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The Scalability of Linus

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the single-point dept.

Linux 239

Hugh Pickens writes "Katherine Noyes writes at LinuxInsider that it may be time for Linus Torvalds to share more of the responsibility for Linux that he's been shouldering. 'If Linux wants to keep up with the competition there is much work to do, more than even a man of Linus's skill [can] accomplish,' argues one user. The 'scalability of Linus' is the subject of a post by Jonathan Corbet wondering if there might there be a Linus scalability crunch point coming. 'The Linux kernel development process stands out in a number of ways; one of those is the fact that there is exactly one person who can commit code to the "official" repository,' Corbet writes. A problem with that scenario is the potential for repeats of what Corbet calls 'the famous "Linus burnout" episode of 1998' when everything stopped for a while until Linus rested a bit, came back, and started merging patches again. 'If Linus is to retain his central position in Linux kernel development, the community as a whole needs to ensure that the process scales and does not overwhelm him,' Corbet adds. But many don't agree. 'Don't be fooled that Linus has to scale — he has to work hard, but he is the team captain and doorman. He has thousands doing most of the work for him. He just has to open the door at the appropriate moment,' writes Robert Pogson, adding that Linus 'has had lots of practice and still has fire in his belly.'"

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Egos don't scale (1, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002142)

Arrogant people who achieve power never give it up voluntarily. They hold onto every little bit of it for dear life. Torvalds would no more voluntarily give up his ultimate authority than he would jump off a cliff. You can make all the reasonable arguments in the world, it's not going to change who he is. Linux is his baby and he's a jealous parent.

What is needed is a good new fork with strong support. Unfortunately, for all the bitching and moaning about Torvalds, that has never really come together. He is a driving force and developers have accepted his Linux kernel as the standard for a long time. There are a lot of branches out there, granted, but at the end of the day they all ultimately go back to the same tree. Getting developers to accept a new mainline kernel as the standard (and to give up the "Linux" name), and getting some superior distros out there (you would need an equivalent of Ubuntu) would require a lot of work, organization, and some charismatic leadership. The OSS community could handle the work part okay, but the organization and charismatic leaders parts--not so much.

Re:Egos don't scale (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002174)

A good new fork will only be needed if and when Linus stops scaling. Until then, the reason that a fork has never really come together is because Linus' Linux is the best all round solution.

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002556)

A good new fork will only be needed if and when Linus stops scaling.

If? You say this as though it isn't inevitable. Linus could be hit by a bus tomorrow, or (more likely) die of cancer in 10 years. He could even retire from the project! Either way, there will eventually be an end to his influence.

Re:Egos don't scale (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002644)

He also said "and when" to indicate it was inevitable. This admittedly made the "if" part completely stupid.

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002794)

"If and when..." is a common idiom in (US?) English. It's not supposed to be read literally.

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002960)

I can confirm that it's used in English English too. Doesn't mean it's not stupid.

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003042)

Doesn't mean it's not stupid? Coming from the guy busting out 'English English'.

Is that the form of English spoken in England? What do they think of that in Wales and Scotland? Is it compatible with British English or the Queen's English? Do tell.

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003282)

I was originally going to write "UK English" but settled on English English as a joke. It's just as correct as "American English".

Fair questions.. let's ask a guy who is Scottish and lives in Scotland, shall we?

Me: Hi, Somersault!
Me: Hello there, you handsome devil!
Me: Yeah, whatever. What do you think of all this "English English" stuff you were saying earlier?
Me: I find it amusing.
Me: Oh, I see!
Me: Yep.
Me: Well, bye!
Me: Bye.

Sigh. (-1, Offtopic)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003644)

Come on guys, get a grip. Can't you keep your minds on the topic for five consecutive seconds? Some people have the attention span of a flea... :-|

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003198)

Actually, thinking about it logically I suppose the actual meaning of the structure does in fact simply equate to "if". When when is true, if will be true, and vice versa.

if ($if_) { $when = true; }
if ($when) { $if_ = true; }
if ($if_ && $when) { return true; }

# better written as

if ($if_ | when ) { return true; }

So the "and when" logically equates to "or when", both of which are completely pointless additions to the if, but the "and when" still somehow manages to make it sound like the speaker or writer believes that the situation is actually inevitable, something they've only just realised after saying "if"..

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003222)

The 'if and when' idiom does make literal sense. It means 'when it happens, if it does happen'. Your interpretation, in binary logic, would be 'if or when', not 'if and when'. (If 'A and B', and 'A' is false, then 'A and B' is false also. The 'B' doesn't render the 'A' part moot.)

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003366)

Sure, but the A part does render the B part moot, so in spoken/written language the fact that you've added in the B part makes it seem like the "and" must have some relevance. That's how it always seemed to me at least - wasn't until today that I tried thinking about this phrase logically to see that it does just equate to "if".

Re:Egos don't scale (2, Insightful)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003526)

Then 'when' part tells you that you mean to wait for the event to happen, rather than act beforehand in anticipation of the event.

Not like any of this matters much.

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

koolfy (1213316) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002912)

No ! You're lying !!!111!1!1!

Everyone knows that Linus is forever !!
Just like Steve Jobs !

Wait, what did you say about cancer again ?

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003314)

I'm a long-shot kind of guy. So I took "Eaten by a bear in 2021" in the Torvalds death pool. Sure it's unlikely, but the odds make the payout HUGE if it happens.

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003396)

It isn't inevitable. There's the (admittedly remote) chance that Linux becomes obsolete (due to the rise of another OS) before Linus stops scaling.

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Insightful)

soupforare (542403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002184)

Arrogant people who achieve power never give it up voluntarily.

Any fork would either immediately or very quickly suffer from the same fate. If there's anything the open source community has a surplus of, it's egos.

Re:Egos don't scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002954)

The point of the fork probably would be giving less power to an individual. That means they don't have to give up power, because they never had it. Like giving a few people commit access to the repository instead of just one person.

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Insightful)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003438)

If there's anything the open source community has a surplus of, it's egos.

This is true of programmers ... or humanity ... in general.

Re:Egos don't scale (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002312)

Given that, in practice, virtually every distro maintains its own kernel, or set of patches, to suit their needs, I don't really see the big deal.

As long as Linus is performing his role of keeping the "official" repository basically the easiest and most standard starting point, all the peripheral kernel tweaks maintained by other entities will cluster more or less closely around it for cost reasons.

If he starts to slip, the center of gravity will shift toward one of the distro kernel repositories, or whatever other third party is doing the best job of filling the role, and the "official" repository will fade in prominence a bit.

Because of how kernel code is licensed, the "official" repository could either come back quickly(if Linus or his chosen successor get back on the ball, they could update from the prior leader, and start taking the comit lead again), or it could just fade away, mostly, and development could center around the RedHat tweak of the kernel, or the Debian one, or whatever...

More dangerous are situations(like the X11/X.org one) where there is a major licensing split that actually requires a decisive move one way or the other. Linux graphics are certainly not its strongest suit; but, had the defection to X.org not been so complete, things there could have been a lot uglier today.

Re:Egos don't scale (2, Interesting)

cynyr (703126) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002784)

What you descibe was the way kernels were being handled in the early 2000's. The 2.5.X kernels were getting all the dev time, and the distros were back porting fixes. You are right though, if the Linus branch starts slipping, a distro or some other maintainer branch will become the "base" branch. The way it is right now there are several branches I could follow/use if i wanted to.
[N] sys-freebsd/freebsd-sources (--): FreeBSD kernel sources
[N] sys-kernel/cell-sources (--): Full sources including the cell/ps3 patchset for the 2.6 kernel tree
[N] sys-kernel/ck-sources ((~)2.6.34-r1(2.6.34-r1)): Con Kolivas' high performance patchset + Gentoo patchset sources
[N] sys-kernel/gentoo-sources (2.6.32-r11(2.6.32-r11)): Full sources including the Gentoo patchset for the 2.6 kernel tree
[N] sys-kernel/git-sources ((~)2.6.35_rc6(2.6.35_rc6)): The very latest -git version of the Linux kernel
[N] sys-kernel/hardened-sources ((~)2.6.34(2.6.34)): Hardened kernel sources (kernel series 2.6)
[N] sys-kernel/mips-sources (--): Linux-Mips GIT sources for MIPS-based machines, dated 20100605
[N] sys-kernel/mm-sources ((~)2.6.28_rc2-r1(2.6.28_rc2-r1)): Andrew Morton's kernel, mostly fixes for 2.6 vanilla, some vm stuff too
[N] sys-kernel/openvz-sources (2.6.27.6.1(2.6.27-kuindzhi.1)): Kernel sources with OpenVZ patchset
[N] sys-kernel/sparc-sources (--): Full sources for the Gentoo Sparc Linux kernel
[N] sys-kernel/tuxonice-sources ((~)2.6.34-r1(2.6.34-r1)): TuxOnIce + Gentoo patchset sources
[N] sys-kernel/usermode-sources ((~)2.6.18-r2(2.6.18-r2)): Full sources for the User Mode Linux kernel
[N] sys-kernel/vanilla-sources ((~)2.6.35_rc5(2.6.35_rc5)): Full sources for the Linux kernel
[N] sys-kernel/vserver-sources ((~)2.3.0.36.30.4-r1(2.3.0.36.30.4-r1)): Full sources including Gentoo and Linux-VServer patchsets for the 2.6 kernel tree.
[N] sys-kernel/xbox-sources (--): Full sources for the Xbox Linux kernel
[N] sys-kernel/xen-sources ((~)2.6.34(2.6.34)): Full sources for a dom0/domU Linux kernel to run under Xen
[N] sys-kernel/zen-sources ((~)2.6.34_p1-r1(2.6.34_p1-r1)): The Zen Kernel Live Sources

Those are my 17 options in gentoo's main tree, I'm sure i can find others in some overlays. Thats not counting things like following one of the dev branches of kernel. In fact just about anyone can have a branch these days, `git branch myawesomebranch`.

Re:Egos don't scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33003120)

Good luck with the FreeBSD kernel on Gentoo. Also try sparc-sources on x86!

NASA's new mission (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002358)

Since NASA's new mission under the Obama administration is to make Muslims feel better about themselves thanks to the alphabet that they stole from the Hindus, I wonder if Obama could spend some focused time helping this man to feel better about his superstitions:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1296856/Saudi-man-chains-son-basement-years-possessed-evil-female-genie.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Yay Islam!

Re:Egos don't scale (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002472)

One reason that Torvalds version is the most popular is that he is an arrogant idealist who tell stupid people with stupid ideas to fuck off. Unless someone equally arrogant idealist forks and improves upon the kernel it will go the bloatwary way of windows but without the success.

Re:Egos don't scale (5, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002640)

...he is an arrogant idealist who tell stupid people with stupid ideas to fuck off.

Some of the people he tells to fuck off are stupid, some are not. Some of the ideas he shits on are stupid, some are not. I seen plenty of times on LKML where he is dismissive and insulting only to later actually look at the ideas in detail and then accept them. The acceptance is sometimes in the form of repackaging the idea by a different, more favored developer so that there is never a need to acknowledge the original contributor may have been right.

He seems to function well enough, but do not pretend he is perfect.

Re:Egos don't scale (5, Funny)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003170)

Con? Is that you?

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

sam_nead (607057) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003422)

Do you have strong examples you can point to?

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Informative)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003592)

<cough>schedulers</cough>

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

hyartep (1694754) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003694)

there are two main reasons for this:

* some people have clever ideas put bad way. linus is (unfortunately) too busy, to check every idea, so he skips them (sometimes), if they are not polished (enough for him)

* there are people he trust more, and people he does not know well enough (as a kernel developer). therefore, if some idea is programmed by developer with trust, there is better possibility to be accepted.

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002632)

Arrogant people who achieve power never give it up voluntarily.

Er, didn't Bill gates step down at Microsoft?

Re:Egos don't scale (0, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002980)

He realized that charity was a much better ego-booster than being the much-maligned head of a big corporation.

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003324)

Having an ego boost is not the same thing as having real power.

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003618)

He realized that charity was a much better ego-booster than being the much-maligned head of a big corporation.

Wow! Some people just can't win, can they? Get involved in big charity work, you're just feeding your ego. Anyway, those were some pretty strong words about Linus that you kicked off this discussion with. I take it you either know him personally or have worked with him fairly closely?

Re:Egos don't scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33003692)

Or he thought about his legacy and wished to be remembered like Andrew Carnegie.

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

blai (1380673) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003080)

anomalies don't count

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002706)

Arrogant people who achieve power never give it up voluntarily. They hold onto every little bit of it for dear life.

Why must a pet project, the owner from inception, held in high regard around the entire world, which has provided both personal and professional benefit, as well as providing much prestige, be attributed to arrogance? Unless your Buddhist or some such thing, most reasonable people would argue you're foolish to give up such a thing until your damn well ready.

Really, in exchange for giving up all that, what does it get in exchange? Nothing aside from more free time, as far as I can tell.

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002770)

Linux is his baby and he's a jealous parent.

Well, last I checked AI development hasn't come so far that it can stand on its own and orphanages and foster homes are hardly considered the ideal way to grow up. Reality is that even though Linus does all the final commits to his tree, he most of the time pulls it on request by subsystem and driver and arch maintainers - it's not like one man reads every line of code. Changes to core code perhaps, but that's a very small part. That system of maintainers wouldn't go away if Linus was hit by a bus, most likely they'd have a little group vote and pick a new master repository. Linux would go on. I'd really hate to see him go though, he's one of those people that - despite maintaining Linux - decides to write a VCS from scratch and does it with high quality, high performance and quickly. 99 out of 100 others would have outsourced that to somebody else.

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Informative)

renoX (11677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002888)

> Linux is his baby and he's a jealous parent.

I'll take your assertions with a (big) pinch of salt: remember Linus *created* a distributed version management tool (git) when he couldn't use anymore BitKeeper..
And the nice thing about DVCS is that anybody can have his own tree..

So yes, Linus is the ultimate authority about what goes in his own tree, but this is quite normal..

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002928)

Most of the bitching and moaning about Linus seems to be along the lines of "he didn't accept my patch" or "he tore me a new one for suggesting something", not "Linux sucks, I'm going to use HURD or FreeBSD instead". And that's an important distinction, because Linus' primary goal is to make Linux and its codebase as awesome as it can be, not stroke developer's egos.

So yeah, if you write up something that you think is a great memory management scheme that Linus decides isn't the best approach, you're going to be pissed at him, because you thought very carefully about it and worked very hard to create a patch. But that doesn't mean Linus is necessarily wrong, and also doesn't mean he's arrogant - it means he thinks there's better choices available. He's picking not from the best that you can come up with, but from the best that the much larger set of people who've ever considered this problem can come up with.

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003114)

All this talking about the man first name and all, like you people really know him. I'm beginning to think the FOS ego's are really with the users and less so with the devs.

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002952)

Having people working under your supervision adds to your power, does not divide it. This is a basic management principle. Bosses that don't delegate tasks can only stagnate when they reach their physical limits. Unfortunately many managers are too stupid to understand this.

Re:Egos don't scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002986)

You must be a twat or a troll. Torvalds does not control the kernel, he has many maintainers who have their own little armies that take care of everything. This has been the case for a number of years.

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Insightful)

Eil (82413) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003010)

A couple of quick points:

The Linux kernel is open source. Anyone who thinks they can do better can just clone it in git and start their own fork. You don't have to replace Linus, you can just be your own kernel maintainer. There's no part of the mainline Linux kernel development that takes place in private, so you can even "play Linus" and just merge only the patches that you like from the kernel mailing list into your own personal tree.

The kernel that Linus releases is not meant to be used directly by end users. Distributions are responsible for integrating the kernel into their operating systems as they see fit. They can choose to track Linus' tree closely or not at all. Red Hat, for example, rolls their own kernel that bears little resemblance to any of Linus'.

Linus' tree is widely regarded as the official Linux kernel mainly because he invented it and has stuck to his vision of how the kernel should be developed over the past 18 years or so. Most of the top developers and open source companies trust Linus and his management over the mainline kernel. Many have been around from the very beginning. Suggesting that they would "dump" Linus as the core maintainer is outright laughable.
\

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

dejanc (1528235) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003034)

What is needed is a good new fork with strong support.

How many open source projects "with strong support" can you name? Linux is, the way I see it, one of the biggest and most important open source projects out there, thus facing toughest challenges. In this decade, at least, I haven't seen that many complaints about stability of the project.

Compare that to projects like OpenOffice and their challenges, or the time CentOS's boss ran away with the key...

There is no guarantee that changing who controls Linux will have a positive impact on the project. Personally, I don't even see any problems within the project that can't be solved internally...

Re:Egos don't scale (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003190)

Arrogant people who achieve power never give it up voluntarily. They hold onto every little bit of it for dear life. Torvalds would no more voluntarily give up his ultimate authority than he would jump off a cliff. You can make all the reasonable arguments in the world, it's not going to change who he is. Linux is his baby and he's a jealous parent.

Interestingly, humble but smart people would end up in the same situation : they know that arrogant and power-hungry people are there and want power for the sake of their ego. I don't know if Linus is humble or arrogant, but he gave up power a long time ago when he put his OS under an open-source licence. He has never hidden the fact that he was a "benevolent dictator" (some even say the expression comes from his second surname : Benedict). If Linus is a bottleneck and slows down kernel development, there will be a fork. Right now, as much as people say he is a problem, he is still the only solution available.

What is good about open-source is that you can say to power-hungry people "Want to be the boss of a team ? Well go find a team that will respect your work !".

Re:Egos don't scale (1)

sardaukar_siet (559610) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003230)

FreeBSD gets by democratically enough...

Re:Egos don't scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33003250)

"Arrogant" people who have earned power are labelled as such when they exhibit the slightest bit of self interest or even self esteem. How do you identify the truly successful? You identify them by the shrill demands that they grovel before everyone they've ever dared to help. You identify them by the legions of people demanding that they give up their "power," their influence gained solely by virtue of the popularity of the fruits of their labor. You identify them by the stink of sour grapes from unwashed mouthbreathers whose lives' worth of work would be valued in red ink.

Egos scale just fine. But Linus has no more of an ego than when he wrote the first line of Linux; when he had the audacity to think anyone would want to use something he created. The people around him just got smaller and smaller, until one day he appeared larger than life to them.

What If Linus Torvalds Gets Hit By A Bus? (5, Informative)

psergiu (67614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002162)

"What If Linus Torvalds Gets Hit By A Bus?" - An Empirical Study
by Leonard Richardson

Published on segfault.org 02/23/2000

http://www.crummy.com/writing/segfault.org/Bus.html [crummy.com]

It even coined the "Bus factor" phrase:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_factor [wikipedia.org]

Re:What If Linus Torvalds Gets Hit By A Bus? (1)

js3 (319268) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002298)

I don't think Linux will die without Linus, but as long as he's there, he'll be the cock-block until he gets run over by a bus

Re:What If Linus Torvalds Gets Hit By A Bus? (5, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002494)

The problem is not if it will die. Linux itself will likely live on. The question lies in what will ultimately happen to it. There needs to be a succession path, even if it's just that Linus keeps 100% of the control while he's on work, and passes it off only when he gets burnt out or worse.

Supposing he does get hit by a bus, there will be months of infighting as big egos clash trying to decide who gets control of the kernel. There'll be those who think the official repository should be managed by committee, those saying the single person structure maintained. The subsequent fight will blow out of proportion which will generate many forks and ultimately and dangerously you will end up with uncertainty.

The best outcome is that there's a plan in place for exactly this kind of situation. That way Linux can remain what Linus wants it's to be in case of his demise rather than to throw it to the dogs and then see what's left over after the frenzy dies.

Re:What If Linus Torvalds Gets Hit By A Bus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002552)

That is great! I can't believe I never ran across this before.

Re:What If Linus Torvalds Gets Hit By A Bus? (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002948)

I fixed the wiki article to better represent the reference it had. You can thank me latter.

Re:What If Linus Torvalds Gets Hit By A Bus? (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003602)

It even coined the "Bus factor" phrase:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_factor [wikipedia.org]

That article didn't coin the phrase. I don't know where it originated, but I remember hearing and using it in the mid-90s.

and what (2, Insightful)

segin (883667) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002176)

Linux is Linus's creation, he should have ultimate commit decision power

Re:and what (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002260)

just because he started a open-source project does not mean he owns it. It's like the stock market, as soon as the comited patches dwarf your original work, you are not the dominant share holder.

Re:and what (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002302)

It's his project, no matter the contributions of others. Anyone is free to fork it. They are not free to take the actual project from him.

He is free to run it as a dictatorship or a democracy. It's his project.

Re:and what (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002464)

"just because he started a open-source project does not mean he owns it."

To all practical purposes he does own his tree. And due to the GPL license that's no problem at all: you can own your own tree as soon as you want and be as zelous or as liberal as you want with it.

Re:and what (2, Informative)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002638)

And due to the GPL license that's no problem at all: you can own your own tree as soon as you want and be as zelous or as liberal as you want with it.

No, you can't. The GPL places limits on both liberalness and zealotry.

The license prohibits liberalness, because you are only allowed to share source code under strict conditions. It prohibits zealotry, because it ensures that others are free to fork a project and not bow to your vision of a project.

Re:and what (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003064)

"The license prohibits liberalness, because you are only allowed to share source code under strict conditions. It prohibits zealotry, because it ensures that others are free to fork a project and not bow to your vision of a project."

Never the less he and he alone maintains the reference kernel source. That's a potential problem. Or- explain to me why it isn't.

Re:and what (3, Insightful)

amorsen (7485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003550)

Never the less he and he alone maintains the reference kernel source. That's a potential problem. Or- explain to me why it isn't.

It is only the reference insofar that distributions tend to work off of it. It would be just as easy for them technically to use a random other git tree as the reference, if they chose to do so. However, Linus is doing such a good job these days that non-enterprise distributions just stick with his sources + a limited set of patches. If he stops doing a good job (like in the hit-by-bus scenario which seems so popular), there are several well-maintained trees to pick from, and Linux would only be a little worse off.

The most important advantage of Linus is that his decisions are almost universally respected. It would be difficult even for David Miller and Alan Cox to get the same universal buy-in, and Andrew Morton is possibly too nice for the job.

Re:and what (2, Informative)

steveb3210 (962811) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003106)

The license prohibits liberalness, because you are only allowed to share source code under strict conditions.

What in the hell are you talking about? The GPL restricts your ability to share binary-only versions of your tree. It explicitly requires you to *always* share your source code when you are making a public release. There are no limitations at all.

Don't like the current kernel development process? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002188)

Shut up and fork off.

Branch out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002192)

Is there a licensing term that prevents someone else from starting a normal OSS project out of this?

Re:Branch out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002252)

No.

People have made special purpose kernel forks, but they never get enough momentum behind them to be any kind of rival, simply because there isn't any genuine need for a rival.

Re:Branch out (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002352)

No. The kernel is(at this point, whether anybody likes it or not) basically GPL2 permanently. Without any "copyright assignment" requirement to some organization, there are just too many interlocking owners for any re-licensing.

Already, most distros maintain slightly forked versions of the kernel, to suit their needs(ie. enterprise-ish ones like RedHat might do more driver backports, MontaVista introduces BSPs for a variety of oddball boards, etc.) Because novelty costs money, people don't generally go further from mainline than they have a good justification for; but there are already dozens of quiet, not-very-adversarial, slight forks floating around, mostly in the hands of the various distros, and some of the embedded engineering houses.

Re:Branch out (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002498)

"No. The kernel is(at this point, whether anybody likes it or not) basically GPL2 permanently. Without any "copyright assignment" requirement to some organization, there are just too many interlocking owners for any re-licensing."

Linus Torvalds don't see that problem. Kernel is not moving from GPLv2 just because he doesn't want to. The day Linus wants to move to GPLv3 (if) he will just do so together with a public anouncement of the change. Whoever finds entitled ownership to a piece of code will be free to ask his commits out of the tree if he feel not wanting the change and that's all.

Linus needs an inner circle (-1, Redundant)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002262)

of developers he can depend on and trust to do what he does when he needs a vacation or leave of absence. even if it is just two or three people.

Re:Linus needs an inner circle (5, Informative)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002318)

It's called Andrew Morton

food (4, Funny)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002290)

...and still has fire in his belly

Perhaps he should eat less Mexican food.

whiner (0, Flamebait)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002292)

Sounds to me like a blogger whining.

Re:whiner (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002440)

Isn't that what blogging is for?

Re:whiner (5, Informative)

s.d. (33767) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002926)

Do you even know who Jonathan Corbet is? Among other things, he created LWN.net, has been a Linux kernel contributor for longer than that, and has written books on Linux kernel development (for example, the O'Reilly "Linux Device Drivers" book).

He's been on the inside for a long time. This is an opinion you should at least respect, even if in the end you disagree.

Re:whiner (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33003130)

Point or no, it detracts from his credibility.

Not credibility as a developer, but leadership credibility.

It more like: "Wah! I'm a kernel developer, I'm very good, but Linux won't give me access to the trunk!"

Sure, I know he didn't explicitly state that, then he would really be in trouble.

Re:whiner (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003356)

Could be that he doesn't want that access but wants to know who his new boss will be when the old boss is no longer viable.

Having that kind of core stability is one of the aspects that has allowed linux to bloom in recent years.

It seems to me we're seeing a large amount of progress because of a stable base surrounded by competitive user space projects.

Re:whiner (0, Flamebait)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003246)

No, I don't know who he is, nor do I actually care. I'm not a Linux user. However, my post was directed at blogs in general, not this guy in particular.

Re:whiner (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002526)

The things about whining bloggers is there's a lot of them, and eventually one of them raises an important point. So if Linus dies tomorrow, just what will happen? Will the official kernel be run by committee? Will it be managed by the alpha dick from the ensuing ego battle for the top job? Will the community be fundamentally fractured losing the official repository?

Re:whiner (3, Interesting)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003312)

Who cares? If Linus stops updating his repository tomorrow, we'll all just switch to whatever repository meets our needs.

It's only consensus that says that Linus' repository is the "official" one.

There are already plenty of people who track Andrew Morton's repository instead of Linus', so if Linus went away, it's not like we don't already have a tested mechanism to allow us to track "unofficial" repositories.

You are welcome to start your own fork any time. (5, Insightful)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002316)

The Linux kernel is not a company. Free software projects are a new kind of entity.

The debate is still open about whether it is correct to level "They should..." instructions at this kind of entity.

Possibly "I should..." statements are more appropriate.

-paul

HURD will be finished any day^H^H^Hdecade! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002342)

That will solve this problem once and for all.

Brain in a Jar Time (2, Funny)

lysdexia (897) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002430)

PREPARE THE ELECTRODES!

development? what linux developmwnt? (4, Funny)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002438)

We've been on 2.6.X since 2003. Somebody needs to pull the cork out ...

Re:development? what linux developmwnt? (4, Funny)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002858)

Seriously where is 3.0? Everyone knows it is only progress when the first number gets bigger. Like the number of g's for cell phones.

Re:development? what linux developmwnt? (1)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002908)

Like the number of g's for cell phones.

They should stop, because I already have an 11G phone.

Re:development? what linux developmwnt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33003232)

Yeah, but seven of those Gs are compactified on a Calabi-Yau manifold.

Re:development? what linux developmwnt? (2, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003476)

Ah, now I understand why we don't get mobile phone contracts with no strings attached!

Re:development? what linux developmwnt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33003390)

...or like the number of blades on my razor. My razor has so many blades now and is so fat that it can no longer follow the contours of my face. Why, just this morning I accidentally sliced off my entire lower jaw!

Benjamin Linus was scalable? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002490)

You mean all this time while on the island Benjamin Linus was able to do more things than he led on? Who knew. ;)

in the long run--- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33002502)

we're all dead. -John Maynard Keynes

He's what, 40-something? (Nope, can't be bothered to look it up. Go ahead, mod me down for it.)

Average life expectancy in the US is 78 years.

You do the math.

Or maybe he gets tired of it all sooner. Someone else already mentioned getting hit by a bus, which is kinda gruesome.

I know the feeling (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002590)

Linus 'has had lots of practice and still has fire in his belly.

He should really lay off the vindaloos

Good thing I read the summary (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002624)

Here I was thinking that this was some article about whether or not Linus Torvalds should or could have children.

Re:Good thing I read the summary (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002812)

er, are you implying the three he has now have the mailman's eyes....???

Re:Good thing I read the summary (2, Funny)

Tjebbe (36955) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003078)

Perhaps on a related note, I was thinking that while Linus has obviously scaled vertically to his full extent, there is still plenty of room for him to scale horizontally.

Linuxinsider (5, Informative)

Airline_Sickness_Bag (111686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002684)

Anything from Linuxinsider I would take with a healty dose of skepticism - it's better known for their anti linux shills.

Open Source Fail (1)

he-sk (103163) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002696)

The failure in the argument is to assume that Linus' kernel is in any way "official". Distribution maintainers don't think that way at all.

We always knew this would happen some day (4, Funny)

Bobtree (105901) | more than 3 years ago | (#33002892)

Linus is monolithic.

Yeah, fork it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33003040)

I can't think of anything that will do more damage than to further fragment it.

If you use more than a couple distributions of Linux you know exactly what I'm talking about.

There's something wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33003260)

with a development model that comes crashing down if the wrong person gets hit by a bus...

Lack of planning: need clones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33003400)

See, this is why they should have invested in cloning technology years ago! By now you might have multiple Linuses working in parallel or alternating week by week or day by day.

Hmmm... although I suppose there could be a significant amount of overhead due to debate among them about the scheduler.

a guy who knows when not to grandstand (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33003538)

a few more like him could lead to a few less billionerrors, & in real life we never needed any to start with. thanks again forever mr. torvalds.

meanwhile (seems a while longer, we would have guessed that the human nature/spirit would have responded quite differently); the corepirate nazi illuminati is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

never a better time to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

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"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

Well (1)

Josh04 (1596071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33003676)

Another year of Linus on the Desktop.
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