If Linus Torvalds could have designed Linux differently, what should he had done differently?

I use and like Linux. I'm happy that Linux is so established and works so well. It's still somewhat a stretch to think that Linus Torvalds did it everything right, where feasible.

What do you think Torvalds would say, or has said if we ask or try to answer: "If you could redesign Linux, what would you have done differently?"

I mean by the standards and technical knowledge and economy during that time and not today. For example, if there was some mistake in the design or any easy achievement that Linux failed? There was not many hardware drivers for Linux in the beginning but that I can understand was due to small team size and the young age of the project.

Was there in the beginning a big mistake or an embarrassing bug that shouldn't have been there? There was an early debate between Andrew Tanenbaum and Torvalds about the design choice that I still find non-trivial. Both had good arguments and there is the style of "Worse is better" to consider.

Could you describe any "embarrassing bug" or mistake that should not have been there considering the actual history?

1 Answer 1


Seems like you're soliciting an opinion rather than answering a question, so maybe this belongs in meta or somewhere, but for me the biggest mistake linux made was the memory overcommit for malloc, resulting in the OOM killer and anything else along that path.

The second biggest "historical blunder", IMHO, is the rather prevalent decision to replace longstanding Unix tools with versions that work similarly but not quite identically, such as making vi a shortcut to vim (instead of a real vi, or workalike like nvi), sh pointing to bash, and things like that. Those decisions still cause problems in shell script compatibility today between linux and other unixes, including the BSDs.

Edit: 3rd, and how could I forget about it, is the entire /var/ namespace thing being preferred over sysctl, though I understand why this was done and do like the filesystem semantics where they make sense.

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