Is Linus Torvalds too abusive on the Linux Kernel Mailing List?

Sparks are flying on the Linux Kernel Mailing List!

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Linus' Response to Sarah's Message

Linus had his own response to Sarah's post that focuses on the libertarian angle I mentioned before. Like Sarah, he uses a profanity in his message. This seems to indicate that perhaps the two of them are more on the same page than they think? Heh, heh.


The thing is, the "victim card" is exactly about trying to enforce

your particular expectations on others, and trying to do so in a very

particular way. It's the old "think of the children" argument. And

it's bogus. Calling things "professional" is just more of the same -

trying to enforce some kind of convention on others by trying to claim

that it's the only acceptable way.

Because if you want me to "act professional", I can tell you that I'm

not interested. I'm sitting in my home office wearign a bathrobe. The

same way I'm not going to start wearing ties, I'm *also* not going to

buy into the fake politeness, the lying, the office politics and

backstabbing, the passive aggressiveness, and the buzzwords. Because

THAT is what "acting professionally" results in: people resort to all

kinds of really nasty things because they are forced to act out their

normal urges in unnatural ways.

More at Mailing List Archives

Linus in Action on the LKML

Here's an example, in an unrelated LKML thread, of Linus dealing with another developer. I'll let you make your own judgement about it. Was he right in how he handled it, or should he have been

Mauro, SHUT THE F--K UP!

To make matters worse, commit f0ed2ce840b3 is clearly total and utter

CRAP even if it didn't break applications.

More at Mailing List Archives

Final Thoughts: A Tempest in a Teapot?

It's quite possible that all of this is just a tempest in a teapot, and that most people could not care less about any of it. Still, it makes for a bit of juicy drama for Linux geeks who weren't aware of what's been happening on the LKML all these years.

In the end, I think I have to come down on the side of Linus (particularly given Sarah's use of a profanity in her own message). Despite some of the nastiness, I'd rather that a free exchange of ideas continue on the LKML, even if some of it takes place in ways that wouldn't happen in a corporate environment. Such blunt honesty and direct feedback has probably served Linux well over the years.

What's your take on this? Is Linus right? Is Sarah right? Or are they both wrong? Tell me in the comments.

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