Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Jul 2007 15:16 UTC, submitted by danwarne
Linux "Con Kolivas is a prominent developer on the Linux kernel and strong proponent of Linux on the desktop. But recently, he left it all behind. Why? In this interview with APCMag.com, Con gives insightful answers exploring the nature of the hardware and software market, the problems the Linux kernel must overcome for the desktop, and why despite all this he's now left it all behind."
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Biggest problem with kernel development
by b3timmons on Tue 24th Jul 2007 15:51 UTC
b3timmons
Member since:
2006-08-26

To cut to the chase of the article, on the one hand, ego makes you compete; OTOH, ego can lead to bad answers by avoiding helpful cooperation. It naturally is at odds with friendliness. Indeed, Kolivas pegs ego as problem #1:

"If there is any one big problem with kernel development and Linux it is the complete disconnection of the development process from normal users. You know, the ones who constitute 99.9% of the Linux user base.

The Linux kernel mailing list is the way to communicate with the kernel developers. To put it mildly, the Linux kernel mailing list (lkml) is about as scary a communication forum as they come. Most people are absolutely terrified of mailing the list lest they get flamed for their inexperience, an inappropriate bug report, being stupid or whatever. And for the most part they're absolutely right. There is no friendly way to communicate normal users' issues that are kernel related. Yes of course the kernel developers are fun loving, happy-go-lucky friendly people. Just look at any interview with Linus and see how he views himself."

Edited 2007-07-24 15:53

Reply Score: 5

baadger Member since:
2006-08-29

I've mailed the kernel mailing list before with various boot failures I've had during a couple of -rc cycles and the responses I got were rather friendly.

The kernel mailing list is a list for *development*, for posting patches and discussing changes to code but as a tech savvy user (someone at least familiar with compiling the kernel) if you post enough information in a suitable manner you'll be welcomed.

Reply Parent Score: 5

flanque Member since:
2005-12-15

That's really at odds with my experience back when I was first learning about Linux. Granted, it was a Red Hat specific IRC channel, but even when learning the very basics I got abused to no end because I didn't "RTFM".

The only problem was that I didn't know how to access the man pages and being new searching for things on the Internet could be difficult when you don't know the specific key words to enter.

I think it's come a long way since then, but I am not at all surprised people get nailed for asking questions others take for granted as assumed knowledge.

Reply Parent Score: 3

jessta Member since:
2005-08-17

Kernel developers don't need direct communication with normal users. All this will do is waste the time of the kernel developers.

The linux distribution developers are the ones that should be dealing with the users and passing bugs upstream if they are relevant.

Reply Parent Score: 5

cyclops Member since:
2006-03-12

I'm not sure I agree that bug reports should come from Distributions only. The kernel is already heavily isolated from its users.

But I do agree that a mechanism needs to be in place that filters *timewasting* posts, although to be fair scaring the users witless actually sounds a good mechanism.

The point is Linux developers isolate themselves from GNU users. I actually don't believe this is true for *all* developers, but with the exception of Thomas Winischhofer http://www.winischhofer.eu/linuxsisvga.shtml I cannot think of a another developer that that has an open *forum* for his driver, although I'm sure there must be some...but then I think Linux has little to do with Desktop users anyway.

Reply Parent Score: 5