Linus Torvalds Hits Back On “What Killed The Linux Desktop”

War Of WordsCouple of days back Miguel de Icaza, the co-founder of Gnome project, wrote in his (in)famous article “What Killed The Linux Desktop” that desktop Linux is almost dead thanks to rapid development and incompatibility across Linux distributions. He said:

“This killed the ecosystem for third party developers trying to target Linux on the desktop. You would try once, do your best effort to support the “top” distro or if you were feeling generous “the top three” distros. Only to find out that your software no longer worked six months later.”

He also (indirectly) blamed Linus Torvalds, father of Linux kernel:

“Linus, despite being a low-level kernel guy, set the tone for our community years ago when he dismissed binary compatibility for device drivers. The kernel people might have some valid reasons for it, and might have forced the industry to play by their rules, but the Desktop people did not have the power that the kernel people did. But we did keep the attitude.”

Linus Torvalds today hit back on Miguel’s claims on a Google Plus thread created by Sriram Ramkrishna. Linus said that Miguel’s cliams are laughable:

The gnome people claiming that I set the “attitude” that causes them problems is laughable.

“One of the core kernel rules has always been that we never ever break any external interfaces. That rule has been there since day one, although it’s gotten much more explicit only in the last few years. The fact that we break internal interfaces that are not visible to userland is totally irrelevant, and a total red herring.

wish the gnome people had understood the real rules inside the kernel. Like “you never break external interfaces” – and “we need to do that to improve things” is not an excuse.”

Linus was also joined by Alan Cox in slamming Miguel’s “What Killed The Linux Desktop”. He mocked Miguel’s claim of incompatibility across Linux distributions:

“The second dimension to the problem is that no two Linux distributions agreed on which core components the system should use.”

That made me laugh. There was KDE and Miguel then came along and created the very confusion he’s ranting about. He was also core to ramming CORBA down peoples throats which then had to be extracted slowly back out of the resulting mess that blighted Gnome 2.x and occupied vast amounts of developer time.

You can read the whole “fight” among the tech-gurus here. By the way, whose side are you on?