Sunday, April 21, 2024

Torvalds: Linux is “Huge and Bloated”

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As the Linux kernel is becoming increasingly larger and more complex, Linux founder Linus Torvalds says his job is getting easier. Speaking on a panel at the LinuxCon conference, Torvalds told the audience that kernel development model is working better now than ever.

But Torvalds added that there are still areas for improvement and provided a very pointed comment about the current size of the Linux kernel.

“We’re getting bloated, yes it’s a problem,” Torvalds said. “I’d love to say we have a plan. I mean, sometimes it’s a bit sad and we’re definitely not the streamlined hyper-efficient kernel that I had envisioned 15 years ago. The kernel is huge and bloated.”

He added that whenever the kernel adds a new feature the problem gets worse. That said, he didn’t think that features are being added too fast and said that developers are finding bugs quickly.

According to a recent report from the Linux Foundation, the development of the Linux kernel is speeding up and more people are contributing to development.

Overall, Torvalds said he is happy with the current Linux development process and commented that his biggest issue now is how much easier his job has become in recent months.

“The one feature that is most important to me is how the development model seems to be working and it’s working better than it did even six months ago, where I beat up a lot of people over how they did things because it made it more difficult for me,” Torvalds said. “It took a while but they seem to have all gotten it.”

Torvalds added that when contributors make it easier for him, it makes it easier for the code to get into the kernel itself. The reduced kernel management issues have also enabled Torvalds to do other Linux kernel related activities.

“I don’t spend all my time just hating people for sending me merge request that are hard to merge,” Torvalds said. “For me, I need to have a happy feeling inside that I know what I’m merging. Whether it works or not another issue is a different issue.”

For Torvalds, he said that he wanted to know that he was merging code that people actually want to have. He needs to have the explanations about what the code is doing in order to get happy feeling. Now that he has that feeling, he added that he is actually able to do some coding, though not a lot. Torvalds said he currently does approximately two code commits a week.

Torvalds’ Motivation

During the panel session, Torvalds was asked by a member of the audience if his motivation for working on Linux has changed over the years. Torvalds responded that indeed his motivation has changed a lot over the years.

“It started out being all about the technology and really twiddling with the hardware and just learning and doing something cool in my basement … well, it wasn’t my basement at the time it was my mother’s basement,” Torvalds said. “Eventually it became somewhat about the community and the fame. Hey, that was great.”

Torvalds added that these days his motivation is all about the community. He noted that he defined the community, as being all about working and collaborating together with people.

“I really enjoy arguing, it’s a big part of my life are these occasional flame threads that I love getting into and telling people they are idiots,” Torvalds said. “All my technical problems were solved so long ago, that I don’t even care. I don’t do it for my own needs on my machine, I do it because it’s interesting and I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.”

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