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Linus Torvalds: Microsoft can't catch Linux

Flexibility the key to Linux success

Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, has given his views on where Linux is going over the next year. Torvalds believes that Linux cannot be stopped by Microsoft.

In an interview with InformationWeek, he said that he doesn't watch the competition, is interested in the move to solid state devices (SSDs), and described Microsoft as an "intellectual property FUD machine" that couldn't stop Linux.

Key to development over the next year will be hardware related issues. "The bulk of the kernel really is about hardware support, and that alone keeps us busy," he said. He said that he expected to be focusing on developments in graphics and wireless devices.

On SSDs, he said: "They are currently expensive enough to be a pretty minor player, that is certainly looking to change in 2008 and later."

For reviews of the latest Linux releases, click here.

Asked if development was moving quicker than Microsoft's Windows Server, he said that he was the wrong person to ask, partly because he would be biased "of course", but also because he doesn't use Microsoft products and has "no interest" in them.

Torvalds reiterated that Linux's strength is not a feature or set of features but its flexibility. He used its ability to incorporate a number of different virtualisation technologies as an example.

"There are many different levels of virtualisation, and many different trade-offs in efficiency, management, separation, running legacy applications and system software, etc," he said.

Torvalds was trenchant about the benefits of open source. He cited the fact that he was uninterested in virtualisation technology but that it was proof of the benefits of the flexibility of the open source model.

"One person's (or company's) particular interests don't end up being dominant. The fact that I personally think that virtualisation isn't all that exciting means next to nothing," he said.

Torvalds added that Linux was being used in a wide array of devices, from mobile phones to " the bulk of the biggest machines on the supercomputer Top-500 list". Torvalds reckoned that this is because the OS can be developed by anyone which allows it to be good at a number of things without licensing hassles.

In contrast, he said that a single-vendor product is unchangeable and will inevitably be skewed towards that entity's view on the market.

He added that Microsoft's lawyers couldn't impede Linux's future development. He said that he didn't believe that there was any substance behind Microsoft patent claims but that "nearly infinite amounts of money certainly goes a long way".

Look out for the full interview, on PC Advisor, later this week.

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