Torvalds Adopts New Programming Management System

Linux creator Linus Torvalds unveiled a new Linux control tool to manage his software project on Wednesday. Dubbed Git, the tool will replace a management system called BitKeeper sold by a company called BitMover.

Community objections over the use of BitKeeper — proprietary software — didn’t stop Torvalds from using the automated mechanism to control the flow of updates and track changes made by the hundreds of programmers who contribute to the project. But a controversial claim finally did.

Recently, BitMover founder Larry McVoy said the Linux community was attempting to copy BitKeeper with a program called SourcePuller and revoked Linux developers’ right to use the software for free.

Philosophical Issues

There are several source code control systems on the market with several different philosophies, including the Concurrent Versions System, Subversion, GNU Arch and Monotone, that Torvalds could have adopted. He instead chose to develop his own.

But the question now is really not about philosophical issues like distributed versus centralized approaches to software configuration management. The question is how will this impact kernel development?

Torvalds said the peer-to-peer BitKeeper model enhanced efficiency, more than doubling the pace of Linux kernel development. Will the shift to a admittedly rough-edged Git hinder momentum?

Natural Evolution

Burton Group vice president and service director Gary Hein told LinuxInsider that Linux has experienced these types of issues in the past, most recently around driver support. Hein chalks up the BitKeeper controversy to the platform’s “natural evolution.”

“There is a lot of debate and discussion about BitKeeper today, but three or four months from now we are going to be back on track and headed for the next release,” he said. “This type of controversy happens all the time inside of big commercial software development companies, but the world has more insight into Linux because it’s open source.”

Like Linux, Git is governed by the General Public License, but Torvalds doesn’t expect it to be useful beyond Linux kernel development.

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