Home > Linux > Torvalds on Where Linux Is Headed in 2008 Torvalds on Where Linux Is Headed in 2008 Eugenia Loli 2007-11-26 Linux 90 Comments The creator of Linux is excited about solid-state drives, expects progress in graphics and wireless networking, and says the operating system is strong in virtualization despite his personal lack of interest in the area. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 90 Comments 2007-11-26 10:49 am Karitku I found whole interview really stupid, they asked 4 questions and 3 of them was about Microsoft. Whole thing went down in first question where Torvalds said that he doesn’t use Microsoft products, sigh why then bother asking other 2. I was so hoping reading good conversation on how Torvalds sees future of, not only Linux kernel, but generally on computer world. Too bad this is another episode of trash journalism. 2007-11-26 11:31 am WereCatf I too am really disappointed by this “interview”. Why oh why do they _always_ have to ask things about Microsoft from Linus?? Can’t they just for once leave Microsoft out of the question and ask some interesting and serious questions? Arrrgh! Please, someone do a _good_ interview, pretty please..? :O 2007-11-26 11:46 am raver31 No, they must ask and compare. There are countless millions of people who think “The Computer” is Microsoft… There are many more who think Linux=Linus 2007-11-26 12:36 pm Soulbender No, they must ask and compare. No they don’t. He has answered these questions countless of times, there’s no need to do it again. There are countless millions of people who think “The Computer” is Microsoft… None of those people will read this interview. 2007-11-26 1:14 pm autumnlover Well, “The Computer” IS Microsoft if you like it or not. For example here are latest statistics from my country (Poland). According to them currently about 0,5 % of PC is being connected to the Internet using Linux: Windows XP 90.8% Windows Vista 3.8% Windows 98 2.3% Windows 2000 1.7% Linux 0.5% MacOS X 0.2% Source: http://www.ranking.pl/index.php?page=Ranks:RanksPage&stat=21|OW As you can see there are still almost four times more Win2000 desktops connected to the Internet, than Linux machines. And all that is happening in Europe, where awareness of open source is much more widespread compared to US. (see statistics of Firefox adoption) 2007-11-26 2:37 pm fsckit Dude that site is in some funky weird language. They could be comparing percentage of virus-infected boxes for all I know. 2007-11-26 3:01 pm autumnlover Dude that site is in some funky weird language. Of course 😉 but names of the OSes and percentage of usage is quite easy to understand. That country is Poland, central Europe, member of European Union since 2004. 2007-11-26 3:08 pm autumnlover (“edit” is not shown, I do not know why) ps. here is english version of the same page: http://www.en.ranking.pl/index.php?page=Ranks:RanksPage&stat=21|OW (is someone did not noticedthat british-flag-icon on the upper right) 2007-11-26 10:38 pm archiesteel From the page: “Operating systems used by Internet users from Poland who visit Polish web sites. The ranking is calculated on the basis of page views.” That in itself is enough to tell you that the numbers can’t possibly be accurate. You should not use this page as a reliable indication of OS market share. In reality, it’s probably closer to the estimated world average of 2-3%. 2007-11-26 5:31 pm Lettherebemorelight As you can see there are still almost four times more Win2000 desktops connected to the Internet, than Linux machines. I think you might be overstating what this means. They are counting page views by OS. It looks like this just represents a breakdown of their own viewers rather than the whole country of Poland, much less the entire continent of Europe. 2007-11-26 6:16 pm autumnlover It looks like this just represents a breakdown of their own viewers To quote them: “The basis of the knowledge is data coming from gemiusTraffic – a research study designed to analyze Internet traffic on websites.” I do not know if I understand your suggestion right – but those result are NOT just for their (ranking.pl) own website. “Gemius” is a online research agency http://www.gemius.pl/pl/about_company (in english!) So – since results are more or less similar in all other countries – Mr. Torvalds do not have – in my opinion – many reasons to cherish. Linux is great thing in general view, but Windows still ruling the desktop and home PC world. Since release of Vista I wonder how Vista’s bad design and some of its “features” will influence into Linux desktop and home adoption and after almost a year it seems that people just stick to XP and are very reluctant to move from XP to Vista, nothing more, nothing less. 2007-11-26 10:45 pm archiesteel You *cannot* use these types of methodologies to get accurate market share numbers. There are quite a few reasons for this: – Browser User Agent masquerading/no browser User Agent (which is the default in KDE, i.e. KDE users usually don’t register as Linux users at all) – Higher concentration of Broadband users among Linux (narrow-band users change IP addresses more often, making them appear as more than one user in such surveys) – Web site selection: it only takes a few more Windows-centric sites in their sample to unacceptably skew the results There are other things to consider (such as AOL users registering as multiple users), but these three alone are enough to strongly underrepresent Linux and other alternative OSes. You should therefore stop basing your arguments on figures that cannot by definition be accurate, as it underminds your whole position. The generally accepted market share figures for Linux worldwide are between 2 and 3 percent (compared to 3 to 5 percent for OS X). Of course, Windows still rules the desktop, but that doesn’t meant that alternative OS use is not increasing. 2007-11-26 6:35 pm StephenBeDoper Well, “The Computer” IS Microsoft if you like it or not. Statistics are useful for many things, but they don’t support that sort of sweeping, absolute conclusion. You might as well argue that Earth has no landmasses (since the majority of its surface is water), or that there are no spoken languages other than Chinese (since it’s spoken by the majority of human beings). 2007-11-26 8:46 pm battlehorse Statistics are useful for many things, but they don’t support that sort of sweeping, absolute conclusion. You might as well argue that … there are no spoken languages other than Chinese But such conclusions are the ones that drive the market. If you were an entrepreneur, at this moment you would probably be investing tons of money in China. For the same reason, if you have an IT shop, you’ll probably want to have some windows expertise since the vast majority of customers will request that. Obviously all this reasoning relies on the statistics being correct and relevant to the considerations you’re extrapolating from them. Everybody knows that there are market sectors where linux is dominant (so the stats are not relevant for that markets) and everybody knows how it’s difficult to get unbiased stats in operating system utilization by a large population. 2007-11-28 6:43 pm StephenBeDoper But such conclusions are the ones that drive the market. Practical realities drive the market. Those sorts of absolutist conclusions are oversimplifications of the practical realities, typically spouted by people who have a poor grasp of how to use language and/or marketing degrees (“AOL *is* the Internet – and much more!” – anyone remember that particular gem?). If you were an entrepreneur, at this moment you would probably be investing tons of money in China. I think you’re misunderstanding me. I readily acknowledge practical reality – it’s the silly bits of rhetoric like “Microsoft is the computer” that I discount, because they are (at best) misleading distortions of reality. For the same reason, if you have an IT shop, you’ll probably want to have some windows expertise since the vast majority of customers will request that. Which does, in fact, describe my circumstances – I’ll freely admit that the majority of the work we do which is OS-specific typically involves Windows. But if I were to believe that “Windows IS the computer” then, if nothing else, I would have lost out on a significant amount of income from working with Linux/Unix, OS X, BeOS, etc. 2007-11-26 6:48 pm raver31 dzien dobry autumnlover, I too love autumn in the planty in Krakov, or having a beer in the rynek in Tarnov, but, having spent a lot of time in Poland, but, most people I know there use Linux, and having a look around the magazine booths, there is more Linux magazines than Windows ones. There is more internet cafes using Windows though, and when I asked the guys who run them, they said that tourists know Windows…. I have a picture of vandalism on the main bridge over the Vistula with Tux and Linux spray painted onto the pavement. The Linux movement in Poland is massive, you cannot deny that, I have seen with my own eyes. Oh, and Pierogi z miencem is amazing 2007-11-27 1:22 pm autumnlover Oh, and Pierogi z miencem is amazing I like them too, especially with barszcz (see Wikipedia). Also, there is special variation of pierogi called uszka (“little ears”) also served with barszcz, and somehow smaller. Uszka stuffed with mushrooms instead of meat and served with barszcz are traditional Christmas Eve dinner course, and even being ateist and rationalist myself, I cannot imagine end of December without them 😉 2007-11-27 11:12 pm raver31 I find it a shame that people from my country think all Polish food is cabbage ! They miss the tastyness of globaki, (I know, UK keyboard), and one of my favourites, stuffed chicken livers from chlopski jadlo. 2007-11-26 10:35 pm archiesteel How did they manage to get those figures? I suspect browser user agent, which has been debunked time and time over here. In other words, I’m very doubtful about the validity of these statistics. Unless you can provide proof that their method doesn’t involve looking at browser User Agents, then these numbers are worthless. Sorry. In the meantime, you should stop basing your arguments on intrinsically inaccurate figures. For all we know, Linux (and/or OS X) usage could be up to 10x higher in Poland than these numbers suggest. 2007-11-27 2:48 am cfaak I maintain several web sites – on all these sites the Windows rates are now below 95% for all versions of Windows combined. (unique visitors per month) Two years ago the rate was around 98% so there has been a small drop. In Windows use over all. In fact Mac OS will usually out number Linux. One factor that we do not know about these site statics is weather or not they are from Windows only country. (Sites using active x or offering games using direct x or will only render correctly in IE). Beleive me if I go to a site and find in unfrendily I do not go back. This means that sites that are not friendly to Non-Windows viewers will skew their results to favor Windows. Also note my trafic is nearly 100% US I suspect that if I were getting non-us trafic the Windows numbers would be slightly lower. 2007-11-27 3:17 am Soulbender As you can see there are still almost four times more Win2000 desktops connected to the Internet Who cares? It has NOTHING to do with this. There are many interesting questions you could ask Linus, the questions about Windows asked in this interview isn’t among them. 2007-11-26 6:23 pm StephenBeDoper Can’t they just for once leave Microsoft out I ask myself that exact same question nearly every I read a comment thread here… 2007-11-26 3:23 pm Geoff Gigg Whole thing went down in first question where Torvalds said that he doesn’t use Microsoft products, sigh why then bother asking other 2. Because it was an email interview. But I agree that if the interviewer had done their homework, they would have known better than to ask these sorts of questions. Nevertheless, Linus being Linus, we get very polite, thoughtful answers that refocus the discussion onto the source of Linux’s strength and future. I enjoyed reading his responses. Oh, and that funky, weird language – it’s Klingon, dude, definitely Klingon. Edited 2007-11-26 15:25 2007-11-26 10:55 am Joe User “One of the things I personally am really interested in is the move over to SSD [solid-state drives] disks. I’m a huge believer in [reducing] latency, and some of the better SSDs are changing the whole game when it comes to access latency, which in turn has potentially big impacts on the kernel — and while they are currently expensive enough to be a pretty minor player, that is certainly looking to change in 2008 and later” Yes, definitely. I agree. I’m planing to buy a new computer with a “small” SSD. It’s gonna be strange to switch on your computer, not to hear the disk drive spinning, and GDM popping in a few seconds. But prices have to drop. No way. 2007-11-26 11:43 am Doc Pain “It’s gonna be strange to switch on your computer, not to hear the disk drive spinning, […]” I always found it annoying to be able to hear if a PC is running, but this seems to be specific to PCs, not to computers in general. 🙂 2007-11-26 6:41 pm StephenBeDoper but this seems to be specific to PCs As opposed to what? 2007-11-26 6:47 pm Doc Pain “As opposed to what?” Re-read my statement, please: “but this seems to be specific to PCs, not to computers in general. :-)” There are more computers than PCs, for example, servers or workstations or (near the border of this term’s meaning) terminals. Users that grew up with PCs don’t find it any strange that they usually are louder than, let’s say, a Sun Ultra, a SGI Octane or an Apple Mac Mini – wich are all computers, but no PCs. This is hard semantics, I know, and very individual experiences and understanding of language. 🙂 2007-11-27 12:30 am Flatland_Spider Apples, Suns, and SGIs are PCs too, and Dells have been extremely silent for a long time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_computer Corporations have a lot of money to throw at the sound problem. DIYers the other hand don’t have the same resources, so that may be the difference between the experiences. 2007-11-27 5:14 am RIchard James13 Two terms PC = Personal Computer IBM PC = Personal Computer that is based loosely on the design of the original IBM PC. Or a Personal Computer that is a descendant design of the original IBM PC. My Silent VIC-20 was a PC as was my ATARI ST. However my fridge computer is not a PC. Just waiting for Apple to come out with a iFridge that is a PC. 2007-11-28 10:41 pm StephenBeDoper Re-read my statement, please: “but this seems to be specific to PCs, not to computers in general. Unfortunately repeated readings don’t make the meaning any clearer. Users that grew up with PCs don’t find it any strange that they usually are louder than, let’s say, a Sun Ultra, a SGI Octane or an Apple Mac Mini – wich are all computers, but no PCs. How is a Mac Mini not a personal computer? I can only guess that by “PC” you mean x86-compatible PC. Are you suggesting that it’s not possible for a “PC” to run quietly? That’s certainly not the case – if you’re capable of installing a heatsink and a power supply, about $150 (for a fanless PSU and a low-noise HSF) and a half hour of effort will get you a “PC” that’s as silent as any Mac mini. 2007-11-29 6:47 pm Doc Pain Wow, three replies to my posting… so who didn’t notice the “:-)” I appended intentionally? It’s all about semantics. Some of you may know that I’m from Germany, so I’d like to tell you what “PC” is in Germany: First of all, the term “personal computer” has been translated into “Personalcomputer” which is incorrect, because translated back it’s “personnel computer”. So PC got a synonym for a computer you use in an office (or where personnel uses it), and refering beack to IBM’s first announcement, PC got a synonym for an IBM or IBM compatible computer. The meaning “personal = individual” has been lost. That’s the way the term PC is used in Germany today: It’s a subset of computers that are IBM compatible (x86) and do run a MICROS~1 OS. With enough power, even if the machine is x86, and if it’s running Linux or UNIX, it’s a workstation. And if it’s built by apple and running Mac OS X, it’s a Mac. computers = ( PC, workstaion, Mac, mainframe, … ) While you usually use a PC for entertaining purposes, workstaions are used to work on, in most cases. The Mac is is a fine synthesis between both, he makes work entertaining. 🙂 “How is a Mac Mini not a personal computer?” Find it out for yourself. Do you know anyone who owns a Mac, le’s say, a Mac Mini, or a MacBook? Try to convince him he owns a PC. This is what you will hear: “Dude, this is not a PC, IT’S A MAC!!!” 🙂 “I can only guess that by “PC” you mean x86-compatible PC.” Yes, and this can be refined to require a MICROS~1 OS to be run. “Are you suggesting that it’s not possible for a “PC” to run quietly?” I won’t say it’s not possible because I build such systems myself. I just want to say that in most cases, PCs are louder than, let’s say, a Mac Mini. This is due to electronic garbage that is sold in Germany as PCs. People want cheap, they get cheap. And because they never have known something else, they expect a PC to be loud, and so it is, and they think it’s completely normal that not only PCs, but that all computers are loud. Can you imagine how surprised people here usually are when they don’t hear a Mac Mini or a Sun SS20? “That’s certainly not the case – if you’re capable of installing a heatsink and a power supply, about $150 (for a fanless PSU and a low-noise HSF) and a half hour of effort will get you a “PC” that’s as silent as any Mac mini.” As I mentioned before, this is possible, but requires some work and, of course, money to be spent. While there are some systems that are very quiet by factory setting (already mentioned in another reply), PCs seem not to be very famous for their silence. I hope I could explain my comment a little bit, it’s about semantics after all. 🙂 2007-11-27 4:41 am Freeway I always love hearing a computer start up.. I guess I’ve just gotten used to it since my old intel 286 days where you here the computer slowly wind up, and then……..”Beeep!!!”. 2007-11-27 7:54 am raver31 I had an old Amstrad PC2286, it had a noisy 40mb hard drive, and an even noisier cooling fan. It sort of growled rather than humming that you associate with PC’s nowadays. It was retired after Metallica tried to play in my city, but they were drowned out by my computer. 2007-11-26 11:02 am segedunum I’m excited about Solid State Drives as well. For a very, very, very long time, it didn’t matter what you did, the hard disk was always a massive bottleneck in any machine, and things haven’t really improved that much over many years. With SSDs, not only do things have the potential to be much faster (with time and development that is), the lack of moving parts and everything that can go wrong with a current hard drive is pretty attractive. It’ll also be great if we can just plug them into our current SATA and SCSI interfaces and just carry on. We also get pretty significant power savings on laptops as well! I believe management types call this ‘Win win!’. Ughhhh. As far as storage is concerned, while newer filesystems like ZFS interest me moderately, there’s no point in creating a shiny filesystem on top of devices that aren’t up to the job. I hope SSDs are the start of creating storage that people can actually reasonably trust. 2007-11-26 12:19 pm netpython I’m fascinated by the Solid State Drives as well. Personally the most important part of the article. After all a SSD gives the Asus Eee PC a 15 sec start up time. 2007-11-26 8:10 pm meianoite I’m fascinated by the Solid State Drives as well. Personally the most important part of the article. Me too I bought an UltraDMA4 SDHC-to-IDE converter on eBay (look for one in a red PCB) and I’m pretty happy with it. I installed XP just for the kicks, FreeBSD is next. Just beware that XP will REFUSE to run Windows Update with error 0x8DDD0002 if it detects it’s installed on a removable drive. Took me 2 weeks to take a wild guess and install the Hitachi driver (actually, filter) that makes Flash-based removable media report itself as fixed. After all a SSD gives the Asus Eee PC a 15 sec start up time. And boy, does XP boot quick here as well. 2007-11-27 5:08 am RIchard James13 I was going to make a SSD using an IDE RAID card and CF-IDE adapters and CF cards but when I did the maths it was way more expensive than a top of the line conventional PATA drive. I could not justify the costs ,the 4GB CF cards I wanted cost about $30AUD+freight each. I have the RAID card and the converters are cheap but the FLASH RAM itself is too pricey. Does anyone know of a better way to get cheap FLASH RAM. I even thought of chaining USB FLASH drives together but those have similar prices. So now I am waiting for them to come down in price. Since I plan to build a new computer mid-way through 2008 I will look at one then. 2007-11-26 2:18 pm FunkyELF As far as storage is concerned, while newer filesystems like ZFS interest me moderately, there’s no point in creating a shiny filesystem on top of devices that aren’t up to the job. ZFS provides end to end data integrity. Check out the “last word in filesystems presentation”… http://www.opensolaris.org/os/community/zfs/docs/zfs_last.pdf I think thats the presentation that says ZFS loves cheap disks. Part of the reason ZFS was created was because hard disks are unreliable…so it really doesn’t make sense to say that there is no point in creating this filesystem on top of devices that aren’t up to the job when that was part of the reasoning behind it. 2007-11-26 7:52 pm butters while newer filesystems like ZFS interest me moderately, there’s no point in creating a shiny filesystem on top of devices that aren’t up to the job. Actually, it’s the opposite… One of the big performance problems with SSDs is the FTL (Firmware Translation Layer) that allows filesystems designed for rotating block devices to manage the completely alien topology of a bare Flash medium (i.e. MTD or Memory Technology Device). Some of you may know me as a fan of abstractions, but the FTL is a very bad abstraction that does nothing but maintain an elaborate lie so as to defeat any attempts at optimization by the filesystem and I/O layer. It’s a stopgap solution at best, and it’s never going to exploit the full potential of random-access storage media. There’s no technical reason at all why the OS can’t deal directly with the MTD without the evil interference of the FTL. Yes, it requires new Flash-aware filesystems. But our disk-oriented filesystems make absolutely no sense in the context of random-access storage. Even the “mighty” ZFS is no more suitable to Flash than FAT32. In fact, some FTL implementations will operate more efficiently with FAT32 than with any other filesystem because it’s easier to identify free blocks for garbage collection. The more sophisticated the filesystem, the more it looks like a black box to the FTL. Fortunately, Linux supports raw Flash MTDs today and is developing superior solutions for whenever the storage industry decides to start shipping SSDs without the FTL training wheels. The OLPC XO and the FIC neo1973 are really the first open hardware platforms to feature an MTD. The Asus eeePC and other such UMPCs use an FTL. Assuming Microsoft is dead serious about getting Windows on the XO, it could only be a matter of time before they push MTD storage support into their mainstream Windows products. Then we might see the storage industry warm to the idea of dropping the FTL. Today the most commonly used filesystem for Linux MTDs is JFFS2 (Journaling Flash Filesystem), which is actually a log-structured filesystem. Unfortunately, it has some design limitations that make it unwieldy for mass storage media (more than a couple gigs). The future seems to be LogFS, which, continuing the joke, is actually a journaling filesystem. LogFS has an interesting design that demonstrate a deep level of consideration for the idiosyncrasies of Flash. As Seen on OSNews: http://www.osnews.com/story.php/17939 Particularly when it comes to write performance, the FTL implementation can really gum up the works. Some are better than others, they’re all proprietary, and most offer no way to bypass the FTL on systems that can support the Flash as an MTD. This is an evil technology that’s sapping performance and impeding progress, and we must rise up against it. Down with FTL! 2007-11-26 11:54 am Luminair Lots of SSD hype here. HDD beats SSD in real world desktop performance: http://techreport.com/articles.x/13163/4 HDD operates so quietly it goes unheard in a laptop, and performs so efficiently that it nearly matches the power usage of SSD, making the laptop battery life difference negligible: http://techreport.com/articles.x/13163/14 Large scale reliability is hard to measure, but SSDs and HDDs both have limited life spans. HDDs are a highly mature technology. They are inexpensive, fast, reliable, quiet, and energy-efficient. They are better in many ways than current SSDs. So don’t buy into the SSD hype too much unless you are really obsessed with that one heavy-load random-read use case that makes flash memory shine. 2007-11-26 12:11 pm Joe User “They are inexpensive” Definitely. The current problem of SSD is price per gig. “fast” Not really. It takes a long time to load applications and the operating system itself. An ideal disk drive should load the operating system and applications in the blink of an eye. In the real world it can take several seconds to load applications and several minutes to load the operating system. We’re used to it but granted this is very slow. “reliable” Not at all. This is why we shouldn’t expect any disk drive (HDD or SSD) to live more than a few years. Always back up your information. People usually take disk drive reliability for granted and don’t backup their data. “quiet” Nope. Expecially those 10,000 and 15,000 rpm drives. “and energy-efficient.” I think SSDs are more energy-efficient, as they are not mecanical. I think SSDs are better because they are quiet and provide a faster access time. There *is* hype but I think SSDs deserve it. 2007-11-26 12:23 pm WereCatf Not really. It takes a long time to load applications and the operating system itself. An ideal disk drive should load the operating system and applications in the blink of an eye. In the real world it can take several seconds to load applications and several minutes to load the operating system. We’re used to it but granted this is very slow. You forget that it is not just _loading_ things, it’s initializing stuff that takes time. If things were so easy that you could just load something in memory and start executing it would be amazing. I measured my HDD performance and it can load data up to ~60mb/s which means that I should be running Linux in about 3-4 seconds. But it doesn’t work like that. No matter how fast media you read from the OS still has to initialize itself and all the peripherals. Nope. Expecially those 10,000 and 15,000 rpm drives. For Joe User those drives don’t matter. Most home PCs have a 5400rpm drive, or a 7200rpm one at most. I have a 7200rpm one and I can’t hear it. I can hear the power fan and the GPU fan, though. I think SSDs are more energy-efficient, as they are not mecanical. That is, AFAIK, very true. I read somewhere that an SSD drive uses about 1/5 the energy compared to a laptop HDD. Desktop HDDs usually use even a little bit more than those for laptops. 2007-11-26 12:36 pm Luminair You guys are talking as if I didn’t just link you to power and performance benchmarks. 2007-11-26 3:53 pm DigitalAxis You do realize your power benchmarks DO show an energy benefit to using an SSD device, and a decent improvement in noise? 2007-11-26 5:53 pm Luminair A 2.5″ laptop drive is silent at arms length and would kill the battery at (head estimation) two hours rather than two hours and 3 minutes with a 45W-on-load 15W-on-idle laptop running half-and-half with an 85Whr li-ion battery. And the hard drive performs equally or better in desktop applications. And the SSD costs 4x more for 1/3rd the storage. So yes I “do realize” what those benchmarks “DO show” They show that the hard disk drive is better than the SSD. 2007-11-26 7:57 pm monodeldiablo Your argument is taht HDDs are marginally better/on par with SSDs. It’s a fair assessment… as long as SSDs don’t improve anymore. Oops! This is technology. The only constant is progress. SSDs promise to revolutionize computing by reducing energy consumption, increasing I/O speed, reducing weight, removing mechanical instability, eliminating noise, and increasing reliability. That’s why people are excited. HDDs have no answer to these issues. SSDs have tumbled in price and will continue to do so at even greater levels with the same economies of scale and research time that HDDs have historically enjoyed. In light of this, your arguments ring about as true as a 1970s tape drive advocate whining about the relative expense of HDDs. HDDs have been engineered to near-quantum levels. The storage, speed, and latency improvements we’re going to see out of that medium have already begun to taper off, and will continue to do so asymptotically as we run into severe physical limits in magnetic storage. SSDs, on the other hand, have plenty of potential for improvement and aren’t bound to the same mechanical or physical limitations of HDDs. When one takes these important considerations into account, SSDs are better than HDDs. Far better. End of story. 2007-11-27 4:57 am camo SSDs promise to revolutionize computing by………. Forcing consumers to replace their drives every couple of years. 2007-11-26 10:02 pm PunchCardGuy Yep – initialization of the OS is the big time consumer when booting – disk access is not the bottleneck in most cases. Back in the day, I worked with Honeywell minicomputers. One of the OS choices for those systems was GCOS6 MOD600. We built a configuration for each system and then processed the config, which resulted in a completely initialized OS image stored on disk (and back then, the disks were slow). Booting with the initialized OS image from disk was blazingly fast. Perhaps creating such a capability for Linux would be a cool project. 2007-11-26 12:32 pm kaiwai There are numerous benchmarks showing that there are very few cases where SSDs actually outperform traditional hard disks when it comes to random writes: http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/08/13/flash_based_hard_drives_come… That doesn’t include the fact that there needs to be a file system which is written which takes into account how an SSD works – to ensure optimum performance and ‘levelling’. 2007-11-26 1:48 pm cjcoats Depends upon the drive in question. This review, from the same site, shows the SSD winning big: http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/11/21/mtron_ssd_32_gb/ 2007-11-26 3:49 pm Chreo “quiet” Nope. Expecially those 10,000 and 15,000 rpm drives. Oh really? 10k and 15k SAS (2.5′ drives) are almost silent to my ear. 10k 3.5 disks are not but then, they are mostly uninterresting/irrelevant. 3.5′ disks are for bulk storage and not for fast access so 7.2k are speedy enough. For fast access, 2.5′ 10k and 15k disks is the way forward. It’s all about physics at those speeds. SSD is about read latency. Sustained read speeds from SSD-disks are lacking or expensive stuff. Also, filesystems and OS:es are very lacking with regards to how SSD works as they do not minimise the number of writes to the disk => bad for life-expectancy of the disk 2007-11-26 12:33 pm renox While I agree that SSD are often over-hyped, there is an issue here in what you’re saying: HDD are not both fast and quiet, they are either fast or either quiet. Also the main drawback about current SSD is their bandwidth limitation for writing, but this doesn’t seem to be a ‘hard’ limit: I expect that in a few years SSD will have write bandwidth equivalent to that of an HDD (by multiplexing communications with different chips), whereas HDD won’t have any time soon random-access time equivalent to that of SSD due to the fundamental limitation of the technology. 2007-11-26 12:54 pm judgen Well, gigabyte iRam 4gb boots linux and windows on my computer in about 3 seconds. But from a price perspective its not a viable sollution for mass storage. Its neat when compiling code though. edit: iRam is just that, ramsticks on a board connected through the SATA interface. Not a flash based device. Edited 2007-11-26 12:56 2007-11-26 2:54 pm Joe User “gigabyte iRam 4gb boots linux and windows on my computer in about 3 seconds” Wow…This i-Ram looks pretty cool… http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Storage/Products_Overview.aspx?… http://techreport.com/articles.x/9312 http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=2480 Question: Is there an i-RAM that has more space? I’m thinking about 10GiB here… 2007-11-27 5:46 am RIchard James13 Yes there are I searched until I found this site. http://www.storagesearch.com/ssd-ram.html Which lists a lot of companies and products Here is one that is 16GB @ £1,195 http://www.hyperdrive4.com/ There are larger and larger ones. Ones that fit in rackmount cases or require their own cabinet. StorageSpire takes up to 1TB. I think the problem is the bigger they are the more costly they are. 2007-11-26 12:59 pm halfmanhalfamazing You bring up a lot of good points, but in terms of access times an HD which rely on a mechanical subsystem can never beat an SSD which has no mechanical parts. It couldn’t in energy usage either. ——-So don’t buy into the SSD hype too much unless you are really obsessed with that one heavy-load random-read use case that makes flash memory shine.——- Like booting your computer? Some people do that daily, I know I do. I saw a huge difference from the upgrade. 2007-11-26 1:23 pm gilboa “They are inexpensive” True “fast” Throughput, yes. Latency, hell no. All my Linux workstation use a 3/4/5 x 250GB SATA in (software) RAID5 array – a >150MB/s sustained read/write setup. And yet, when I compile my project or start too many VM guests, my soon-to-be-replaced U160/4x36GB/10K/R5 (~70MBps) SCSI setup runs circles around the newer/bigger/better SATA setup. “reliable” Not really. Moving parts == problems. Nothing you can do about it. New HDs just hide the problems better. “quiet” Non-issue. “energy-efficient.” In the long run SSD will be far more efficient. No moving parts, remember? SSDs will not replace HDs in the foreseeable future. No doubt about it. SSD are smaller, and far more expensive. But in the long run, SSDs is the future. – Gilboa 2007-11-26 2:14 pm Luis SSD’s are a rather new technology, but the future does look bright. Just take a look at this Fusion IO technology: http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=6394 http://www.fusionio.com/demo.html 2007-11-26 4:33 pm monkeyhead Your generalization of HDD vs. SSD doesn’t account for the technologies that the SSD are based on. (battery backed) DRAM and Flash SSD have a lot of inherent problems such as limited writes, throughput issues, and cost that will ultimately prevent them from becoming ‘HDD Killers’ Now if a technology like NRAM matures, then it will blow the pants off both eletro-mechanical disks, and DRAM/Flash based drives. The theoretical speeds will be similar to that of DRAM except with the distinct advantage of being a non-volatile memory technology. Anyone who’s been though a basic computer architecture course should understand how huge the implications of a technology like this are. Edited 2007-11-26 16:35 2007-11-26 4:55 pm kaiwai Ideally, if operating systems became cheap enough, it would be great to be able to pull out a chip, and simply drop in a new one in its place – thus, in a desktop, you have two chips, one for storage, one for the operating system itself. The operating system itself is non-writable, instead all the user files are saved on the user storage device. If that has any problems, load up, format the flash device, and all the settings are recreated on reboot. Updates are handled by storing them on the user writable chip, and the operating system going to the user writable chip before attempting to load the one on the chip itself. 2007-11-26 9:11 pm tupp Ideally, if operating systems became cheap enough, it would be great to be able to pull out a chip, and simply drop in a new one in its place – thus, in a desktop, you have two chips, one for storage, one for the operating system itself. Is “free” cheap enough? — various Linux distros have been booting from USB flash drives and compact flash cards ever since motherboards and bioses allowed it. And it is simple to just keep all user data and user settings (and even some apps) on a separate USB flash drive or compact flash card. I was running Puppy Linux from a USB flash drive, and it was lightning fast, because it defaults to loading the entire OS into the ram. It is so small, that I didn’t need a separate flash drive for the userspace. Windows can also boot from a USB flash: http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/09/09/windows_in_your_pocket/ As can OSX (although it seems to require at least a 1-gig drive and seems more complicated to set-up): http://blog.bradbergeron.com/2006/11/29/howto-install-and-boot-os-x… 2007-11-27 10:16 am Joe User Do you know if there are mobos out there that use part or all of their own RAM for storage? 2007-11-27 4:49 pm tupp Do you know if there are mobos out there that use part or all of their own RAM for storage? Not sure about what your are asking nor about your intent, but any data can be loaded into RAM, regardless of the motherboard. Flash is less volatile. 2007-11-26 12:55 pm halfmanhalfamazing I’m glad that Linus wants to put more emphasis on this. I run an SSD, a CF card. But I’ve been having problems with it at boot time, UDMA timeout errors specifically. Other than that, it’s great. I’ve got a huge posting about it over at phoronix forums, screenshots too if anybody wants to read about it. http://www.phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3424 Edited 2007-11-26 13:03 2007-11-26 3:50 pm whittmadden Whether Linus really feels that was a complete waste of time doing that interview. Whenever Microsoft questions are asked, he should point them to the last 10 interviews he’s done with other sites, and tell them to look there for his answers. Seriously, Linus is an extremely intelligent man, so why waste his time, asking him to make comparisons between Linux and Microsoft, when he obviously has no interest in Microsoft. His passion lies within the Linux kernel development. 2007-11-26 4:00 pm John.Gustafsson Have people send in their questions, have a vote on it, send someone over to Mr. Linus and off we go. Then you can’t complain about the wrong questions I can start off with one, “If you used Microsoft’s products, would you feel more productive?” 2007-11-26 8:44 pm butters Ooh, ooh, ooh, here’s mine: “If Stever Ballmer asked for your advice, what would you say?” Ugh… Seriously, if OSNews does an interview with Linus, there better not be any questions about Microsoft or its products. No boxers or briefs inquiries. Nothing about what features he expects in 2009. Let’s try to keep it to questions we can’t quickly answer by consulting Jonathan Corbet’s Linux Weather Forecast: http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/Linux_Weather_Forecast Ask him about his day-to-day work activities. Ask him about code quality and complexity. Ask him about developer relations. Ask him about any long-range concerns he might have about the project. Maybe ask him about license fragmentation between Linux and OpenSolaris and reciprocity with the BSD communities. Ask him about how convergence of logic and stream computation in next-gen hardware might impact the kernel. People have a huge misunderstanding of the kinds of things that Linus cares about. Ask him about the stuff that matters to him, and you’ll have a great interview. Ask him about what matters to the tech news echo chamber, and he’ll roll his eyes and phone it in. 2007-11-28 1:45 am DigitalAxis I say we get Bill Gates in here, and interview him about the US Stock Market. Then we get… Theo de Raalt in here, and ask him about the European Space Agency. 2007-11-26 4:03 pm RandomGuy I think the fundamental problem of harddisks is that, based on their design, they are very limited in how they can be improved. Reliability _could_ actually be improved. Let’s just say some manufacturer produces extra small drives and puts three of them plus a raid controller into an ordinary hdd case. This raid 5 setup could appear as a single drive to the customer and would have greatly increased reliability at about twice the price/GB of an ordinary harddisk. The capacities of hdds will also continue to grow as will their transfer rate which is roughly inversely proportional to the length of one bit on the platter. What will stay about the same is the latency which basically consists of two parts a) the time needed to move the head b) the time needed to rotate the desired zone under the head This second time is on average equal to half the time needed for one rotation of the platter. This means the average latency is: T>=0.5*60s/speed_of_hdd[rpm] For a 7400rmp drive this is about 4ms. While this doesn’t sound like much let’s try and put it into proportion: – It’s already about 10% of the time needed to notice that a video/audio-sample or game is lacking – It’s 8,000,000 cycles for a moderately old CPU@2GHz – It’s the read time of a 240kB file @60MB/s Yep, that’s right: If your typical filesize is only a couple of 100kB, the new hdds probably won’t be noticably faster – unless they spin faster and therefore run hotter and louder. Of course, that doesn’t mean that people won’t use a hell of a lot of lipstick on the pig that hdds are to make it work for another couple of years. Heck, even tapedrives still got plenty of use cases. One example is the CERN. They calculated that to accomodate their data rates they’d need their own harddisk factory and since tape is cheaper and they only do sequential reading/writing they opted for that. For regular desktop use, however, I expect SSDs to dominate the market in the near future. (I was tempted to say ten years but people would have accused me of using my behind for data mining – and rightly so!) 2007-11-26 5:45 pm PlatformAgnostic I’ve been wanting to buy a hybrid drive for a while now, but I just haven’t encountered them in the market. These drives combine flash with a normal platter for a little of the high-speed random-access along with the typical amount of large-scale fast sequential storage. I was really excited when I heard about that technology and I’m pretty disappointed that it’s not visible now. Just take 4 GB of flash and slap it onto a HDD and you get the best of all worlds. 2007-11-26 10:16 pm drfelip They are indeed used by some laptop manufacturers, I’ve seen them in some Dells and Sonys, but with about 256 MB of Flash memory, there isn’t any benchmark that shows even a small increase in performance. I think SanDisk’s Vaulter Disk is going to achieve better results, but I haven’t found any benchmarks yet. I wrote about it in my blog (just the announcement, technical details are out of my skill): http://optimitza.cat/news/2007/11/14/vaulter-disk-the-long-awaited-… 2007-11-26 6:13 pm defdog99 I remember dropping $1000 on a 30 MEGAabyte HD system for my A500 back in 1989. You guys are spoiled… 2007-11-26 7:29 pm m_abs But back when 30 megabytes were a lot of storage capacity. 2007-11-26 6:23 pm tomcat Remind me why I generally avoid them. Gates, Torvalds, and all the other tech luminaries have lots of ideas on the future of computing but, in general, most of them get it all wrong. I could really care less about getting “information” from a guy (Gates) who completely missed the significance of the Internet revolution until it almost passed his company by. Similarly, the comments of a guy (Torvalds) who created a cloned version of UNIX in the early 90s aren’t all that compelling, either. Solid-state hard drives? Talk about Back to the Past. I used a bubble memory storage device almost 20 years ago. 2007-11-27 8:22 am raver31 +1 for you stating the obvious, I really cannot understand the people around here who would mod you down for your statement. Apart, of course, from this……. You said “I could really care less” It is said like this, “I could’nt care less” 2007-11-26 9:20 pm doalwa You heard it here first folks!!! I predict that 2008 will (once again) be the year of the Linux Desktop…no, really now!!! 🙂 2007-11-26 10:30 pm islander Interview read like a poor effort to get Mr Torvalds to stoke the fire for a flamewar between Linux and Microsoft or grab a few headlines in the media at least. I think the problem is that what vision people have or would like for Linux is not the same as Mr Torvalds’. 2007-11-27 2:04 am calica I’d like to see some graphs plotting flash prices against HD prices. I have a few data points, around 2000 a 256 MB compact flash cost ~$300, or $1200/GB. I just checked a price of a Corsair 16G usb stick for $130, or $8.12/GB. Thats a 147x increase per $. That’s faster than moore’s law (2^7=128). Compare HDs. Around the same time, I put in a 40G in my Tivo for at least $150 (probably more). Now, $150 will get you a 750G. That is a 18x increase. Its pretty obvious that flash capacity/$ is increasing rapidly. The shapes of those two graphs will determine how quickly flash will be cheaper than HDD. It will happen though. 2007-11-27 6:04 am pjafrombbay I have been trying to switch from Microsoft XP to Linux for several years. I was using Ubuntu 6.06 on one PC and 7.04 on the other. Things were looking good; most things worked even my Canon laser printer. Then I made a mistake – I installed Ubuntu 7.10! What a mistake, I don’t think Ubuntu did its normal quality control on this one. I then compounded the initial mistake by trying Fedora 8 – would you believe that editing fstab to enable the Linux install to recognise the other hard drive with Windows XP destroyed the X-Windows. Fixing X was beyond my skill level and by then I had had enough. Delete the Linux install from the second hard drive and make it a back-up for Windows (nice and easy) and zap my laptop and re-install Windows XP. Now all I have to do is get over my anti-Microsoft fealings. The user experience however is good; I have changed from constant Sys-Admin to ordinary user and everything just works! Linus, you still have a long way to go! Peter 2007-11-27 6:42 am archiesteel Then I made a mistake – I installed Ubuntu 7.10! What a mistake, I don’t think Ubuntu did its normal quality control on this one. Please elaborate: what was so bad about Ubuntu 7.10 compared to previous versions? would you believe that editing fstab to enable the Linux install to recognise the other hard drive with Windows XP destroyed the X-Windows. No, actually, I would not. Fixing X was beyond my skill level and by then I had had enough. Delete the Linux install from the second hard drive and make it a back-up for Windows (nice and easy) and zap my laptop and re-install Windows XP. If Ubuntu 6.06 and 7.04 had been working good, why not reinstall these? Now all I have to do is get over my anti-Microsoft fealings. What feelings would those be? Do you really dislike Microsoft, or are you simply parrotting what you think a Linux enthusiast would say? The user experience however is good; I have changed from constant Sys-Admin to ordinary user and everything just works! My experiences with Ubuntu is that everything just works. I’ve installed it on the PCs of non-techie friends, and I haven’t had a single complaint yet. I have been trying to switch from Microsoft XP to Linux for several years. I’m sorry, but I’m quite skeptical about your whole story. In fact, it sounds like a complete fabrication destined to discourage others to try Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular. 2007-11-27 1:45 pm autumnlover Please elaborate: what was so bad about Ubuntu 7.10 compared to previous versions? Some weeks ago I put a list of main “bad things” I encounter in latest Ubuntu, not present in previous versions. A quick reminder: – broken debmirror (for me it was critical since I use it) – screensaver settings in LiveCD – activating it the same moment GNOME is displayed – at first sight it looks similar like problems with monitor mode being detected wrong. – “screen and graphic” xorg.conf’s ultimate destroyer. – graphics card and monitor detection failed on my two PC – 6.06, 6.10 and 7.04 detected them fine. – Synaptic and Add/remove works horribly with offline repos DVDs. Even created with care – “universe” being separated from “main”, “restricted” and “multiverse” disk sets. But this isnt new. 6.06 AFAIR work quite good. 6.10 and later went bad. – AND ONE MORE BUG since I complained here about 7.10 – JeOS cannot work with defeault settings of Vmware – at least under Windows – cannot start when virtual HD controller is set as default. Also “disk integrity check” fails even the disk is ok. I discovered it yesterday and located the fix for that issue, but was terrified – even checked my PC RAM for errors – it looks like bad download over and over again. JeOS is good idea, but the way it was released is disastrous. JeOS 7.10.1 “point release” is REQUIRED !!! Edited 2007-11-27 13:47 2007-11-27 5:27 pm archiesteel Two points: first, I wasn’t asking you, I was asking the guy who thought it was so bad the best course of action was to install Fedora 8 over it. I want to know what it was that made him do that (because I suspect it’s a load of baloney). As such, I’m not really interested in what *you* didn’t like about it. Second, none of these points are major, except perhaps the monitor/graphics card detection, and even then I’d be surprised to see just how many people are affected by that bug. Not that many, I’d bet. Also, what the heck is JeOS? 2007-11-28 8:12 pm autumnlover I wasn’t asking you Why not ? It is a public forum after all. As such, I’m not really interested in what *you* didn’t like about it. Well, I hope that you are not an Ubuntu developer 😉 Second, none of these points are major People making offline DVD’s are certainly in minority, but when someone wants to start Ubuntu online mirror, and cannot build it on Ubuntu 7.10 itself because of broken debmirror … well in my opinion IT IS serious issue. Also, what the heck is JeOS? It is latest *official* derivative of Ubuntu, designed for VM, in case you did not noticed. 2007-11-28 9:21 pm archiesteel Why not ? It is a public forum after all. Sure. It’s a free country, you’re free to comment and I’m free to disregard your comment. 🙂 Well, I hope that you are not an Ubuntu developer 😉 No, just a user. I’m a video game designer for the console market. It is latest *official* derivative of Ubuntu, designed for VM, in case you did not noticed. Didn’t know that, thanks for the heads-up. 2007-11-27 8:30 am raver31 I call shill… What were these problems with 7.10 that were so nasty they put you off re-installing versions that did work ? Microsoft makes screw ups too… How many people genuinely like Vista and think it is a vast improvement over XP ? Not many. back to your points… Editing /etc/fstab will in no way whatsoever damage X unless one of the lines you edited was in fact to remove a drive that had /usr on it. If fixing X was too hard for you, then, I assume a custom partitioning scheme was also too complicated, and you let the installer decide for you….. so /usr was not on a separate partition in the first place. One thing I must say though, if you REALLY did have those problems, I would pack the PC back into its box, take it back to PC World, and tell them you need to return it, as there was a vote online, and the vast majority think you are too stupid to own a computer. Edited 2007-11-27 08:36 2007-11-27 3:47 pm Oliver Nice, but I miss something … any information. 2007-11-27 11:45 pm Phloptical SSD might reduce latency, but what good is the drive if it’s only going to last for a year or two? Apparently there’s wear on the logic inside that makes for a finite number of reads and writes. I agree that solid state storage is the wave of the future, but we’re a long time from replacing platter based magnetic HDs on a large scale. 2007-11-28 4:50 am pjafrombbay First off – your smart ass reply probably doesn’t warrant a response; but I’ll give you one anyway. There were many problems installing Ubuntu 7.10. The minor issue of it failing during the install when it was trying to find the security up-dates took several days to resolve. There were a whole lot of other issues once I got it going. It was several weeks ago so I don’t recall all the detail only the utter frustration. One problem I do recall was the difficulty in getting my WD Passport USB drive to work reliably (days of Googling and trial and error). I tried Fedora because I read a review about how good it was, downloaded the Live CD and gave it a go. It installed fine but IT DID LOOSE X WHEN I MODIFIED FSTAB TO ENABLE THE WINDOWS SECOND HARD DRIVE – I don’t care whether you believe it or now, you were not here so how would you know. In fact attitudes like yours put those who are struggling with Linux technical issues off the whole effort. Thankfully there are many many more people who are helpful so that negates those like you. The crux of my post is that for the ordinary mildly technical user, Linux still has a long way to go to match the ease of use of Windows. By the way, during my working life (I’m retired now) I had a great deal to do with Microsoft (have you been to Redmond?) and have seen there questionable business practices at first hand (have you also experienced this?). I feel I AM in a position to pass judgment. Can I suggest you lighten up and look at posts like mine as “a message” and don’t try to “kill the messenger”. Peter 2007-11-28 5:50 am Tweek “It installed fine but IT DID LOOSE X WHEN I MODIFIED FSTAB TO ENABLE THE WINDOWS SECOND HARD DRIVE – I don’t care whether you believe it or now, you were not here so how would you know. ” NO it did not. It is a simple fact. something else changed at the time might have caused that problem, but fstab did not, in any way, shape or form cause that issue. you are flat out wrong, accept it, and move on. All you did was respond that basically “i dont know what the hell i am doing or saying and am totally shocked when someone calls me on it” i know being called a fool is totally unique to linux and no one in the windows help forums does that ever. but seriously, either you are a liar, or completely ignorant to the basic functions of computers. The fact that you know what fstab is raises the bar. So which is it? Edited 2007-11-28 05:51 2007-11-28 8:55 pm rockwell //It installed fine but IT DID LOOSE X WHEN I MODIFIED FSTAB TO ENABLE THE WINDOWS SECOND HARD DRIVE // How the hell can an FSTAB entry brick anything in xorg.conf ??? Unless you mean what you actually typed … perhaps you “loosened” the monitor cable, rather than “losing” your X server?