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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
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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.