Monday, October 1, 2018

The Cold Civil War comes to Linux

Unless you're a Linux Nerd like me, you don't run Linux at home on your computer.  But you almost certainly do run it on devices in your house - Android is based on Linux, and your home router/firewall almost certainly runs it.  More importantly, the Internet runs on Linux - the bulk of the servers you talk to and services you rely on are hosted on Linux.

And so the culture wars coming to Linux is a big deal.  The news from a couple weeks ago was that Linux Torvalds (father of Linux and the guy who has guided its development for 20+ years) broke down and imposed a Code Of Conduct for the kernel development group.

In the past, the key question was whether a developer's code was good or not; now with the CoC other issues - the developers race, sex, or gender identification, or his/her hurt feelings - will take precedence.  At the extreme, this could break the Internet, or at least mire it in suckage as bad code (protected from replacement by the CoC and concerns over "diversity" developers' hurt feelings) make things work poorly.

This isn't just an academic concern: we have seen codes of conduct repeatedly abused by activists (a good background of this sort of thing is here), and so there's a lot to worry about here.  Well, the linux kernel hackers are pushing back, saying that if they are disciplined under the code of conduct that they will revoke the right to use their code in the kernel:
An open letter posted to the Linux Kernel Mailing List explains:
Date Thu, 20 Sep 2018 09:28:14 +0000
From unconditionedwitness@redchan ...
Subject Re: A Plea to Unfuck our Codes of Conduct

Regarding those who are ejected from the Linux Kernel Community after 
this CoC:

Contributors can, at any time, rescind the license grant regarding their 
property via written notice to those whom they are rescinding the grant 
from (regarding their property (code)) .
This is a really interesting pushback, and if you are a tech nerd you should click through to read the whole thing.  I don't know that we've hit peak Social Justice, but there are signs all over the place that people are sick of the agenda pushing into every nook and cranny of peoples' lives.


SiGraybeard said...

Borepatch, I think you're the guy who convinced me that at the heart of the internet, it's all bubble gum and bailing wire. Nobody knows how some of it works, it was just patched and glommed together until it started to do what they wanted.

Which means any one little module being killed because the developers aren't diverse enough could bring the whole 'net down like a bazillion dominoes.

drjim said...

Well this is major suckage.

I used to admire Linus, but I'm going to have to rethink that a bit....

Rick C said...

Don't necessarily blame Linus for this--he stepped down as Ultimate Arbitrator of What Goes in the Kernel at the same time this CoC was approved; some think (I have no idea if this is realistic or not) he may have been forced out so this CoC could be put in when he's not around to say no.

Chris Nelson said...

Rumor is that Linus' SJW daughter and some corporate sponsors leveraged him into this situation. I think he's burned out and may need a retirement from the mess.

Already looking at bring one machine up on a BDS, either OpenBSD or DragonflyBSD.

Will said...

An interesting perspective on this has posited that the nerds who write code don't have the balls to yank their license. That they crave social approval, and can't deal with any more ostracizing than their personal world already generates.

This is their only weapon, but they will refuse to employ it, and as a consequence this CoC situation will destroy Linux (and ruin their world anyway, but they will realize this way too late).

Rick C said...

"An interesting perspective on this has posited that the nerds who write code don't have the balls to yank their license."

Maybe the Linux devs won't, but this has been done before. A couple of years ago, it came out that a third-party Minecraft server application, Bukkit, was owned by Minecraft, and thus, Microsoft. One fairly major contributor got in a huff about this and rescinded permission--he even filed a DCMA takedown notice. That killed the project.

LSP said...

Peak social justice? Please yes and again I say please...

Sometimes I load up various kinds of linux on old laptops, just for kicks. Then I shoot them, Ubuntu jihad, sort of thing.