Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple

Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple

Summary: The Internet is a cold, cruel place that holds onto your words forever. Be careful of what you say, to whom you say it and the date on any article that you quote.


Linus after a right hook from Steve Jobs.

Linus after a right hook from Steve Jobs.

More than three years later and poor Linus still gets grief over $#!^ he said. In part, thanks to David Gewirtz's post that time forgot referring to Linus' comments regarding Apple's filesystem. The post made me start thinking (always a dangerous thing to do) and I came up with the notion that Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple. He should probably stick to kernel programming. Or, use his powers to take jabs at Microsoft. But, Apple is off limits, even to Linus. And, before you raise your hackles, I'm a Linux guy but I have to draw the line at pointless Apple jabs--even ones that are three years old.

First of all, Apple's filesystem is not 'complete and utter crap.' It's built on 25-year old technology that's stood the test of time, through multiple OS versions and a change in hardware technology culminating in a now UNIX-based architecture. Mac OS X is an amalgam of FreeBSD and NeXT. Its HFS+ filesystem isn't ext4 but it has its own features that are pretty darn good.

HFS+ Features

  • Maximum number of files per filesystem: Four billion.
  • Supports volume sizes to 8EiB.
  • Supports file sizes to 8EiB.
  • Journaling.
  • UNIX file permissions and ACLs.
  • Transparent Compression.
  • Transparent Encryption.
  • UNIX filesystem layout.

Ext4 Features

  • Maximum number of files per filesystem: Four billion.
  • Supports volume sizes to 1EiB.
  • Supports file sizes to 16TiB.
  • Journaling.
  • UNIX file permissions and ACLs.
  • No Transparent Compression.
  • No Transparent Encryption.
  • UNIX filesystem layout.

So, you see, by comparison on some significant metrics, HFS+ is comparable to or superior to ext4. I do find it considerable overkill on the part of both that these filesystems can address more disk space than is currently available on the entire planet. As an illustration, if you could magnetically format the Moon (1 Lunabyte (LB)) and find a USB cable long enough to reach it, you could use the Moon to store your illegally downloaded MP3s, movies and porn--for everyone on Earth.
Why did Linus make such an incredibly crazy statement? Jet lag? Hangover? iPhone malfunction?

Whatever the reason, I'm sure that he'd like to retract it--especially now that multiple people have brought it back into the spotlight. Namely, David Gewirtz.

I have no beef with Apple or Linus. I'm just saying that making such comments to the Press is a very bad idea. Whether printed, recorded or blogged, those words will stay with you forever. Especially with guys like David Gewirtz around.

The only things that I ever want to hear Linus Torvalds say:

  • Ken, you want another beer? (Like he, or anyone, ever has to ask).
  • Ken, I loved your latest article/book/post/artwork/beer selection.
  • The new stable kernel is available.
  • I'm giving Ken Hess a million tax free dollars.
  • Hello, this is Linus Torvalds and I pronounce Linux as Linux.

Related Tales:

Topic: Apple


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Sadly, Linus thinks everything he did not do is crap.

    Sad but true.
    • Trully Linus Trovalds did something useful for all

      He knows more and his opinion carry more weight than that of Ken H. based on his accomplishments and the benefit he has given to humanity.<br><br>I stand by Linus Torvalds. The author of this article should be the one to heed his own words.
      • I never said Linus was stupid.


        But he has a very low opinion of everything any other software engineer does. I have never heard him actually compliment anothers work.
        • Now 5 Yrs and Still True... it's Still C***!

          Developers all over the planet realize this every time they have to sit down and write a program or App for iOS. It's based on MFS (Macintosh File System) created for single threaded processors used in original Apple computers in the 70's. You only needed to run one task at a time. It was then rewritten as HFS 1985. But it's task management still stacks one task on top of the other. When it's done with one, it moves on to the next and so forth.

          In a feature to feature comparison of file systems still used today, HFS even in it's Plus version ranks as one of the lowest, most featureless file systems on the planet. Plus did add "Preemptive Task Manager" in the 90's. But that only gave it the ability to suspend one task while it ran one, that was more important. It still wasn't journaled nor could it run multiple threads like other file systems written in the 90's could do.

          IBM was the first to offer "Pervasive Multithreading" to an OS and it had to have a journaled file system with the features to pull this off. Modern Multitasking was born and thereafter came many clones of their "Pervasive Multithreading" features to other file systems and their operating systems. Only Apple was even then considered lost in the Dark Ages of their always insisting on "Backwards Compatibility" with Mac OS in OS X development.

          Both Scott and Steve knew this was a bad move even back then, coming from BSD based NeXTStep. Even Microsoft had made the break with the past and cloned IBM's file system and "Pervasive Multithreading". While Apple Mac OS devs dragged their feet and insisted on retaining backwards compatibility in OS X to Apple own future detriment.

          Without a fully journaled file system they could not do Instant Fast Search. Although creating a virtual sub database file system for iTunes at least gave it Multimedia Fast Search the OS still running on HFS+ itself still lacks this feature. But they then hired Dominic Giampaolo to write a Sub Virtual Database like file system and search too. That was Spotlight, but it only covered limited files not written to the OS's HFS+ file system and it's called HFSX. Yet.... that is only a cover up of Apple's legacy root file system inadequacies in competing against other more feature rich system for modern Multi-processor and Multitasking computers.

          When Linus made this comment about Apple OS X and Microsoft Vista, he was right on the money. Both had failed to move from "Backwards Compatibility" and instead had only chosen to tact on a very limited virtual sub database like file system, on top of HFS+ and NTFS. For Apple it was HFSX and for Microsoft it was WinFS. Both based on BeOS's BFS and Dominic's "Practical Guide to Modern File Systems" book. Both have been of limited value and have only further delayed the break with backwards compatibility these two companies have both been avoiding. While all Unix based Operating Systems, including Sun Solaris, BSD and Linux have moved on to much better file system for the future!

          But at least Microsoft has a journaled file system while Apple's iOS and OS X still depend on HFS's "complete and utter c***" largely still single threaded file system w/o System Level Journaling! ....HFS will be their Achilles Heel come back to kick them right out of the future, if they don't do a complete ground up rewrite of both file systems and their operating systems!!!
      • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple


        There are significant short comings with HFS+ as evidenced by the fact that Apple was going to replace it a few years ago with ZFS but then had to go back on the plan because ZFS is a trademarked name (or something along those lines). Apple wouldn't have tried to replace HFS+ if it were perfectly sufficient.
      • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple

        @Uralbas I still remember when the Linux kernel did not have multi-threading. It was a good kernel then because it was stable and it is even better now but it certainly was not the best at the time. My point being is that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones because people have long memories.
        • "Pervasive Multithreading" was the key to "Multitasking"!

          And OS X thanks to HFS+ is still not capable of IBM's "Pervasive Multithreading" (meaning system wide). While Linux has been doing that and running a Touchscreen Framework in the kernel for over 15yrs!!! .....and that's another sticky point for OS X. Why can't it run a Touchscreen Interface natively like both BSD and Linux can? It all goes back to that "Cra**y" 30yo legacy HFS+ file system! ;-P
          • Has nothing to do with it.

            It is funny to read your posts. Make me think you have a future writing technobabble for SiFi.
      • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple

        @Uralbas<br><br>You have no way of telling whether Linus "knows more" than Ken, and as for "his accomplishments and the benefit he has given to humanity", please, he wrote an operating system kernel. Thousands of people in hundreds of different technical fields have produced comparable achievements but fortunately people usually are not so silly as to worship them like gurus. In this case if we were to attribute the "benefits to humanity" to a particular individual then they're largely thanks to Richard Stallman's copylefting efforts, without which you'd have to pay hundreds of dollars for an operating system with a Linux kernel just as you have to pay hundreds of dollars for operating systems with other kernels.<br><br>Linus is a competent geek, which is admirable up to a point. He's an expert on Linux so his opinions on filesystems do carry lots of weight. However, they can be argued against like anyone else's, and Ken provides some arguments. If you disagree with those arguments, get into the debate and dispute what he's said about HFS and ext4. But don't dismiss Ken because he's not your hero Linus. It's better to judge claims on the arguments that support or refute them; not on how shiny the person is who made them.
      • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple


        ZFS was a product of Sun Microsystems, now Oracle. It does work better for business use, but it is propitiatory. Sun talked about making it Free and Open Source, not sure if that happened.

        It would have been good if Apple had adopted ZFS for their servers, but it would not be a good choice for the desktops. There is a lot of overhead to ZFS, as there is to any journaling file system. EXT4 has a minimal amount of overhead. EXT3 has none. HFS seems to be trying to compete with EXT4. Just which version the Author tried to use to compare the two is a mystery. If a new HFS were used against an old EXT4 system, then I would expect HFS to fare well. The Author seems to me to have just used Apple marketing for this article. EXT4 is a moving target. I would hope that HFS is also. But, EXT4 is the minimum journaling file system in Linux. There are at least 5 others that are more powerful, including ZFS from Oracle, and they do allow very large files on very large file systems. (We're talking petabytes and exabytes here!) So, all the article is saying is that Apples best is comparable to Linux worst.

        Not something I would want to brag about, and not a worry to anyone running Linux. On my last Linux install, I just used EXT3. It is more recoverable than the old EXT2, and also faster. But, it isn't as safe as EXT 4. I now would use EXT4. It's limits are beyond my hard drive anyway. If I had a real industrial scale very large hard disk array, I would use a different file system.

        But that's just me.
      • comprehension?


        I have a feeling you didn't comprehend the article. What is it you think you read?
    • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple


      And if Linus read this article he'd say what a waste of space and time! I'd agree with that!
      • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple Yes I agree <a href="">Get a DJ</a>
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    • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple


      Actually Linus is on record as saying that all software and operating systems are crap, but that some (Linux) are less crappy than others.

      So, Linus thinks that everything he or anyone else did with computers is crap.

      Many people believe he is correct. Every time Apple or Microsoft brings out a product update, they are really agreeing with Linus.
    • Linus Doesn't Phrase Things Delicately, but...

      Linus doesn't phrase things delicately (he could use some more tact), but HFS+ really does have serious shortcomings for use with a modern BSD based, POSIX compliant system like OS X. That's why Apple has expressed interest in replacing it. Certain legacy support and technical issues make this a difficult thing to do, however. I think eventually Apple will bite the bullet and get rid of HFS+.
      • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple


        I should hope Apple does replace HFS+ - you would think that progress of technology results in new and better ways of doing things.

        HFS+ grew out of HFS which grew out of the original flat file directory structure on the Mac.

        Have a look at what HFS offered when it was introduced that now is essential, yet at the time was not provided by other directory structures.

        The OS is an evolutionary process.

        Apple I am sure would have liked to use ZFS. Investigate real reasons why they didn't - rather than the wild rumours spouted here by some.

        Of course HFS+ has some shortcomings, it is also evolving.

        Name a directory structure that has no shortcomings!!!
    • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple

      @Bruizer .
      But the desktop over lay called osx is crap
      • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple


        Yeah - It's so crappy that it lets me post responses to your perfect world.

        It is a great UI for all the right reasons - sorry if you do not know that.

        Your assertion of crap obviously means your opinion is valid and we should all stop using it because you called it crap. Deep technical analysis like you have provided is hard to find on the internet.
    • This entry is ****

      Please. Grow up and let $417 go already. If anybody needs to shut up it's whiny bloggers like you.<br><br>HFS+ has all of 3 things over ext4. Whoopti-friggin-do.<br>By the way, 2 of those are not even necessary. Who needs compression in this day and age?! And Encryption? Does your typical Mac user even have a frigging idea what that actually IS?

      At least Linus has a sense of friggin humor. Bloggers like you and David Gewirtz are worthless. Your opinions are often unnecessary. It's fine to mention that "Hey I disagree with ___" in passing, but you take and make these hate pieces which are just utter crap.
      • RE: Linus Torvalds needs to shut up about Apple

        @ZazieLavender You'll be surprised at who typical Mac users are these days. Quite a few that I know have coded their own OS kernels, have extensive knowledge of Unix and other systems, have worked on large app development and have actually used computers to do real work after all of that. Many started out in the 1980's and they know their stuff, hardware and software alike. And they are fierce critics of Apple too on many topics, myself included. However, we do give credit where credit is due, because we have the experience behind us. Now let's have good debate on where the next OS should go in a positive manner.