Linus Torvalds, creator and responsible for the development of the Linux kernel, has taken advantage of the Open Source Summit (which this year is carried out entirely online) to issue a warning about the future of the project.
It all came about when his interviewer (Dirk Hohndel, director of Open Source at VMWare) asked him the awkward question about what will happen when the current generation of kernel maintainers is forced to quit, taking into account that the age of many of its leaders ranges from 50 to 60 years.
The question of generational change
“At some point we will have to start thinking about generational change as a community,” Hohndel said.
Torvalds ruled out painting such a gray image of the community, stating that this generation has already gone on to perform maintenance and administration, and that actual development work already falls on younger people.
However, once he made that clarification, he recognized that, effectively Linux has a problem:
“It is difficult to find volunteers who can join as maintainers; we do not have enough.
We have a lot of code writers, yes, but it’s hard to find people who can really deal with reviewing other people’s code, deciding what to incorporate and what not. “
According to Torvalds, one of the reasons for this is the time it takes to build bonds of trust within the community:
“30 years ago, when we started, we didn’t need that: as soon as you stuck your head out, you got the job. But a lot of people now depend on the kernel, you can’t do the crazy things we used to do before.”
Will C lose importance against Rust in the kernel code?
But Torvalds spoke of more controversial things in that interview, such as the leading role of C language in the development of the nucleus, a role that its creator is convinced that will be reduced in the coming years compared to more modern languages like Rust and Go (curiously, Microsoft thinks something similar about their operating system).
Faced with Hohndel’s question of whether kernel developers are at risk of “becoming the equivalent of COBOL programmers of the 2030s,” Torvalds acknowledges that while C plays a leading role, other languages are already commonly used for “non-core” tasks kernel, such as driver development.
“I am convinced that [la sustitución de C] is going to take place. It may not be at the hands of Rust, but we will have different programming models for this kind of thing, and C’s will not be the only one. “
Track | The Register
Image | Alan Levine
Share “It is increasingly difficult to find maintainers for the Linux kernel”, warns its creator