I'm not sure where you get the statistic that the 2.4 kernel was not interesting to 90% of the users. I'd be very surprised if that were true.
Furthermore, I don't believe that the 2.6 kernel makes life easier for vendors. Preventing API fragmentation is a good goal, but that can be met by having shorter development cycles. But by shorter development cycles I don't mean 2.6.x to 2.6.x+1. Each 2.6 kernel is "unstable", as in, untested. You claim I didn't read the article but you got the point backards: all of the 2.6 kernels are untested and thus are exactly like 2.5 kernels. Except that with bitkeeper we can better manage the changes and make sure that each release is somewhat working. But nothing about the kernel dev process changes the fact that users want working kernels, not experimental kernels.
As to your comment that the 2.8.0 kernel would be unstable, because nobody tested 2.7.99, you're right. That's exactly what I'd expect, except for this: The kernel developers should declare a feature freeze, and then a code freeze, before releasing 2.7.99. 2.7.99 should contain fixes for bugs found in previous 2.7 kernels. 2.7.99 can be announced to the world, to distro-makers, to app developers, to anyone. And then, once bugs stop being found, it can be released as 2.8.0. This is the QA process that many software companies follow. Open-source companies also follow this process; this is exactly what KDE does. Will this catch all bugs? of course not. But if there was a real effort to make a release candidate that was actually suitable for release, people might test it. Especially if it offers features that the so-called obsolete 2.6 offers.
How can we offer QA, and real release candidates, and stable kernels, while still preventing obsolescence and API fragmentation? Have shorter release cycles. The Gnome project releases every 6 months. I'm sure the kernel team could come up with something reasonable along these lines.
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