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Ingo Molnar
Kernel developer
Kernel developer


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Crazy: this is how an ~EF4 tornado looks like from inside a (reinforced) storm chaser car!

Also check out at 2:03 a stone hitting the windshield and sparking up ...
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Amazing: 3D printing saves lives.
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Good news on the "Linux App Store" front!
Why I was in Brussels, and what I did there.

I'll write more details later, but this article covers all of the major points quite well, so I might not have to do anything else.
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Spot on analysis and as a German citizen I agree, it's time to put pressure on Merkel to stop the madness and address the real problem, Germany's destructive behavior:
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Economics: The big European bank run depicted.

About one trillion € worth of bank deposits have fled to Germany and other "core EU" countries over the past year alone - most of it from Spain and Italy.

A huge, unregulated, free market driven private sector lending binge caused this economic crisis, and the "Euro gold" monetary system is unable to cope with it.

This is roughly how bank runs triggered and played out in the U.S. during the "sound money" gold standard, a hundred years ago and earlier.

This kind of catastrophe is something the U.S. Fed was designed to prevent. The Fed is far from perfect, but this couldn't happen in the U.S.
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"People can and do loose your money. This is actually more common than people stealing your money. Most people will lose your money out of stupidity. Its another story all together but people consistently think that their plans and ideas are good when almost all plans and ideas are shit."

Karl Smith is one of the best U.S. economists - he predicted 2008 almost to the month and he predicted the current boom (in the U.S.) as well.

Here's a very insightful blog post from him, about the non-trivial concept of savings.
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Technology: What ails the Linux desktop? Part II.

And yes, I hear you say "but desktop Linux is free software!". The fact is, free software matters to developers and organizations primarily, but on the user side, the free code behind Linux desktops is immaterial if free software does not deliver benefits such as actual freedom of use.

So, to fix desktop Linux we need a radically different software distribution model: less of a cathedral, more of a bazaar. The technology for that is arguably non-trivial:

- it would require a safe sandbox enforced both on the kernel and on the user-space side. Today installing a package is an all-or-nothing security proposition on most desktop Linux distributions. Users want to be free to install and run untrusted code.

- totally flat package dependencies (i.e. a package update does not forcibly pull in other package updates - content duplication can be eliminated at a different [for example file system] level).

- a guaranteed ABI platform going forward (once a package is installed it will never break or require forced updates again). Users want to be free of update pressure from the rest of the system, if they choose to.

- a mesh network of bandwidth. Users want to be free of central dependencies.

- a graph of cryptographically strong application reputation and review/trust status, so that different needs of security can be served: a corporate server requires different package credentials as someone trying out a new game on a smartphone. This kind of reputation system allows people to go with the mass (and thus seek protection in numbers), or go with authority (and thus seek protection by delegated expertise) - or a mix of these concepts.

The Android market comes close functionally I think, except the truly distributed mesh network and structured reputation architecture, and it's not FOSS either, of course.

I see elements of this thinking in the Gnome3 extensions 'market' - but it does not really handle security nor does it guarantee a stable platform.

Free software has stupidly followed closed source practices 10-15 years ago and we never seriously challenged those flawed closed source software distribution and platform assumptions. Today closed software has taken a leap and FOSS will have to react or go extinct. I think FOSS software will eventually react - I think free software is ultimately in the position to deliver such software distribution technology.

[ This is part two of the article, the first part can be found at: ]
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Technology: What ails the Linux desktop? Part I.

The basic failure of the free Linux desktop is that it's, perversely, not free enough.

There's been a string of Linux desktop quality problems, specific incidents reported by +Linas Vepstas , +Jon Masters , +Linus Torvalds and others, and reading the related G+ discussions made me aware that many OSS developers don't realize what a deep hole we are in.

The desktop Linux suckage we are seeing today - on basically all the major Linux distributions - are the final symptoms of mistakes made 10-20 years ago - the death cries of a platform.

Desktop Linux distributions are trying to "own" 20 thousand application packages consisting of over a billion lines of code and have created parallel, mostly closed ecosystems around them. The typical update latency for an app is weeks for security fixes (sometimes months) and months (sometimes years) for major features. They are centrally planned, hierarchical organizations instead of distributed, democratic free societies.

What did the (mostly closed source) competition do? It went into the exact opposite direction: Apple/iOS and Google/Android consist of around a hundred tightly integrated core packages only, managed as a single well-focused project. Those are developed and QA-ed with 10 times the intensity of the 10,000 packages that Linux distributions control. It is a lot easier to QA 10 million lines of code than to QA 1000 million lines of code.

To provide variety and utility to users they instead opened up the platform to third party apps and made sure this outsourcing process works smoothly: most new packages are added with a few days of latency (at most a few weeks), app updates are pushed with hours of latency (at most a few days) - basically it goes as fast as the application project wishes to push it. There's very little practical restrictions on the apps - they can enter the marketplace almost automatically.

In contrast to that, for a new package to enter the major Linux desktop projects needs many months of needless bureaucracy and often politics.

As a result the iOS and Android platforms were able to grow to hundreds of thousands of applications and will probably scale fine beyond a million of apps.

(Yes, we all heard of the cases where Apple or Google banned an app. Don't listen to what they say but see what they do: there's literally hundreds of thousands of apps on both of the big app markets - they are, for all practical purposes, free marketplaces from the user's point of view.)

The Linux package management method system works reasonably well in the enterprise (which is a hierarchical, centrally planned organization in most cases), but desktop Linux on the other hand stopped scaling 10 years ago, at the 1000 packages limit...

Desktop Linux users are, naturally, voting with their feet: they prefer an open marketplace over (from their perspective) micro-managed, closed and low quality Linux desktop distributions.

This is Part I of a larger post. You can find the second post here, which talks about what I think the solution to these problems would be:
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Economics: Role Playing Game - What would you do if you were the prime minister of Greece?

Try to play it through and save Greece from a catastrophe.
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