Thursday, 09 October 2014 10:29

No interest in Poettering's problems, says Torvalds Featured

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Linux creator Linus Torvalds has indicated that he has no interest in the problems faced by chief systemd developer Lennart Poettering that led to the latter blaming Torvalds for the negative feedback he (Poettering) has faced.

Poettering made his feelings known in a long and rambling post on October 1. Complaining about the amount of criticism he faced and the backlash to the adoption of systemd - an init system replacement which has taken over many additional functions - Poettering said Torvalds was the reason why people in the open source community behaved in this manner.

In his post, Poettering wrote: "The Internet is full of deranged people, no doubt, so one might just discount all of this on the grounds that the Open Source community isn't any different than any other community on the Internet or even offline. But I don't think so. I am pretty sure there are certain things that foster bad behaviour. On one hand there are certain communities where it appears to be a lot more accepted to vent hate, communities that attract a certain kind of people (Hey, Gentoo!) more than others do. (Yes, the folks who post the stuff they do usually pretty clearly state from wich community they come).

"But more importantly, I'd actually put some blame on a certain circle of folks that play a major role in kernel development, and first and foremost Linus Torvalds himself. By many he is a considered a role model, but he is quite a bad one. If he posts words like '[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?' (google for it), than that's certainly bad. But what I find particularly appalling is the fact that he regularly defends this, and advertises this as an efficient way to run a community. (But it is not just Linus, it's a certain group of people around him who use the exact same style, some of which semi-publically (sic) even phantasize (sic) about the best ways to, ... well, kill me)."

Asked for his reaction, Torvalds told iTWire that he was happy to join in what he described as "spirited discussions".

"I'll happily join 'spirited discussions' (aka flame wars) about actual technical issues, but Lennart's problems? I don't see why I'd want to get involved," he responded.

Torvalds is well known for his sharp and expletive-laded rejoinders to kernel developers - and at times developers of other software. But he has indicated in the past too that he has nothing much to criticise about the systemd project from a technical angle.

Torvalds has, however, levelled sharp criticism at one of the other systemd developers, Kay Sievers. Back in April, when Sievers showed an unwillingness to fix problems in his code that caused problems with the kernel, Torvalds let him have it with both barrels.

"Key (sic), I'm f*cking tired of the fact that you don't fix problems in the code *you* write, so that the kernel then has to work around the problems you cause," Torvalds wrote.

"Greg - just for your information, I will *not* be merging any code from Kay into the kernel until this constant pattern is fixed."

The reference to Greg was to Greg Kroah-Hartman, a senior kernel developer who is responsible for releases other than the current version.

Torvalds continued: "This has been going on for *years*, and doesn't seem to be getting any better. This is relevant to you because I have seen you talk about the kdbus patches, and this is a heads-up that you need to keep them separate from other work. Let distributions merge it as they need to and maybe we can merge it once it has been proven to be stable by whatever distro that was willing to play games with the developers.

"But I'm not willing to merge something where the maintainer is known to not care about bugs and regressions and then forces people in other projects to fix their project. Because I am *not* willing to take patches from people who don't clean up after their problems, and don't admit that it's their problem to fix.

"Kay – one more time: you caused the problem, you need to fix it. None of this 'I can do whatever I want, others have to clean up after me' crap."

In many ways, Sievers' attitude is common to the entire systemd project; on many occasions, Poettering has indicated to others that if they have problems with systemd, then it's because their code is to blame, not his.

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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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