December 10 2023

Linus Torvalds and the future of Linux: Artificial Intelligence and upcoming challenges

In an in-depth interview at Open Source Summit Japan, Linus Torvalds discusses innovations with Rust, maintainer challenges, and the impact of AI on Linux development.

linux torvalds

Linus Torvalds, the well-known creator of Linux and Git, recently shared his thoughts on the current state of Linux and the potential impact of artificial intelligence in its future, during the Open Source Summit Japan held on December 5 and 6. As reported by ZDnet, https://www.zdnet.com/article/linus-torvalds-on-state-of-linux-today-and-how-ai-figures-in-its-future/  Torvalds touched on important topics such as the integration of Rust into Linux, the challenges faced by Linux maintainers, and perspectives on the use of artificial intelligence in Linux and Open Source development.

Linus-Torvalds-and-dirk-hondhel-oss-japan-2023

First, Torvalds discussed the upcoming release of the Linux kernel, version 6.7. Before his departure for Tokyo, he had already made the fourth release candidate of this kernel available. According to Torvalds, if there are no problems, the new version of the operating system will be released around Christmas. Although he was initially reluctant to set an inclusion window so close to the Christmas holidays, to avoid ruining Christmas for the maintainers, Torvalds later clarified:

We are waiting to make sure there are no significant obstacles. We want to ensure that the maintainers and developers who are working towards the next version, 6.8, do not feel pressured knowing that my inclusion window will open after Christmas. Therefore, we may delay by a week or two to make the time more manageable, as no one wants to work during the Christmas period.

A central theme of the discussion was the problem of burnout among Linux kernel maintainers. This role, essential but extremely demanding, is becoming increasingly demanding. A related issue is the aging of the Linux kernel community: many maintainers will reach 60 in the next five years, and some will approach 70.

Torvalds then addressed the topic of the use of the Rust programming language in the Linux kernel, pointing out that although the use of Rust is growing, there is currently no part of the kernel that essentially depends on it. He predicted that it will still take years for Rust to become a core component of the kernel.

Furthermore, Torvalds expressed optimistic hopes regarding the role of artificial intelligence in software development. He believes that AI can be instrumental in detecting obvious and trivial bugs, thus making programmers' jobs easier.

However, he does not see AI as a revolution in itself, but rather as an additional tool for developers to improve the quality of their work. AI is also likely to play a significant role in the future development of the Linux kernel.

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