Has Linux gained too much weight?

Linus Torvalds is unhappy with just how big Linux is getting. Is he onto something or is it just a load of hot air?

Longbottom agrees with the need for modularity and sympathises with Torvalds' desire for a super slim model of an OS. But achieving such a slender model, he added, is not without its problems.

"An ideal operating system would be highly modular - a very thin, super-fast kernel, with everything else being serviced via callable external routines," he said.

"The problem is that such callable routines then introduce considerable latency (a problem that Linux did suffer from with its original approach of a small kernel and lots of external classes and routines). To satisfy the needs of customers, code had to be moved from outside to inside the kernel - so introducing and compounding bloat."

The only way Longbottom sees around it is an installer stating exactly what each independent user needs their operating system to do, but it would involve so many separate offerings the support and maintenance would be immense.

He concluded: "Outside of this, OS bloat is something that we will have to live with, I believe."

Whether we're talking software or humans, it's normal to hark back to the days of youth, where there were less lumps and bumps and everything fitted just that little better. But it seems Torvalds may need to understand that bloating is inevitable and is something that comes with age and maturity.

Top five Linux and Torvalds facts

1 The original kernel was released in 1991 when Torvalds was only 21. Can you remember what you were doing aged 21? Probably not inventing something with the potential to change the way we think about software.

2 The first release had 10,239 lines of code.

3 Although authored by Torvalds and Andrew Morton (a computer programmer rather than the author of the biography of Diana, Princess of Wales), thousands of developers collaborated to develop the system.

4 The international symbol for Linux is a penguin named Tux, which is Torvalds' personal mascot. Tux is also rather cute.

5 Revenue for Linux is set to top $1 billion in 2012, according to IDC.

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