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Friday, 21 September 2018 07:09

New Yorker claims credit for Torvalds' apology on behaviour Featured

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Linux creator Linus Torvalds' decision to apologise for his abrasive putdowns of developers was prompted by an American news magazine asking him a series of questions about his behaviour for an article, the author claims.

Noam Cohen, a writer for The New Yorker, said in an article published on Wednesday, that Torvalds had been sent a series of questions — which were not specified — about his conduct for a story on complaints about "his abusive behaviour discouraging women from working as Linux-kernel programmers".

Torvalds has been known for his outbursts on the kernel development mailing lists; Cohen listed a number of them in his article.

The response from Torvalds was: "I am very proud of the Linux code that I invented and the impact it has had on the world. I am not, however, always proud of my inability to communicate well with others — this is a lifelong struggle for me. To anyone whose feelings I have hurt, I am deeply sorry.”

Even fellow kernel developer Jonathan Corbet, who runs a site devoted to news about Linux, appears to have been unaware of the reasons why Torvalds decided to apologise at this point in time.

In a neutral article about the decision, Corbet wrote: "As for what brought this moment about, we may never know for sure.

"He talks about being confronted by members of the community, but people have been telling him for years that some things should change. If somebody did get through to him this time, they did it privately."

There was no indication given by Cohen as to why he wrote the article at this point in time, as there have been no outbursts from Torvalds for quite a while.

He said the Linux Foundation had conveyed Torvalds' response to The New Yorker. In its statement, the Foundation added: "“We are able to have varying degrees of impact on these outcomes in newer projects. Older more established efforts like the Linux kernel are much more challenging to influence.”

The kernel project has now changed its existing Code of Conflict to a code of conduct. Torvalds has stepped away from the project, saying in an email: "I am going to take time off and get some assistance on how to understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately."

In his absence, senior developer Greg Kroah-Hartman will be handling Torvalds' responsibilities.

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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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