During a question and answer session, the panel was asked if the current large number of Linux distributions was helping or hurting the open-source operating system. Torvalds said he is a big fan of competition, to loud applause. Also, many of the more than 100 distributions are used by a small number of people, he said. "Clearly, 100 distributions is not practical for a middleware vendor, so they tend to test just a few and can find it confusing. Think of it as politics: Yes, choice is confusing, but it is better than no choice," he said to strong applause again.Turning to the issue of the Linux desktop, SuSEs Geck said there are pieces missing for Linux on the desktop, but that these will show up in time. "This will come in time, and you need ISVs to trust the platform and customer software needs to be supported. But you need the hardware support before you can have the applications supported, and when you have the middleware, you can have the application support. This all comes in time," he said. Asked about digital rights management and intellectual property rights in the 2.6 kernel and beyond, Torvalds said Version 2.6 will not support Microsoft Corp.s Palladium initiative "and those digital rights management kind of things. You can do a lot of DRM things on top of Linux, and this is not something we are seeing a huge push from the open-source community." In a Microsoft world, the default approach is to build things into the kernel, Augustin said, while Linux development takes a layered approach where things are built above the core system, leading to a very different approach as to how these matters should be dealt with.
Asked about single-sign on and Active Directory integration in the 2.6 kernel, Augustin said there is good support for AD above the kernel in the open-source world in terms of applications available.