Linux is more about having fun and developing something you care about as part of a community than it is about fighting Microsoft.
This is according to Linus Torvalds, the pragmatic inventor of the open source operating system speaking at Comdex yesterday, where he received a raucous standing ovation louder even than Bill Gates the night before.
"For me and all the developers I know it's not about Microsoft versus Linux, it's about doing something fun that we really care about and lets do it open source so that everyone else can have fun and care about it too," he said.
He said version 2.4 of the kernel, due next year, would include support for wireless, low power mobile devices such as phones and embedded devices. This would take Linux into the consumer market as well, he said.
"You need a fully fledged operating system for these devices, not one that is too cut down...Windows CE didn't cut it," he said to whoops from the crowd.
"The advantage of Linux is that it scales up and down with a coherent interface across platforms," he explained. "It can be developed for supercomputers right down to devices the size of a matchbox."
Version 2.4 would support at least eight processors, from two at present and 8Gb Ram. This should help it address some of the scalability criticisms and take it onto higher end systems.
However he conceded that Linux was making little progress in the desktop market.
"The desktop. That's the hardest thing. It's still clearly the most strategically important goal, because it's the thing people see every day. Will Linux ever be there? I used to say ask me in two or three years' time, and that's still my answer," he said.
Asked by an audience member about the possibility of Windows becoming open source, Torvalds seemed amused.
"I think it would be a very good thing, and there'd be a lot of cross-pollination between Linux and Windows. But I don't think it's going to happen in the near future. Even if the judge decides every line of Windows should be open, the legal battle is going to go on for some years, so I am not worried about it yet," he said.
Torvalds revealed that his secretive company, Transmeta Group, is working on a software processor, details of which will be revealed on the company's website on 19 January next year. (see earlier story)
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