with over 11 million lines of code, it's hardly even a flame.

Now if only he had developed a microkernel instead...

Microkernels. Hmm... (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 years ago | (#29502747)

"Now if only he had developed a microkernel instead..."

It would be bloated AND slow.

But hey, it would look pretty in a high level UML diagram.

Re:Microkernels. Hmm... (3, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | about 5 years ago | (#29502877)

You mean like QNX is slow?

Re:Microkernels. Hmm... (1)

dingen (958134) | about 5 years ago | (#29502915)

Nothing is slow on a Core 2 Duo.

Re:Microkernels. Hmm... (1, Funny)

delt0r (999393) | about 5 years ago | (#29502979)

Vista is.

Re:Microkernels. Hmm... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 5 years ago | (#29503047)

Nothing is slow on a Core 2 Duo.

Your momma is!

Wait... that doesn't make sense.

Re:Microkernels. Hmm... (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 years ago | (#29503143)

I have code that can bring a Core 2 to it's knees.

Re:Microkernels. Hmm... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 5 years ago | (#29503305)

:(){ :|:& };:

Re:Obvious weird Windows comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29502783)

I don't know anything about kernels, but shouldn't they only contain the absolute minimum necessary functions of an operating system? What are the things that can make an OS kernel bloat up to 11 millions lines? Is everything that is in the kernel truly necessary, or could you move some of it to a driver or something?
(captcha: remover)

Re:Obvious weird Windows comparison (3, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | about 5 years ago | (#29502835)

Well, if you just take a look at this monster [makelinux.net] I think you'll quickly will come to the conclusion that even providing the most basic functionality can lead to something quite complicated. And of course, "basic functionality" in 2009 means something else entirely when compared to 1991 when Linux started out.

It should be noted that of course the module-system works pretty good to keep things organised, so no developer needs to dig through millions of lines of code to make a few tweaks. But it's a monster nonetheless.

Re:Obvious weird Windows comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29502857)

That figure does include all drivers.

Re:Obvious weird Windows comparison (1)

dingen (958134) | about 5 years ago | (#29502869)

That's because drivers are included in the Linux kernel.

Re:Obvious weird Windows comparison (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 5 years ago | (#29502879)

I don't know anything about kernels, but shouldn't they only contain the absolute minimum necessary functions of an operating system? What are the things that can make an OS kernel bloat up to 11 millions lines? Is everything that is in the kernel truly necessary, or could you move some of it to a driver or something?

er... um... drivers are distributed with the kernel and are probably counted in the kernel 11MLOC metric.

Re:Obvious weird Windows comparison (3, Informative)

TheLinuxSRC (683475) | about 5 years ago | (#29502907)

What are the things that can make an OS kernel bloat up to 11 millions lines?

Mostly drivers. Which are kind of irrelevant with regard to bloat because if you so desire, you can build a kernel that only contains drivers that you need. I realize that no distro can realistically do this with their pre-compiled kernels however, no one is going to compile support for everything that the Linux kernel is capable of supporting in a single kernel either.

I still think it is funny that Linux is considered "bloatware" when Windows will still use several times the same resources as Linux. For instance, take any desktop distro (Ubuntu, Fedora, etc...) and a complete installation including multiple desktop environments, browsers, office suites, etc... still takes up less disk space, memory and CPU than does a bare installation of Windows Vista/7.

Seems to me that "bloat" is completely relative and arbitrary.

Re:Obvious weird Windows comparison (1)

MrMr (219533) | about 5 years ago | (#29502973)

The 11 million lines include all the hardware support that other OS's have outsourced to the hardware manufacturers.
The 'bloat' is mainly a problem at the kernel developers side as they need to test everything; I estimate that on a standard distribution no more than 5% of those drivers are actually ever loaded and the rest exist only as files on your harddisk.

Linux is bloated... (5, Funny)

jarocho (1617799) | about 5 years ago | (#29502729)

However, Minix continues to maintain its girlish figure.

Re:Linux is bloated... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503333)

Minix is also even more useless than even your average Loonix install is. And that's saying something!

A Few More Bits of His Talk (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 5 years ago | (#29502733)

I can't believe I'm relying on The Register for this but they have a few more quotes from him [theregister.co.uk] :

Uh, I'd love to say we have a plan. I mean, sometimes it's a bit sad that we are definitely not the streamlined, small, hyper-efficient kernel that I envisioned 15 years ago...The kernel is huge and bloated, and our icache footprint is scary. I mean, there is no question about that. And whenever we add a new feature, it only gets worse.

And also:

He maintains, however, that stability is not a problem. "I think we've been pretty stable," he said. "We are finding the bugs as fast as we're adding them -- even though we're adding more code." Bottomley took this to mean that Torvalds views that the current level of integration acceptable under those terms. But Mr. Linux corrected him. "No. I'm not saying that," Torvalds answered. "Acceptable and avoidable are two different things. It's unacceptable but it's also probably unavoidable."

I think that's very important to note. His quote by itself is very self-loathing but to add that tit's unavoidable really says a lot. You want to be popular? You have to satisfy more people and in doing so you become more bloated. He does maintain that Linux remains stable and that's usually the biggest problem I have with bloat. It decreases stability. I don't think there's any reason to get excited about level headed rational and reflection.

Re:A Few More Bits of His Talk (4, Funny)

dingen (958134) | about 5 years ago | (#29502773)

but to add that tit's unavoidable really

I'm more of a bottom kinda guy myself, but hey, I get it.

Re:A Few More Bits of His Talk (1)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29502851)

You have to satisfy more people and in doing so you become more bloated.

So is this why I became so fat? And I thought it was all the food and beers. Damn those girls!

Re:A Few More Bits of His Talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503325)

I see you've lost a lot of weight recently.

Re:A Few More Bits of His Talk (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 5 years ago | (#29502921)

I think that's very important to note. His quote by itself is very self-loathing but to add that tit's unavoidable really says a lot. You want to be popular? You have to satisfy more people and in doing so you become more bloated.

That's something I'll try to work into my performance review.

Re:A Few More Bits of His Talk (1)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#29502987)

Tits? Or something else?

Specialist's bloat is not user's bloat (5, Insightful)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | about 5 years ago | (#29502739)

What "bloat" in software means to LT as the high priest of the kernel and what bloat means to me as a user are two different things.

To a user, bloat means awkward, slow, inefficient, and needlessly large (if my storage space or bandwidth is limited). But these are all *perceived*. I don't perceive Linux to be bloated.

In fact, I find *NIX with almost any window manager to be the most efficient computer OS I have ever used. Linux is the best of them, despite being a clone of the UNIX userland.

If an OS can boot from a floppy or small USB key and be totally usable, it is certainly not bloatware. Rewrite the Linux userland in MONO or Java and then we'll talk about bloat.

Re:Specialist's bloat is not user's bloat (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503075)

Funny, I find Open Office to be bloated compared to MS Office.
KDE/Gnome to be bloated to XP.

That's why I use the best tools for me: MS Office and XP (in that order)

It's not perfect, far from it, but works the best for me.
KDE, Gnome, OO just feels like molasses everytime I try, and don't misunderstand:
I've spent years under KDE, but given up on it every time after spending ungodly hours fixing what should work out of the box.
OO has awful UI. I can't use it. Feels like a program from the early 90's which you can't figure out..

Fixing the bloat in KDE/Gnome and OO UI, would work wonders for many people..

Re:Specialist's bloat is not user's bloat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503191)

exactly. you said what I have been thinking

Are too many added drivers really the cause? (4, Interesting)

rpp3po (641313) | about 5 years ago | (#29502761)

About two years ago I tested wether my Gentoo kernel was really faster. Disabling 3/4 of the options really just improved boot time and memory footprint, but not overall performance that much, at least far from 12%. Compared to a modularized kernel with just the stuff loaded, that was needed, the difference was negligible. I'm not sure if Torvalds is telling the truth about the reasons. To me it seems that the central, overall kernel architecture has degraded over time with regard to performance.

Re:Are too many added drivers really the cause? (3, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | about 5 years ago | (#29502831)

I always thought that building drivers into the kernel was going to be Linux's downfall. There is an un-ending supply of equipment that requires drivers and they can't all go into the kernel without some repercussions. Let alone being a black hole that continually sucks up stuff and never deletes it. This design may work well for a small system with limited hardware but is doomed to fail at some point when trying to scale it up for the real world.

Re:Are too many added drivers really the cause? (4, Informative)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 5 years ago | (#29503039)

Most drivers are compiled as kernel modules and loaded only when needed.

Re:Are too many added drivers really the cause? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503101)

I think the GPs concern is not about performance but about maintainability. Being a module doesn't really affect that. When the driver API changes every driver has to be changed. The more drivers the more work has to be done. What adds to this problem is that these APIs really do change in Linux.

Re:Are too many added drivers really the cause? (1, Informative)

MrMr (219533) | about 5 years ago | (#29503091)

Small systems with limited hardware as in more than 88% of the current top 500?
http://www.top500.org/stats/list/33/osfam [top500.org]
Perhaps you should consider moving from your planet to the real world.

Re:Are too many added drivers really the cause? (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 5 years ago | (#29503335)

A super computer *is* a small well defined system that does not have to account for a wide variety of different types hardware. There may be a lot of iron behind it, but that iron is fairly homogenous

But, but but... (1)

coryking (104614) | about 5 years ago | (#29503279)

If we pulled that out into well definied modules, then the evil proprietary driver people will destroy linux! *Covers ears*I'm not listening!*Covers ears*

Seriously, you are correct. I never understood why drivers are so tightly bound to the kernel. Yeah you can load/unload them at runtime but honestly the whole mechanism feels hokey. Plus like 50% of the "drivers" seemed to require the kernel source before you can install them.

Re:Are too many added drivers really the cause? (2, Informative)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 5 years ago | (#29503287)

What you write makes no sense what so ever. The kernel provides interfaces between its core services and the drivers. It doesn't matter how many drivers exist, so long as they use the proper interfaces. All kernels work this way.

Reply (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 years ago | (#29502763)

I guess that we all need to decide. Do we want to run an OS that supports all sorts of peripherals, has libraries for applications developed in many languages and has many additions that are useful for a particular set of users? Or do we want an architecturally neat, clean, and lean OS. If we want the former we go with Linux or Windows. If you want the latter then Minix 3 is pretty neat.

its not like the kernel (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 5 years ago | (#29502797)

bloat was ever inevitable, if anything it shows linux is fostering a vibrant development community. the thing that separates us from the MS bloat is that we can do something about ours quickly and easily. not all kernel hackers are master coders, so id speculate there is quite a bit of shoddy code (no offense) that can be streamlined by new members, or improved by the originals.

Compile it yourself! (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 years ago | (#29502843)

It has been a long time since I needed to compile my own kernel and modules, but I can't imagine things have changed that much over the years. Seems to me that when compiling the kernel, you can select out a LOT of hardware support and other options that aren't necessary for that particular installation. It would surprise me to find that the kernel still fits on a floppy disk though.

Re:Compile it yourself! (2, Informative)

delt0r (999393) | about 5 years ago | (#29503051)

I still compile the kernel from time to time. Its not that different and the core kernel compiles quickly. But the modules take ages if everything is enabled. Generally you can disable more than 70% on any given system, then compile time is much faster. With the make -j2 thing on a dual core i wait less time with slackware 13.0 than I did with slackware 1.? on a 486. (can't remember the kernel numbers)

Pick two (4, Insightful)

justthinkit (954982) | about 5 years ago | (#29502895)

(1) Large feature set
(2) Compact/optimized
(3) Fast to market

Pick any two...

Re:Pick two (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29502951)

Any two? I'll take (4) All of the above and (5) OMGPONIES!!1

I picked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503185)

Gozer won't like it, but I picked Geico Marshmallow Insurance and Profit. Gozer replied "(5)??" and "is that GNU/Geico?" Behold, the traveler has cum...

obvious (4, Insightful)

walshy007 (906710) | about 5 years ago | (#29502901)

more hardware support and more functional tasks with scope creep means larger code base. nothing to see here, move along.

Ah, the ever quotable Linus. (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 5 years ago | (#29502975)

This is like the salesman's nightmare, where you take the guy from engineering to visit the customer. Things are going great, the engineer can answer all the customer's questions.

Then you realize, *the stupid bastard is answering the questions honestly*.

Honesty is a basic requirement to be a halfway decent engineer. Persistent and incurable dissatisfaction with how you did the last job is another. Even if you *know* you did a great job, deep inside part of you knows you could have done it *better*.

Isn't the bloat a choice? (1)

R2.0 (532027) | about 5 years ago | (#29502989)

I was under the impression that one can compile the kernel leaving out anything you don't want. Is that not the case?

No, it may not be the default install, but the difference between Linux and Windows is that I have the choice to leave stuff out of Linux.

Re:Isn't the bloat a choice? (1)

gninnor (792931) | about 5 years ago | (#29503113)

That was my impression, and a Google search seems to confirm it. If I was a device manufacturer and using this kernel, it would be well worth my time to do a custom build for the device I was making.

A solution in sight! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503007)

Hurd

Linux Need To Move On To GPL v3 (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503017)

Linux should be release under GPL v3 so it can be compatible with Apache license. This would help Linux move forward, invent, and advance the field of computer science instead of just trying to reinvent GCD, ZFS, DTRACE, ect..

Re:Linux Need To Move On To GPL v3 (2, Informative)

ledow (319597) | about 5 years ago | (#29503157)

And is also utterly impossible while there is a single line of GPLv2-only code in it that the author doesn't give permission for, or whom is dead. There's quite a lot of code like that, there's a lot that can't be traced to an author, there's a lot of authors that won't give their permission, there's a lot that *can't* give their permission (employers, etc.) and there's so much of it that recreating it from scratch without reference to the original code would actually take longer than just starting a GPLv3 kernel from scratch.

And this has been discussed to death before. Ain't gonna happen - not out of some inate personal reasoning, but sheer impossibility.

What to do then? (3, Interesting)

werfu (1487909) | about 5 years ago | (#29503023)

Then let's do like most other open source projects when they reach that point : Analyze current version, find good things and bads things, find possible improvement that were impossible because of breakage and legacy. Once the analysis process is complete, start version 3.0 from scratch, implement the new stuffs and improvements, then bring current features in one by one. And don't tell me it cant be done, it has been. And dont tell me it wouldn't be supported : how much time did it take before the 2.6 line has been adopted by industrials and missing critial distro?

Bloated? Of course. Happens in every walk of life (2, Interesting)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | about 5 years ago | (#29503027)

Bloated? Of course. Happens in every walk of life. It starts out lean and mean killing machine out of necessity, otherwise there is no success. Life is tough and to be other than at the top of efficiency is a death sentence.

After achieving success then being fat and lazy is a luxury that is no longer fatal.

This happens everywhere the jungle, in the business world, your job and governments. Evolution.

was Tanenbaum right?? (2, Informative)

pixorro (1642267) | about 5 years ago | (#29503057)

Does anyone remember The Tanenbaum-Torvalds Debate??? I think that Linux is facing the problems that professor Tanenbaum stated more than a decade ago and Linus Torvalds did not take into account. Is something like minix3 (www.minix3.org) the future of operantig systems??

Related news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503065)

According to some rather-attractive women, Linus is also bloated.

Get some exercise, dude !

just sign of his maturuty as professional (1)

BigGerman (541312) | about 5 years ago | (#29503089)

at some point, one starts taking more pleasure from hacking stuff off a project rather than from adding it in

Finally (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29503161)

I said EXACTLY this since 1 or 2 years and was always treated by the fanatic Linux adepts (there aren't any worse fanatics in the IT World than Linux believers, in particular those who don't know any real/other Unix than GNU/Linux) as a read bad troll who doesn't know anything.

I always considered the Linux kernel itself as the weakest link in GNU/Linux system.

Unix, FreeBSD (0, Flamebait)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | about 5 years ago | (#29503209)

Problem solved.

make ?config is your friend (1)

knarf (34928) | about 5 years ago | (#29503243)

The kernel source is one huge imposing giant gnarly tree with branches sprouting everywhere, but judicious use of the make {config|menuconfig|xconfig} command will pull in only those bits you really want. Creating a good working config for a given system does require some knowledge and perseverance but that is more or less a one-time effort.

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