At the Linuxcon EU event this week, Linux creator Linus Torvalds sat down with his longtime friend, Intel’s Chief Linux and Open-Source technologist, Dirk Hohndel, to discuss the state of Linux.
When asked about security, Torvalds said that he would like to see even more automated testing as there are simply too many places for error in the kernel for humans to possibly check. That said, overall, in his view the kernel is doing reasonably well in security, though Torvalds remains a realist.
“Security people will always be unhappy,” Torvalds said.
On hardware, Torvalds made Hohndel wince by praising ARM broadly, noting that the rival to Intel’s architecture has been making huge strides. Torvalds said that he predicts 2016 will be the year of the ARM laptop.
“I don’t think my employer endorses that message, Hohndel said.
When it comes to attracting developers to the Linux kernel, Torvalds said he doesn’t see any challenge in finding people to contribute.
“It’s fairly easy but a bit scary to approach the kernel and do small patches,” Torvalds said. “I’m more worried about the next step and finding the people that go from trivial patches to being active maintainers.”
Torvalds added that the passionate developer who comes in to the kernel and then goes away is not really useful in the long run. What is useful in the long run are those willing to commit to seven days a week every week as a maintainer, which can be a stressful thing.
Team Approach for Some Linux Kernel Sub-Systems
One way where maintainership is getting easier though is in the team approach that some kernel sub-systems now have. With a team approach, an individual can take a break when needed.
Torvalds himself is a maintainer of the kernel as a whole, and a question that is repeatedly asked is, “What if Linus were to get hit by a bus?”
It’s a question that moved a tad closer to reality at the Linuxcon EU event in Dublin. Hohndel said he had to warn Torvalds while on route to his keynote to avoid being hit by a bus when he was crossing a street.
“Where I live there are no buses,” Torvalds said. “Here they’re coming from the wrong side of the road and they’re aiming for you.”