back to article Linux kernel's Torvalds: 'I am truly sorry' for my 'unprofessional' rants, I need a break to get help

Linux kernel firebrand Linus Torvalds has apologized for his explosive rants, and vowed to take a break from the open-source project and seek help. In a mailing list message on Sunday, Torvalds admitted his "flippant attacks in emails" to fellow Linux programmers and project contributors "have been both unprofessional and …

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    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Aspergers

      "Will no one think of the chillllllllldren?"

      Can you please point out all the children actively working on the kernel, and getting treated like the chattel they obviously are by Linus? No? Then what the fuck are you babbling about?

      "Why should anyone have to put up with such behaviour?"

      Nobody has to. It's not obligatory. No arm twisting or other coercion is involved. Get this: they actually choose to participate, of their own free will. And they can come and go as they see fit. If you don't like it, that's OK, nobody asked you to join in on the fun anyway.

      Hope this helps, have a nice day.

      (Does the word "perspective" even exist anymore? That's rhetorical.)

    2. Lusty

      Re: Aspergers

      @ForthIsNotDead that's a pretty intolerant view you have there.

      Aspergers is a mental condition and is not something you can choose to do or not do. It's like any other disability except is not visible. What you are suggesting is akin to demanding those lazy wheelchair users just get up and walk. They aren't lazy, they just can't walk.

      If he truly does have Aspergers then I'll be surprised if what he's trying to do will make a real long term difference. The issue isn't just acting differently it's perceiving the world differently. As an Aspie myself (I have a diagnosis) I've been in many situations where people I trust are telling me I'm in the wrong yet when I review all the facts I still don't see an issue. Linus is likely the same, as he said in the note that he's gone for years sometimes without reading the situation the way others do. His reactions are perfectly reasonable for his perception of the situation, and that's the part that's almost impossible to fix.

      He will ALWAYS see these people as incompetent morons. Some of them probably are. Others just aren't communicating in a way that an Aspie can understand.

      "If you spoke to people at work the way he does you'd get fired."

      Not if you have a diagnosis, that would be illegal in most countries as disability discrimination. More likely your company would have to help you in day to day life, for instance by providing a mentor to discuss reactions before responding. We can recognise inflammatory wording, so it's possible to train ourselves to get a third party perspective before hitting send. Of course, just because we can spot it, doesn't mean we think we need another opinion - another issue!

      1. Orv

        Re: Aspergers

        Not if you have a diagnosis, that would be illegal in most countries as disability discrimination.

        One interesting question that's starting to come up for employers is "if you have an employee with Asperger's that's stalking another employee, which wins, the right to not be fired for a disability or the right to not have a hostile work environment?"

        I've faced this issue in my own personal life, with people who make my life difficult by stalking me and my friends but that I know are doing it because of mental illness, not malice. At what point is it OK to close the door?

    3. Paul 75
      Angel

      Re: Aspergers

      He's not got Aspergers, he's just Finnish

    4. HieronymusBloggs

      Re: Aspergers

      "If you spoke to people at work the way he does you'd get fired."

      In a lot of cases the person being sworn at would have been fired for incompetence or a disruptive attitude long before Linus' outburst in any conventional workplace. It's almost like context isn't a thing, judging by many of the comments here.

  1. Dabbb

    Time for Linus to retire.

    Kernel will be largely irrelevant once Lennart reimplements it in systemd.

    1. _LC_ Silver badge

      Re: Time for Linus to retire.

      *lol* YMMD

      Indeed. Poettering is far worse. I've seen him "kicking down" another coder during a presentation, while holding a beer bottle in his hand and feeling like god. He was mean in way that was meant to hurt, lacking every substance. Linus is in no way like that.

    2. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Time for Linus to retire.

      I had the same thoughts, remembering PulseAudio, zeroconf, and of course, systemd. He's going to take over and make popcorn out of Linux.

  2. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Good on you Linus

    Nothing is so hard as to change our own behavior at middle age. It's taken me decades to move past some of the sharper uses of my tongue, and I still f$ck up routinely, but I'm a more effective engineer when I have self control.

    Where it gets difficult is when something happens that requires the strongest possible condemnation, and when working with former NCOs who speak entirely in acronyms and curses...

  3. WotNoMems

    Correction: Linus didn't have the summit moved to suit his holiday plans.

    https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/ksummit-discuss/2018-September/005308.html

  4. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I'll get flamed for this...

    ... but should I switch to Windows now that nobody's at the helm of Linux?

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: I'll get flamed for this...

      No, there's always openVMS.

    2. Jedipadawan

      Re: I'll get flamed for this...

      Probably not. :-)

      Linus had made very sure that Linux development can carry on without him. He ensured that long ago.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Call that flamebait?

      You could always try Solaris.

  5. Steve Evans

    You would have hoped...

    Given his reputation as a stickler for quality, devs would actually do their best quality work when submitting things that Linus will see.

    When they don't they get shouted at.

    I really can't see the problem. Some people devs really do need shouting at, or to be kept away from critical things like kernel code until they learn to think about what they are doing.

    There are way too many devs, some of them incredibly talented, who head immediately for the keyboard and start hammering away instead of taking a careful look at issues and thinking about solutions and what issues those might cause.

    As for his use of language, the guy is Finnish, those guys can really swear!

    1. Orv

      Re: You would have hoped...

      My opinion is it's possible to tell someone they wrote bad code without going on to tear them down as a person.

      Linus needs to come to terms with the big shadow he casts. Him telling someone "no" now carries more emotional weight than telling them "fuck you" did two decades ago, because he's looked up to. He doesn't need to resort to profanity. He's bigger than that now.

  6. a pressbutton

    Best of luck to him

    He may not be as rich as Bill G (who was reportedly also v. foul mouthed at times), but should have as much or more respect.

    The only thing he should have done imo is to have a named 'understudy' in place a couple of years ago.

    You need something like that- after all he could (literally) have fallen under a bus etc and on a project like this you cannot really just stop while the new person learns the ropes.

    Hope the new person understands that.

    1. Jedipadawan

      Re: Best of luck to him

      >"The only thing he should have done imo is to have a named 'understudy' in place a couple of years ago."

      Linus has made it very clear that is not Linux and that kernel development would run on if/when he is ever run over by that bus. I do not know who the understudy is/would be but there is a management process in place.

      There should be no interrupting the Kernel development though I just the next RC release might be delayed a bit or... Linux just take a few days off and a morning or two to see a counselor or something.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Best of luck to him

      "The only thing he should have done imo is to have a named 'understudy' in place a couple of years ago."

      You think he didn't?

  7. EnviableOne Silver badge
    Linux

    Fair Cop

    Linus has always rulled with an iron fist and to be fair, the critisism is usually waranted, and some on the reciving end have even admitted, bit harsh, but i deserved it.

    Oh and since when has linus been bothered with security? He has reserved special places in hell for it on several ocasions.

    His two priorities are clean code, that runs, no BS, no fluf.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: His two priorities are clean code, that runs, no BS, no fluf.

      Quality counting!

  8. steelpillow Silver badge
    Flame

    Rainbow haired

    FUCK YOU, Snow Wombat and co. Some of my best friends are rainbow-haired and your kind of prejudice and persecution is still rife in society. Opinions like yours need to be kept out of sight. Since you like Linus so much the way he used to be, I am sure that you will take this flame in the spirit it is given.

    1. Dabbb

      Re: Rainbow haired

      "Some of my best friends are rainbow-haired and your kind of prejudice and persecution is still rife in society. "

      We all really sorry for you.

      However.

      Prejudice and persecution of people with rainbow-colored hair ? Really ? Is that a thing now ?

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Rainbow haired

        "Prejudice and persecution of people with rainbow-colored hair ? Really ? Is that a thing now ?"

        Well, prejudice and persecution of red-headed men, yes. Orange-haired men are on the giving end of the prejudice and persecution at the moment. Not sure about yellow-haired people, and so on down the list.

        1. Dabbb

          Re: Rainbow haired

          What if someone told you that you don't need bring your TDS to every conversation ?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Rainbow haired

      Some of us are very grateful for whatever hair we have left.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: Rainbow haired

        And if Linus had posted the OP you'd be saying how justified it was?

  9. theOtherJT

    This makes me nervous

    Not that I think Linus is a paragon of virtue, or that his behavior is exemplary or anything. It's just un-nerving when someone suddenly changes their behavior with what appears to be no warning. Sudden dramatic personality changes are usually the result of something bad happening to them, and despite never having met the man, I'm rather fond of Linus. He's done a lot for us all, one way or another.

  10. Pete4000uk

    If he needs help

    Then the first step is to admit it.

    May Linux live on.

  11. Joe Harrison

    It's not about the job

    In my experience people who yell at other people all the time do it because they like yelling at people. "Bad coding", "poor customer service", "failing to hand in homework", whatever, the ostensible reason for yelling at people is just fluff and cover to "justify" the real business at hand which its... yelling at people. They are a breed apart for sure.

    1. Orv

      Re: It's not about the job

      "Never trust someone who's nice to you but rude to the waiter."

  12. Snorlax

    He's Not Sorry...

    The guy's a dick. He needs psychological help.

    Let me know if anything changes.

    1. ForthIsNotDead

      Re: He's Not Sorry...

      I'm inclined to agree. You'll get down-voted, because everyone thinks Linux is really great (and it most certainly is) and conflate liking Linus with liking Linux.

      To me, it's perfectly possible for Linux to be really really awesome, and its creator to be a fucking massive cock of the most hideous proportions.

      The guy's a massive dick.

      Linux is cool though.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: He's Not Sorry...

      "The guy's a dick."

      Is this an observation based on extensive observation of him or just of headlines?

      1. ForthIsNotDead

        Re: He's Not Sorry...

        @Doctor Syntax

        I've watched quite a lot of his lectures, and he reminds me a little of celebrities. You know, famous actors or pop stars, who have become used to being looked up to by sycophants and have actually come to believe that their own shit doesn't stink.

        To be fair, I wouldn't put him in the same category as the out-and-out divas that we see in the pop world, but I get a sense of it. The star-struck sycophancy is there for all to see in the Q&A parts of the various lectures.

        Still, he's better than Stallman. With Stallman, EVERYONE thinks he's a dick, except for Stallman himself. At least with Linus, some people genuinely believe he's a great guy.

        Whatever, I guess. Some people think I'm a great guy. Some people think I'm a dick.

        I am, of course, a dick.

        Does any of it matter?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: He's Not Sorry...

          "The star-struck sycophancy is there for all to see in the Q&A parts of the various lectures."

          That would be coming from others not him wouldn't it? Clearly there are a good number who don't agree with you.

          1. ForthIsNotDead

            Re: He's Not Sorry...

            Doctor Syntax: "That [sycophancy] would be coming from others not him wouldn't it?"

            Yes, sure. But my point is, when everyone looks up to you, when nobody takes you to task for a particular thing you say, when nobody flat out comes out and says "No, you're wrong", then you start to believe that you're right all the time, and that everybody agrees with you. But in reality, you're often completely wrong, but no one wants to contradict you because THEY want you to like THEM. That's sycophancy.

            Here's an example (just over a minute long) where Linus professes Java to be a "horrible language", and the interviewer, instead of asking him why, asks him for his autograph. Sigh.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa55RKWZxxI

            When you don't question somebody on their opinions, you de-facto validate them in the mind of the person proffering the opinions.

            Furthermore, when you look at the mailing lists, you'll see that when Linus rejects some code or something or other, he'll often start out quite amiably, and only when questioned will he explode into a tirade of sociopathic abuse. How dare His Word be questioned. It's the classic symptom of believing that your own shit doesn't stink. There may also be some burn-out in the mix, the dude's been working his ass off, herding cats for years. I say take some time off with the wife and kids; make love with your wife, cook with her, talk to her, build a tree-house with the kids, and get some perspective.

            Cheers

      2. Snorlax

        Re: He's Not Sorry...

        @Doctor Syntax: My opinion is based on my observation of his childish (or some would say sociopathic) abuse of others in any number of exchanges on mailing lists for one.

        So yeah, he's a dick...

      3. Geoffrey W

        Re: He's Not Sorry...

        @Doctor Syntax

        Is your defense of Linus based on extensive observation of him, or just your angry emotions reacting to his detractors? Come to that, are your attacks on his detractors based on extensive observations and knowledge of his detractors?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: He's Not Sorry...

          "Is your defense of Linus based on extensive observation of him, or just your angry emotions reacting to his detractors?"

          I made the point in an earlier posts that business as usual doesn't make headlines. We thus get a reaction based not on business as usual but from the exceptions.

          Having spent a good many years dealing with some members of the human race at the worst I've learned not to judge the general by the worst exceptions.

          1. Geoffrey W

            Re: He's Not Sorry...

            We're not judging the general here, but the specific - Linus' apology for his own bad behaviour. Many here are saying Linus is wrong in his apology and was right in his previous behaviour. You placed your self among them by questioning disapproval of Linus' rants with a questionable accusation of your own.

    3. naive

      Re: He's Not Sorry...

      This type of comments exactly identifies the "rainbow" people, who probably never got screamed at by their drill sergeant for doing something dumb that would get others killed in combat.

      Kernel programming is like combat, where a single mistake may kill others. But I guess that is something people giving this type of qualification to a great man will be incapable to understand.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. dbastianello

      "ah umaway"

      You've eluded to one thing that should be thought of:

      State sanctioned hacking

      Now if you are in the security world it is not unreasonable to suspect that code commits to open source projects could be intentionally designed to allow certain hacking techniques to be successful. Now Linus is arguably one of the best coders out there (especially where code meets the hardware) and I am thankful that he is guarding this code.

      Look to a government paying someone's tuition is pennies if he agrees to integrate this "code" to his commit for this debt to disappear. To this poor programmer with flexible morals, they would easily do this for much less than tuition but hey, this is the world we live in, and welcome.

      We live in much less certain times especially when it come to technology, there are things going on that most people have a hard time accepting is happening and the country you are living in is probably one of the worst perpetrator of this.

      Like many have mentioned, this outburst does not happen without many warnings before hand. His approach is truly needed, he just needs to learn how to make it not personal that is all call what you see as shit, not the person who wrote it, unless they have a habit of doing so on a regular basis. At that point have-at-him, they've earned it and hopefully the shame keeps them from doing so in the future. But we often forget what sociopathy or psychopathy really mean, they don't feel shame or any guilt at all they will not understand why. They will continue and as some have mentioned they should be given a time out and ignored from future contributions until they understand they can't play games, this is real life with real consequences.

      1. HieronymusBloggs

        "Like many have mentioned, this outburst does not happen without many warnings before hand."

        Spoilsport.

  14. Jim 59

    Ridiculous culture war nonsense going on in this thread. It started with "rainbow haired" name calling, and progressed in a few short pages to all-out homocidal rage, typified by this from steelpillow:

    "FUCK YOU, Snow Wombat and co. Some of my best friends are rainbow-haired and your kind of prejudice and persecution is still rife in society. Opinions like yours need to be kept out of sight. Since you like Linus so much the way he used to be, I am sure that you will take this flame in the spirit it is given."

    Sigh

    1. Orv

      The culture wars in the US have been cranked up to 11, with LGBTQ people (the ones "rainbow" references usually refer to) having legitimate reasons to fear for their well-being. Being under that stress day and night, checking the headlines to see if your group's going to be the one having their passports yanked next, that makes people edgy.

      I don't like that it's come to this either, but I understand it. Some jokes just aren't funny anymore.

      1. RancidRodent

        Well, the LGBTQs will have plenty to squeal about when the left's new favourite minority group start lopping their heads off or chucking them off mountains - all in the name of peace of course...

        1. Orv

          Never heard of an American Muslim lopping off heads.

          Meanwhile the Christian right jokes about killing transgender people in bathrooms.

          I know which group I fear more.

      2. EnviableOne Silver badge

        I think you'll find they added some letters

        LGBTQIA+

        would be the current vernacular, providing they haven't added alphabet since, personally I thought the + was a greedy catch all, but someone wanted the I and A too

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