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IBM developerWorks: An interview with Jon "maddog" Hall, Part 2 - Size and diversity in Linux distributions

Oct 29, 2000, 12:12 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Alberto Tomita)

[ Thanks to Alberto Tomita for this link. ]

"Jon "maddog" Hall shares his thoughts with developerWorks' Alberto Tomita on the increasing size of Linux distributions, the virtues of Linus' iron-hand rule over the kernel, the Linux Standard Base project, and what would happen if Microsoft went open source."

"It's been a year since developerWorks' previous interview with maddog on Linux software development and the latest from Linux International. In this second interview, we asked maddog for a rough outline of what he thinks is in store for the growing group of Linux distributions and their relationship to the kernel. If only because of his thirty-odd years on the job, maddog has a pretty solid shot at prophesying the future of Linux."

"Linux has come a long way since its floppy disc days. Distributions are now big enough to fill a CD-ROM or even a DVD. How do you see this growth?"

"Hall: First of all, it depends on what you call "Linux." Linux is in reality the kernel of the operating system. And although the Linux kernel has become bigger, it still can be tailored down to be very small. The bulk of the kernel consists of device drivers. So you have people looking at Linux for embedded systems, where they can get the kernel down to 100 KB, which is extremely small."

"Most of what you're seeing on the CD are things like application programs, people putting in graphical programs to do systems administration work, an accumulation of various open source projects. Things like Gimp and Wine (see Resources later in this article), all of which are causing the expansion of Linux in terms of size."

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