Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Interview with Donald Knuth

Filed under
Interviews
OSS

Andrew Binstock and Donald Knuth converse on the success of open source, the problem with multicore architecture, the disappointing lack of interest in literate programming, the menace of reusable code, and that urban legend about winning a programming contest with a single compilation.

Andrew Binstock: You are one of the fathers of the open-source revolution, even if you aren’t widely heralded as such. You previously have stated that you released TeX as open source because of the problem of proprietary implementations at the time, and to invite corrections to the code—both of which are key drivers for open-source projects today. Have you been surprised by the success of open source since that time?

Donald Knuth: The success of open source code is perhaps the only thing in the computer field that hasn’t surprised me during the past several decades. But it still hasn’t reached its full potential; I believe that open-source programs will begin to be completely dominant as the economy moves more and more from products towards services, and as more and more volunteers arise to improve the code.

For example, open-source code can produce thousands of binaries, tuned perfectly to the configurations of individual users, whereas commercial software usually will exist in only a few versions. A generic binary executable file must include things like inefficient "sync" instructions that are totally inappropriate for many installations; such wastage goes away when the source code is highly configurable. This should be a huge win for open source.

Yet I think that a few programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, will always be superior to competitors like the Gimp—for some reason, I really don’t know why! I’m quite willing to pay good money for really good software, if I believe that it has been produced by the best programmers.

Remember, though, that my opinion on economic questions is highly suspect, since I’m just an educator and scientist. I understand almost nothing about the marketplace.

More Here




Good link

Thanks for that. Knuth is one of my inspirers.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

Red Hat Summit Videos

Linux Devices

  • COMs run Android on quad- or octa-core Samsung SoCs
    Boardcon announced a pair of 70 x 58mm COMs that run Android on Samsung’s quad-core, Cortex-A9 S5P4418 and octa-core, Cortex-A53 S5P6818 SoCs. The MINI4418 and MINI6818 computer-on-modules are “compatible” with each other, as well as with Boardcon’s earlier MINI3288, which is based on the quad-core, Cortex-A17 Rockchip RK3288. The new COMs instead tap two Samsung SoCs: the quad-core, Cortex-A9 S5P4418 for the MINI4418, and the octa-core, Cortex-A53 S5P6818 for the MINI6818. The MINI6818 supports applications such as “sensitive home automation, security, and industrial applications,” whereas the MINI4418 supports “MID, multimedia advertising, intelligent control terminals, and smart instrumentation,” says Boardcon.
  • Expansive Mini-ITX board runs Linux on Skylake
    Axiomtek’s “MANO0500” Mini-ITX board supports 6th Gen Intel Core, Pentium, and Celeron CPUs, and offers three SATA, two GbE, and mini-PCIe with SIM. Mini-ITX boards are typically among the first form-factors to support new Intel Core chips along with COM Express modules. We’re not sure why Axiomtek, one of the more prolific of embedded vendors, waited so long to launch its first 6th Generation Intel Core (“Skylake”) based Mini-ITX board, but it’s a welcome edition. Back in April, the company announced a Skylake-based PICO500 SBC using the smaller Pico-ITX form factor.

IBM Bluemix NYC Garage and Blockchain

Leftovers: Ubuntu

  • Canonical, Snappy and the marketing value of collaboration
    Canonical implies it is collaborating with nearly every major Linux distro for its Snappy project. It is not. And what could have been a marketing win for it is now a loss.
  • How to install MongoDB community edition on Ubuntu Linux
    MongoDB is a NoSQL database that avoids the traditional structure of relational databases in favor of document-oriented JSON-like objects. What this translates to is the integration between application and data is faster and easier. If that's not enough, consider this: MongoDB is one the databases preferred by big data and large enterprise companies, including Adobe, Craigslist, eBay, FIFA, Foursquare, and LinkedIn.
  • No WhatsApp, but fixes set to come for Ubuntu Phone
    Users of the Ubuntu Phone will have to get used to the fact that popular Android apps like WhatsApp are unlikely to be made available for the platform, at least not in in the short term. Facebook owns WhatsApp and the communications app now has more than a billion users.
  • Ubuntu Developers Discuss Again About Dropping Support For 32-bit x86
    Ubuntu developers are once again pondering the possibility of dropping support for i386 (32-bit x86) as installation media for their Linux distribution. The matter of dropping Ubuntu i386 ISOs has been brought up many times the past few years, but ultimately it's kept getting pushed back for users still running Ubuntu Linux on old hardware and other reasons. Dropping Ubuntu for i386 keeps getting brought up namely for the installer media rather than the i386 package archive itself.