From: sco...@cs.hw.ac.uk (Scott Dunn)
Subject: Linux - the future?
Date: 25 Oct 92 14:41:34 GMT
Sender: n...@cs.hw.ac.uk (News Administrator)
Organization: Dept of Computing & Electrical Engineering,
Heriot-Watt University, Scotland
I have been a linux user since 0.95. Of late my department's Computer
Systems Manager has been showing some interest in using Linux/xfree86
as a means of distributing further the departments resources. For one
of my courses I was asked to come up with a suitable systems admin
project (small - it's only worth about 2.5% of my final mark). I proposed
investigating how a Linux system might fit in with with the departments
current network of Sun 3's, 4's and DECstations. Looking at, in particular,
future development, networking and security.
Pending a good report and demonstration, it may be that PC's will be
purchased in preference to X terminals for staff members, and existing
PC's upgraded to allow students to use them as Linux machines if so
Firstly, the future :
How do you, Linus, see Linux developing?
I have to admit that this is the one concern I have always had about Linux.
You are, I think I'm right in saying, a student. Developing Linux can't be
your main concern at this point in time, unless of course you've managed to
tie it in with your course. Do you intend taking it as far as 1.0 and then
leaving it in the hands of the Linux community to take it further?
That would, IMHO, be a great shame. That, I fear, would mean Linux remaining
a hobbyists OS, a la Minix. Minix devotees - no insult is meant, I cut my
Unix teeth on Minix-ST, I liked it, but it was and is an OS for the hobbyist.
Furthermore, large organisations, developers, users, prefer to see a
centralised development. This is what BSD has got going for it, at the
Are there plans to make it SVID (System V Interface Definition) binary
What about standards that may emerge in the Unix world, will Linux incorporate
those or will it head off in it's own direction?
Lets face it, despite what most of us think of Microsoft and Windows, I think
it's fair to say that Windows NT is going to be *BIG*, and if the Unix
community doesn't get it's act together pretty soon, Unix will become a
How will the problem of OSF/Motif be tackled? The problem being that
it has, to a large extent, become the standard GUI in the Unix environment.
What features are missing from Linux?
One of the big "things" I would like to see is a layered device driver
architecture, allowing new hardware to be supported with the minimum of fuss?
Also, what about DCE (Distributed Computing Environment) ?
What about commercial developers?
The lack of real documentation about the OS is a huge hurdle which has
to be overcome before Linux extends it's boundaries beyond the Internet
Are there any plans to compete in the OS market? How about support
from organisations in the same way that the Free Software Foundation
Lastly, and the most contentious point of all :) -
If you, Linus, are unable or unwilling to continue developing Linux
in the future would the handover of Linux to FSF be an option?
Any comments would be welcome, particularly from those involved in the
development of Linux, but if it's some inane, inappropriate flame because
someone thinks I have offended in some way, then send them to me rather
than the newsgroup. I don't want to start of some stupid thread which bears
little relation to this post and simply adds more noise to c.o.l
Thanks for listening,
From: torva...@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Torvalds)
Subject: Re: Linux - the future?
Date: 25 Oct 92 17:22:07 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki
In article <1992Oct25.144134.19...@cs.hw.ac.uk> sco...@cs.hw.ac.uk (Scott Dunn)
>How do you, Linus, see Linux developing?
>I have to admit that this is the one concern I have always had about Linux.
>You are, I think I'm right in saying, a student. Developing Linux can't be
>your main concern at this point in time, unless of course you've managed to
>tie it in with your course.
Actually, it's so far been the other way around: studies haven't been my
main concern at this point of time unless I've been able to tie them in
with my linux-hacking. Only half-joking - it really isn't linux that
has lost time due to other things..
> Do you intend taking it as far as 1.0 and then
>leaving it in the hands of the Linux community to take it further?
1.0 has never been any magic number - I don't intend to stop there, and
the only reason I have delayed it is because there has always seemed to
be yet another important feature or bug-fix "any day now". My current
setup is much better than I originally envisioned 1.0 - but even that
doesn't mean I'm thinking of quitting.
There was some talk on the mailing-lists (actually, just one list back
then) around version 0.12 about me stepping down in case somebody else
(or some group like the FSF) wanted the job, but nobody seemed even
slightly interested, and I haven't heard any complaints about the
current state of affairs yet. It seems people prefer having somebody as
a final arbiter on what goes in and what doesn't, and I've been the
natural choice so far despite some of the problems (mostly due to
>Are there plans to make it SVID (System V Interface Definition) binary
I've been idly thinking about it: the biggest problem has been lack of
docs and programs. In any case, I don't feel binary compatibility is
very high on my list, and I'd rather delay it until the kernel seems to
be a bit more stable ("stable" in the meaning not-changing as opposed to
"crashing every minute"). I'm not against binary standards, but I'd
implement it more as a shell around the "real" linux kernel than as a
integral part of the kernel.
I've always been pro-standard: mostly POSIX, as that has meant porting
is easy, and that has been the only thing I've been interested in, as I
don't have any sysvr4 binaries anyway. I don't think this will change:
linux will probably be able to accomodate future standards faster than
systems that don't come with source code. After all, being freely
available has resulted in the current system in "record time" (or then
I'm just such a helluva programmer - take your pick :-)
>What features are missing from Linux?
On a user level, the worst actual missing features are probably related
to memory management: the linux memory manager is still just three (not
even very big) files, and while it's clever, it's not very general. So
things like shared memory and a real mmap() are still not there,
although I've been looking into it for some time now.
Internally, the socket code isn't very well integrated with the rest of
the kernel - I'd like something more general. But there aren't any
major features missing: the networking code may not be quite stable yet,
but that's just a matter of time, as the basic things are there.
>If you, Linus, are unable or unwilling to continue developing Linux
>in the future would the handover of Linux to FSF be an option?
The day people think linux would be better served by somebody else (FSF
being the natural alternative), I'll "abdicate". I don't think that
it's something people have to worry about right now - I don't see it
happening in the near future. I enjoy doing linux, even though it does
mean some work, and I haven't gotten any complaints (some almost timid
reminders about a patch I have forgotten or ignored, but nothing
negative so far).
Don't take the above to mean that I'll stop the day somebody complains:
I'm thick-skinned (Lasu, who is reading this over my shoulder commented
that "thick-HEADED is closer to the truth") enough to take some abuse.
If I weren't, I'd have stopped developing linux the day ast ridiculed me
on c.o.minix. What I mean is just that while linux has been my baby so
far, I don't want to stand in the way if people want to make something
better of it (*).
(*) Hey, maybe I could apply for a saint-hood from the Pope. Does
somebody know what his email-address is? I'm so nice it makes you puke.
Don't worry, though: this is just my net-personality, and in real life I
kick furry small animals for fun.