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After Years of Abusive E-mails, the Creator of Linux Steps Aside

By The New Yorker

Noam Cohen on Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, and his decision to step aside following complaints of abusive behavior toward programmers, and particularly women, who work on the systemRead full story

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  • Henry Brown
    Henry Brown

    "Torvalds’s decision to step aside came after The New Yorker asked him a series of questions about his conduct for a story on complaints about his abusive behavior discouraging women from working as Linux-kernel programmers."

    The inciting incident for this story is The New Yorker's own reporting, and calling it a "#MeToo moment" dilutes that concept to superficiaility. The "behavior" cited was Torvalds's prolific posting of rude messages to a public e-mail list. His rudeness was not gender-biased

    "Torvalds’s decision to step aside came after The New Yorker asked him a series of questions about his conduct for a story on complaints about his abusive behavior discouraging women from working as Linux-kernel programmers."

    The inciting incident for this story is The New Yorker's own reporting, and calling it a "#MeToo moment" dilutes that concept to superficiaility. The "behavior" cited was Torvalds's prolific posting of rude messages to a public e-mail list. His rudeness was not gender-biased. This reporting makes gender the issue, for what?

  • Elizabeth  Hurley
    Elizabeth HurleyOperations Manager at NewsPicks

    How do people honestly get like this and think that it’s okay to treat people this way? I’m so glad that finally after all of these years people are stepping up to end this abuse whether sexual or emotional. His reasoning for temporarily stepping down is also absolutely ridiculous and makes people realize that he clearly does not see anything wrong in his behavior. It’s like he never learned that you can’t push kids on the playground at age 5 and just continued this behavior. I’m glad people are

    How do people honestly get like this and think that it’s okay to treat people this way? I’m so glad that finally after all of these years people are stepping up to end this abuse whether sexual or emotional. His reasoning for temporarily stepping down is also absolutely ridiculous and makes people realize that he clearly does not see anything wrong in his behavior. It’s like he never learned that you can’t push kids on the playground at age 5 and just continued this behavior. I’m glad people are calling him out on it, good for them and perhaps it’s time for him to change his temporary absence to permanent.

  • Once (many many years ago) when I was submitting code to httpd project of Apache foundation. I found a tiny bug on my Slackware's kernel. I fixed it and decided to post it on to Linux Kernel Mailing List...

    After reading the mail threads, I felt like, I have no change to get accepted. Although I bet, Dennis Ritchie (R.I.P.) - the inventor of C language - would write same code I wrote.

    The guy on the mailing list, his name is Linus, were rejecting every submission and if you insist, he was getting

    Once (many many years ago) when I was submitting code to httpd project of Apache foundation. I found a tiny bug on my Slackware's kernel. I fixed it and decided to post it on to Linux Kernel Mailing List...

    After reading the mail threads, I felt like, I have no change to get accepted. Although I bet, Dennis Ritchie (R.I.P.) - the inventor of C language - would write same code I wrote.

    The guy on the mailing list, his name is Linus, were rejecting every submission and if you insist, he was getting angrier; uses F-Words and insults you!

    For many years, Torvalds has been infamous for his aggressive behavior! He once memorably gave the middle finger to Nvidia! I found it so funny.

    I honestly, not mad him. I think, he deserves to be an aggressive person. Linux wouldn't be the best if he didn't tighten the reins. - Some people called him "dictator"

    And I know other developers, I dealt with them on other open source projects. Some they really want to F-ed it up your projects, some are so demanding just because, they didn't they are working for you free! - They do not know open source culture but want to be in that community

    I think, he is just burnt-out, I do not think he is really going to "get help on how to behave differently." ...

    Long live Linux!

  • Jing Cao
    Jing CaoQuartz

    I'm kind of disappointed at the lack of male perspective in this particular story. The writer quoted a female professor's project that concluded that Torvalds seems to be an "equal-opportunity abuser," but then never really followed up on that. Did his abusive emails discourage male programmers from participating in improving the Linux kernel? The way this story is presented, it almost seems that only women feel discouraged by abusive words and suffer as a result.

    It's pointed out later that leadership

    I'm kind of disappointed at the lack of male perspective in this particular story. The writer quoted a female professor's project that concluded that Torvalds seems to be an "equal-opportunity abuser," but then never really followed up on that. Did his abusive emails discourage male programmers from participating in improving the Linux kernel? The way this story is presented, it almost seems that only women feel discouraged by abusive words and suffer as a result.

    It's pointed out later that leadership defines the kind of environment, and Python's founder van Rossum purposefully created a more inclusive environment. That helped increase the number of women engineers contributing to Python, but did it not also increase the number of male engineers who also felt similarly to van Rossum?

    A community's culture and whether it values inclusiveness is not just created by one gender, and both men and women can share a desire to create an inclusive, supportive culture.

  • Lindsey  Avena
    Lindsey Avena

    The fact that he's stepping down to get help and a better grasp on others' emotions... dude, really? I'd ask if he was a sociopath, but sociopaths are intelligent enough to understand human emotion and how to use it to their advantage. He has no control over his own emotions, and when people are upset by him slandering them (telling someone to kill themselves in any way, but especially a professional environment, is awful), he can't accept accountability for that. The fact that Linux didn't even

    The fact that he's stepping down to get help and a better grasp on others' emotions... dude, really? I'd ask if he was a sociopath, but sociopaths are intelligent enough to understand human emotion and how to use it to their advantage. He has no control over his own emotions, and when people are upset by him slandering them (telling someone to kill themselves in any way, but especially a professional environment, is awful), he can't accept accountability for that. The fact that Linux didn't even have a proper Code of Conduct in place to dismiss this behavior is ridiculous, but it wouldn't matter anyways, right? Big bosses have been getting away with abusing their employees forever - it's almost like a video game or movie, where everyone working for that boss has to die before the real villain is taken down. Pathetic.

  • Katz Ishida
    Katz IshidaEngineer at Quartz

    `Squire told me that she found few examples of gender bias. “He is an equal-opportunity abuser,” she said.`

    Interesting. Btw, among software engineers, he has been famous for abusive words in the linux mailing list since a very long time ago.

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