Wednesday, 08 October 2014 18:33

Systemd backlash: Poettering blames Linus Torvalds Featured


Systemd developer and Red Hat employee Lennart Poettering has taken aim at Linux creator Linus Torvalds in a rant on his blog, in which he blames Torvalds for the extent of enmity directed at him (Poettering).

In a long, rambling outburst, Poettering, who is well known for being precious, has squarely put the blame for the negative feedback he has received — which, he claims, extended to death threats — "on a certain circle of folks that play a major role in kernel development, and first and foremost Linus Torvalds himself".

Describing the open source community as being full of a***holes, Poettering (pictured above wearing a T-shirt to rile Ubuntu chief Mark Shuttleworth who likened his critics to the US Republican offshoot, the Tea Party) does not touch in any way on aspects of his own behaviour that may have given rise to the opposition to his projects, the chief of which, systemd, has now been adopted by many major Linux distributions. It has generated a tremendous backlash since its adoption, particularly in the Debian community.

The amount of criticism is obviously getting to Poettering, despite his claims of having grown a thick skin. He writes: "The Linux community is dominated by western, white, straight, males in their 30s and 40s these days. I perfectly fit in that pattern, and the rubbish they pour over me is awful. I can only imagine that it is much worse for members of minorities, or people from different cultural backgrounds, in particular ones where losing face is a major issue."

Exactly what led to this outburst is unknown but Poettering cites one mailing list post from Torvalds to Red Hat employee and systemd developer Kay Sievers, in which Torvalds wrote: "[specific folks] ...should be retroactively aborted. Who the f*ck does idiotic things like that? How did they not die as babies, considering that they were likely too stupid to find a tit to suck on?"

Poettering, of course, does not mention that this outburst came about when Sievers indulged in some stupid behaviour as far as his coding was concerned. And Sievers is a pretty senior developer.

Despite all his justifications, Poettering comes across as a cry-baby. And he has not heard of the old saying that people in glass houses should not throw stones. He has had plenty of memorable things to say on mailing lists himself. He appears to think he is without fault.

And his claim that the success of Linux is despite Torvalds is false. If Poettering can't stand the heat of being a prominent open source developer, then he would be well advised to get out of the kitchen.

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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.

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