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Kernel Changes Draw Concern

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the embiggening dept.

Operating Systems 685

Saeed al-Sahaf writes "Is the Linux kernel becoming fat and unstable? Computer Associates seems to think so. Sam Greenblatt, a senior vice president at Computer Associates, said the kernel is 'getting fatter. We are not interested in the game drivers and music drivers that are being added to the kernel. We are interested in a more stable kernel.' There continues to be a huge debate over what technology to fold into the Linux kernel, and Andrew Morton, the current maintainer of the Linux 2.6 kernel, expands on these subjects in this article at eWeek."

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685 comments

fp (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287708)

fp

NOW YOU KNOW (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287712)

The United States Postal Service is secretly run by a coalition of invisible niggers.

Re:NOW YOU KNOW (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287733)

I hate niggers. Invisible ones in particular.

Just my $0.02 (5, Interesting)

maotx (765127) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287713)

Members of the open-source community are expressing concern over rapid feature changes in the Linux 2.6 kernel, which they say are too focused on the desktop and could make the kernel too large.
"We are not interested in the game drivers and music drivers that are being added to the kernel. We are interested in a more stable kernel."


If you don't want it, don't compile it in. Thats the best part about having the kernel opened and so easy to manipulate. With the GUI available for modifying the kernel as well as a detailed set of instructions built right in, anyone can sit there and remove support for the latest gaming joystick if they so choose to. No one is making you keep it. If the kernel didn't have the option of supporting it, or if they discontinue the building of, then Linux will never be ready for the desktop. Just because Morton or Linus decides to add/accept support for the desktop community doesn't mean that the kernel won't be any more stable. Who is to say that adding gaming support took time away from stabilizing the kernel? If I'm strictly a game hardware designer and send my contribution to support the latest device does not mean that I could have spent my time improving the kernel. I may not be comfortable doing that. In other words, maybe I can't stabilize the kernel but I can write new drivers for it. And if I spend my time doing that it doesn't mean that I take time away from those improving and stabilizing the kernel.

The part that really caught me off guard is the inclusion of the Xen virtualization technology. [crn.com] Big changes are coming to the kernel that are really going to improve Linux and its functionality in the buisness and home world.

Re:Just my $0.02 (1, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287772)

The problem is choice. Some people would say that choice is good, but from a business perspective, choice is expensive too and sometimes the benefits of choice do not outweigh the costs.

Re:Just my $0.02 (5, Insightful)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287779)

If you don't want it, don't compile it in.

Which is exactly what Andrew Morton said. I think that the underlying issue is a human resources one. CA wants Linus and Andrew to spend all of their time working on "Enterprise" features and none of it on things like improving Linux's real-time performance and integrating drivers for non-server hardware. I think that they're being selfish and unreasonable, but that seems to be par for the course for CA.

Re:Just my $0.02 (5, Insightful)

spencerogden (49254) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287808)

To further expand on this, if CA thinks the kernel is unstable because developers are working on game drivers instead of stability, then they should hire some developers themselves. Part of your contract with open source is that you can't tell a guy working for free that he is working on the wrong thing. If you want a certain feature, here is always a price. There are plenty of examples of open source developers being hired by employers to work on feature the employer is specifically interested in.

Re:Just my $0.02 (3, Insightful)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287818)

If you don't want it, don't compile it in.

It gets better. If someone says "but I use a stock kernel," remind them that they don't have to load every module under the sun.

This guy would be better off going off to tell hardware manufacturers to quit making new hardware. Yeah right! Also, why does he not complain about bloat in the Windows kernel? IIRC, there is a much larger segment of hardware supported in Windows than in Linux. Mehtinks his statement should be modded -1 Flamebait.

Re:Just my $0.02 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287826)

I agree. And to add to this, I think more drivers can't really hurt the kernel. For most normal people, the only thing that gets bigger is the download. And even if the kernel is now at tens of MB compressed, this is still easily manageable.
I even think that more drivers improve the structure and stability of the core kernel. More drivers prove that certain internal APIs work, they trigger bugs in the glue code etc. On a higher level, they may also show design/architecture problems in the kernel (e.g. many similar ioctls could hint that there is the need for a new kernel subsystem).
People may be right if they say that linux is not the cleanest way of implementing an OS kernel, but for a production (*and* even research - various bew filesystems, mosix, xen etc.) kernel, it is IMHO pretty mature and non-bloated code.

Re:Just my $0.02 (1, Troll)

zymano (581466) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287958)

Just an idea but why not implement some form of exokernel with linux so you can install or uninstall modules on the fly ?

Another idea which maybe offtopic is the use of another language other than C which causes all the buffer overflows(security problems).

Does OpenVMS have any of the problems Linux or Windows has ? No , because it uses languages like Hp ADA which has bounds checking.

No problem (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287716)

A real step towards the desktop is for the average user to be able to build a sleek customized kernel, right?

Re:No problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287864)

Oh Lord Strawman, I bow at your feet.

FreeBSD? (0, Offtopic)

soda160289 (776461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287718)

This is true I seem to crash Linux more often than I ever have on my FreeBSD box. I love FreeBSD however and I think that it is a huge improvemeant over Linux

Isn't that why, (3, Interesting)

Grand Facade (35180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287719)

Isn't that why you compile your own kernel?

FP?

Re:Isn't that why, (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287746)

Was not this exact same debate taking place at the adoption of Kernel 2.2? That was when I stopped using Linux and defected to BSD (Both Net and Free), then completed my heretical behavior by switching to Mac.

Re:Isn't that why, (3, Informative)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287763)

Even if you don't compile it and rely on your distro for it, don't they usually make everything that's not required for booting as a module? So if you don't have the hardware and you don't need the driver, the module is never loaded and you don't waste the memory.

"fatter" (3, Interesting)

Wienaren (714122) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287731)

Bullcrap. Who likes installing zillions of extra drivers when updating the kernel?!

And about "fatter": I don't get it. You will probably use ONE sound driver, ONE (or perhaps two) network drivers, etc. Just the fact that the *amount* of drivers is gettling bigger, does not mean the kernel "is getting fatter".

Re:"fatter" (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287875)

Because there arne't default kernel options for various tasks and because it's not exactly user friendly to configure and compile your own kernel people end up compiling in crap that they don't need.

The kernel is fine it's the setup that sucks.

Re:"fatter" (3, Insightful)

Wdomburg (141264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287971)

This is why there are kernel modules. As much as linux ricers like to argue otherwise, there's virtually no reason a normal end user should ever build their own kernel. Nor should their be. The idea that compiling a kernel should ever be optimized for average joe end users is stupid.

Re:"fatter" (1)

scenestar (828656) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287877)

Perhaps because it makes Linux more accesible to the average desktop user?
Not everyone has time/skills/patience to go through the linux ndiswrapper hell.

Re:"fatter" (5, Interesting)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287911)

Yeah.

I already have a third part driver, from linux-wlan-ng, and every time I upgrade the kernel I have to remember to recompile it again.

The kernel should have everything. Obvious, for licensing reasons, only GPL stuff, but everything that's GPL, and is a kernel driver, and is up to minimal code standards.

In fact, having to track down third party drivers has been a much more valid complaint than 'Too many drivers', which is just idiotic.

Two Sides (3, Insightful)

FyberOptic (813904) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287732)

I can see why some people would have a problem with this, such as those that see Linux as a networking OS or for more of an embedded system. But if Linux folks ever want to see Linux as an OS for the masses, you have you cater to the average joe, and offer all of these features for games and video and the like, if it's ever to compete with the media abilities of Windows and Mac.

Agreed (1)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287734)

It is getting unstable, and rather large if people need the stuff, make them get it themselves

I think they have this nifty thing called CONFIG (5, Funny)

Vlad_Drak (20809) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287736)

That lets you not have ISDN, USB Dildo, and/or Ham radio support.

Re:I think they have this nifty thing called CONFI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287955)

USB Dildo [...]

What the fuck kind of computer do you have?

Hypocritical (5, Insightful)

sisko (114628) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287737)

I think it's laughable that Computer Associates talking about other people's bloated software.

Re:Hypocritical (4, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287922)

"I think it's laughable that Computer Associates talking about other people's bloated software."

Hey, if they're experts on it....

Simple solution (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287738)

just fork the kernel, get it out of Torvald's hands, we need fresh blood, this dude has taken as far as he can.

Compiled Kernel not necessarily getting fatter. (2, Informative)

linuxhansl (764171) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287741)

Surely nobody worries about the size of the source tarball.

Drivers that are not compiled are not taking any additional space. Drivers that are not used all the time can be compiled as modules...
So I guess I do not understand the criticism here.

Re:Compiled Kernel not necessarily getting fatter. (4, Interesting)

panic_paranoia (746533) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287836)

I'm perfectly content with compiling a kernel to suit my own needs, however many distros aimed at newbies tend to go for the "support every device possible" approach for a default install. For example, I recently installed mandrake on a machine for a friend (simple default install) to find it loading support for pcmcia, bluetooth, and many other completely unnecessary modules and services. What newbie knows how to disable services or build a more customized kernel? To be fair, this is not a problem with the official kernel source but with the way many distros make use of its capabilities.

Re:Compiled Kernel not necessarily getting fatter. (2, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287956)

to find it loading support for pcmcia, bluetooth, and many other completely unnecessary modules
Does it actually load them or does it just print a message which indicates it's going to do so, check for hardware, and exit when it can't find it? If it does actually load the modules, won't they be unloaded after a while if they aren't used at all?

For example, if I try to load a pcmcia module on a destop machine from the command line it indicates it cannot find the hardware, and exits. I suspect the only difference with the Mandrake script is that it is quiet about it.

The "support every device possible" approach has very little in the way of a downside with a modular kernel if you have the disk space (ie. not trying to fit it on a floppy).

Re:Compiled Kernel not necessarily getting fatter. (1)

GlamdringLFO (592548) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287882)

Well, sure, but even on a moderately fast connection, it's a drag to download loads of code that I know I will never compile. Further, I like to keep my code on the edge, so I update frequently. It's a drag to get the whole file every time. It would be nice to get incremental updates of some kind.

Re:Compiled Kernel not necessarily getting fatter. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287951)

You mean like patches?

WTF? (2, Insightful)

fatboy (6851) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287745)

On the enterprise front, Morton said he expects to merge code from Cambridge University's Computer Laboratories' Xen virtualization technology into the Linux kernel within the next few months. Xen "does the right thing technically," unlike other technologies, which are mainly workarounds for the fact that the operating system is not appropriately licensed, Morton said.

Huh????

Re:WTF? (1)

dvdeug (5033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287817)

Xen is a virtualization technology; it allows multiple copies of Linux or other OSes to be run at the same time, without a full emulation of the CPU and everything. Unlike other such programs, like VMWare, Xen requires changes to the source code of the OS to be run on it.

Re:WTF? (1)

fatboy (6851) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287883)

Thanks for the reply.
But I still don't understand what that has to do with "Xen "does the right thing technically," unlike other technologies, which are mainly workarounds for the fact that the operating system is not appropriately licensed, Morton said."

What OS are they talking about? The one running in the virtualization? I don't understand.

Re:WTF? (2, Informative)

dvdeug (5033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287957)

Yes. You need the source code of an OS to change it to run under Xen.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287977)

Xen only requires changes to the source code of the OS to be run on it, right now. With the new virtualization technology from AMD and INTEL, that will no longer be true.

Re:WTF? (2, Interesting)

fatboy (6851) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287832)

Please don't mod me as a troll. I just don't understand what Morton ment by that?

Can someone explain it to me or is this just a badly written article that is referring to the license of other virtualization technologies.

Re:WTF? (5, Informative)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287910)

[ disclaimer: I'm a Xen developer ]

I'd say the parent is a fair question, not a troll.

Morton's point appears to be this:
* x86 is notoriously unco-operative to full virtualisation
* trying to fully virtualise it (as VMWare and Virtual PC do) is a work around for the fact you can't modify the guest OS because it's closed source
* fully virtualising x86 in software results in rather painful performance hits for many workloads and a very complex hypervisor
* for open source OSs, it therefore makes sense to use paravirtualisation. This involves porting the OS to a special virtual machine-oriented "architecture", closely resembling the real hardware but without the costly-to-virtualise parts.
* paravirtualisation can be argued to be better than full virtualisation because (esp. on x86) the performance hit is much lower.

Porting of open source OSs is happening: Linux 2.4 and 2.6, NetBSD, FreeBSD 5.3 and Plan 9 can run on Xen (although currently only the Linuxes are supported as "host" or "Dom0" operating systems).

Quote by some jackass (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287749)

We are not interested in the game drivers and music drivers that are being added to the kernel.

That's cool.

Conversely, we are not interested in what interests whiny bloviating assholes who go on record to offer unsolicited unconstructive criticism.

Not what we want. (4, Funny)

ShaniaTwain (197446) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287753)

"We are not interested in the game drivers and music drivers that are being added to the kernel."

..we want text, orange, perhaps green on a black background. We want large buzzing metal boxes that only we are allowed access to. We want to store our data on large spinning reels of magnetic tape, or better yet punch cards.

also we want a sandwich.

That is all.

What about older hardware! (5, Insightful)

jm92956n (758515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287759)

As a proud owner of a Celeron 500mhz machine, I must express my concern.

The problem, I think, is that developers tend to be people who love computers. And people who love computers tend to have nice rigs, just as people who enjoy cars tend to spend a disproportionatly large amount of their income on cars (ever see the parking lot at a lan party--complete with people pulling multi-thousand dollar machines out of the hatch of a Hyundai?).

Perhaps Linux needs more developers from third world nations; the kid from a rural village with intermitant electricity getting his hands on an old, but useful machine and learning that he, too, can tell it to do all sorts of things!

Re:What about older hardware! (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287800)

Hey, I like my Hyundai, you insensitive clod!

Re:What about older hardware! (4, Informative)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287829)

As a proud owner of a Celeron 500mhz machine, I must express my concern.

This proud owner of an AMD K6 300 MHz has compiled and runs Linux 2.6.11.7 without a hitch, and continues to not see the problem.

Re:What about older hardware! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287878)

Must be nice, try a Pentium I 100 (P5 or 5x86) or lower. K6 is like a PII...

Re:What about older hardware! (1)

marshall_j (643520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287867)

yes. i demand a kernel that runs regardless of my electricity supply!

Re:What about older hardware! (4, Insightful)

Dolda2000 (759023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287975)

As a proud owner of a Celeron 500mhz machine, I must express my concern.
I have several old Pentium II machines running at speeds ranging from 233 MHz to 400 MHz that are running the latest kernels just fine working as servers.

My point with this is that it's not the kernel that's making GNU/Linux systems crawl on older hardware. It's the newer versions of GNOME and KDE. As long as you aren't running GNOME or KDE, older hardware works just fine. My servers chug along just fine, and my 233 MHz laptop with 64 MBs of RAM running Sawfish also suffices just fine to do virtually all my common tasks (except running any Mozilla product :-P ).

So, certainly, GNU/Linux may need more developers from third world nations, as you put it. Linux, however, does not.

this is nothing new (4, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287760)

I worked for a UNIX computer mfg in the late 80's. Even then there were arguments about kernel-bloat.

What would be cool is if the linux distros had default kernel options, much the way some of the majors have Workstation, Server, etc... that would adjust the kernel based on how the machine was being used.

Yes, I know one can reconfigure the kernel by one's self, but it then requires personal care and feeding for patches, upgrades, etc... It becomes one more thing one has to do. Personally, unless I really need it, I'm not goign to bother... too much of a PITA

Re:this is nothing new (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287863)

it's already done. vendor kernels are compiled with nearly all non-essential things as modules and you load them as needed via udev/devfs. only the loaded modules uses memory/resources, the rest just uses a couple extra spare megs of space(of your new 150GB drive)

Re:this is nothing new (2, Informative)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287872)

What would be cool is if the linux distros had default kernel options, much the way some of the majors have Workstation, Server, etc... that would adjust the kernel based on how the machine was being used.

Slackware has this (or something rather like this) -- it comes with a whole set of kernels compiled for different kinds of hardware.

Re:this is nothing new (1)

doorbot.com (184378) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287976)

Slackware has this (or something rather like this) -- it comes with a whole set of kernels compiled for different kinds of hardware.

I think the grandparent was talking about different kernel tuning parameters based on the intended usage for the system. For example, the max number of open sockets or file handles or whatever (I'm not a developer and don't tune my kernels so I can't be specific).

The architecture isn't the issue here as most vendors have pre-build kernels for this.

What might be nice is a separate RPM/DEB/etc that auto configured kernel options at boot for you based on your preferred system "type" (or even better, your measured usage over time).

Obviously there will be different kernel tweaks (through /proc I assume) for a web server, file server, database server, firewall, and a graphics workstation.

BS (4, Funny)

DrLZRDMN (728996) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287762)

I have never heard of there being a problem with too many music drivers in the Linux kernel....Or any music drivers in the Linux kernel....In fact, I have never heard of music drivers at all

Re:BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287801)

"I have never heard of music drivers at all"

Those kind of requests fall on deaf ears...

Re:BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287923)

Heh heh. I get it.

can't please everyone all of the time (3, Insightful)

amigabill (146897) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287767)

We're all entitled to our opinions. While CA isn't interested in more drivers or game support, other users are. Conversely, things CA will want are less important to other users.

I myself would like better multimedia drivers, good solid and easy to install and configure drivers for my PVR-250 and pcHDTV tuner cards in my MythTV box. CA may not give a darn about those at all, but this is my primary Linux goal and getting my particular MythTV rig running is the only application I myself presently give a darn about in all of Linux land.

I myself do not give a darn about gaming support either right now. That may change in the future if I decide to expand on MythTV and turn the thing into a high-end game console as well. But for the moment I'm not interested, just as many gamers may not be particularly interested in TV tuner drivers.

Though keeping stability and efficiency as primary goalsagreeably is a good idea. But I think high-quality (ie. NOT alpha or beta) drivers for more hardware should also be important.

Straight from a horses mouth. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287774)

Let's see what Alan Cox had to say about the 2.6 Kernel Development cycle.

http://lkml.org/lkml/2005/1/3/216 [lkml.org] After 2.6.9-ac its clear that the long 2.6.9 process worked very badly. While 2.6.10 is looking much better its long period meant the allegedly "official" base kernel was a complete pile of insecure donkey turd for months. That doesn't hurt most vendor users but it does hurt those trying to do stuff on the base kernels very badly.

Alan


Thankfully, there are better [apple.com] alternatives [freebsd.org] to the insecure donkey turd that is Linux.

Re:Straight from a horses mouth. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287816)

Don't forget OpenBSD [openbsd.org] , NetBSD [netbsd.org] , or DragonFly BSD [dragonflybsd.org] .

Re:Straight from a horses mouth. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287942)

Bah, most *BSD users run the "vendor kernel" and not the bleeding edge one used in the testing branch (or whatever it's called).

Re:Straight from a horses mouth. (4, Interesting)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287973)

Of course, you conveniently ignored the "2.6.10 is looking much better" part as well as the fact that we are at 2.6.11.7 by now (which is incidentally rock-solid over here). I also seem to have heard a thing or two about FreeBSD 5.x problems and that many are sticking to 4.x for that reason. As fir Apple, they finally fixed [apple.com] a well-known, trivial root exploit [linuxsecurity.com] last week which was discovered back in fscking January! Try again.

disappointed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287777)

After the merger of photoshop and macromedia I smell an antitrust lawsuit brewing.

Heading Down the Windows Path (0, Flamebait)

Isao (153092) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287780)

IIRC, this is exactly the decision that improved the performance of, but decreased the stability of Windows NT 3.51; when they added video drivers to the kernel and released NT 4.0.

Re:Heading Down the Windows Path (3, Informative)

marshall_j (643520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287881)

yes but NT does not have an option to remove those drivers from the system. the linux kernel allows you the opportunity to omit whatever you want at compile time.

you have options and one of those options is to not use stuff.

Probably true (2, Interesting)

GomezAdams (679726) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287782)

It's most likely that most corporate users are not interested in the entertainment aspect and would like to use only the core parts of the kernel and to have them as stable as possible. I say, get a kernel hacker or two and cut your own kernel for corporate use. It's OPEN SOURCE for a reason. Although IBM uses a "standard issue" Red Hat or SuSE kernel for their enterprise systems and do quit well, thank you very much.

On the other hand I was screwed so badly by CA that my automatic reation to anything they say or do is to discount it as coming from that Den of Thieves and Liars.

What is it with CA? (2, Insightful)

iPaul (559200) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287783)

What the heck is up with CA? At the same time they praise Linux, they seem to turn around and bash it. If they have an agenda it's not clear. Criticism like this doesn't smell right, especially after the flack they gave Linux in Australia. Something's fishy but I can't seem to see what it is.

Re:What is it with CA? (5, Insightful)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287850)

Why must all criticism of anything open source must be labeled "bashing"? Every single time someone dares utter a single word of "dissention" about Linux or anything else, they must be "shills" spreading "FUD". Every single time. Hell, even when ESR rants about how CUPS sucks, he's branded a retard. A lot of things in free software suck to high heaven. Just like a lot of commercial software does. But the FOSS unwashed masses really need to get a grip. Not everything is perfect just because it comes with source and a bill of rights.

Re:What is it with CA? (4, Insightful)

iPaul (559200) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287919)

You're right, genuine criticism is not bashing. Bashing is what happens when people crap all over something with no intent other than to sling mud. For example, "Linux is currently not a suitable desktop operating system for most users" is a criticism. "It would be impossible to turn the bloated Linux kernel into a desktop operating sytem because of it's rampant IP issues" is a bash. The statements CA made in Autralia were a bash because they were made in conjunction with Sun to puff up Solaris and put down Linux, but done so under the guise of an educational rather than promotional event. Consequently, that's a bash.

Re:What is it with CA? (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287899)

" Something's fishy but I can't seem to see what it is."

Maybe you've just been around Slashdot so long that it's startling to read a criticism of Linux that isn't viewable past -1.

Quick! (1)

jrushton (806560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287979)

Blame it on Microsoft... or SCO or Sun hahahah ... or IBM!!!

oh wait no.... forget the last one.

Distributions vs Kernel Design (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287784)

If Greenblatt wants a leaner kernel, where "kernel" means all the drivers distributed with some distribution he's concerned about, then he needs to refocus his attention on removing everything from the kernel except the components that are necessary to support something like apt-get, with full dependency tracking. This would be a boon to the industry since by standardizing on an installer, it would become possible to have a variety of Linux distributions parameterized simply based on the packages they apt-get by default. Note: apt-get supports specifying CD's as sources rather than websites so you can still distribute a set of CDs for a given distro -- you just use a standard format for your distro's CDs.

This doesn't handle the problem of needing to rebuild the kernel to include some "drivers" but what it does do is make clear the fact that there are some _real_ problems with the kernel that need to be fixed (ie: those "features" that require a rebuild of the kernel to support additional drivers) and unconfuses the issue of distributions vs kernel design.

We must listen to CA ! (4, Insightful)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287785)

CA have contributed so much to the Linux kernel, so they know what they're talking about. NOT.

What is CA's motive in saying this ? They have no real experience in developing operating systems, nor are they producing data and a testing methodology to backup their opinion.

It seems to me they might be talking through their hat. [cambridge.org]

Huh? (1)

Brymaster (603188) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287788)

What the fuck are music and game drivers?

Inevitable event (2, Interesting)

Blitzenn (554788) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287792)

I hope I don't get a troll rating on this, but I think that as any kernel grows, it becomes exponentially more difficult to project all of the possible interactions between components. Some of the ones that get missed or go untested simply because they weren't foreseen cause problems. Any kernal is going to become more unweildy as it grows. Especially when it starts to encompass so many diverse tasks and support multitude of dedicated roles. I think to attribute problems such as this article talks about as specific to Linux is biased.

Re:Inevitable event (3, Insightful)

hoxford (94613) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287884)

This is true of any software system. As it grows, complexity increases. The answer isn't (can't be) to stop growth. The answer is to manage the complexity by using well-designed and well-defined interfaces and minimizing side effects.

Re:Inevitable event (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287949)

" I think to attribute problems such as this article talks about as specific to Linux is biased."

Or to Microsoft, who is usually the butt of this complaint.

Re:Inevitable event (4, Funny)

value_added (719364) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287964)

I hope I don't get a troll rating on this, but I think that as any kernel grows, it becomes exponentially more difficult to project all of the possible interactions between components.

Actually, that's not the case at all according to this new NY Times Article [nytimes.com]

...the Purdue researchers say the real explosive secret lies in the hull, or pericarp ... In some varieties, the pericarp becomes more moistureproof as it is heated, sealing in the steam until the pressure gets so high that the hull fractures and the kernel goes pop.

In other varieties that don't undergo heat-induced change, the moisture escapes, the hull never breaks and then the kernel goes pfffft.

BAAA (3, Insightful)

bgog (564818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287794)

So then don't build them you insensitive clod. Why do people seem to then that the kernel is ONLY for them and their market. Just because there is a driver doesn't mean it needs to bloat your kernel. With simple config options you can build a very small tight kernel.

If anything the extra junk benefits them because the folks developing those drivers are likely to find bugs in the kernel proper.

As we all know... (1)

Brandon Kleinvehn (877424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287797)

As hardware becames faster and more advanced, software developers become lazier and less efficient. If this continues, we could end up with something like Windows, which comes out of the package with hundreds of useless utilities and programs, that the standard user could possibly have no use for.

Re:As we all know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287978)

That does not seem the case of Linux (I mean the kernel) as in the last years it got more finely modularized than ever. Not to mention VM and scheduler improvements.
Desktop and window managers are completely different beasts though, but I'll happily leave this problem to all poor souls who still haven't discovered the benefits of NOT running the junkware-filled KDE and Gnome.

zomg the solution is so difficult (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287822)

as linux grows more popular, distributing source code for absolutely every driver for and varient of the linux kernel in one allmighty tar makes less and less sense. Who could have possibly guessed the wild notion of inf != fin?
So, keep the current menuconfig (it's wonderful), but instead of distributing absolutely everything in one packages, have it download what additional things it needs based on if people ask for them.

You know, I dont need the drivers for the in-house printer IBM used in 1927 either, why not complain about that(*such) being included?

They've Been Complaining about That Since 1.3 (5, Informative)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287828)

There've been concerns about kernel bloat since the 1.3 kernel. I recall there was quite a ruckus when the compressed kernel tarball went over 10mb. But yanno it's gotten more robust and added support for a lot of modern features (Especially in networking) that I really do appreciate having the choice of compiling in. And I'd be surprised if the source was anywhere near the size of the commercial UNIX kernels much less Windows or one of the mainframe OSes. The build system seems to be pretty well capable of containing the bloat as well.

Analysis of kernel bloat from 2.2 to 2.6 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287831)

Check out this paper [pivpiv.dk] written by a Danish grad student.

It gives a nice breakdown of the size of various kernel subsystems in every kernel from the 2.2 series to 2.6.

When you look at this, the source of the bloat becomes quite obvious!

Natural evolution of an OS (4, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287834)

I suspect that all long-lasting, end-user OSes tend toward bloatware. Macintosh went through this with OS 7 through 9. Windows appears to be doing this as it progresses to Longhorn. It's just the natural evolution of software to accumulate cruft on the basis of yet another nifty feature that must be added into the bowels of the OS until the development effort becomes so constipated that the next version never appears or is so complication/unstable that people abandon it.

The trick, for Linux, will be to do what Apple did in moving to OS X -- create a new, "from-scratch" (yes, I know Apple borrowed a lot from others), OS with some form of compatibility-creating layer or old-kernal box. Incrementalism only takes an OS so far before revolution is needed to build a new, better system from the ground up.

A newbe question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287837)

One of my friends is fanatical about drivers being compiled in rather than existing as modules. I think it has something to do with security.

Is that the core of the argument? Is it really that important?

My impression is that it is easier to install a system using modules. Is that correct?

I've noticed my Compaq laptop having problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287852)

...but it could be that it only has 8MB of memory... ...and it's a Pentium 100...
but it ran v2.0 and v2.2 kernels just fine!!!

WhatZ rong with (1)

Senor_Programmer (876714) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287865)

[root@boblap ~]# uname -a
Linux boblap.atl.org 2.6.11.7monkey-brain-soup #1 Fri Apr 8 02:18:40 EDT 2005 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

Re:WhatZ rong with (1)

Senor_Programmer (876714) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287896)

the correct answer is that my clock is WAY the hell off...

The Competition. (1)

rapidweather (567364) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287873)

Windows and Mac machines are engineered to fit the operating systems installed on them, so all of the installed hardware works as expected.

Windows has it's "swap file" set up inside the partition.

To install Linux, one has to check out the hardware, or at least experiment with some of it, try out a few sound cards, graphics cards, etc. to see how your chosen linux distro works (or doesn't) with the hardware. You might want to set up a swap partition, not too easy on a PC already preloaded with XP.

So, the kernel has to keep pace with the expectations, and the competition, that already has a pre-engineered edge.

What about one of those boxes that has a bunch of memory card readers on the front?
Will your distro work with those, or will you do like I might, and take that out, and replace it with a cdrom drive? Do we cut back the features we have on the new PC's being offered for sale so Linux can be run or installed on them?

If the kernel is getting unstable because of all of the added features, then that is what we will have to do.

Is it too much to ask the manufacturers to install a sound card that works with Linux as well as Windows?

I'm torn (5, Interesting)

MadChicken (36468) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287888)

I don't know what to think about this. On one hand, I used to brag about how Linux never ever crashed on me (not ONCE), despite my heavily tinkering with it. This was, I think, way back in the 2.0 days. Ever since, with a few generations of kernels, I had to eat those words far too often.

I really miss the days when I could run on a P166 with 32 MB of RAM, and KDE ran not too badly (as long as you don't try to open Netscape or StarOffice). I don't think this kind of performance is attainable at all anymore.

But on the other hand, I'd be loth to run a kernel that didn't at least support USB! I love having ALSA instead of the old mishmash of sound drivers. Ext3 was a relief. I must say that for me at least ip[tables|filter|chains] was confusing, but I trust that the best choices were made... Going back to a kernel that didn't have those features would be simply unnaceptable.

Has the kernel reached a level of complexity where the ol'time stability isn't likely to happen anymore? We just need to react with patches, just like the other OSs out there?

Ignoramous (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287893)

Al these comments show, is that CA have no idea how the Linux kernel module system works. If they think they have to compile in all 10,000 odd modules whether they are used or not, then yes, their version of the kernel would be bloated.

Microkernels... (1, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287902)

A lot of kernel functionality could be moved outside the kernel if the intrakernel communication was regularised into some mechanism (messages, for example) that could be efficiently marshalled and moved through a user-kernel boundary.

Obviously you can't do this for everything, but you could simplify the kernel significantly if instead of separate interfaces for every kind of object a single regular interface could be used at least as a starting point. The Amiga did this, and the result was a system of rare simplicity that made quite complex components easy to implement. Matt Dillon, a long-time Amiga hacker, is working on turning the BSD kernel inside out in this way. There's no reason Linux couldn't be cleaned up and pared down the same way.

Re:Microkernels... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287968)

The answer might be: D-BUS [freedesktop.org]

You know... (2, Insightful)

kennedy (18142) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287906)

I bet the same people bitching about not needing "game or music" drivers are the same people who wonder why linux cannot fully displace windows.

sheesh. as many others have said already - if you dont want/need the driver - don't compile it.

I see a lot of clueless replies (5, Interesting)

jbellis (142590) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287913)

saying "just don't compile the options you don't want."

Problem is, that doesn't affect the main problem, which is that 3 million lines of options code is a LOT harder to keep bug free among all the different combinations than 1 million loc.

All bugs may be shallow given enough eyeballs, but the difficulty of debugging the linux codebase may well be increasing faster than the number of eyeballs.

Oh no! ;_; (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287940)

"We are not interested in the game drivers and music drivers that are being added to the kernel."
Damn. I guess they are not interested in my little linux-on-arcade project :

An idea. (1, Redundant)

BHearsum (325814) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287941)

I don't really think this is an issue right now, but if it does become one, why not have two different kernel trees? One for desktop usage, and one for server usage. I don't see that this would really cause any problems -- 2.4 and 2.6 are still maintained. I think even 2.2 is maintained.

Thanks, CA (3, Informative)

SamMichaels (213605) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287954)

At the risk of getting flamebait or troll, I'll speak my mind anyway.

How about trying out this GREAT utility called "menuconfig"...then you can unbloat your kernel. In the time it saves you from manually editing your .config, you can unbloat YOUR products.

Anomolous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12287961)


Sam Greenblatt, a senior vice president at Computer Associates, said the kernel is 'getting fatter.

...and Leon's getting laaarrrrrger!

I said this back in 2001... (1)

PinkFreud (51474) | more than 9 years ago | (#12287962)

...and the kernel has continued to bloat since then.

Are we going too fast? [iu.edu]
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