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Open Source Linux

Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer 641

alphadogg writes: "An argument between developers of some of the most basic parts of Linux turned heated this week, resulting in a prominent Red Hat employee and code contributor being banned from working on the Linux kernel. Kay Sievers, a well-known open-source software engineer, is a key developer of systemd, a system management framework for Linux-based operating systems. Systemd is currently used by several prominent Linux distributions, including two of the most prominent enterprise distros, Red Hat and SUSE. It was recently announced that Ubuntu would adopt systemd in future versions as well. Sievers was banned by kernel maintainer Linus Torvalds on Wednesday for failing to address an issue that caused systemd to interact with the Linux kernel in negative ways."
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Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer

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  • by Lisias ( 447563 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @11:41AM (#46661329) Homepage Journal

    And this is good.

    Quote from the Linus email:

    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.

    Being Kay a Red Hat paid developer, perhaps it's not his entirely fault what's happening. But it's his name on the table, so it's his responsability nevertheless.

  • Re:informal poll (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2014 @11:58AM (#46661557)

    I don't get why anyone runs Windows.

    Because it works just fine and it is what most people are familiar with? Plus out-of-the-box support for things like games and a wide array of mainstream consumer software.

    I don't really get why anyone can be puzzled as to how Windows is a popular OS.

  • Re:informal poll (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Spiked_Three ( 626260 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:10PM (#46661665)
    People run windows, because, ummm, maybe it has software that is usable?

    Adobe apps for instance. Yes, I could run them on an overpriced mac, that is an option, if I do not mind being locked into the most obviously nefarious corporate slime in existence.

    The fact that you don't understand this, means you probably are very limited in your understanding of how people use computers in general. That takes nothing away from your technical skills. Just wouldnt put you in charge of I.T. at a company bigger than say, 2.

    Look, windows is still at over 80% market share. You are flat out ignoring reality when you say you dont get why anyone runs windows. It does not make you look smart, I'm sure that was what you were trying to accomplish.
  • by rabtech ( 223758 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:10PM (#46661673) Homepage

    Linus is generally fair from what I can tell, and does not except himself from criticism. In that very thread:

    Yeah, what Andrew said. My suggestion of per-task or per-cred is
    obviously moronic in comparison.

    Linus "hangs head in shame" Torvalds

    Someone proposed a better idea and Linus immediately admits his idea was worse and moves on. That was also one of Steve Jobs' greatest talents, even though it's in a completely different sphere. He originally said "no" to iPods for Windows and the iOS app store. People presented their case and he changed his mind.

    We should all be so willing to admit when someone else has a better idea or we were wrong.

  • Re:informal poll (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:10PM (#46661675)

    because the bulk of the software i use isnt available on linux. because the games i like arent available on linux. because it works pretty much out of the box for me. because my clients need me to develop software for windows and thats much easier to do in windows. because much of the peripheral hardware i use is only available for windows (or is a giant pain to get running anywhere else. and, yes, i have tried). and lastly, there is no incentive for me to move away from windows.

    if linux is what you prefer or what works best for you, thats wonderful and im very happy for you. windows is what i prefer and works best for me.

  • Re:informal poll (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ttucker ( 2884057 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:14PM (#46661701)
    I used to be a die hard Linux guy, but for me OSX has always been the nothing works problem of Linux, mixed with an expensive, arrogant, asshole, flavor. Now I use Windows 7 on the desktop. It is pretty stable, and it is wonderful to have everything more or less just work.
  • Re:informal poll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:23PM (#46661789) Journal

    A pirated copy of Win7.

  • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:45PM (#46662067)

    Someone proposed a better idea and Linus immediately admits his idea was worse and moves on. That was also one of Steve Jobs' greatest talents,

    That statement is laughable. When Steve Jobs was in control of NeXT he decreed that the cube must be a perfect cube. Pressing, the most efficient way to create the case, works best with the side a couple of degrees off. Most people would not notice the difference but it allows the cube to be pulled out of the die much easier. Even though only one company in the US was able to press a perfect cube and it would add a couple hundred dollars to each machine, Jobs insisted on it. That was one of the reasons the NeXT was so expensive.

    He originally said "no" to iPods for Windows and the iOS app store. People presented their case and he changed his mind.

    When Jobs came back to Apple they had a Board that could stand up to Jobs and make decisions counter to Jobs' wishes. The Board had been doing it for years while Jobs was failing at NeXT. I doubt Jobs "changed his mind". More likely the Board overrode him.

  • by Bill Dimm ( 463823 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:56PM (#46662175) Homepage

    but he actually had a reason [this time, lol]

    I've read about quite a few of these "Linux blow-ups" over the years, and I can't think of a single instance where I cam away thinking Linus was anything short of fully justified once you actually looked at the context.

  • Re:informal poll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jovius ( 974690 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:00PM (#46662227)

    I currently run software on Linux, Windows and OS X simultaneously on a single machine. It's true: the issue is not about the best OS but choosing the best tools regardless. The whole question of which OS is the best is so 90s. There really are no borders these days.

  • Discipline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:06PM (#46662269)

    Linus is providing that which is severely lacking in open source projects. Discipline. No you don't get to do whatever you want neither is there any excuse for breaking shit. Without people like Linus ABI back compat would have been shattered into little bits by now.

  • by rs79 ( 71822 ) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:15PM (#46662401) Homepage

    (Please correct me if I misunderstand the problem, it'e been years since I worked on this stuff)

    It seems to be both guys are right. That is, in an ideal world starting with a black sheet of paper then it seems to me Kay is almost certainly correct.

    But, this does not mean Torvalds is wrong - breaking legacy systems because of a code change that interprets existing config files is "a bad thing".

    So, we fall (ONCE AGAIN) into the trap of living with cruft to support legacy stuff. Just like we have to live with NTSC and pulse dial phones - anybody in Canada with a Bell land-line bill will recognize this charge, every month to "support touch tone":

      http://www.keebler.net/blog/20... [keebler.net]

    Never mind 99.99999999999% of phones in Canada are touch tone or that this has been there since the 1960s - how many infrastructural changes require a 70 year amortization period and never mind the telco switches have to go out of their way to support pulse (rotary) dial since touch tone in the international norm for landline and cell phones yet we have to pay extra so support the current practice everyone uses? Huh?

    That's what supporting legacy cruft buys you.

    So, while I see both guys as being right, I also see both guys as being wrong: I don't think Kay should have made this change quietly and I don't think Torvalds should have fired his sorry ass.

    If it were me, I'd have done this.

    1) Change the spec so "debug" isn't allowed any more. Use Kay's new and improved syntax.
    2) Rather than make "debug" does what it does now, or just stop working, have it instead spit out a message that says: "debug" has changed. Don't use it here any more it probably doesn't do what you think. If you know what you're doing and want to proceed anyway, use "debug.legacy" instead and it will give you so much stuff it'll probably hang your system and good luck, see for the new syntax or how to use it properly, and further explanation.

    But that's just me.

    As always communication might have helped and Kay and Torvalds should have spoken, back-channel, to find a way to elegantly resolve this instead of the usual public dick-waving that does no good and just makes everyone look arrogant and childish. FOSS is full of people with bizarre personalities, but we gotta do better, they're bizarre, not retarded.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:19PM (#46662447)

    Indeed. I am still puzzled about why there are so many systemd fanbois. It basically has no merit at all and causes a hot of severe problems. There does seem to be an aggressive, emotionally manipulative campaign by Red Hat to get it into every major distribution and that seems to unfortunately have succeeded. The same strategy is used against critics of systemd and the tactics used have an eerily similar ring to it. Just like if it was paid shills working from a PsyOps manual. There also seem to be indications that the Occupy movement was attacked in a similar fashion.

  • by phoenix_rizzen ( 256998 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:22PM (#46662491)

    Except that after years of polite "you need to fix this" requests and no follow-up from Kay ... what do you consider the appropriate response? This isn't the first time Linus has called him out. But it's the final time; the time that broke the proverbial camel's back.

  • by bruce_the_loon ( 856617 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:37PM (#46662639) Homepage

    The problem is systemd is a johnny-come-lately and is violating the standard way of doing things, even if the standard way isn't the most optimal. Think of it like a court of law, no court is going to accept a junior lawyer changing terminology that has been in use for centuries just because the lawyer has read a thesaurus. The impact is just too large.

    To take it further, apparently all but two parameters (debug and quiet) that systemd recognizes are prefixed by systemd.xxxxxx, so they know how to work within the kernel standard.

    The kernel has for a long time had a protocol of parameter naming. Direct kernel parameters are plain, module-specific parameters have mod.xxxx format and that was designed to pass driver-specific parameters in. SystemD, being a child process and not even part of the kernel should respect the existing protocol and ignore any parameters not passed without a leading systemd.

  • Re:informal poll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <VortexCortex.project-retrograde@com> on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:38PM (#46662657)

    People run windows, because, ummm, maybe it has software that is usable?

    Ah! So you're saying that its applications that people use computers for, not OSs! I agree. You now must realize that it costs nothing extra to the developers to select a cross platform development toolchain instead of a platform specific one which may tie them to OSs that have uncertain futures. AND if they go "cross platform or bust" then they get free money via increased market share.

    Unfortunately if their codebase started out with a vendor-lock-in solution then their products will be hard to "port". However, it takes me only a single "git pull && make" to port my changes from my application's GNU/Linux development environment to GNU/BSD, GNU/Mac or GNU/Windows, and indeed with my cross complier toolchain that single command builds all targets. The uniform userspace reduces changes required of my build system and code. LLVM is another option, but I've had this build setup prior to even mingw, and see no real benefit to change as my C/C++ platform abstraction layer allows me to deploy as even JAVA bytecode with GCC. In my continuous build-test-deploy setups recompiles are done periodically as I push changes to the server and any build errors appear on a webpage in my issue tracker detecting regressions across all platforms without me doing anything extra than a single "git push".

    So, really, it is not Windows that keeps people on Windows, it is application developers who haven't yet been sufficiently pressured by their publishers into increasing their install base.

    means you probably are very limited in your understanding of how people use computers in general.

    Most people use the OS that's installed for them for the lifetime of the hardware, and use the applications available for it. Most people select the hardware with the OS that supports the applications they want to run. When XP came out I was selling PCs and the #1 question asked was "Can I install $APPLICATION on it?", this is still the prime question in the mind of the consumer: What apps can it run?

    MS is shooting themselves in the foot with the whole Metro App Store thing. That's another vendor lock-in strategy. I've seen plenty of devs now reconsidering their codebase and dev platform and asking, "Well, I don't want to lose W7 installbase, and if I'm going to put in an abstraction layer for W7 and Win8 UI Style API, then I might as well spend a little more effort to go full cross platform, reach for additional market share, and no longer be tied to W8."

    Not saying your comment is wrong, I'm just saying it won't be right for very much longer. It's 2014, the OS is irrelevant. It's merely a means for the platform abstraction layer to talk to the underlying hardware. Hell, my meta-language compiler has even made most languages irrelevant to me, they are just interfaces to the OS for re-implementation of the platform abstraction layer's "runtime". In 18 months I will have my entire codebase cross compiling against Android and even iOS.

  • by bruce_the_loon ( 856617 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:40PM (#46662679) Homepage

    Actually, it is a paradox. He can't fix stuff if it is never accepted.

    The fix needed is in the systemd code, not the kernel. He can fix it, in less than a minute of editing probably two constants. (from "debug" and "quiet" to "systemd.debug" and "systemd.quiet")

  • by coats ( 1068 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:45PM (#46662707) Homepage
    I *would* really like working for someone like Linus -- really sharp, really on-the-ball, really high expectations, really willing to listen to well-though-out "it might be better to..." (see his response to Ted T'so later in this thread).

    Much better than working for some bureaucrat or politician who *thinks* he knows what he is doing.

  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @01:48PM (#46662745) Homepage

    Being Kay a Red Hat paid developer, perhaps it's not his entirely fault what's happening. But it's his name on the table, so it's his responsability nevertheless.

    Somehow I doubt RedHat is paying him to abuse people in their bugzilla. I suspect they tolerate him because he is a rock star. In some sense Linus just put them at a disadvantage competitively so it is now more in their interest to reign things in.

    If I posted something like that on a forum owned by my employer or using an email address that named my employer I'd get a strong reprimand at the very least. I'd like to think that they wouldn't fire me over it on a first offense, but no doubt it would cross their mind, and if I kept it up I'd be gone for sure (and rightly so). Kay's reputation isn't the only one at stake.

  • by dtjohnson ( 102237 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:48PM (#46663393)
    Systemd replaces init and is the first daemon to start up in user space during boot and the last daemon to shut down. When its developer sees nothing wrong with breaking the kernel debug during boot merely because its developer feels that he's entitled to use the same parameter name and the kernel boot be damned, you REALLY have to wonder about the wisdom of using systemd.
  • by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:56PM (#46663491)

    Yea, but if you mess up and do something he declares "STUPID", it's off to the public stocks for you in a flurry of expletives. IMHO Stuff like that just lacks class and reflects badly on him.

    On the contrary, I think this doesn't reflect badly on him. Kay has been pushing it for ages, and there was nothing else to be done. It's in everyone's best interest that the public is warned a) not to try such tricks, b) to stay away from Kay until he improves his behavior. Remember, Linux kernel is developed in the open. Public scorn is to be expected. You don't like it, maintain your own fork, that's what git is for, you know.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Friday April 04, 2014 @02:58PM (#46663507) Homepage Journal

    Then the same guy claims that the debug keyword is generic so it can't be reserved by the kernel, even if it's been used first by it since a long time...

    Linus made this argument in a different forum yesterday (paraphrasing from memory): "Look, something has to be authoratitive when it comes to parameters. On a linux system, that's the kernel".

    Which is aribitrary, but not without merit.

    Here's the rub, that causes Kay's downfall: he's arguing for namespaces (systemd.debug, kernel.debug, etc.) but he's consuming 'debug' without a namespace and complaining that the kernel isn't using namespaces, even though he knows the linux policy is "don't break people's programs".

    Kay could simply take his own advice, only consume systemd.foo parameters, and lead by example, without trying to claim the null namespace for systemd. One is left to conclude that he's doubling down on a bad decision rather than actually wanting to fix things.

    Linus is not the only kernel developer who is torqued at the systemd guys. It appears to many players that they're trying to become the userspace kernel but haven't quite earned their stripes yet and are leaving a trail of unhappy developers and sysadmins in their wake, as legitimate complaints about breakage are handwaved away.

    systemd isn't perfect, but it's not terrible either, and there's no good reason for such a level of discontent in the community. Many proponents say, "those dinosaurs don't want change", but that's not at all what the trouble is about. It would be silly to fork systemd at this point, but that's what some people are talking about, and it's purely for personnel reasons. A mutually beneficial resolution to this and other problems with systemd is in everybodys' best interest.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @03:05PM (#46663597) Homepage

    (Please correct me if I misunderstand the problem, it'e been years since I worked on this stuff) It seems to be both guys are right. That is, in an ideal world starting with a black sheet of paper then it seems to me Kay is almost certainly correct.

    No, there's no sane world where Kay is right. There can only be one user of a global namespace, if everything made switches or settings there it would be chaos like in this case where it's impossible to turn on kernel debugging without turning on systemd debugging (though you can redirect systemd to a null log target as a workaround). If anyone is to use it, it is clearly the kernel since it's the kernel's command line and it has 20+ years of claim to it. And without any standard as to what those switches or settings should to, it's meaningless to have the global namespace act as global variables and move the kernel's parameters to a namespace. But even if the kernel moved debug to kernel.debug it still means systemd should use systemd.debug, under no circumstances should it use the plain "debug" like it does now. He's doing it wrong and even if he was right, he'd still be doing it wrong.

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @03:22PM (#46663853) Homepage Journal

    It's only a good idea sticking all of that in PID1 until there's a problem. When PID1 crashes, so does your box. The more stuff in PID1, the more likely there is to be a bug somewhere in there. Now stuffing all of that in PID2, and having PID1 take care of itself and restarting PID2 might be a different story.

  • No, the fact is that Kay wants an exception to standard kernel behaviour merely in order to suit his "vision" for systemd. Except it sounds more like pure rationalisation/unwillingness to admit that he fucked up big time.

    I'm not a kernel dev, yet I still know that non-namespaced arguments to the kernel belong to the kernel. Kernel debug is "debug"; systemd is not part of the kernel and thus its debug should be "systemd.debug".

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @10:59PM (#46667157)

    But either way, Torvalds is not somebody I would like working for. I find some of his antics and language unacceptable and unnecessary. You can say things like this without the four letter words and without poking folks in the eyes in full public view.

    Having worked for someone who discretely and privately and calmly attempts to diffuse all situations I disagree. Some people just need to be told off in a stern and very overt way. I have witnessed passive managers tell people over and over again about their grievances only to have them come back and do the same thing over and over again because they believe the manager is a pushover.

    You want to look at Linus's language? Follow him on Google+ and see that most of the time he's actually quite a calm collected and nice guy who doesn't run off his mouth at every situation. We only hear about extreme cases here on Slashdot. Personally I think Kay is lucky at the response he got. He could be working for a different boss who throws chairs.

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