Posted Jan 26, 2012 5:37 UTC (Thu) by jmorris42 (subscriber, #2203)
Parent article: An LCA 2012 summary
One not so obvious cost of bloat is that Linux isn't any more usable on last years hardware than the commercial competition. Run a thought experiment.
Imagine that Linux, from the kernel to the desktop had made size and performance important, such that it could run a modern looking desktop in half the ram and at half the CPU usage. A couple of years ago there was a brief moment when Linux was actually shipping on netbooks. Imagine that this smaller and faster Linux had shipped on those machines and that, since a key design goal of the original netbook was low cost, the products were down scaled to match. Say 500Mhz and 256MB ram. Now imagine trying to shoehorn Windows XP on those, even if Microsoft was essentially giving it away.
Now imagine resource usage low enough that the netbook revolution could have been launched a couple of years before ASUS partnered with Intel but on REALLY low spec units on the scale of the WinCE mini laptops of that era.
Can anyone fault Google for dumping all of the GNU/X userspace for android and just keeping the Linux kernel? The first Google phone had 128MB of ram (after DSP/GPU overhead), imagine them trying to showhorn gtk, alsa, a few *kits in that... oh wait, Maemo did it so we don't have to imagine. Just picture a phone as slow as an N770. That would have been a iPhone killer fer sure!
Again, imagine we had cared about performance before the mad rush to own phones and tablets. We would now own that space. But developers write for developers hardware.