Is Linus Torvalds even speaking for Linux anymore?

February 8, 2008 at 2:29 pm Leave a comment

Is Linus Torvalds even speaking for Linux anymore? | The Digital Home – Don Reisingers take on the tech closest to home – CNET Blogs

Okay, I have to comment on this because it pisses me off…

Listen up people. Linux is a core operating system, called a kernel. It is the basic interface between a computer’s hardware and all of the software that runs on it. Linus Torvalds wrote the original version, and has maintained control of it, although now literally thousands of people contribute to it. Frankly- I feel he does a fantastic job of it.

It is important to realize that things like the various file systems, GNU utilities, shells (like BASH), and GUIs (like KDE and Gnome) are NOT Linux, they are applications that run on top of it.

In short: Ubuntu is NOT an operating system! It is a distribution of the Linux kernel (the actual operating system) and a very comprehensive set of utilities and applications, including a GUI.

We are very fortunate that other people have written such Linux applications. It is a distinct advantage that Linux-based systems have over “Windows” based systems. Vista, for example, is nothing more than a fancy GUI written (poorly) on top of a “Vista” kernel, which I believe was adapted from Windows 2003 Server code. It is proprietary and closed though- so while there is a LOT of room for improvement, everyone has to sit around and wait until Microsoft comes out with fixes for it. With open-source Linux code- if there is a problem, it is usually fixed within days (if not hours), or if it will take longer than that- someone will post a work-around for it.

My point, though, is this: Linus’ comments simply reflected the current state of Linux software and desktop environments, and not the actual Linux kernel, which he is responsible for. I believe his vision for an “invisible” operating system is quite valid and justified. There is no abandonment of the community, nor is there anything in the kernel preventing a better user experience. Linus is doing nothing to hold back Linux.

The only thing holding back Linux is user acceptance, and distributions like Ubuntu are going a long-way towards changing that. The viability of Linux as a desktop environment for non-geeks has grown exponentially over the last couple of years, and will continue to do so.

I feel the real issue is education. Users need to realize that things like media players, web browsers, games, etc. are not part of an operating system and do not need to be tied to it. It still amazes me sometimes when friends ask me to help them with Windows problems and I tell them I run Linux. They are amazed that I can browse the Internet, play music, and watch movies on it (without Internet Explorer and Media Player). “Don’t you need Windows for that?” Grrr…

It’s really the same problem Apple has. Convincing people who think Windows is the only way to do things that it really isn’t, and that they can work better (and often much cheaper) by dumping Windows. The advantage the Linux has though is- they can run it on the same hardware they’ve got now. No need to buy expensive new hardware. I would just love to get everyone who is even thinking about going to Vista to TRY Ubuntu for one week. Even if they don’t like it after that week- they might reconsider after running Vista.

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Entry filed under: DTV/HDTV, General, Linux.

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