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Linux Torvalds Supervises Development

If thousands of people develop Linux from all over the world, how does their work get distributed to the user community? The answer is simple. By popular acclamation, Linus Torvalds gets to decide what goes into the Linux kernel and what doesn't. If a developers have some new code, they submit it to Linus, who decides whether or not to accept it, reject it, or request modifications before accepting it.

Of course, this is a bit of an oversimplification. In actuality, several developers have more-or-less supreme control over their particular subsections. There is a networking chief, a driver chief, and so forth. While Linus has ultimate authority, he seldom rejects a decision made by one of these sub-administrators.

So far, Linus has done an excellent job managing the development of Linux. However, even if he were to die, or quit, or take the Linux kernel in a direction that no one else wanted to go, he himself could not keep others from taking over the job, thanks to the GPL that Linux is controlled by. Even Linus can't prevent others from developing Linux.

Sometimes things don't make it into the kernel but are still useful to some group of users. For example, sometimes optimizing for one kind of hardware would break support for other hardware. Some users require paranoid security. Some developments are too experimental to inflict on everyone. In this case, people can (and do) provide their own patches to the kernel, available separately. These allow even greater customization without risking support for the vast majority.


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