Linus Torvalds: Linux kernel, community diversity, and the future of developers

Dirk Hohndel, VMware’s chief open source officer, had a wide-ranging conversation with Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, at the recent Linux Foundation Open Source Summit, according tomedia ZDNet. Hohndel, who started talking about the size of the Linux kernel 5.8 version, wanted to know if the larger version was related to developers working from home during the outbreak.

Torvalds, a long-distance telecommuting worker, thinks it’s just a coincidence that just a few sets of functions are done at the same time. He also said the outbreak had little impact on Linux development, “One of the interesting things about the Linux community is that it’s always email-based and remote, and we have very few opportunities to get together.” “

Linus Torvalds: Linux kernel, community diversity, and the future of developers

As we reported some time ago, Linus Torvalds switched to an AMD processor for his device, and now the first demo release of Linux kernel 5.8 is running on this machine. Torvalds said it was worried about fan noise, but it actually worked well. On this newly configured computer, his ‘allmodconfig’ test version is three times faster than before.” This is important for Torvalds because he needs to complete 20 to 30 pull requests per day, and the computer needs considerable power.

Recent big discussions about race and diversity have also come to the fore. Hohndel says he has seen a significant increase in the number of black contributors and leaders in the VMware community and in the CNCF, but he doesn’t see that in Linux. So Hohndel asked Torvalds if racial diversity couldnot keep up with some of the younger communities because the Linux community existed 30 years ago.

Torvalds admits he “really doesn’t know.” After attending several gatherings of senior Linux developers, he found that Linux kernel developers were mostly white, and there were a large number of Indian and Chinese, and that black kernel developers were indeed in the minority. And for the broader Linux developer, he says he doesn’t know or even know whether it’s human or artificial intelligence at the far end.

“Cloud-related programs are more interesting,” Torvalds speculates on why newer projects are more heterogeneous to the developer community. “I’ve told people that if they’re looking for a new exciting project, kernel is by no means the future. “In some ways, “kernel work is boring,” ” he says again.

The last time this was thought, Linus Torvalds said he was “no longer a programmer” but a code manager and maintainer. These day-to-day maintenance work is boring to Torvalds.

Then, in the next remark, Hohndel threw out the topic of “community needs to think about intergenerational change.” Torvalds agrees, and he also slightly retracts the “kernel is boring” joke, saying the kernel isn’t really that boring, especially for people interested in underlying and hardware interactions. It’s just, “Core people have been around for decades, and we’re really getting older.”

The new generation is starting to work in programming, and older people are gradually turning to managers and maintainers, and Torvalds thinks the next generation needs to take over, but one big problem is that it’s hard to find enough maintenance staff. It is one of the challenges that maintainers must be on standby and respond to e-mail in a timely manner. On the other hand, long-term experience must be indispensable, and defenders need to gain sufficient trust, which also takes a short time.

The rapid pace of the industry is another question they are worried about, with Hohndel asking, “Is c programmer likely to be a COBOL programmer in the 2030s?” Torvalds doesn’t think so, he thinks C is still one of the top languages, and it’s important for the kernel.

Finally, the two discussed how Torvalds can only be tested on the x86 architecture. Hohndel also points out that the cpu hierarchy “will change in a few years” given Apple’s current trend toward Macs for ARM. Torvalds felt that there was a possibility, “it was really, really, very difficult to find ARM hardware that could be used for development.” They do exist, but they are certainly not real competitors for x86. “

Hohndel: “Apple, if you’re listening, please send Linus an ARM laptop.” “