Torvalds rebukes desktop critics
Specialised desktop development out of the question.
By Matthew Broersma | Techworld | Published: 15:58, 30 July 2007
Linus Torvalds, creator and maintainer of the Linux operating system kernel, has reacted angrily to suggestions that the kernel's development process is skewed in a way that prevents improvements on the desktop.
Torvalds was responding to criticism by programmer Con Kolivas, who had developed a patch designed to improve the performance of specific Linux desktop features.
Kolivas claimed in an interview that the kernel development process privileges enterprise-centric server features, while basic desktop features remain almost unusable.
In emails to Linux developers over the weekend, Torvalds argued that kernel developers are well aware of desktop performance issues because they generally use the platform on the desktop themselves.
"I've always considered the desktop to be the most important part. And I suspect that that actually is true for most kernel developers, because quite frankly, that's what 99 percent of them end up using," he wrote. "The whole argument about how kernel developers think that the desktop isn't important is totally made-up crap."
The real issue is that a highly specialised patch such as Kolivas' is doomed to failure because it ignores the bigger picture, Torvalds said.
"Most kernel developers realise that Linux is used in different places, on different machines, and with different loads," he wrote. "You cannot make everybody happy, but you can try to do as good a job as possible. And doing 'as good a job as possible' very much includes not focusing on any particular load."
Torvalds recently moved to address some desktop performance problems by replacing the scheduler component of the Linux kernel, but chose to use the CFS scheduler rather than Kolvias' SD scheduler.
He said the decision is not set in stone.
"It's not like we've come to the end of the road: the baseline has just improved," he wrote.