How Linux Is Testing The Limits Of Open Source Development

As the latest release of the Linux kernel emerged this month, it reflected a dizzying number of changes. Kernel 2.6.23, coming just three months after the last update, incorporated business-friendly features, including better virtualization support and an update to the all-important scheduler, as well as the usual new device drivers and bug fixes.

The sheer number of changes coming every two to three months from Linus Torvalds' "code tree" is a sign of accelerating kernel development. The process so far has produced undeniably high-quality, reliable code.

But make no mistake: Torvalds is pushing open source development tactics to new extremes. As the kernel grows in size and complexity, the rapid-fire iterations are straining the capacity of the community of volunteers who test and debug them.

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