Network: Linux hits and misses

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Is Torvalds a god?

Charles Arthur makes Linus Torvalds sound like a god, controlling all changes to the Linux OS ("Beware the Penguin, Bill", 5 October). Such a single-handed operation is not the sort on which you would want to base business applications.

In reality, Torvalds does maintain the source tree, so all new patches go through him, but there are several other maintainers who have responsibility for entire sub-sections, for which Torvalds includes the patches "on the nod". Any of these sub-maintainers is interchangeable with Torvalds.

More important, these people are developing the "experimental" kernels. These are where the all new code goes (read, "full of bugs"). Once code has stabilised, it gets shifted into the stable series kernels. It is the stable series that has the legendary rock solidness (ie, the ones you would want as an NT substitute), and the job of collating and releasing these falls on Allan Cox, a Welshman and long-time Linux kernel developer who is paid to do this by RedHat, a leading commercial Linux distributor.

Other commercial Linux distributors do their part. These companies release their work to all, so while we say that Linux is led by expert hackers ganging together to make a technically great OS, it is backed up by commercial companies who work to make Linux palatable for commercial enterprise.

Roger Irwin

A bit of an intrusion

Thanks for the article on Linux. I believe that alternative operating systems such as Linux have an important part to play in stimulating interest and competition in the computer industry; as well as providing excellent platforms for new programmers.

Personally, I have put my 2p behind Linux. For the last year Linux has been the primary operating system for my business (I am a computer consultant), and for home Internet access.

Of course, the command line Arthur mentions is still there, and currently it does intrude rudely during most installation processes.

James Mitchell

Free Net access

is no problem

I must take exception to the column by Eva Pascoe (5 October) concerning "free" Internet access. Her presumption is that every Internet user expects the level of availability and support that she does. This is not so. I have been using Freeserve for two weeks now. The software installed correctly first time, it has connected first time/every time and the connection speed is as fast as any other ISP I have tried. During the set-up (when most problems are likely to occur), everything went smoothly and I have not even considered phoning for support.

Ian Sedgwick


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