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Linux Delays Won't Hit Developers

Oct 10, 2000, 19:05 (20 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Leyden)

By John Leyden, VNU Net

The delay of the next version of the Linux kernel is likely to shake user confidence in the operating system despite having little effect on software development.

Linus Torvalds, creator of the open source operating system, publicly admitted at the Linux World Conference and Expo last week that the final version of the 2.4 kernel is unlikely to be ready for another two months.

The hiccup is the latest in a series of delays that have occurred as developers placed more high-end features into the final release, which it was first hoped might be available last autumn.

However, distributors of open source software said the further delay will not have a significant impact on users because they had planed for it in release schedules.

Mark Baker, product specialist at Linux distributor Red Hat, said: "The delay doesn't make a great deal of difference to the product release. Red Hat 7.0 is 2.4 ready but not dependent on the latest version of the kernel, which may come next year. When it is released, users can upgrade automatically using Red Hat Network Services."

Jon Collins, technical director of analysts Sundial Consultancy, said the kernel is unlikely to be delayed more than a few months but that nonetheless this will have a knock-on effect.

"The physical knock-on effect is easy to bear compared to how this will shake user confidence," said Collins. "Enterprises are not gagging for it [the 2.4 kernel] but the hold-up will delay acceptance by the enterprise."

"The delay, next to bugs in the latest Linux release, bring things back down to Earth and reminds people that it's just software."

Red Hat has been hit by criticism of the quality of Red Hat 7.0 that even prompted calls on the Bugzilla mailing list for the recall of the product. It now appears that reports of 2,500 bugs were wildly exaggerated.

Red Hat's Baker said that the true figure, when duplicate reports were excluded, amounted to more like 320, for which patches and updates will be made available. Many of these problems involved incompatibilities with older applications or difficulties with a new compiler, said Baker, who added that Red Hat welcomed customer feedback but felt "in this case, things have been blown out of proportion".

Dave Fisher, commercial analyst at ecommerce consultancy GBDirect, said many of the problems with Red hat 7.0 were not specific to the distribution but connected to either fundamental design issues or people not reading the manual. Earlier reaction that the product had not been tested wasn't fair, he added.

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