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Linus admits cocking up the Linux community

by on17 October 2014

Regrets, I have a few…

Linux community, founder Linus Torvalds has, sort of, said sorry for stuffing up the Linux community by making it a socially dysfunctional backwater populated by intellectually arrogant, ars*holes and a shark tank for anyone wanting to do real work.

Systemd developer Lennart Poettering recently described the Linux community as "not a friendly place to be in" with open source community mailing lists are rife with language and even stronger opinions which has descended into death threats. Torvalds, in a "fireside chat" with Intel's Dirk Hohndel at LinuxCon Europe, insisted that "to become a kernel developer, you need to enjoy a certain amount of pain," but also acknowledged a "metric s---load" of mistakes he wishes he could fix.

Torvalds suggests strong language comes naturally to a community where "technical people with strong opinions and with a strong drive to do something technically superior" clash, but he said he is not callous about the aftermath.

“From a technical standpoint, no single decision has ever been that important. Everything can be fixed.... The problems tend to be around alienating users or developers and I'm pretty good at that. I use strong language. But again there's not a single instance I'd like to fix. There's a metric s---load of those. Technology matters but is fixable. Human relationships matter more, and aren't nearly as susceptible to quick fixes,” he said.

He said that one problem is that "On the Internet nobody can hear you being subtle… which leads some people to forego subtleties in favour of clarity. No matter how much it hurts.”

However, academic research demonstrates, that the Open Saucers are not very welcoming to newbies and "almost all non-returning newcomers to an open-source project can be attributed to not receiving a response or receiving a condescending response."

“We need to do better. Not just because people should be treated with respect, but also because it is the only way to support an open-source project of any significant size,” Torvalds said.

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