Torvalds: The Linux evolution continues

Linux creator Linus Torvalds believes his operating system is evolving well, despite the difficulties it has encountered along...

Linux creator Linus Torvalds believes his operating system is evolving well, despite the difficulties it has encountered along the way.

The Finnish programmer made the remarks last week at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US where he enjoyed the "rare experience" of seeing his work on Linux and on Transmeta's processors in action at the same time.

Torvalds saw the unveiling of a 240-processor Beowulf cluster named Green Destiny that made novel use of Transmeta's low-power consumption chips and the open-source OS.

A Beowulf cluster is, typically, a set of off-the-shelf hardware running Linux and linked together for high performance and scientific computing.

"Linux has been in this type of place for sometime, but what is notable is that I seldom get to combine the work on Linux with my real job," Torvalds said.

Torvalds designed the kernel of Linux and is now a fellow at Transmeta, where he has worked on the company's Code Morphing software and some Linux-centred software projects.

Despite its growth on servers and voluble support from the likes of IBM, Linux is still struggling to position itself as enterprise ready. Some of the companies that sell Linux-related software and services are also struggling.

One-time high flyers, such as VA Software, formerly VA Linux Systems, and Caldera International, have had to reorganise their businesses in the face of a tough economic climate and have struggled to build a business model around the open source OS.

Several efforts to push Linux as a mainstream desktop operating system have failed, most notably with the demise of Eazel last year. According to Torvalds, these events are only natural.

As the software matures, Linux continues to show positive signs on both the server and desktop. A vast network of Linux developers makes software for the OS and has boosted its management features.

"It is not painful to see failures," Torvalds said. "Some desktop attempts are failing, but I think that is fine. It would be nice if everything worked, but I believe in biology and the evolution of Linux."

Critics have charged that Linux developers are too technically oriented to build in user-friendly features to the OS that would help it compete with Microsoft's Windows and Apple's Macintosh OS.

Torvalds admitted that Linux has clearly struggled in consumer markets, but remains hopeful that Linux will gain a place on the desktop.

"I have done this for 10 years and have realised it takes longer than you think," he said.

"Even the geeks thought Linux people were geeks ten years back. Now, lots of people are using it, and the stuff I do [development of the OS] is not as important as it was before. I am very confident about where we are going."

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