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klook

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Hometown: GA
Home country: USA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 8,561

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Journal Archives

After Years of Abusive E-mails, the Creator of Linux Steps Aside

Note: This article may warrant a trigger warning for some, since it details intense psychological abuse in some quarters of the open source development community.

After Years of Abusive E-mails, the Creator of Linux Steps Aside
September 19, 2018 - The New Yorker
By Noam Cohen

The e-mails of the celebrated programmer Linus Torvalds land like thunderbolts from on high onto public lists, full of invective, insults, and demeaning language. “Please just kill yourself now. The world will be a better place,” he wrote in one. “Guys, this is not a dick-sucking contest,” he observed in another. “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” he began in a third.

Torvalds has publicly posted thousands of scathing messages targeting programmers who submit what he deems flawed code to the Linux computer-operating-system kernel, which he brought to life more than twenty-five years ago and now administers as a collaborative, open-source project. Today, the Linux kernel is famous, running the enormous computers of Google, PayPal, Amazon, and eBay, and the two billion mobile phones using the Android operating system. Torvalds, though, retains final say over each precious line of code, just as he did when he first started working on the system as a graduate student at the University of Helsinki. For years, he has been known as Linux’s “benevolent dictator for life.”

On Sunday, the benevolent dictator announced that he would be stepping down temporarily, to “get some assistance on how to understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately.”

More at link.

Very unfortunate, but Torvalds is taking an important step. Linux is a great project. I hope Torvalds gets some meaningful help and changes his behavior.

Amid the all-too-common misogyny in tech, it's disheartening that what should be a warm, welcoming environment for all contributors has tolerated such assholery, starting at the top. Linus Torvalds, a very influential figure, can play a huge role in improving that situation not only for Linux developers but for the tech world at large.
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