Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 22nd Sep 2009 15:34 UTC, submitted by google_ninja
Linux During the roundtable discussion at LinuxCon this year, Linus Torvalds made some pretty harsh remarks about the current state of the Linux kernel, calling it "huge and bloated", and that there is no plan in sight to solve the problem. At the same time, he also explained that he is very happy with the current development process of the kernel, and that his job has become much easier.
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by strcpy on Tue 22nd Sep 2009 16:37 UTC
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A good, reasonable, and honest comment from the lead developer. Hopefully a good place for self-reflection and evaluation of the project in itself.

In my opinion, the difficult things are related to such questions as how reasonable and sustainable it is in the long-term to try support every conceivable device? Why all device drivers are in one project to begin with? Are the userland-drivers really a dead-end (cf. Xorg)? How much old device drivers are actually deprecated?

The word "bloat" has many faces.

How sustainable it is to try to shove everything into the kernel? How does it affect maintainability, one central criteria of quality software engineering?

Even better: how much extra work is required to maintain and refactor such amount of kernel code? How does it affect the stability of kernel APIs/ABIs (or the lack thereof)?

How does it affect complexity (certainly one of the most dangerous side-effects of "bloat")? How many dark corners there are in that large amount of kernel code? How does the amount of code correlate with the amount of bugs? How does it affect such activities as code reading, analyzing code, and understanding the kernel?

Does it make the kernel less robust? (No, according to Linus.)

How serious is the effect of "bloat" to kernel security?

Et. cetera.

Make no mistakes: so far the Linux kernel developers have done amazing job in keeping this huge amount of code under control.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Bloat
by CrLf on Tue 22nd Sep 2009 22:45 in reply to "Bloat"
CrLf Member since:

Why all device drivers are in one project to begin with?

Why? First of all, to keep them all current despite changes in the kernel.

There are tons of drivers in the kernel that have had no maintainer worthy of that name for ages. Yet, they still work today. This possible only because anyone that changes the kernel in such a way that drivers are affected is responsible to change them accordingly.

This is why you can still have ReiserFS 3 filesystems even though the internal filesystem workings of the kernel have changed a bit and the original developers have long since completely abandoned it (around the time Reiser 4 started).

Reply Parent Score: 2