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Linux Top 3: Linux 4.0, Leadership and Goobuntu

  • September 3, 2012
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

This past week was a bonanza of Linux loving with the annual LinuxCon North America event. While the four day event was full of excellent speakers and topics, a few key session stood out among all the rest.

1) Linux 4.0

As he did last year at Linuxcon 2011, Linus Torvalds got on stage much to the delight and excitement of the capacity crowd at Linuxcon 2012 in San Diego. Torvalds was in a panel session along with fellow kernel developer James Bottomley, Ted T'so, Sarah Sharp and Greg Kroah-Hartman.

Among the multiple topics that Torvalds addressed in the panel session is the one about the numbering of the Linux kernel. In the case of the 3.0 Linux kernel, the numbering change had nothing to do with some major new feature but rather was just a function of the 2.6.x numbers getting too big.

The same thing is likely to happen with the 3.0 series too.

"We are not going to go to the mid-30's," Torvalds said. "It's just mentally much easier for people to remember the small number. We'll do 4.0 in three years maybe when the sub numbers have grown in the 20's and our feeble brains can't handle it."

2) When Linus Meets the 'Bus'

Torvalds also addressed the issue of Linux kernel leadership in the event that something should happen to him. As opposed to the state of kernel development at the beginning of the Linux era, there are now thousands of kernel develops and a system of maintainers that are all responsible for sub-systems inside the kernel.

Yet despite all that, Linus is still the person at the top pushing out the actual new releases several times a year.

"We just have such a huge mass of maintainers," Torvalds said. "With other projects, if a maintainer lands under the bus, they get decimated."

As to who actually takes over as the primary maintainer, Torvalds also has a very simple point of view:

"I always have the same answer to that question," Torvalds said. "I won't care."

3) Goobuntu

For years, rumors and hearsay have persisted on the Internet about Google's own internal Linux distribution. At Linuxcon, Google engineer Thomas Bushnell detailed what that distro is all about.

It's known at Google as 'Goobuntu' and it's based soundly on Ubuntu Linux. As opposed to it being a derivative (like a Linux Mint for example), Goobuntu is just a light skinning of the stock Ubuntu LTS release.

"Just go get Ubuntu and run it and you've got Goobuntu," Bushnell said. "The only thing we're adding are special tools to access Google specific resources that our engineers need."

The other interesting thing that Bushnell revealed is that Google is actually a support customer of Canonical. That's right, Google is paying Canonical for Linux, a fact that was not widely known until last week.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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