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Linux kernel's Torvalds: 'I am truly sorry' for my 'unprofessional' rants, I need a break to get help


speaking almost entirely as an observer of the linux community and consumer of its product rather than producer (I pushed a few driver changes upstream about 5 yrs ago) and having spent 32 happy years pushing -ix systems and code on them around - if I say that a piece of code (my own or someone else's) is broken, then that's not because I don't like the author or have constipation that day. It's because I can show the concrete ways in which it's broken, i.e. fails in some functional way. If I say that a piece of code (mine or someone else's) has bad style, then that's different than broken and we can agree to disagree. Up to a point: if the style is bad enough, it may well fail to function, particularly as re: maintainability. The same goes for poor but not explicitly broken design, failing extensibility or integration.

The very fabric of our computing lives anno 2018 exists because of the rigor of the -ix community - the current one and the ones that preceded it. That includes an insistence on objective fact, as opposed to all views being nothing more than equally valid opinions. And objective fact being prioritized over social dynamics, including both power hierachies based on fiat assignment of power, and people's personal agendas, whether those are about not being offended when their professional capabilities are shown to be lacking, or placing self-aggrandizement and advancement ahead of technical merit and selling content of dubious quality via propaganda and politicking.

If this new set of social rules ("code of conduct") is instrumentalized to end or even dilute this ethos, then the Linux community will stop being a guarantor of technical quality in computing, as it currently is (and yes, we are all fallible and pursue perfection while knowing that we can never do more than approach it asymptotically... individually and as a community. nevertheless...).

That ethos will however not end until its last practicing proponent leaves the stage. I suggest that there's a fair number of us, and we're not leaving anytime soon.

(footnote/coda: it is always remarkable how the dynamics of human existence, both subjective relativistic social phenomena, as well as substantive questions of objective functional merit, reflect basic processes in the natural world, notably in the realm of natural selection. This is about evolutionary success or failure. My resources are not available to be wasted on failed paths; I work hard to identify those as well as better ones. I propose that as a reasonable daily working approach... If someone is offended because that involves questioning the quality of their work product, that's happened plenty of times to me, so maybe they should get around more. Find something else to bind their ego and self-worth to, and meanwhile in their professional life, try to learn from the experience and fail less the next time.)

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