• Linux is now at the foundation of edge, cloud, embedded, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies which help enable operations on numerous devices.
  • Even though the development process has become predictable over these 30 years, Linux still has many new and innovative things coming into the kernel updates.

Linus Torvalds, the mastermind behind the Linux operating system, is still enthusiastic about the future innovative prospects for the open-source operating system he created 30 years ago.

Linux is now at the foundation of edge, cloud, embedded, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that enable operations on numerous devices. Linux is developed by an open community of contributors with new versions of the core, known as the Linux kernel, released every six to ten weeks. Each of these significant kernel updates is released by Torvalds himself.

At the recently held Open-Source Summit, the creator discussed the state of Linux. He spoke about how the pandemic impacted Linux development, state-to-open-source security, and upcoming technologies.

He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted many people in the community, but it did not affect development in any way.

How does the Linux kernel development process work?

According to Torvalds, the Linux kernel development process has not changed much for at least the last 15 years.

Torvalds created the open-source Git version control system in 2005 to enable a faster and more optimized approach to development. Today, Git is one of the significant technologies backing up all open-source development, powering the GitHub code service and many others.

Even though the development process has become boring and predictable, Torvalds believes that even after 30 years of working on Linux, new and innovative things are still coming into the kernel.

“One of the things that I, personally, enjoy the most is that we’re not a dead project,” Torvalds said.

Linux is getting Rust-ed

In our daily routine, rust is a sign of decay, but it’s not the same in the development world. We’re talking about the new changes coming to Linux, including the inclusion of code written in the open-source Rust programming language.

Torvalds announced the inclusion of Rust in the next Linux kernel release, which gained a lot of attention and applause from the Open-Source Summit audience. Primarily, Linus is written in the C programming language.

Rust differs from C because it provides better utilization and protection of computing memory resources. Torvalds has said that the Linux kernel will try Rust minimally.

Open-source security will never be 100%

Security has recently been a critical theme in the open-source community, especially at the Open-Source Summit event.

The Linux Foundation’s OpenSSF (Open Source Security Foundation) recently revealed that it would cost USD 150 million to secure open-source software in a multi-year effort. A report was also released that there seems to be an overall lack of confidence in the concept of open-source security.

Torvalds clarified that he doesn’t expect the open-source software, including the Linux kernel, will ever be 100% secure and bug-free.

“Bugs will happen, if they don’t happen in hardware, they will happen in software, and if they don’t happen in your software, and they will happen in somebody else’s software,” Torvalds said. “The only way to try to do security right is by having layers of security. Anybody who thinks you can get to 100% security is living in some dream world that is just not this reality,”

Torvalds stressed that a Linux kernel is just a single layer of the overall application stack. He explained that there are multiple layers of security for the various parts of the processes inside a single kernel. He further explained how developers need to have some concept of solutions ready in case of a security bug in that layer or the surrounding layers while building a whole application stack.

Experts’ Take

“We’ve had the same process and the same release schedules, and in that sense kernel development has been very calm and not exciting from a process standpoint, and that’s actually exactly what I think you want,” Torvalds said. “You want to have a stable process so that people don’t get upset about how all the infrastructure is changing.”