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On the scalability of Linus

On the scalability of Linus

Posted Jul 3, 2010 19:34 UTC (Sat) by PO8 (guest, #41661)
In reply to: On the scalability of Linus by agrover
Parent article: On the scalability of Linus

You're more than likely right.

I guess my concern is about one of two possibilities; either that the usual flamage at the first big architectural decision would get resolved in some highly unsatisfactory way, or that there would never be a first big architectural decision for lack of sufficient consensus. I think most of the UNIXes I've seen have fallen to one of these two perils sooner or later. My belief is that Linus both through his solid control and through his engineering skill has been the biggest reason for Linux avoiding this so far.

It's probably just my academic SE background and lack of faith in the wonders of open source showing, but a contingency plan where "somebody will step up with something" makes me a teeny bit nervous.


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On the scalability of Linus

Posted Jul 3, 2010 21:53 UTC (Sat) by lmb (subscriber, #39048) [Link]

The point is that nobody needs to step up. One can just use the tree one personally prefers - right now, the normative point is Linus, but it could just as well be someone else maintaining it.

If Linus went away, at least all the distributors would immediately start merging from the respective subsystem maintainers themselves - and over time, a new gold standard is likely to emerge, either from them or the community. Greg? Andrew?

Who knows, but the point is that Linux has a very distributed development model with no single choke point in it; the centralization is merely convenient for all, not required.

On the scalability of Linus

Posted Jul 4, 2010 4:49 UTC (Sun) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

Well... I know that I don't use Linus's tree on my distro. I don't use it when I am using Redhat and I don't use it when I am using Debian.

The various distributions already have taken over maintainership of their own respective kernels and have done so for a long time.

On the scalability of Linus

Posted Jul 4, 2010 20:38 UTC (Sun) by vonbrand (guest, #4458) [Link]

That isn't so. Red Hat for one used to ship extensively patched kernels, they don't do so anymore (the burden is just too high). OTOH, they do have capable people who could take over (together with the other kernel hackers, obviously) if the need should arise.

On the scalability of Linus

Posted Jul 5, 2010 10:05 UTC (Mon) by sjh (guest, #48103) [Link]

That is not entirely true. Red Hat does not ship patches that are not accepted upstream, but they do ship heavily patched kernels. I don't think Linus is still releasing 2.6.18, yet Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 keeps growing new kernel based features (KVM being a notable example).

This has two good things. First, it increases the quality of the patches that Red Hat applies to the kernels it ships. Second, it means that Red Hat does not have to rebase all of those patches whenever they ship the next major release (RHEL6).

On the scalability of Linus

Posted Jul 8, 2010 13:31 UTC (Thu) by BenHutchings (subscriber, #37955) [Link]

That is not entirely true. Red Hat does not ship patches that are not accepted upstream,

They sometimes claim this, but it is not actually true. I have occasionally dug a bug fix out of RHEL 5 and sent it upstream.

but they do ship heavily patched kernels. I don't think Linus is still releasing 2.6.18, yet Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 keeps growing new kernel based features (KVM being a notable example).

This has two good things. First, it increases the quality of the patches that Red Hat applies to the kernels it ships.

Still, they are backporting so far that there is plenty of opportunity to miss subtle semantic dependencies. For example, RHEL 5.4 added GRO but not the change to make TCP delayed-ACK work correctly with LRO or GRO.


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