Torvalds looks into Linux bottleneck

Addressing concern that tweaks to the OS aren't being pushed through fast enough, founder Linus Torvalds is adopting software that automates the process of implementing updates.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertise Processors | Semiconductors | Web browsers | Quantum computing | Supercomputers | AI | 3D printing | Drones | Computer science | Physics | Programming | Materials science | USB | UWB | Android | Digital photography | Science Credentials
  • Shankland covered the tech industry for more than 25 years and was a science writer for five years before that. He has deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and more.
Stephen Shankland
Addressing concern that tweaks to the operating system aren't being pushed through fast enough, Linus Torvalds has taken steps to formalize control over the project's underlying source code.

Torvalds, the founder and lead programmer of the Linux operating system, is generally respected as a good manager of the OS, but some have been concerned that he can't keep up with the volume of changes to the software.

In the last 10 years, Linux has grown from Torvalds' programming project to a software package serious enough to become the heart of IBM's server strategy. Torvalds' personal style still remains, though, despite the increasing corporate involvement in the software.

Two weeks ago, addressing the perceived delays in dealing with tweaks to the OS, one programmer proposed that Torvalds anoint a "patch penguin"--a person responsible for applying the oodles of patches and updates to the software.

Now Torvalds has taken measures to automate the process using BitMover's BitKeeper software. Larry McVoy of BitMover has long advocated the change.

Changing over to the BitKeeper system "has definitely made me slower," Torvalds said last week in a posting to the Linux kernel mailing list, but "some of it pays off."

Torvalds said improvements expected from the system include the ability to apply patches directly from the e-mail in which they're sent and an easier synchronization of other versions of Linux with Torvalds' version. Easier synchronization, however, will require others to use the same system--a change Torvalds said won't come quickly.