Linus Torvalds: Changes in hardware change Linux development

Bugs are getting more esoteric, and hardware isn’t getting faster at the same pace it used to

Credit: James Niccolai/IDGNS

In Linux Version 4.19, Linux’s developers had to deal with a hardware security bug, an issue that was particuarly frustrating becasue it was someone else’s bug. But Linux creator Linus Torvalds hopes that such incidents will be less common in the future.

In the Linux development process, there is a two-week merge window for new code, then developers spend six to seven weeks looking for bugs. Usually, this process is not a big deal, Torvalds says. Most often, by the middle of the second week, bug-fixing ensues.

But Version 4.19’s hardware security issue arose in the middle of the merge window period. Thegood news, says Torvalds: Bugs lately have become more and more esoteric, impacting fewer and fewer cases. “I hoping we’re getting to the dregs of hardware security bugs and going forward, we’ll have much fewer of them.”

Torvalds also recalled that it used to be expected that hardware performance would double every year. That has not been true lately, it and will not be so going forward, he says.

With this in mind, perhaps developers will revert to a time when there was more concern about performance on the software side, Torvalds says, rather than assume speedier hardware will take care of it.

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