Tag: Torvalds

Linus Torvalds rejects calls to be nice

torvaldsThe creator of Linux,  Linus Torvalds, has been explaining his comments to a New Zealand conference about having to be nice.

Torvalds shocked the conference when he fielded  a question from Nebula One developer Matthew Garrett that accused Torvalds of having an abrasive tone in the Linux kernel mailing list. “Some people think I’m nice and are shocked when they find out different,” Torvalds said in response. “I’m not a nice person, and I don’t care about you. I care about the technology and the kernel—that’s what’s important to me.”

Apparently this was deeply shocking as apparently open sourcers secretly believed that Torvalds really loved them and they were heart broken.

Torvalds sent a lengthy statement to Ars Technica  responding to statements he made in Auckland, New Zealand earlier that day about diversity and “niceness” in the open source sector.

“What I wanted to say [at the keynote]—and clearly must have done very badly—is that one of the great things about open source is exactly the fact that different people are so different,” Torvalds wrote via e-mail.

“I think people sometimes look at it as being just ‘programmers,’ which is not true. It’s about all the people who are more oriented toward commercial things, too. It’s about all those people who are interested in legal issues—and the social ones, too!”

Torvalds then seems to have made matters worse by daring to point out that Open Source is not a religion and you don’t need to have faith.

“‘Open source’ as a term and as a movement hasn’t been about ‘you have to be a believer.. It’s not a religion. It’s not an ‘us vs them’ thing. We’ve been able to work with all those ‘evil commercial interests’ and companies who also do proprietary software. And I think that was one of the things that the Linux community (and others—don’t get me wrong, it’s not unique to us) did and does well,” he said.

He sent a second e-mail to Ars about the topic of “niceness”.

“I don’t know where you happen to be based, but this ‘you have to be nice’ seems to be very popular in the US,” Torvalds continued, calling the concept an “ideology.”

Torvalds lambasted the “brainstorming” model of having a criticism-free bubble to bounce ideas around.

“Maybe it works for some people, but I happen to simply not believe in it… I’d rather be really confrontational, and bad ideas should be [taken] down aggressively. Even good ideas need to be vigorously defended.”

He admitted that maybe it was just because he liked arguing and was not a huge believer in politeness and sensitivity being preferable over bluntly letting people know your feelings.

“I understand that other people are driven away by cursing and crass language when it all gets a bit too carried away.” But he thinks that the open source movement might simply need more “people who are good at mediating rather than just asking developers to calm their own tone or attitude.

Linus rubbishes parallel computing

torvaldsThe creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds has discretely muttered that he does not think that the world of parallel computing is much chop.

In his typically understated way, he hinted that parallelism was “snake oil” and that a huge body of ideas related to that flavour of computing was “garbage”,

“The whole “let’s parallelise” thing is a huge waste of everybody’s time. There is this huge body of “knowledge” that parallel is somehow more efficient, and that whole huge body is pure and utter garbage. Big caches are efficient. Parallel stupid small cores without caches are horrible unless you have a very specific load that is hugely regular,” Torvalds said.

He said that people want mobility, so “the crazies talking about scaling to hundreds of cores are just that – crazy. Why give them an ounce of credibility?”

Torvalds said that the only place where parallelism matters is in graphics or on the server side, where we already largely have it. Pushing it anywhere else is just pointless.

“End users are fine with roughly on the order of four cores, and you can’t fit any more anyway without using too much energy to be practical in that space. And nobody sane would make the cores smaller and weaker in order to fit more of them – the only reason to make them smaller and weaker is because you want to go even further down in power use, so you’d still not have lots of those weak cores,” Torvalds said.

Just in case you missed his subtle point he added: “Give it up. The whole “parallel computing is the future” is a bunch of crock.”

Needless to say there was a controlled and not-at-all-holiday-tipple-fuelled debate about this statement on various news groups. Most of it was about the language Torvalds used – and not just the swear words. The wonderful world of parallelisation is so complex that there are many words to describe different aspects about what it actually means and if you use the wrong ones then the grammar pedants will tear you to bits.

Generally though the feeling about Torvalds’s comments was that the it was not that parallelism which was to blame.  In theory it should all be wonderful.  But the software running it is still not up to snuff.


Torvalds still dreams of desktop Linux

torvaldsLinus Torvalds told his open saucy mates at  LinuxCon that he still wanted to see Linux running on the desktop.

Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman moderated the discussion and commented that Linux already runs everywhere, but asked Torvalds where he thinks Linux should go next.

According to eWeek Torvalds replied that he wanted to see it on the desktop. However, that was not really a kernel problem but an infrastructure one. He said that he thought that Linux will get there one day.

While this was more in the future, Torvalds said that one of Linux’s biggest problems was kernel code bloat was also addressed as Linux is now being run in small-form-factor embedded devices.

Torvalds said he’d love for Linux to shrink in size “We’ve been bloating the kernel over the last 20 years, but hardware has grown faster,” he said.

One of the big successes for Linux on small-form-factor devices in recent years has been the rise of the Raspberry Pi device; the mini-computer, he said.

Linux was also being held back by the fact that some Linux kernel code has only a single maintainer and that can mean trouble when that maintainer wants to take time off.  He said that at good setup that is now used by the x86 maintainers is to have multiple people maintaining the code.

He added that things have improved with ARM as a result of using multiple maintainers.  In the bad old days when Torvalds used to do ARM merges, he wanted to shoot himself and take a few ARM developers with him.

“It’s now much less painful and ARM developers are picking up the approach.”


Linus Torvalds wades into the GCC 4.9.0 compiler

torvaldsAn Open Source compiler has been blasted by Linus Torvalds as being ‘pure and utter s***’ and ‘terminally broken’ after a random panic was discovered in a load balance function in Linux 3.16-rc6.

GCC was designed by Open Source Pope Richard Stallman to provide a free software compiler for open saucy projects. It has been through many different incarnations and the latest hit the streets earlier this month.

The new version has upset the King of Linux, Linus Torvalds, after it appeared to break the 3.16-rc kernel. Torvalds did not mince his words at his disgust describing the compiler as retarded as a sloth that was dropped on the head as a baby.

In a rant which is vaguely like a John Cleese parrot sketch  Torvalds said that: “Lookie here, your compiler does some absolutely insane things with the spilling, including spilling a constant. For chrissake, that compiler shouldn’t have been allowed to graduate from kindergarten. We’re talking “sloth that was dropped on the head as a baby” level retardation levels.”

Torvalds said there is no way that the problem is within his kernel, and claims that the compiler is creating broken code while also warning that those testing the kernel shouldn’t compile it with gcc-4.9.0.

He said that the problem is in the latest version, because the compiler was reliable until now.