Who is Linus Torvalds in Linux Kernel development today?

We all know that, despite being the big name behind Microsoft, it's not the Bill Gates who runs the company. Obviously Linus Torvalds is the big name behind Linux, but is he still really keeping all this machine running?


All of us users, enthusiasts, supporters that we are somehow involved in the Linux world, surely we have heard a lot about the Linus torvalds. And no wonder, after all, he is nothing less than the one who created the Linux kernel. Without it, probably everything we know today, such as Linux, didn't exist at least in the same way we do.

Before continuing, it is very important that you know what Linux is. And no, not simply an operating system just like Windows. The videos below are sure to take all or most of your questions about what Linux really is, so you will have a much better understanding of how to continue this article.

Last Tuesday (29), Linus Torvalds gave an interview to Dirk hohndel (head of the open source team at VMware) on the stage of The Open Source Summit in Lyon, France. Which you give, in commentary and free translation, below.

Increased complexity of code and security holes

Firstly Linus was asked about the increasingly high level of complexity that the Linux kernel has been reaching and how this high complexity has made the software increasingly difficult to be debugged. Could this high level of complexity make the kernel increasingly problematic and insecure?

Linus says that while the kernel is actually getting bigger and more complex, the infrastructure available to track and fix bugs and security issues in general is also getting more effective every day. Both the kernel and any operating system, always something very complex, and these software are used by hundreds of thousands of different people, the vast majority of them without experience or knowledge on the subject. And for whatever reason, these people end up doing things with the system that no conscientious developer would think was logical or even possible.

Therefore, to correct such bugs, often changes and implementations are required that eventually make the code more extensive and complex. A longer and more complex code, in theory, could generate new bugs, thus opening security holes. However, as stated above, the techniques and tools used to prevent and correct basic safety and malfunctions continue to advance and improve each day. This way, as Linus said:

I don't think we're getting worse. In many ways, kernel development has become much easier. Yes, bigger and much more complicated, but on the other hand, we also have much better tools, much more communication and a much larger community. Previously, you may not have the right hardware, because the kernel only worked on a select group of hardware. This is no longer a problem.

Dirk Hohndel (right), and Linus Torvalds (left). Interview at The Open Source Summit.

In addition to all of the above, the kernel usually does not come directly from the first group of developers and reaches the hands of the end users. According to Linus's own words: There are several filter levels.. Linus Torvalds is responsible for maintaining the developing version of the Linux kernel, since the release is the responsibility of someone else, who currently Greg Khroa-Hartman. After that, each person, distribution, or company that uses the kernel usually makes its own tests and modifications. Having thus each his own stable version of it. Only then do end users have a chance to install a system using that kernel on their machines.

The only concern Linus seems to have in this respect is who still uses very old versions of the kernel.

People keep working with old Kernels, who are from times when we still didn't have the same security procedures we have today. Some systems with a really long support are still using Kernels that are really inferior.said Linus.

After all, what is the work of Linus Torvalds these days?

Many people believe that Linus Torvalds spends whole days sitting around creating code lines and bugfixes on the Linux kernel, but is that so? Asked what is the job of the Linux Kernel chief maintainer, Linus replied:

I read and write emails. I definitely don't create more lines of code. Much of what I write, I only do it inside my email manager. In the end, my job basically say No !. Someone has to be able to say no. The other developers know that if they do something that's not cool, I'll say No !, and then they'll be more careful next time. But to be able to say no, I have to know everything that is happening, on the surface, and below it. Only then can I do my job. I spend most of my day basically reading emails about what people are working on.

My first goal is to be really responsive to maintainers who send me patches or patches. I always try to give an answer, whether yes or no, within no more than a day or two. Many times my week ends up being extended in a day or two, but I want to be there all the time. As a maintainer, I think this is one of the main things I want to do..


With this answer we can realize that being the Chief Maintainer is not simply the guy who gives the orders. You will also be responsible and effective enough to make the tough decisions and always be there for your staff. And so be able to keep the machine running.

Torvalds also commented on the documentation values, and also bug reports:

Bug reports from users and developers, to me, are as or more important than the changes in the code itself. Sometimes the change in code is so obvious that no reporting is required. But this is extremely rare. In well-documented software, the developer is not only introducing the code, but also explaining it so that anyone else can understand.

It's been 28 years since Linus Torvalds created the Linux Kernel, and has since been its chief maintainer. That said, Linus was asked about possible plans for new projects:

No. I stopped here.

September 2018 Linus temporarily dropped your position as chief maintainer of the Linux kernel. Was this a sign that the end of the Linus era leading Linux development was coming? When asked about possible plans to leave the office permanently, Linus replied:

I may spend most of my time reading emails, but the reason for that is that I would be really bored if I didn't.


After that answer, I think we can rest assured who remains the chief maintainer of the Linux kernel. With all that Linus has said about his work, I can conclude that to keep a massive project like this up and running and evolving the way Linux is, it is not enough to be an excellent developer or have all the knowledge of Linux. world about it. I also need to be able to keep many people working together, having the same goal and always driving them forward. I need to be a leader.

However, no one lasts forever. It is certain that sooner or later Linus Torvalds will no longer be in charge of this great project. What do you think will happen, and what do you think the risks will be when this charismatic and extremely competent leader needs to be replaced? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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This is all folks!


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