Finally on the same page

Linux another operating system slideThanks to James Governor at Redmonk or @monkchips on twitter, for the pointer. In this pretty direct interview, Linus Torvalds says something I got into trouble for about 7-years ago. Linus says “An OS should never have been something that people really care about… it should be completely invisible”.

I gave the keynote presentation at the OS/390 Expo and Performance Conference, I think in either 2000 or 2001, during the presentation I made exactly the same point, only about Linux. Yes, Linux was great, yes, we were going to do some pretty innovative things with it, but if in 5-years time we are still worrying about scalability, driver compatibility etc. then we’d missed the point, we shouldn’t really have to care about the OS.

Unfortunately in the audience was the IBM Account Executive for a large multi-national company, and the CTO from that company. Rather than come and ask questions afterwards, they took one point from a 75-minute presentation and complained about me to my then VP, Carol Stafford. Carol “invited” me into her office, I had to explain the remark, and context, Carol understood and took care of things.

So it’s with a wry smile I read the Torvalds article, and then sat up and wondered, do we still care about the OS, or has the stack become more important?

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About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.


I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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