Linux.conf.au 2015 Keynote: Linus Torvalds

Posted on 2015/01/21

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The linux.conf.au conference has been held last week in Auckland. The videos of the conference have been published, and among them I saw the segment starring Linus Torvalds.

The keynote was moderated by Andrew Tridgell, and the participants were Linus, Bdale Garbee and Paul “Rusty” Russell. Here is an outline that I hope can be useful if you don’t have time to watch the whole video:

  • At the beginning Bdale talks about some progress in the free open source initiative and about FreedomBox.
  • Andrew makes a comparison with linux.conf.au 2003 to highlight the changes in these 12 years and what stayed the same.
  • Around 7:00 Linux talk about trusted computing and signing the kernel with random one-time keys.
  • Around 8:30 there is a discussion about IPv6 and prediction about the end of IPv4.
  • The rest of the video is a Q&A session with random questions from the audience.
  • The first question (~10:00) is about Linux kernel mailing list and the fact that Linus is often hostile. His answer is mostly a variation of “different strokes for different folks“.
  • At 15:00 there’s a similar question about the raise in verbally abusive discussion in the open source community. The participants agree the suggestion of Rusty that it’s just the discussions about systemd.
  • The inevitable question about the year of the Linux desktop arrives at 21:00, and one answer is that the desktop got smaller and went into the smartphones, which are 80% Linux.
  • At 23:00 there’s a question about how to involve the new generations into programming and open source. Bdale has an interesting suggestion that the most intriguing platforms for this generation seems to be a combination of simple computing and tangible interaction with the physical world, such as the Arduino ecosystem.
  • Then there are questions about systemd, The Machine, Linus side projects, and the fact that Australia and New Zealand space agencies should be united.
  • At 35:00 Linus predicts that in the next decade the hardware will hit a big wall in the usual progression of technology, in terms for example of silicon scaling and transistors per chip. That will bring big changes and it will probably throw away many assumptions that nowadays hold true.
  • Around 38:00 Linus compares the kernel to a biological system, that it’s not perfect but survives in the environment because it’s efficient, and when something fails it evolves and gets better.
  • There’s a discussion about security, and at 48:00 the group argues for the disclosure of defects, and that the recent media coverage of Heartbleed and Shellshock at least has shown that the open source community is able to put effort into important matters.
  • At the end, Linux concludes that he’s happy that his project is making everyone work together, even big capitalist companies that sell closed source software. He thinks it’s not a battle “free open source software vs the world” but that better result can be achieved by collaborating together when it’s beneficial. It’s a clear hint to RMS battles for freedom without compromise.

Here is the video:

Posted in: Software