Sky falls – bugs exist in the Linux kernel….



There have been several articles in the last few days breathlessly heralding the news The linux kernel is too buggy… Andrew Morton, the lead maintainer has said in the last week that the 2.6 kernel has gotten a bit out of hand with too many new features and too few fixed bugs. Of course, he’s probably right…. Linux founder Linus Torvalds agrees that a “bugfix only” cycle of kernel development would be a good idea.


So there’s agreement that a bugfix cycle is needed…. One of the things thats interesting to me about open source software is that the ENTIRE process is held in public, so you get to see EVERYTHING that goes into software developments. Open source software has a tendency to air it’s “dirty laundry” if you will in public…

I’ve seen a lot of software and it’s always funny to me that ANYTHING released by a “closed source” company is considered as a perfect and solid product (especially by their marketing department..) Enough varnish is usually applied to gloss over any defects as “features”, everything is played to sound like a tremendous value and advantage. In some ways here open source software is at a disadvantage, at least for the semi-casual observer…. they might think…. “huh – linux is buggy – the kernel developers even say it. Never heard Bill Gates say Windows is buggy… it must not have any problems.”

Of course, I’ve said before here that software “upgrades” take one of two general forms either… 1) bug fixes (including security fixes) – sometimes these create other bugs… or 2) feature additions/improvements which seem more likely to have their own bugs. The BIG problem is that it’s nowhere NEAR as much fun to fix bugs as it is to add features. (Unless one bug is particularly annoying..) With the current state of commercial interest in the linux kernel there seems to be a quicker pace of feature additions coming from all quarters.

Who knows – maybe they need to batten down the hatches and say every x release cycles will be devoted to bugfixes ONLY. I’d LOVE it if the development process for EVERY companies software were so public – all the internal complaints about bugginess about things being poorly designed, hopelessly broken, etc. It would REALLY make for interesting reading, but I suspect most closed source companies would move to Neptune before they would do that.

I think one of the first things I learned in an introductory programming class (Algorithm design)… “All software has bugs.”

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