Top challenges for Linux kernel team outlined at LinuxCon

Summary:The biggest challenges for Linux going forward include addressing next gen scalability and networking requirements.Yet there are other social issues facing the Linux kernel community that outweigh any technological concerns, said several top developers at a LinuxCon panel on Tuesday.

The biggest challenges for Linux going forward include addressing next gen scalability and networking requirements.

Yet there are other social issues facing the Linux kernel community that outweigh any technological concerns, said several top developers at a LinuxCon panel on Tuesday.

Attracting talent to work on the kernel will be more challenging in the future, according to James Bottomley, a Linux kernel maintainer and 20-year distinguished engineer (SUSE) at Novell.  Now that the kernel and Linux industry is mature, commercial opportunities have become far more appealing to new developers than kernel development,  he maintains.

"The biggest problem is the trend to invisibility in the code," Bottomley said. "Linux was once thought to be a great brand ... [but]the kernel is a less sexy place to work."

Red Hat's Fedora kernel maintainer Dave Jones also noted that the complexity of the code is "daunting" for newcomers and the barrier to entry is much higher than in was when the kernel was in its infancy.

Linux Foundation fellow and new Google hire Ted Ts'o -- who is said to be the first Linux kernel developer in North America - said the kernel is as robust these days as any other Unix kernel or any OS kernel out there.

Yet he sees scalability as one significant challenge for the Linux kernel (all kernels, really) with the "advent of very large numbers of CPUs on a chip. "We thought scalability was largely solved two years ago," but multicore processing will impose more stringest demands going forward, he said, pointing out that low end laptops will boast 16 to 32 cores in no time.

The advent of next generation networking technologies including Infiniband will also impose technical challenges for the team, Ts'o said.

Topics: Software, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

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Paula Rooney has covered the software and technology industry for more than 20 years, starting with semiconductor design and mini-computer systems at EDN News and later focused on PC software companies including Microsoft, Lotus, Oracle, Red Hat, Novell and other open source and commercial software companies for CRN and PCWeek. She receiv... Full Bio

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