Torvalds Speaks Out on SCO, Linux

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-06-23 Print this article Print

SCO-IBM suit spurs defense of open source from Linux's founder.

Linus Torvalds, the founder and lead developer of the Linux open-source operating system, has some strong views about the , which he shared with eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli in an e-mail exchange last week. Torvalds also last week announced he was taking a leave of absence from Transmeta Corp. and becoming the first full-time fellow at the Open Source Development Lab, where he will continue to drive the next version of the Linux kernel, 2.6, due later this summer. Do you expect anything to change now that you are working for the OSDL in terms of your focus around Linux? I dont foresee any particular changes. That said, I remember when I first joined Transmeta, and some issues Transmeta ended up having with SMP ended up being how I started getting into Linux SMP [symmetric multiprocessing] development—not because Transmeta asked me to per se, but because the situation was just different enough from my situation in Helsinki that my priorities shifted. In other words, were all creatures of our environment, and in that sense any change will obviously reflect some way in what I do.
There has been some talk that the members of the OSDL, like IBM, HP or others, may try and sway your focus and get you to include technologies they want to see in the kernel. Are you concerned about this?
No. But part of the reason Im not concerned about it is that we were pretty proactive about it. Exactly to not raise these kinds of concerns, my contract says that I have final word on the kernel, and the copyright remains with me personally. Ive always felt it was important to let people know that there arent any direct commercial influences on the maintainership of the kernel, and that the maintainership is done on purely technical grounds. Your current focus is obviously on the 2.5 kernel and bug fixing so it can become 2.6. Are you still on track for a release this summer? Im never on track, and maybe Ill have to move to Australia to make good on it, but on the whole Im actually pretty happy with where we are. Delayed (as usual), but there are no big show-stoppers. Were getting to the point where Ill start doing the so-called "pre-kernels" to encourage more people to start testing stuff heavily. Where are you at with the kernel and what are you currently concentrating on? Right now theres nothing particularly worrying going on, and its mostly a lot of "locking down the hatches." Sometimes too much of it, since some of the bug-fixing has degenerated into "cleanups" again, so Ill have to try to convince people to let it go and just fix bugs.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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