back to article 'It's really hard to find maintainers...' Linus Torvalds ponders the future of Linux

Linux creator Linus Torvalds spoke about the challenge of finding future maintainers for the open-source kernel, at the Open Source Summit and Embedded Linux conference under way this week online. Torvalds does not do keynote talks these days, but he was willing to sit down with VMware's chief open source officer Dirk Hohndel …

Page:

  1. jason 7 Silver badge

    Maybe...

    ...next year?

    1. keithpeter
      Coat

      Re: Maybe...

      If you think about all the instances of the Linux kernel operating right now - from phones and embedded devices via servers and network devices in data centres, through to high performance compute clusters, isn't the desktop operating system aspect (i.e. endpoint client) almost of measure zero? Nice to have but it hardly defines the project.

      Is it not amazing that a self organised group of programmers managed this huge project?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just give it to Poettering...

    ...I'm sure he'll do the right thing by it.

    1. seven of five Silver badge

      Re: Just give it to Poettering...

      Some people just want to see the world burn, don´t they?

      I´ll leave it up the the reader whether I mean you or Poettering.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Just give it to Poettering...

      ...I'm sure he'll do the right thing by it

      you meant that to be satire, right?

      1. Mike Pellatt

        Re: Just give it to Poettering...

        Obviously, or I, for one, wouldn't have upvoted it.

        This isn't Twitter, where it's impossible to tell :-)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just give it to Poettering...

        I definitely did.

    3. imanidiot Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Just give it to Poettering...

      Don't even joke of such atrocities.

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Joke

    With the growing use of eBPF in the kernel, I could see kernel ending up just being a eBPF VM.

  4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Holmes

    I wonder why?

    Linux creator Linus Torvalds spoke about the challenge of finding future maintainers for the open-source operating system,

    Seriously? People aren't queuing up to be told:

    "SHUT THE **** UP!

    "It's a bug alright -- in the kernel. How long have you been a maintainer? And you *still* haven't learnt the first rule of kernel maintenance?

    And I don't _ever_ want to hear that kind of obvious garbage and idiocy from a kernel maintainer again. Seriously.

    Fix your ******* 'compliance tool,' because it is obviously broken. And fix your approach to kernel programming."

    I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you.

    1. Simon Ward

      Re: I wonder why?

      Linus' potty mouth notwithstanding, let's not forget that some of this shit is hard - my last tussle with the kernel was way back in the 2.mumble days where I had to write a couple of drivers for some hardware in my lab - my C chops were a lot better back then but even so, hacking on the kernel was not for the faint of heart (one bit of hardware was sorta-kinda supported, which made life a bit easier, but the other wasn't so I had to work from datasheets and whatnot and write everything from scratch) - still gives me nightmares.

      You want documentation? Well, there's the code itself ... other than that, good luck!

      I probably wouldn't even know where to start now.

      There's also the 'some of this stuff is boring' aspect - whilst you'll probably have no shortage of people queuing up to work on the latest shiny shiny or the $ARCHITECTURE_DU_JOUR, there's no escaping the fact that the 'boring' stuff in the kernel will need occasional care and feeding as well, and that's not as sexy by half and people will be less inclined to do anything once the current maintainers have moved on[*]

      [*] - I'm one of those developers who actually enjoys working on the 'boring' stuff. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it ...

      1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: I wonder why?

        Linus' potty mouth notwithstanding, let's not forget that some of this shit is hard

        It's all just ones and zeroes. If it isn't a one then it's a zero. How hard can that be?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I wonder why?

          Systemd only works with 2s.

          1. Circadian
            Trollface

            Re: I wonder why?

            Is that a “potty”/“Poettering” reference?

          2. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: I wonder why?

            Well, you do get a lot more information for your digits with trinary...

        2. Simon Ward

          Re: I wonder why?

          It's all just ones and zeroes. If it isn't a one then it's a zero. How hard can that be?

          Getting the ones and zeroes is the easy bit ... it's putting them together in the right order that's the trick.

          As the late, great Eric Morecambe once said: I'm playing all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order ...

          ;-)

          1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: I wonder why?

            As the late, great Eric Morecambe once said: I'm playing all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order ...

            The following simple technique can be used to address that. Decide how big your program needs to be. If you get that right then the technique is absolutely guaranteed to produce the desired bug-free program.

            Allocate a block of memory of the necessary size and initialize it to all zeroes. Then:

            1. Execute it as a program. If it does what you want, then job done.

            2. Otherwise, treat it as one single very wide multibyte binary number and increment it. (first time round 000...000b->000...001b, second time round 000...001b->000...010b etc)

            3. Go to step 1

            1. Jan 0 Silver badge

              Re: I wonder why?

              @Smooth Newt

              Toss in a genetic algorithm and you might find your solution before the heat death of the universe.

              1. Simon Ward

                Re: I wonder why?

                Toss in a genetic algorithm and you might find your solution before the heat death of the universe.

                Or you'll re-invent Perl ...

                1. Flywheel Silver badge

                  Re: I wonder why?

                  Or you'll re-invent Perl ...

                  Apparently Perl 7 is now a Thing. A young Thing, but it exists...

              2. Smooth Newt Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: I wonder why?

                @Smooth Newt

                Toss in a genetic algorithm and you might find your solution before the heat death of the universe.

                I have a great technique for generating the genetic algorithm. First you take a block of memory and initialise it to all zeroes...

            2. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

              Re: I wonder why?

              test driven development. why isn't everyone doing this?

              1. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: I wonder why?

                It's not for the impatient. Let alone those who have PHBs wanting results last Tuesday. Without a time machine.

            3. Claptrap314 Silver badge

              Re: I wonder why?

              So. I implemented your program, but I ran into a problem. My screen just says, "Go to step 2" over and over again. Now what?

              1. Maximum Delfango
                Boffin

                Re: I wonder why?

                Simple; go to step 2.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I wonder why?

              This entirely explains Microsoft Teams.

            5. Persona Silver badge

              Re: I wonder why?

              That's a very poor starting position. Functional programmes tend not to have all their bits set to zero. Start with it filled with random data. That way there is a "chance" it will work first time. In the unlikely event it doesn't you will hit one of the many possible solutions sooner than starting with all zeros..

              1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: I wonder why?

                That's a very poor starting position. Functional programmes tend not to have all their bits set to zero. Start with it filled with random data. That way there is a "chance" it will work first time. In the unlikely event it doesn't you will hit one of the many possible solutions sooner than starting with all zeros..

                I guess that is true. 00 is quite often a NOOP instruction - it is on ARM, MIPS and Z80 anyway - so an all zeroes initial condition could be a valid, but very dull, program on those but probably not on anything else.

                Best plan would be some sort of very complex quantum computer that could try all possible bit patterns simultaneously.

                1. mm0zct

                  Re: I wonder why?

                  I quite like ARC, where 0 is branch to self (I.e. a dead loop). Makes tracking down problems a lot easier because when you trample instructions or jump to the wrong location, you usually stop close to the problem, rather than keep executing nonsense.

                2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

                  Why Not? Just follow what is seen and ask establishment authorities for more of the evidence.

                  Best plan would be some sort of very complex quantum computer that could try all possible bit patterns simultaneously...... Smooth Newt

                  What about a best plan being some sort of very complex quantum computer that has already tried all possible bit patterns simultaneously, has processed all metadata and now shares the resultant deliberation on the ways forward to a global market fully reliant upon mass multi media presentation of current stealthy operating system utilities with extremely rare, attractive remote virtual facilities servering and servicing novel abilities.

                  A Simple Start for that Program to Realise the View and See that All of it is True, is to Treat it as True in a New Way of Doing Everything Differently and Better with SMARTR Partners rather than denying and doing vain battle against its obviously apparent existence and virtual presence. And share the news that it can no longer be denied from common knowledge.

                  The question then being ....... If everything is new, what would you like Programs and ProgramMING to Present you so Everything can move Forward in any Number of Novel Noble Directions Equipped with All of the Right Means and Memes?

                  Or would you prefer and defer all those sorts of almighty decisions to Programs and ProgramMING which Instruct and Advise Earthly Assets in the Secret Levers of Almighty Command and Immaculate Self Control which deliver Unassailable Lead Events ..... Mega Metadata Beta 0Days?

                  Nuclear Armageddon Morphs into NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Operations which are Terribly Silent and Much More Deadly in Deployment than ever was Discovered Underground Testing?!.

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Why Not? Just follow what is seen and ask establishment authorities for more of the evidence.

                    "What about a best plan being some sort of very complex quantum computer that has already tried all possible bit patterns simultaneously, has processed all metadata"

                    Such a hypothetical machine would, by definition, know everything that there was to know. Gut feeling is that it would probably immediately suicide out of extreme boredom, just to find out what (if anything) was on the other side.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Why Not? Just follow what is seen and ask establishment authorities for more of the evidence.

                      Sod off Jake, aka Mr Downvotes.

                3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

                  Re: I wonder why?

                  Best plan would be some sort of very complex quantum computer that could try all possible bit patterns simultaneously.

                  So does that mean "The Ultimate Question" was a compiler for Linux? Or was it that "42" was the ultimate source code?

              2. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: I wonder why?

                Wow - that gives you the best of all worlds.

                Optimised evolution.

            6. Archtech Silver badge

              Re: I wonder why?

              Sounds as if you've been contemplating Jorge Luis Borges' Universal Library...

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: I wonder why?

        Linus' potty mouth notwithstanding, let's not forget that some of this shit is hard

        Some of what my team do is hard too, but if someone spoke to a member of my team in the manner described by the person to whom you responded, I would take a dim enough view to invite them to a non-discretionary meeting to adjust their attitude.

        People do their best work when they're supported by those above them in a hierarchy, and where mistakes are learned from rather than punished. Every shit boss I ever had or have ever seen has had the same poor attitude to 'subordinates' as described by the OP. They all had their "reasons" and they all had excuses, and while Linus is undoubtedly smarter than most crap bosses, he's still got a crap boss attitude.

        That he has achieved a lot is beyond question. Could he have achieved more? Maybe.

        1. ghp

          Re: I wonder why?

          I've always preferred working for someone who speaks his mind and knows what he's doing, but rarely had it that way. Insults only hurt when they're true. But I wanted to know: is Linus anyone's boss?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I wonder why?

            In his book "Just for Fun" he says:

            "I don’t proactively delegate as much as I wait for people to come forward and volunteer to take over things... I try to manage by not making decisions and letting things occur naturally. That’s when you get the best results.”

            Also on being a manager:

            "...while my Linux management style, such as it is, was earning high marks in the press, I was an undeniable failure during my brief stint as a manager at Transmeta. At one point, it was decided that I should manage a team of developers. I flopped. As anyone knows I'm totally disorganized. I had trouble managing the weekly progress meetings, the performance reviews, the action items. After three months it became obvious my management style wasn't doing anything to help Transmeta, despite the praise I was getting from journalists for the way I was running Linux...."

            My take is that likes to be an engineer or gatekeeper more than a boss.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: I wonder why?

              What did anyone with a clue expect?

              A Corporation is almost always an oligarchy mixed with a plutocracy, usually with at least a hint of gerontocracy.

              The Linux kernel developers are as pure a meritocracy as we have on this dampish rock.

              People like Linus are wasted in the traditional management role. I've been saying for decades that in this day and age, where Technology is so important, corporations should have separate Management and Technical tracks for advancement to more senior positions. Management takes care of management, and techs take care of the increasingly more complex technical side. Occasionally, but very, very rarely you can find someone who is both capable and has the capacity (and competency!) to wear both hats.

              I don't expect traditional management to grok this in my lifetime, because quite frankly they aren't equipped to understand the concept.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: I wonder why?

          "but if someone spoke to a member of my team in the manner described"

          What sport do you and your team play? Or are they a team as in horses?

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: I wonder why?

            What sport do you and your team play?

            Writing software for HF Algorithmic trading for a bank you have heard of, mostly. There's quite a lot of money on the line so every lesson is expensive, but regardless of the cost of a mistake, if you punish it instead of learning from it you're much more likely to have someone repeat it.

            If the person that screwed up is around to tell the story then everyone joining the team learns to avoid the error. Our team is all in the one boat - if we crash into the rocks everyone goes under but if we make it to port then we all get shore leave.

            Or are they a team as in horses?

            No, but they are led by a donkey.

        3. Mike Pellatt

          Re: I wonder why?

          People do their best work when they're supported by those above them in a hierarchy

          Indeed. But the problem there is the hierarchical structure. In an effective collaborative environment, one person can have a good old rant about what someone else has done, and as there's good peer relationships, the problem gets resolved and everyone moves on to the next challenge.

          It's a (long) while since I even looked at the kernel dev process, but despite an initial appearance from the outside of it being a pyramid with Linus at the top, that wasn't how it worked.

          Though quite how systemd got its claws in remains.a mystery to me. Unless RedHat have gone to the dark side......

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: I wonder why?

            "Though quite how systemd got its claws in remains.a mystery to me."

            Let's be perfectly clear here ... we are talking about the kernel. The systemd cancer is not now, and never will be, a part of the kernel. There is absolutely no need to run the systemd cancer on a Linux system, not now and not into the future.

            "Unless RedHat have gone to the dark side......"

            Well, yes. They have ... just how long was your last nap, anyway?

            1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

              Re: I wonder why?

              Will never be? After Torvalds steps aside, just give it a few years and watch them do it.

              It's already time to choose from one of the BSDs.

              1. Len Silver badge
                Devil

                Re: I wonder why?

                Come to FreeBSD, the water is lovely.

              2. jake Silver badge

                Re: I wonder why?

                I seriously doubt the folks who will take over after Linus gets hit by a bus will be in any hurry to include anything anything to do with the systemd cancer in the kernel. Nothing that it does belongs in there. There are many reasons why init is separate from the kernel, and nothing they can add to the systemd cancer will ever change that.

                With that said, I strongly suggest that anybody already using Linux and GNU FOSS solutions also look into the BSDs. All it will cost you is a little time ... and options are always good.

                1. Archtech Silver badge

                  Re: I wonder why?

                  A bus wouldn't hurt Linus. He knows how to program them.

              3. The Specialist

                Re: I wonder why?

                Yes, I recently jumped in that pool (again) - now that I do get to work from home a lot longer than initially planned.

                I am using OpenBSD for servers facing the enemy and FreeBSD for the rest.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I wonder why?

              How long was my last nap? Well fuck you too Jake. Fuck you and fuck off while you're doing it.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020