Fosdem O'Reilly
2004 Edition Free and Open Source Software Developer's European Meeting


2003-12-21 - Robert Love

Linux kernel

An interview conducted by Alain Buret
FOSDEM - First and traditional question : Please present yourself ...

Robert Love - My name is Robert Love. I live in Gainesville, Florida, USA and work on the Linux kernel.

FOSDEM - How and when did you start looking at the linux kernel ?

Robert Love - About five years ago, I started looking into the kernel, reading the source, and playing around. I was curious and it was fun.

FOSDEM - Lots of people know you've contributed a lot to latest version of Linux kernel thru the pre-emptive kernel ... but what did you make else ?

Robert Love - I am interested in the scheduler, process management, and VM. I wrote the CPU affinity system calls and the VM strict overcommit patch for 2.6.

I do user-space, too. I wrote and maintain schedutils, a package of utilities for manipulating scheduler-related parameters. And I maintain procps, the package that contains ps, top, vmstat, etc.

These days, I am doing kernel and system-level work aimed at bringing the Linux desktop to new levels.

FOSDEM - Still a student, but also working for MontaVista and writer for the Linux Journal ... can you explain us how are your days ?

Robert Love - My days are very busy!

FOSDEM - What would you advise when people try to create a 'desktop kernel' ?

Robert Love - Go for it.

But when people say "desktop kernel", what do they mean ?

A lot of time they mean tuning. Performance tuning for the desktop is important, although 2.6 is really quite close to what we want there.

More important is laying the infrastructure for a full desktop system. This involves better hardware management, event notification, etc.

FOSDEM - What would you (like to see) improve(d) in future version of the kernel ?

Robert Love - It is hard to think of what else we need while still wrapping up 2.6, but I know I would like to see all of the remaining drivers in the kernel switch over to the device model.

I know other people want other things, too. Better memory performance on NUMA, improved SCSI layer, and a tty layer rewrite. I would love that last one, too.

FOSDEM - Introduce in few words what you're going to talk about during your presentation ...

Robert Love - I am going to talk about the relationship between the Linux desktop and the kernel. I am going to talk about what the kernel and system-level hackers need to do to help the the desktop succeed and to improve the user experience. I am going to talk about the symbioses we need between both camps to really make things amazing.

Desktop performance will be covered, but I really hit that hard at OLS this year.

So a primary focus is going to be on the integration we need.

FOSDEM - What are you expecting from your talk at FOSDEM and from the interactions with other developers present at the event?

Robert Love - Three goals.
  • First, I want to get the word out on what I am working on and on what I think the desktop needs to be successful.
  • Second, I want to foster interest in these goals and the projects that can meet them.
  • Third, I want to help generate some love between the desktop hackers and the kernel hackers.


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