Feeds

Open BSD honcho channels Ballmer in Linux tirade

It's garbage, De Raadt explains

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Open BSD honcho Theo De Raadt claimed that Linux is a hopeless jumble of "cheap little hacks" and has become "garbage" during an interview published at Forbes.com.

"Everyone is using it, and they don't realize how bad it is," he said. "And the Linux people will just stick with it and add to it rather than stepping back and saying, 'This is garbage and we should fix it.'"

De Raadt said that the Linux development model lacks professional management, and that big companies like IBM and Sun are capitalizing on the free labor of amateurs because they're too cheap to hire a proper development team.

"These companies used to have to pay to develop Unix. They had in-house engineers who wrote new features when customers wanted them. Now they just allow the user community to do their own little hacks and features, trying to get to the same functionality level, and they're just putting pennies into it," he said.

"They have the same rapid development cycle [as Microsoft], which leads to crap," he added.

It's not unusual for Unix and Linux fans to bash each other's hobby horses, and certainly Microsoft has been beating the drums about numerous problems with Linux, imaginary or otherwise, out of fear of its increasing popularity. When Steve Ballmer goes postal denouncing Linux, we know he's motivated primarily by fear. When Theo De Raadt does the same, we know that the popularity contest between Linux and BSD has already been decided in favor of Linux, so an ulterior motive in this case would more likely be something like envy.

But he has a couple of good points, although we detect some Ballmeresque FUD in the claim that contributions from the "user community" are below par. Actually, some of the best developers around are working on Linux and other open source projects, and there is no need to invoke Ballmer's "Chinese hackers," however subtly.

True, the development cycle poses a problem in practice, although it is not a fundamental problem; it's a more practical one of the Linux vendors issuing new distros with incontinence. There is nothing wrong with developers issuing kernel patches every week; people need to test them and see that they work as expected and don't break anything else. But there is something wrong with a Linux vendor cranking out a new edition every four or six months, featuring a new kernel that, as often as not, is worse than the one it happened to use before.

The Linux development system is not the problem; the vendor release schedule is the problem. You can almost hear the marketing teams asking, will 2.6.12 be out by the time we're ready to release? If a vendor would ever dare to show the patience and the confidence to do with Linux what Apple did with BSD, Microsoft would soon be on the ropes.

It's the vendors, not the developers, who need to slow down, and come out with carefully de-bugged and polished combinations of kernels and applications that work together well on a broad variety of hardware. No one would build an automobile with the latest engine, the latest transmission, the latest fuel system, without knowing whether or not they work well together. Yet a Linux vendor thinks nothing of literally slapping together the latest releases of every available component and calling it a distro.

The developers are doing their jobs, and doing them well, in spite of what Steve Ballmer and Theo De Raadt imagine. But the vendors should listen carefully to the criticism directed erroneously at the developers, and apply it to themselves. Because it's really meant for them. ®

Related stories

Red Hat and Novell salivate as Navy learns to count servers
Users hunt for missing 64-bit kit from AMD and Microsoft
Master Windows Server 2003 security
Red Hat salutes Opteron with dual-core happy update
Xen grows up with SMP server slicer

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
The cloud that goes puff: Seagate Central home NAS woes
4TB of home storage is great, until you wake up to a dead device
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.