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Torvalds rebukes desktop critics

Specialised desktop development out of the question.

Article comments

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.


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zajelo3 said: If you read how everything happened on the LKML it seems that Linus main concern was using the patchset he knew would be maintained properly by a stable maintainer Kolivas kind of proved Linus right by quitting His patches will be sorely missed Him quitting didnt hurt Linus Im sure but it sure will hurt all of us desktop users in the long run

dgray said: I believe that Linus does understand Linux leadership especially in regards to the GPLv3 The biggest problem in Linux desktop adoption is the GUI programmers KDE Gnome fluxbox compiz-fusion xfce etc to be honest how different are their common goals - not that fundamentally different The linux desktop would be alot more complete if they werent all busy reinventing the wheelAs far a cons patchet I loved it I wish more kernel devs paid as much attention to the desktop as he did

MattD said: I have to agree with Billy though his comments are a bit harsh There are some great things happening in the Linux world Dell Acer and Lenovo selling Linux is one of the major Linux stories this yearWhat Linux needs now are leaders looking to take Linux over the next hurdle adoptionTorvalds is not that man He really should keep his mouth shut He should stop playing the role of a petulant teenager quick to blast other people in the FOSS world Hes attacks on the GPL 3 FOSS leaders alternative kernels mimic those of trolls His no comments on competitors who are always looking for ways to destroy Linux makes me question his motivationsHe does a soft-dance when Microsoft accuses him and his team of thievery piracy and other illegal-patent infringing acts but is far too quick to attack those who are genuinely trying to move Linux forwardWith leadership comes responsibility which is something the self-centered Torvalds does not understand

snakeeyes said: hey billy do know what your talking aboutwho do want to replace mr linus youwhat do you know about kernelhaaaaai think all you know is to insult the person and to be famous with that attitudeits that right

Billy said: Linus Torvalds is an idiot His mis-management of the operating system from day one is pathetic By definition an OS requires management and rules for all the sub-layers Torvalds should be ignored along with his lame comments towards his critics Hes nothing but a kernel programmer hiding in his cubicle When Linux needed leadership he went into hiding Take Operating Systems 101 for the facts

Wayne said: The egos go both ways and stifle advancement for the desktop crowd Sure the money is in the server section but people want decent desktop performance too Its no where near as good as it is with Windows A lot of us was hoping that by now Linux would be a force to be reckoned with against Windows but the egos on both sides and the greed has pushed it away from the desktop It competes in the server section but what about the millions of desktop people out there Con is the only one so far that seemed to be on our side and tried to help and he got blasted and people in charge thumbed their noses at him and usCon has a lot of valid points Because those points differed from the direction the main developers seem to be taking Linux he got blasted They are too concerned with the server side that the desktop side is suffering At least Con tried to help there More than can be said for the others

Wayne said: If Cons patches are questionable then why havent the other main developers not tried to take his code and make it work to where it would be right for both sides Greed and egos and the lack of concern for the desktop people Thats why The desktop side isnt important to them and they dont like someone trying to help

Mallik said: Con Kolivas is known for high performance patchesBut the problem is that it leaves some part of the job to risk Cons patches are good for 95 of the cases BUUUUUT He leaves 5 to chance That is risk Introducing such a thing into something as important as the kernel would simply mean disatersAlso RememberCFS is actually SD concept with some differenesCon is a very good developer The kernel people do not want to leave anything to chance in the kernel They want the kernel to act in a more predictable way and not leave anyhting to chance

TDDPirate said: I do not understand why is it impossible to have multiple scheduler modules in the kernel The user can choose the desired active scheduler module at boot up time or even replace it at runtimeWhen you want to play games use one scheduler When you need to edit files use another scheduler When you leave a long job with heavy IO to run during the night have the PC switch to a third schedulerDo we need to switch to Hurd for this kind of functionality

Frank said: Benchmarks that Ive seen I think from the CFS author Ingo Molnar show that CFS generally does a better job than SD although I dont think the SD tested against had CKs patches in it In any case the CFS scheduler has numbers that make it look very good

databoy said: The trouble with Linux is that there are too many kitchen hands trying to be a head chef Someone has to make the hard decisions Let the head chef do the job that is his job As the saying goes no one is holding a gun to your head if you dont like the recipe you can always adjust it for your personal taste

The Damned said: Nothing to get fried up Torvalds He is your buddy He was only trying to make things better

SuperSparky said: I see all too often programmers some brilliant ones even with gigantic egos that think their fix is the answer to all problems lost will everyone be without it and the rest are idiots if they dont think the same thing Kolvias just cant accept the fact his patch isnt the end-all-be-all of kernel schedulersI have found by experience that one drastic change here suddenly affects other code and its behavior in a multitude of other places usually breaking them You never know the drastic code may be the norm in the end but the rest has to be able to behave with it and thats what the baseline means Linus isnt stubborn nor stupid He has experience to govern his decisions

Julian said: The Linux kernel source offers a big code-base from which different Linux distributions roll their own kernels You wouldnt want an Ubuntu 704 Desktop Edition kernel running on your mainframe Of course not and nor would you want it running on your Motorola phone the kernel shipping with Ubuntu 704 is an amazing performer on the desktop It would completely suck on the phone Nonetheless Linus is right - you have to provide a best case base kernel from which others can customise for their distributions taking into consideration maintenance of the kerrnel as a whole in the long term Linus has to make hard decisions Hes a benevolent dictator If enough people dont like his decisions or stop trusting him wholesale then theyll fork the kernel No big deal

b4upoo said: I think the Linux Desktop is just fine on numerous distros

Sheik Yerbouti said: I dont understand why there has to be a jack of all trades kernel master of none It would seem to me the whole makeup of the kernel devs and the kernel would allow at least two general optimized kernels one for desktops and one for servers Why dont they take cKs patch set and make that a desktop kernel Why not

John F said: Ive read the article by Con Kolivas and while I respect his contributions to the linux community I have to disagree with his assessment The linux kernel may be architected in a manner better suited as a server but it certainly meets all my needs as a desktop OS I run Ubuntu Feisty with Beryl composite window manager for all the eye candy and have a huge assortement of applications from developement tools to multimedia apps that all run great The only thing I need for this system is an accelleration couch like the NASA astronauts have so I dont end up with whiplash

fanfi said: Linux is definitely playing a catch up game for the desktopEverybody knows itLet be realisticthe money in is the server businessThose past few months Linux has evolved quite a bit on the desktopKeep up the fightThe light is getting brighter

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