Author's Opinion

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

Have your say and comment below.

Wednesday, 06 July 2011 11:26

FOSS misfits: Rusty Russell's take

By

It is not often that people from within the free and open source software community speak frankly about the problems within.


It is even less often that a person who has the integrity of Rusty Russell does so. His comments about social misfits in the community - whom he refers to as arseholes (he used the American spelling, assholes) - has not received much attention, understandably, given the insular nature of most commentary about FOSS.

Russell is a senior kernel programmer, a good guy, very funny and a genuinely impulsive person. He is well-known as a prankster; one of the pranks he pulled in 2010 resulted in the well-known Debian developer Bdale Garbee having to sacrifice his beard at the hands of Linux creator Linus Torvalds.

Without Russell, there would be no national Australian Linux conference. He bankrolled the first conference in 1999 with his own energy and funds after having visited a conference abroad and felt that Australia was well suited to have its own shindig. The conference is now a massive event, attracting the cream of FOSS talent to Australia every year.

In other words, Russell has cred, lots of it. And when he made a statement (borrowed, he admits) like "If you didn't run code written by assholes, your machine wouldn't boot", perhaps it merited a little more attention.

The starting point for his writing about this topic was his observation of the private behaviour of a software hacker he knows - it was hypocritical and malicious. It caused an internal crisis for Russell who, until then, says he had been under the impression that all FOSS people were striving to make the world a better place.


In his listing of the types of people who go against this grain, Russell theorised that moral or ethical characteristics did not come naturally to a good developer; a great coder could also be a crackpot and people who worked on the same project could have different motivations.

When Russell got down to specifics, he identified at least one person by being too narrow in his use of words - Sam Watkins of the Linux Users of Victoria, a pleasant person by my reckoning, was outed as someone who has written good code but one who believes that fasting can cure cancer. Russell also noted that if A-list actors endorsed  Scientology that did not make it a good idea and that great FOSS political work could be done by nutballs.

Russell is a master of understatement; if he had made these comments in person in front of an audience, they would have been treated a whole lot more seriously. The problem with the written word is that minus the body language it often tells much less than it should.

His comments come after a couple of years when the FOSS community has seen an explosion of incidents directed against women, one aspect that is vastly underplayed and one that needs more attention than it gets. Indeed, the extent of anti-women acts is far in excess of the norm in society.

This is just one type of behaviour which should fall under the category that Russell commented on. There are others - and they are not limited to those that he listed. There are plenty of anti-social traits within the FOSS community that need attention.

And senior FOSS people need to speak out more often about the problems within. Drawing a ring around things will not make problems disappear - when they do see the light of day, they will be akin to Murray Cummings' blast in 2007.


Please join our community here and become a VIP.

Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here
JOIN our iTWireTV our YouTube Community here
BACK TO LATEST NEWS here

PROMOTE YOUR WEBINAR ON ITWIRE

It's all about Webinars.

Marketing budgets are now focused on Webinars combined with Lead Generation.

If you wish to promote a Webinar we recommend at least a 3 to 4 week campaign prior to your event.

The iTWire campaign will include extensive adverts on our News Site itwire.com and prominent Newsletter promotion https://itwire.com/itwire-update.html and Promotional News & Editorial. Plus a video interview of the key speaker on iTWire TV https://www.youtube.com/c/iTWireTV/videos which will be used in Promotional Posts on the iTWire Home Page.

Now we are coming out of Lockdown iTWire will be focussed to assisting with your webinatrs and campaigns and assassistance via part payments and extended terms, a Webinar Business Booster Pack and other supportive programs. We can also create your adverts and written content plus coordinate your video interview.

We look forward to discussing your campaign goals with you. Please click the button below.

MORE INFO HERE!

INTRODUCING ITWIRE TV

iTWire TV offers a unique value to the Tech Sector by providing a range of video interviews, news, views and reviews, and also provides the opportunity for vendors to promote your company and your marketing messages.

We work with you to develop the message and conduct the interview or product review in a safe and collaborative way. Unlike other Tech YouTube channels, we create a story around your message and post that on the homepage of ITWire, linking to your message.

In addition, your interview post message can be displayed in up to 7 different post displays on our the iTWire.com site to drive traffic and readers to your video content and downloads. This can be a significant Lead Generation opportunity for your business.

We also provide 3 videos in one recording/sitting if you require so that you have a series of videos to promote to your customers. Your sales team can add your emails to sales collateral and to the footer of their sales and marketing emails.

See the latest in Tech News, Views, Interviews, Reviews, Product Promos and Events. Plus funny videos from our readers and customers.

SEE WHAT'S ON ITWIRE TV NOW!

BACK TO HOME PAGE
Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous

WEBINARS ONLINE & ON-DEMAND

GUEST ARTICLES

VENDOR NEWS

Guest Opinion

Guest Interviews

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News

Comments