Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Tom Lounibos, Dana Gardner, Mike Kavis, Sematext Blog, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Linus tries to make himself scale

Some kernel developers ask how Linus Torvalds can continue as its lead developer

Now back to the notion of a "Patch Penguin," that is, someone dedicated to tracking all the patches submitted to Torvalds and making sure none of them get dropped inadvertantly. This ties directly to the VM problem because patches submitted by van Riel for his VM code were simply ignored by Torvalds, and these patches could have prevented many of the VM problems seen in the earlier versions of the 2.4 kernel. And in spite of a "healing" of the rift between Torvalds and Cox which has been reported in the press, there are recent signs that Cox is unhappier than ever.

Granted, you need a very thick skin to participate for long on the Linux kernel mailing list, and Alan Cox is not known for pussyfooting around controversial issues, but even in that context Cox has scared some people on the list with a few recent comments. Things like this snippet taken from a post Cox made to the list: "If you want something in 2.5 don't bug me. I simply don't care."

Torvalds has spoken in the past of the evolutionary nature of the development of Linux. For the first time -- at least the first time that I am aware of -- major figures in both the Linux kernel developer community and in the greater circle of open source/free software are openly speaking of rebellion. However, not everyone is confident that Linux can survive and thrive without its creator and lead architect at the helm.

I asked Cox how he saw Torvalds' regime being "overthrown," and whether he thought the new regime would be a simple replacement of Linus or something new altogether. He replied:

A simple replacement of Linus has the same problems the original did, coupled with probably having poorer taste and less people skills. Short term I suspect we'll have a shouting match, everyone will then go back to doing things roughly the same way but modified a bit by what they learned.

In time if Linus can't keep up something that can will form of its own accord and everyone will begin using it. egcs wasn't exactly an overthrow it was a bunch of people doing extra stuff. It won, and became gcc 3. If that was to happen with 2.5 I guess 2.5-dj would become the defacto tree, if it had happened in 2.4 2.4-ac would have become that tree.

Since then, Torvalds has announced that he is making some changes to the way he works and is testing a new tool to help him handle the patch load: a proprietary package called Bitkeeper. The first week of use, Torvalds has said, has slowed him down, which is definitely not the desired goal. But he is going to continue beating on Bitkeeper, and this bodes well for the future of Linux. Not because of the software, but because it shows Torvalds is willing to listen to the Linux developer community. A better way to handle the ever-increasing number of patches to an ever-more-complex kernel simply has to be found.

Is Torvalds now out of the woods? Hardly. I queried Bruce Perens for his thoughts on the "dropped patches" and if he thought the use of Bitkeeper was a step in the right direction. Perens replied:

Linus has been working on the kernel for 11 years now. It's time for a _long_ vacation. People burn out on projects. How could he not be burned out after this long? But I think the main criticism is directed to Linus' style of work, which was great when Linux was small. It does need to change, and source control is part of that. Just not this particular source control tool.

I think it's tragic that just as Arch goes 1.0 and is introduced to the world, Linus moves the kernel tree into Bitkeeper, but the reality is that Arch needs a bit more testing before it should host that big a project. It would be nice if they would move the work to Arch later on.

Eric (he of the parabolic voice) Raymond chimed in on the kernel mailing list as well. Raymond has lots of experience with having his patches dropped. 33 consecutive times, as a matter of fact, with his submission of documentation for configure.help. Raymond pointed out to Rob Landley, and the rest of the kernel mailing list, that "All movements founded by charismatic leaders like Linus eventually hit this same wall -- the point at which the charisma of the founder and the individual ability of the disciples he personally attracts are no longer adequate to meet the challenges of success, and some way to institutionalize and distribute the leader's role has to be found. Movements that fail to make this transition die, generally by implosion or fragmenting into feuding sub-sects."

Is Torvalds concerned about Cox's observations on the list that many of the maintainers are avoiding the 2.5 tree? Not a bit. When I asked if it were true that his development tree is being ignored by most maintainers/developers, he said:

Well, no. But you do have to realize that there are developers and there are developers. Some of the stuff going on in 2.5.x, and in particular the upheaval as a result of all the block device cleanups, means that the people who have a specific area and want _that_ code to be stable, tend to work on 2.4.x.

So in 2.5.x, there's lots of filesystem work, block device work, the USB-2.0 stuff, the new scheduler, and things like that. At the same time, people who work on the VM, for example, do not want to get bitten by unrelated changes in the 2.5.x tree, so the VM work and many of the low-level drivers are maintained largely on top of the 2.4.x tree.

Think of it this way: 2.5.x (like most early development trees) is where the upheaval happens. Things like the new device management stuff simply doesn't even _exist_ in the 2.4.x tree, and probably never will even get backported. And it will take some time before 2.5.x calms down in some areas, which means that people who don't care about the upheaval areas are definitely better off holding back.

My own rather inconsequential opinion is that things are going along pretty much as they should, but with an abnormally high fear-factor at present. I agree with Alan Cox's assessment that a new leadership would mean a downturn in "taste" and people-skills. My greatest admiration of Torvalds has always been for his ability to lead the hard-headed, highly intelligent, highly egotistical group of social outliers that make up the bulk of the community of Linux hackers from one release to the next. The problem is that it may tax even his great skills to successfully reduce the current uproar to a loud and healthy level of discontent, and continue the incredible voyage that is Linux development.

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.