back to article Torvalds suggests poison and sabotage for ARM SoC designers

Help us out here amateur psychologists: Linus Torvalds has just unleashed his second shouty rant in as many days. Do we need to worry, or is the moon in a particular phase that makes this kind of thing more likely? Has Portland's water supply taken a turn for the worse? Or are we simply seeing a frustrated middle aged man …

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  1. Homer 1
    Mushroom

    He's right.

    The SoC industry is a cesspool of secretive, proprietary non-standards, that makes Microsoft and Apple look like the Free Software Foundation by comparison.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: He's right.

      Seconded.

      After trying to debug why my arm Exynos notebook wakes up immediately after going to sleep last week I am going wholeheartedly agree with Linus on this one. Every SoC is different, in order to do something as basic as going to sleep the kernel has to write a block of magic numbers into registers the size of average firmware. Basic functions like mmc, usb, ethernet are one-offs imlemented slightly differently by each SoC designer. One architecture my a***

      The worst bit - it will only get worse from there on. Arm is there. MIPS has been there for ages (we all know how entertaining development of openwrt and friends gets because of that). Power recently joined the club and Intel joined yesterday by announcing Quark. In a couple of years time everything will be a f*** SoC and every second one of them will have at least one feature added by a person which fits Linuses description.

    2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: He's right.

      While his technical opinion might be valid, his comment was tasteless and out of order, so wiping out any moral high-ground he might have been trying for.

      For someone of an esteemed background to lower himself to the gutter level, I find it disappointing and childish.

      1. Mikel

        Re: He's right.

        When your work has become so meaningful as Linus Torvalds', your opinion about how such highly effective people should behave will be more interesting.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: He's right.

          Whew, I'd gone a couple of days without seeing one of these ad hominems from a Reg commentard. Thanks for restoring my faith.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He's right.

        "While his technical opinion might be valid, his comment was tasteless and out of order, so wiping out any moral high-ground he might have been trying for."

        Well, he wasn't trying for any moral high ground at all, so that's okay. I'm not sure why anyone would think that technical failures can be defended on moral grounds in the first place, though.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: He's right.

          @RobertLong 1

          I'm not sure why anyone would think that technical failures can be defended on moral grounds in the first place, though.

          Postmodern Liberalism, maybe?

      3. Tom 13

        Re: wiping out any moral high-ground

        The kind of ijits that feel that way about Linus would say the same things about our ancestors who horse whipped thieves. Personally, I think those ancestors had better high ground than most of us do.

      4. Aaron Miller

        Re: He's right.

        There's always some asshole ready to make a dribbling tone argument.

      5. ItsNotMe

        Re: He's right. @ GitMeMyShootinIrons

        "For someone of an esteemed background to lower himself to the gutter level, I find it disappointing and childish."

        But this self-absorbed dimbulb does this ALL the time. This is not anything new.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He's right.

        he makes the point and gets it noticed by press due to the 'childish' nature of the comments.

        if he'd politely complained nobody would have really noticed, cared, or reposted it, and the whole issue would be easier to sweep back under a rug.

        sometimes measures like this are needed to make a point, even if it offends people. sometimes people need offending.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          sometimes measures like this are needed to make a point

          I'm sure terrorists often use similar arguments... some causes are worth blowing up the odd building for.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: sometimes measures like this are needed to make a point

            "I'm sure terrorists often use similar arguments..."

            They probably also use the bathroom.

            You'd better start holding it lest there be confusion.

        2. A J Stiles

          Re: He's right.

          Sometimes people need offending.
          Quoted For Truth.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He's right.

        I find your offence disappointing and childish.

    3. bazza Silver badge

      Re: He's right.

      Not convinced he is completely right.

      If you want discoverable buses, that all adds transistors, taking more power, and probably starts trampling over some other company's intellectual property, etc.

      For ARM SOCs, power is king, and no chip builder is ever going to put in a whole bunch of additional transistors that then makes their chip look bad from a power consumption point of view. Nor can they afford to pinch someone else's intellectual property; someone out there is bound to be holding patents on discoverable buses like PCI.

      Linus wants these things so that Linux doesn't need to be manually configured and built for each individual SOC design from every individual manufacturer. But if that's what we're going to be stuck with, how about making it possible for the manufacturers to easily contribute a single 'config.sys' file (for want of a better phrase) for their SOC that is then automatically available to everyone downloading the Linux source code? That would at least mean that the work gets done only once.

      I don't know enough about the Linux ARM source code base to know if that makes sense, but something along the lines ought to be possible. For all I know it may even already be there but the manufacturers aren't playing ball, which would be a pity.

      1. tentimes

        Re: He's right.

        Yes, but if they are undescoverable then they must be clearly documented. If there was a proper manual, API, feature documentation etc then it wouldn't be such a huge issue. But most of it is an undocumented nightmare - in this day and age I believe this sort of practice deserves to be *very* heavily vilified.

        Suggesting killing them is a bit OTT, but heavy vilification and disapproval are required.

        How can you write for shit like this if you have to almost reverse engineer how each one works?

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Suggesting killing them is a bit OTT

          Um, actually I think that publicly advocating murder is more along the lines of totally illegal. As in get-arrested-and-risk-jail illegal.

          On the books anyway, and IANAL, of course, but if he got a "courtesy" visit from the local Sheriff accompanied by a night in the cooler, he could only have himself to blame.

          Not that I mind a good shouty rant from this guy. He has a way of cutting through civilized behavior like a surgeon that I like reading about.

          But actually suggesting that people go out and create deadly accident conditions ? Sorry, Torvalds, you've largely overstepped your (considerable) notoriety this time. Stick to calling people names and comparing them to cockroaches or something.

          1. John Sanders

            Re: Suggesting killing them is a bit OTT

            Political Correctness ATTACK!!!!!

            PC along with moral relativism is going to be the nail in the coffin of western civilization.

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

              Re: Suggesting killing them is a bit OTT

              One could wheel out Kerry to make the killing and maiming more tasteful.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Suggesting killing them is a bit OTT

            "Um, actually I think that publicly advocating murder is more along the lines of totally illegal."

            Not in the United States it's not. I don't know about the UK, but here, courts have generally recognized the existence of satire, exaggeration for effect, and other extraordinarily common writing techniques which have apparently evaded your understanding.

            Were Torvalds referring the president of the US rather than unspecified SoC designers, he might find himself visited by some guys in dark glasses. A few years back one of my buddies managed that by dint of an ill-advised op-ed piece in a college newspaper - but the suits, far from throwing him in prison, talked to him for a few minutes and determined the obvious, They warned him not to put them in the position of wasting their time on due diligence again, and that was that.

            But for obviously comic 'threats' against an unspecified group of people? Please. Anyone who advocates jail time for something like that should be hauled out and shot at dawn.

            (Come and get me!)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Suggesting killing them is a bit OTT

              > Not in the United States it's not. I don't know about the UK,

              To learn about the legality of this in the UK, google for "Robin Hood Airport Tweet".

              I believe Torvalds is coming to the UK next month.

              With luck, someone at ARM will have spoken to the police and he will be arrested on arrival.

            2. Uffish

              Re: Shot at dawn

              you forgot " in front of their family".

        2. Ommerson

          Re: He's right.

          They are documented - often in great detail. But the documentation is frequently under NDA, and most of the code is contributed by the SoC vendors.

          The Linux Kernel mainline is very, very far from being the mainline for any ARM SoCs anyway, all Linus will achieve is more forking.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: He's right.

          I'm _guessing_ that perhaps Linus's annoyance with undiscoverable cpu features isn't that they're not documented but that he can't use a small number of methods or functions to identify them and instead needs unique code for each one. I'll swiftly add that this isn't due to lazyness but because of the increased amount of code that needs to be maintained, and with more code you have a greater likelyhood of errors.

          In coding terms it's a bit like having a line of code for every data record you need to process instead of processing all data records in a single loop.

          However, this is all nothing to do with what the article was about, which was, essentially, is he getting too stressed out?

          Well, there's no doubt that he's in a _very_ stressful position: the Linux kernel runs on a wider range of h/w than any other other bit of s/w that's ever existed and trying to coordinate, collate and implement the correspondingly wide amount and variety of code modules submitted by an equally wide variety of code submitters, from individuals to global corporations, can be nothing but stressful.

          So is he getting too stressed out? No, what he said was was not to be taken literally and was clearly a tongue-in-cheek gesture to express his annoyance, the severity of the gesture indicating his degree of annoyance. This is something that every human being does from time to time: someone does something a bit stupid or thoughtless and the person who is annoyed by it replies with a deliberately irrational, out of proportion and over the top response. It's no different to that young chap who threatened to blow up an airport because of repeated delays due to the volcanic ash cloud or Jeremy Clarkson suggesting that certain people who had annoyed him should be shot in front of their families.

          Personally, I'm more concerned with the mental wellbeing of people who appear to be either incapable of discerning the real meaning of these gestures or, even more worryingly, use them as the basis for an attack on someone. Why even more worringly? Because if you feel entitled to launch an attack on someone whom you don't know because of something they said to someone else whom you don't know then you must be _really_ fscked up.

        4. . 3

          Re: He's right.

          I don't understand how this is really any different to the publicly undocumented stuff on all 3D graphics chips.

          The documentation is usually available only under NDA because a) the registers are there for hardware hacks and you can potentially do an inadvertent HCF by writing the wrong thing or even just doing so in the wrong order and b) documenting it would reveal stuff about how it works which is useful to the competition.

          With the pace of SoC development, registers for fudge factors and such will always be present in these devices as there just aren't going to be enough respins of a part to iron them out. Therefore SoC's in general don't make for great general compute platforms. (Says an OpenWRT hacker. :-)

      2. Nigel 11

        @bazza: Re: He's right.

        Not enough extra transistors to make any difference, compared to the 100 million plus transistors per SoC. It could be done with a standardised ROM containing a list of device IDs (64 bits, to avoid ever running out of IDs) and a base address (64 bits). Some address decode logic, and 128 bits (128 transistors?) per device.

        Any patent on a ROM containing a look-up table surely expired in the 1970s.

        No reason a ROM consumes any power at all, except when it's being read. But even ignoring that, a thousand transistors compared to many million is under 0.1%. That's way below manufacturing variability.

        1. annodomini2

          Re: @bazza: He's right.

          @Nigel 11,

          1. Never underestimate the vagueness of Patents, especially in the US.

          2. He is behaving like a spoilt toddler, throwing his teddy out of the pram when he doesn't get what he wants.

          These things are possible, but in the low value/high volume world of ARM changes like this are a much more significant cost than can be estimated, especially given the current volume of ARM chips out there and being made.

          Additionally, IF ARM or another supplier chose to add this functionality, while Linux still supports processors without these features, he and others will still have to do the work.

          So it's a rant to nothing.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He's right.

        At what point do embedded devices become full blown devices?

        ARM becoming more mainstream in terms of general computing means it's time for them to grow up a bit.

      4. David Kelly 2

        Re: He's right. (Not)

        Once software has read an ID off the SOC then how much more "discoverable" do you have to be? Once you know its an Acme RoadRunner Special mkIII you should know everything there is to know about the hardware.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: He's right. (Not)

          When the mkIII and the mkIIIa and the mk111a2 all vary by substantial amounts, it's a problem.

          Linux has a point and being shouty about it means his point gets circulated.

          My sympathies to the BSD guys btw. There's a lot of things which can (and should) be done better in the linux kernel - and with sufficient feedback might well be. Then again there are the odd bits I can't stand in the BSD kernel too. :)

    4. Mage Silver badge

      Re: He's right. but wrong too

      Without SoC there wouldn't be an ARM industry, or at least a very small one.

      Almost all portable devices with Linux are ARM SoC.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He's right.

      No he isnt... or at least is inconsistent in his views (as the kernel he produce)... the Linux devs have been introducing many sh*ty things that had made the life of *BSD and others very painful...

      Anónimo cos I dont like my coffe 'a la Torvald'

    6. Sirius Lee

      Re: He's right.

      No only is he technically right, in my opinion he's right to use strong language. In a world where any regular person's comments are drowned out by well funded 'PR' blogging. He doesn't have the funds of many of the Linux contributors so it's cute trick to make sure his opinion is heard.

  2. Drakkenson
    Joke

    Maybe

    Just maybe we should humour him for once?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe

      Quite. I invariably find his unabashed hyperbole and hammed up indignation both amusing and refreshingly honest. Shirley I'm not the only one to realise he's NOT really trying to incite murder? So why these waves of Daily Mail damnation? Are we striving to promote a more usual workplace culture of oleaginous insincere correctness, cliques, plotting and treachery? Are we jealous of an environment of open expression and honesty in which everyone knows exactly where they stand, what's expected of them and potential problems are swiftly and transparently excised?

      Whenever there's a story about some poor pleb getting into hot water over some quip about blowing up an airport or destroying America or whatever the Commenterderate Soviet is always quick to defend. So why is Torvalds any different? Personal jealousy? Someone that famous, successful and influential "needs to be taken down a peg or two"? A spot of group iconoclasty?

      Please tell. I'm genuinely puzzled and a little dismayed by this phenomenon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe ""

        "Please tell. I'm genuinely puzzled and a little dismayed by this phenomenon."

        If you can't destroy the message (i.e. free software philos.) destroy the messenger.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        I invariably find his unabashed hyperbole ... refreshingly honest

        I don't see it's refreshing, it's exactly how programmers are stereotyped as behaving in movies - arrogant anti-social nerds.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: I invariably find his unabashed hyperbole ... refreshingly honest

          1) Why are movies relevant and why should anyone care?

          2) What movies are these?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ Destroy All Monsters

            "Why are movies relevant and why should anyone care?"

            Because Torvald's tantrums show those movie stereotypes to be, not caricatures, but accurate portraits of real people.

            1. JDX Gold badge

              Re: @ Destroy All Monsters

              The movies portray nerds that way because it's often accurate. How many IT administrators become jumped up little twerps because of the power they have? Linus is hardly unique, except that most nerds don't get into the public view until they've had some of the rough edges knocked off through having to work with other people in order to become important.

    2. Ramazan

      Re: maybe we should humour him for once?

      Yeah! Bring in ARM SoC developers and The Holy Hand Grenade!

  3. jerry 4

    Never realized the Reg was so butt hurt.

    Linus is correct and his criticism mild.

    And I can't believe the Reg is suggesting we all hew to the standards of Human Resources.

    1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Re: Never realized the Reg was so butt hurt.

      And I can't believe the Reg is suggesting we all hew to the standards of Human Resources.

      Tell me, has any company with a HR department ever been successful?

      I thought the natural development line for companies was

      1) Get set up by brilliant ideas people

      2) Grow to the point where they acquire and HR department

      3) Go down the tubes rapidly.

      Isn't this how things normally work?

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Rule of thumb.....

        When your employer refers to you as a resource, rather than as a person, it's time to run.

        In the good old days, HR was called Personnel and tended to be far more competent.

        1. Ramazan

          Re: When your employer refers to you as a resource

          That's a crucial difference - Linus wasn't a resource, at least not a replaceable one. Just like Guido van Rossum was until jokes about bus running over Guido stopped as Python gained [dev community] momentum.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rule of thumb.....

          Our company has stopped referring to us as a resource. Apparently we are now human capital.

          As inflation is still outpacing interest rates, presumably that means they can justify treating us as if we're worth less and less each year...

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Rule of thumb.....

            Reminds me of an old Dilbert strip - something about people actually being the company's fifth greatest asset (after the photocopiers) and, being assets, naturally depreciate over time.

            1. JulianB

              Re: Rule of thumb.....

              There was a non-Dilbert cartoon on our office wall for years, featuring a CEO type saying "Our staff are our greatest asset. I vote we sell them."

      2. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        Re: Never realized the Reg was so butt hurt.

        Also, if your company appoints an accountant to the board- run before you are nickle and dimed to death

    2. Robert Ramsay

      Re: Never realized the Reg was so butt hurt.

      I'd much rather the something happened to the HR departments.

  4. Long John Brass Silver badge

    A hero

    He just says what most of us think/mutter under our breath

    Be honest, how many time have you been tempted to LART someone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A hero @Long John Brass

      "Be honest, how many time have you been tempted to LART someone?"

      Every time someone too far in hero worship justifies anything Torvalds does/says just because - well, he's Linus!

  5. ChrisM

    Much as he is right I think someone should put a surprise in HIS coffee cup, Decaf.

    1. Long John Brass Silver badge

      I say, steady on old chap; No need to get vicious :)

    2. spodula

      Actually...

      Thats not a bad idea. I moved from Coffee to Tea a few years ago, and turned into much less of an asshole almost overnight. You really dont know how much the coffee affects you until after you give it up.

      Of course the first week was a bitch...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Actually...

        "I moved from Coffee to Tea a few years ago, and turned into much less of an asshole almost overnight."

        Were your IT credentials revoked shortly thereafter?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linus might be related to Eadon?

    The only thing Linus is good at is preaching to the choir. Enemies of open source rejoice at his lack of professionalism. So Linus, you make the open source community look good by running your mouth. Keep up the excellent work dude! Maybe someone could possibly puncture the brake-lines on your car and put a little surprise in your coffee.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Linus might be related to Eadon?

      As opposed to putting a little "surprise" in your operating system updates like another certain company does?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Linus might be related to Eadon?

        As opposed to putting a little "surprise" in your operating system updates like another certain company does?

        At least you can make a point without losing your cool, unlike Linus. Thumbs up!

        1. Tom 13

          Re: make a point without losing your cool

          I suspect Linus lives a fairly stress free life:

          http://cdn.themetapicture.com/media/funny-stress-definition-sign.jpg

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Linus might be related to Eadon?

          At least you can make a point without losing your cool, unlike Linus. Thumbs up!

          Well, let's put it this way … I can understand why he makes the outbursts he does. I don't necessarily agree 100% but I do understand why those things are said.

          A few years ago I was working with Jacques Electronics helping develop their video intercom system.

          They had chosen a rather capable system-on-module (SoM) as the core of their product, and had picked the components that built up their devices. They had initially two form-factors of video intercom: a desk-top unit with 800x480 resistive touch-screen, the monitor station; and an in-wall mounted unit with a 320x240 pixel screen and capacitive keypad, the entrance station. Later, they added a headless version of the entrance station that just had a LED and mechanical keypad (and then yet a fourth, that used a piezo push-button in place of the mechanical keypad — for out-door help points and in prisons).

          We initially had fun and games getting the audio codec and system-on-chip (SoC) to communicate. The audio codec was made by TI, the SoC by FreeScale. After explaining our situation to the TI sales rep, TI did provide us with an ALSA driver, after forcing representatives to sign an NDA (red flag IMO), but then on inspecting the code we saw comments stating the driver was only licensed for use on a TI OMAP processor, and for kernel 2.6.18. Utterly useless.

          I wound up porting the SoM's support code over to kernel 2.6.36 (they were running 2.6.28) where there was at least support for the SoC's I²S bus, getting the audio codec working, then back-porting the whole ALSA tree back to kernel 2.6.28. All because TI wanted to play silly proprietary games.

          The next challenge came that management wanted to be able to plug the SoM, loaded up with OS, into any of the devices and have it auto-detect what device it was plugged into. This is challenging because SPI and I²C both are non-discoverable: you basically have to know what's there by default.

          I wound up kludging it by making use of an on-main-board I²C EEPROM which could carry information on what sort of board it was, making the kernel look for a specific kernel command-line parameter, then hacking RedBoot to pass this special command line parameter depending on the content of the EEPROM. Ugly, no way in hell upstream would accept the patch, but it worked.

          Now this is with just one SoC. Linus and other kernel devs have to face harmonising a single kernel tree with the myriad of SoC's out there. All with varying amounts of documentation, of differing quality. Quite often, the manufacturers are not forthcoming on how their particular SoC operates, and it all lends itself to an experience akin to herding cats. There's no "let's work together on this and try to come up with a clean architecture that will work well for all our products", it's more "let's focus on our own product line and to hell with anything else Linux runs on".

          The ultimate loser in this is the end user, which in this context, is the company trying to develop a product for their customers. Rather than being able to select a SoC and other hardware based on specifications and cost, they have to factor in device-family-specific kernel trees that may be lagging behind mainline by years, may be incompatible with other kernel trees, and each carry with it its own unique set of bugs.

          So yes, I might not be the sort to jump up and down and scream abuse, or hurl furniture around, but I can well understand it when someone who's trying to get a kernel that everyone can use, gets thrown into such anarchy.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Linus might be related to Eadon?

            "The ultimate loser in this is the end user, which in this context, is the company trying to develop a product for their customers. Rather than being able to select a SoC and other hardware based on specifications and cost, they have to factor in device-family-specific kernel trees that may be lagging behind mainline by years, may be incompatible with other kernel trees, and each carry with it its own unique set of bugs."

            "Users" can vote with their wallets. Instead of going for $CHEAPEST device which then requiers a shedload of manhours every time there's a variation, go for the one which is fully documented, etc.

            Requirements for NDAs seem to fall away rapdily in the face of "Oh well, we'll just switch to XYZ competing manufacturer".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Linus might be related to Eadon?

      You mean, Linus should become more of a whore, like all the Dollarsoft guys ?

      I think he is already quite business friendly and he should control his Reiser-ish instincts. Maybe a little time-out in a national park w/o any transistors would do the trick.

    3. h4rm0ny

      Re: Linus might be related to Eadon?

      "The only thing Linus is good at is preaching to the choir"

      Well that and being a Hell of an engineer and hard worker.

      I used to argue with Eadon all the time - a complete PITA who did more damage to the image of Open Source than any detractor of Open Source usually managed. Linus? I have nothing but respect for. Don't confuse an opinionated bigot with a very talented person who has a sense of humour and speaks his mind.

  7. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Having an opinion on a subject is fine: "Non discoverable buses are right PITA". He's involved in writing an operating system kernel and this issue is a problem for him (and all other operating system authors)

    Threatening violence on people: "I hope [they] all die in some incredibly painful accident", not so clever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Considering what Reiser did, I am actually a little worried. And no, not a dollarsoft $hill here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'll add you to my kill file.

    2. Tom 13

      I think people who can't distinguish

      between real threats and hyperbole are threat to the existence of the human race and should be eliminated with all possible speed and dispatch.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: I think people who can't distinguish

        Regardless if it's easy to tell he doesn't really mean it literally, it's still a stupid thing to say. Call it a ****ing stupid idea and the people who run it total ****wits, if you must be such an attention seeker.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personally I think his comments could be equally applied to the person who dreamed up the use of the title "Human Resources" over "Personnel". The manner in which, with one simple renaming, they remove the implied caring about those who work for you as real people to one which, ironically, removes the humanity.

    "Social Mobility" is another....

    1. JDX Gold badge

      What is this cuddly namby-pamby world where employers are supposed to care about their employees? (any more than one person should care about another person to start with I mean) I want you motivated and to feel valued if your work is valuable, I don't want to have "company hug time".

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    I guess the quesiton is how much control does ARM *have* over discoerability?

    Keeping in mind they provide the IP, they do not actually make hardware.

    1. Luke McCarthy

      Re: I guess the quesiton is how much control does ARM *have* over discoerability?

      None really, although they could propose a standard and try to get their customers to adopt it.

  10. flibbertigibbet
    Paris Hilton

    Linus is being far too polite. Transistor counts on these SOC's are in the multiple of billions. Reserving a couple of thousand so the software can detect the hardware it is running on and configure itself appropriately is a no-brainer.

    It makes everyone's life so much easier. It means the kernel writers can take on the burden of identifying and configuring the hardware, so the manufacturers, retailers and what not can just have one firmware image that runs on everything - just like Microsoft and the Linux distributions do. "How to find the board revision number of your hardware" becomes unnecessary.

    Arsehole doesn't begin to describe the mentality of these hardware designers. Absolute arrogant pricks. Paris because they are high maintenance, just like her.

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Power and size

      For suppliers of SoC based equipment, configuring Linux is often the norm to avoid the kernel having loads of unwanted code. For example on a basic MP3 player the complete communication stack is unwanted as there is no externally connected communication interface (even if the SoC has one).

      Generic kernels are far larger than custom tailored kernels -for example on the netbook that I am using at the moment the generic kernel image on disk is 3.9MP - and includes support for IP6, DECnet, Packet radio, Bluetooth, EISA bus, multiple CPU types and many other options that will never be used.

      For the manufacturer of small SoC based systems, having the devices discoverable provides no benefit and will hinder if there are devices on the SoC whose use is not wanted.

      Having something like a CONFIG_MTK6589T file that configures all the devices on a MTK6589T SoC would seem to be the best approach. (The MTK6589T SoC is the chip in my current phone - a THL W8S.)

      1. Daniel Palmer

        Re: Power and size

        >Having something like a CONFIG_MTK6589T file that configures all the devices on

        >a MTK6589T SoC would seem to be the best approach. (The MTK6589T SoC is the

        >chip in my current phone - a THL W8S.)

        That's what the old pre device tree setup did.. it used the machine number passed in from the bootloader in R1 and ran the board file for the selected device.

        The problem with that is that you end up with tons of machine numbers, tons of mostly similar but slightly different board files etc etc.. The DT stuff is meant to make this stuff a bit more sane. A port for an ARM machine now is just an extension DTS file that builds on top of the SoC's DT.

        1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Power and size

          I was meaning a file that was used during the Linux kernel build so that the kernel had only the correct device drivers - not a boot time or run time configuration of a generic kernel (a CONFIG_MTK6589T make file).

          Correctly done you would have a generic make file that included a type file (e.g CONFIG_PHONE or CONFIG_TABLET or CONFIG_EMBEDDED etc), the SoC make file and the specific board file (if any) for additional devices or to disable not connected SoC devices. The CONFIG_xxx files would include lower level files so for example the CONFIG_MTK6589 file would include CONFIG_QUAD_CORE_ARM_A7 minimising the amount of duplicated configuration information. This results in smaller kernels with fewer bugs as errors in code that is not included does not have any effect on the kernel.

          1. Daniel Palmer

            Re: Power and size

            Read up on what DT actually does... if your totally static compile time configuration (which is what the old system basically is in most cases as most kernels only support 1 machine id) would actually work then there wouldn't be all of this effort to get DT working.

            >This results in smaller kernels with fewer bugs as errors in code

            >that is not included does not have any effect on the kernel.

            Testing a lots of different kernel configurations is actually very important to find bugs with interactions between different parts of the kernel ... that's why you can produce kernels with random configs.

  11. Ishtiaq
    FAIL

    Another "spoilt child stampie footie session"

    As I said in another post, Torvalds is turning into a poor imitation of Gordon Ramsay.

    1. Paul Smith

      Re: Another "spoilt child stampie footie session"

      Would that be the Gordon Ramsay who is a multi-millionaire, whose own resaurants are consistently voted among the ten best in the world, who consistently turns around failing enterprises and makes them critical and commercial successes, and who keeps being awarded Michelin stars that recognise his outstanding skills and talents?

      Or were you thinking of some other foul-mouth Gordan Ramsey who should not be used as a role model?

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Another "spoilt child stampie footie session"

        Being good at something doesn't make you a role model.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Another "spoilt child stampie footie session"

          > Being good at something doesn't make you a role model.

          Yes it does. Everyone is a role model if someone looks up to them.

          Whether or not they are a "good" role model depends entirely on your personal perspective which is just as flawed as everyone else's.

  12. greadey

    From my point of view this behaviour is really puerile. Someone might like to point out all the toys that are all over the floor, and that he might like to pick them up and put them back into his pram.

    1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Puerile

      From my point of view this behaviour is really puerile.

      From mine, your posting is puerile, Linus is able to make comments on the kernel mailing list that aren't PC because he has the respect of the audience he's addressing. They know what he means. He doesn't need to kowtow to dumb conventions that might govern most business discussions, any more than you don't need to worry about being all PC when you're chatting to your mates down the pub.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Puerile

        From mine, you don't know what "puerile" means and your post is just the equivalent of "no YOU are".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: Puerile

          > From mine, you don't know what "puerile" means and your post is just the equivalent of "no YOU are".

          From a brief cursory glance of the forum, you seem to be responding to everyone with puerile comments of your own.

          What did Linus ever do to you? Spit in your pint did he?

  13. Ramazan

    absolutely agree with Linus

    The post is required, and must contain letters.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: absolutely agree with Linus

      "The post is required, and must contain letters."

      Yep; see, the idea is that you put the message itself there, not in the f*****g title (even if it *is* something as insubstantial and redundant as "absolutely agree with Linus"; frankly, if you can't even be bothered explaining why you agree, it probably wasn't worth posting).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unhinged Reg Hack Suggests Poison and Sabotage

    You do realise you are still regularly, and with great success, publishing the BOFH series?

    Which suggests poison, and smashing, and pushing, and sabotage, and scheming, and murder, and Katatatatakatiiisssssh *thump*.

  15. jake Silver badge

    "The colourful language would, however, probably attract frowns from human resources managers"

    Who gives a rat's ass about what "human resources managers" try to think about?

    1. Eponymous Cowherd
      Unhappy

      Re: "The colourful language would, however, probably attract frowns from human resources managers"

      "Who gives a rat's ass about what "human resources managers" try to think about?"

      Unfortunately, those who work at the companies that employ them.

      HR "managers" in too many firms have power and authority (to hire and fire) well beyond their ability to understand the roles they hiring and firing for.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "The colourful language would, however, probably attract frowns from human resources managers"

        "HR "managers" in too many firms have power and authority (to hire and fire) well beyond their ability to understand the roles they hiring and firing for."

        And once they've truely clusterfucked the organisations they get a nice golden handshake.

        I know of one outfit where one HR manager nearly caused a general strike and another (female, with a political agenda) decided women werent being paid well enough, so launched a company-wide review process which left large numbers of staff traumatised and half the female staff in a worse position than they'd been previously.

  16. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Nothing new here

    Similar comments are said by firmware engineers about hardware designers every day. The only difference is that a) They tend not to be put online b) They are not the originator of the worlds largest OS project

    1. Someone Else Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Nothing new here

      Similar comments are said by firmware engineers about hardware designers every day. The only difference is that a) They tend not to be put online b) They are not the originator of the worlds largest OS project

      Or marketdroids....

  17. James Hughes 1

    In (mild) defense of the SoC designers

    They are under constant pressure to slap out new designs as soon as possible, they have the reduce the power consumption as much as possible, they have the keep the area of the die as small as possible, and in general SoC's are vastly more complicated (not in transistor count) than, for example, basic x86 chips (due to all the added HW blocks for graphics, cameras, networking etc)

    All of these go against what Torvalds wants (and his wants are fair enough), but the designers are only doing what they are asked to do by the market.

    We are not talking x86 chips here with a long dev cycle, we are talking devices that need to be designed, simulated, taped out, built, tested, redesigned etc in only a couple of years.

  18. Number6

    Configuration Parameters

    I agree with his arguments, less so with his phraseology. SoC designers are well down my list of people I'd like to see trip over their shoelaces.

    What it needs is an agreed-upon standard for SoCs to have a bit of mask-ROM accessible that enumerates device IDs, a bit like PCI or USB have, so that an OS can read it and know that it's got an ACME type-2 SPI controller at base address X, an ACME type 4 NAND flash controller at base address Y, etc. A given SoC manufacturer normally re-uses its peripheral IP, so it shouldn't be that hard to achieve.

    So, start of ROM has eight bytes to declare number of peripheral descriptors and a chip ID (which could be a short-cut to know what's coming next) and then eight bytes per peripheral to give it an ID and base address offset. A more flexible scheme would take more space but may be preferable for future-proofing.

    1. Daniel Palmer

      Re: Configuration Parameters

      >What it needs is an agreed-upon standard for SoCs to

      >have a bit of mask-ROM accessible that enumerates device IDs,

      What about devices that aren't part of the SoC but baked onto the board? How do you enumerate those?

      >got an ACME type-2 SPI controller at base address X,

      What about the SPI devices connected to that controller than need to be configured to make the board work?

      >an ACME type 4 NAND flash controller at base address Y, etc.

      What about the configuration of the NAND attached to the controller, what about the NAND partition table?

      >A given SoC manufacturer normally re-uses its peripheral IP, so it shouldn't be that hard to achieve.

      But it would be worthless. The vendor, chip model etc are already burned into the silicon, adding another location that describes the SoC is pointless.

      >So, start of ROM

      Or just have the bootloader load a binary into memory or attach a binary to the end of the kernel image that describes the particulars of the machine that the kernel is booting on... come to think of it.. that's what DeviceTree does. Almost as if it was intended to solve this very problem!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As someone involved in ARM based SoCs ...

    ... can I report Linus to the police for making death threats against me via social media?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As someone involved in ARM based SoCs ...

      That depends - are you one of those people who provide non-discoverable and no-public-documentation SoC?

      If so I have a range of interesting doors you can exit through...

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: As someone involved in ARM based SoCs ...

        Since almost every SoC is covered by your description, he probably is - as am I. Not our choice of course, management specifies what can and cannot be made public, but since almost every ARM SoC device out there works OK and the suppliers of SoC work closely with the manufacturers who have NDA's, its usually not a big issue, until people want to do 'different' things than the manufacturer intended, which is a pretty low proportion of the installed base of SoCs, hence reluctance from Da Management to spending the money on providing the level of documentation required, plus fear of exposing themselves to patent disputes. I'm not saying its a good thing, just that it's what happens.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: As someone involved in ARM based SoCs ...

          "management specifies what can and cannot be made public"

          Mangelment strikes again. I have a very special selection of flensing knives for those who actively prohibit people from writing documentation.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: can I report Linus to the police

      Sure.

      And after they knock on his door you don't mind if we link Anonymous to your link her at El Reg do you?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll get down voted, I just know it!

    Comparisons between the mailing list, and a pub conversation isn't really valid. I know of know no pub where thousands of people are drinking, and will all go quiet to listen to one man speak, hanging on every witty put down of someone who isn't there.

    Another issue I have with his attitude is that it encourages the same behaviour in others who do have to work in very different environments to L.T.'s.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll get down voted, I just know it!

      So what you are saying it is ok to force your environment to others. If i was doing something for free and that made huge amount of the money for some company that tries to be as difficult as possible towards me..... well lets just say Linus is letting them easy...

      Now that android has 80% market share (which run on linux) they could make their own ARM drivers and force ARM manufacturers to make their chips so that it functions with those drivers. I mean would they really say that they would switch to windows rt? Clearly Linus is stuck on those days that his operating system was on small market... he doesn't have to please ARM manufacturers anymore now that his kernel runs in most of the arm solutions.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good job he didn't tweet it

    or he'd be banged up next time he set foot in UK

  22. Magnus_Pym

    Over the top but it works

    If Torvalds simply said . I think it would be better if SOC designers made buses discoverable. It wouldn't get half the coverage this rant did.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Over the top but it works

      I don't know why he wouldn't just get some sharks with frikken laser beams on their heads to target the offending hardware developers. He's as good as said that it's possible to do so with Linux.

      Either way, it's a bit of an extreme reaction to not being able to find out when the next number 37 is heading into town.

  23. John Deeb

    l'enfer c'est les autres

    Torvald's internal rage once transmigrated into the birth of Linux. So he just might need a new project for himself or a little group: l'enfer c'est les autres. The alternative is him being sued to the brink of the poorhouse for the up and coming murder threats he will utter sooner or later. Self-destruction being of course the privilege of many great minds in aging bodies.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Try and be less sensitive ..

    "Help us out here amateur psychologists .. so if you have particular insights into how Torvalds might ease his mind do feel free to share"

  25. CommanderGalaxian

    Aspy Linus?

    "But Dr Reg can't escape the feeling he's a bit of a tortured soul, so if you have particular insights into how Torvalds might ease his mind do feel free to share."

    You sure he's not just an Aspy?

  26. Mr. Peterson

    better this than yet another developer mindlessly babbling on about how excited they are

  27. Wilseus

    Poor Linus

    He always did get a bit tetchy without his security blanket.

  28. heyrick Silver badge

    Screw HR bullshit

    Compare the OMAP3 datasheet (over 3500 pages and still lacking loads like the GPU and such) with the sorry excuse of a datasheet released by Broadcom for the Pi's SoC (less than a tenth of that size).

    Developers want to get stuff done, and suitable documentation is essential when every device works in a slightly different way. What's so hard to understand?

  29. Stretch

    i'd like to put this guy through a bacon slicer

    1. godanov

      I would rather buy him a beer.

  30. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Brake lines?

    puncture the brake-lines on their car

    As most things on a car are now controlled by software, I'd have expected a less hardware-based revenge from Linus.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brake lines?

      As most things on a car are now controlled by software, I'd have expected a less hardware-based revenge from Linus.

      The hardware which controls the braking system presumably uses non-discoverable buses.

  31. RobHib
    Joke

    Torvalds ◄► Ballmer Differences

    Torvalds expletives ► Open source / Internet / words

    Ballmer expletives ► Proprietary / Microsoft, internal / words & chair-throwing

  32. Hans 1 Silver badge

    Optional

    He is right ... but he could have meant that for:

    Shuttleworth and his club for symlinking /bin/sh with /bin/dash which instantly broke 95% of all shell scripts and allowed you to reduce boot time by 3 seconds... was it worth it ? rofl

    Or

    The subversion club who decided that since they had no SPOF they needed immediate remedy, releasing v 1.7 with all the ckeckout's metadata in one corruption-prone sqlite db ... db corrupt ? Please check it all out again, thank you!

    When you are in a ranting mood, always start of with the guyz in your camp, it is called education.

  33. Joe Burmeister

    discoverable buses

    A device tree blob in a ROM would be good enough.

    As long as that ROM is somewhere standard and easy to determine if present or not!

    1. Daniel Palmer

      Re: discoverable buses

      >As long as that ROM is somewhere standard and easy to determine if present or not!

      You would have thought that this would have already been thought out considering machines are currently booting using device tree.. You know like putting something in R2 (R1 is used for the legacy machine id..) so that Linux knows where the device tree blob is.

  34. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Torvalds 2016

  35. Lars Silver badge
    Linux

    Hello

    Lets face it, if Linus had use words like "it would be nice", "I would humbly hope", "It would make me happy" or similar "rubbish" this story would never have been here on the register. It always starts from the harware, without hardware there is no way to write any kernel or anything else either. Programmers, some, may have some influence on the programming language. But those who write the kernel depend on the hardware they are given.

    Some time ago there was some "troll" who wondered about the Linux kernel always having some new version year by year. Are they never able to do it right. If all the development of hardware suddenly stopped that would probably happen but that is not the way it goes, at least not for Linux. Of course there is less going around with AIX and similar because IBM and similar have full control of the hardware for the OS. Microsoft also have control of the hardware they choose to use and most likely some control over the firms producing the hardware and how they do it. Linux and Linus have less possibilities to affect anybody producing the hardware. I have seen several interviews with Linus and the impression I have got is that he is thoughtful decent and a nice guy and no doubt very good at what he is doing. If the only way for Linus to get some attention is to shout, then Linus, go on shouting (I think it worked with Nvidia) the more the better. Some more "Perkele" would be nice too. In other words, perhaps those who do the hardware should take into account that that hardware is totally worthless unless it is used by some kernel intelligently and I am sure they agree and try to do as well as they are able to. Certainly a deeper cooperation between hardware and software is, to day, as important as ever. If that is what Linus is shouting for I hope his voice is heard.

    .

  36. WatAWorld

    Torvalds Must Think He is Jan Egeland

    Torvalds must have that psychological syndrome where you think you are Jan Egeland.

    This video explains the syndrome.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn-oemgzlEU

  37. Mostor Astrakan

    Yes, yes. I see the expected responses here. Can't Linus be a bit nicer, is all that swearing really necessary. Civilised people don't puncture each other's brakes, and couldn't he be a bit more professional and polite? To which the answer is, yes he most certainly could. But there is one tiny little problem if you are. People don't fucking listen!

  38. Jim Birch

    This was a tongue-in-cheek way of expressing extreme dislike of closed systems. This kind of design either locks out Linux and/or makes a lot of work for Linux devs and makes systems that are hard to fix when they break. And It's not like Torvalds invented recreational outrage or the use of murder as a rhetorical device, is it? That's everywhere. Does Torvalds reside on someone's Imaginary Pedestal of Purity perhaps?

    End of story. Move along.

  39. TReko

    He tells it like it is

    We need more like him, to cut through the BS of modern corporationdoublespeak

  40. godanov

    You and most of the tech industry are so inundated and blinded by techcompanies that say nice things then lie and steal.

    Torvalds may not always be right but he NEVER lie to you abou anything, even when we would prefer it. I want the truth. I am an adult I am perfectly capible of making my own decisions thank oy very much.

  41. Bladeforce

    Top man, more of him I say less of the politically correct liberalism that is killing our society

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