Torvalds Speaks Out on SCO, Linux

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.