Linus Torvalds returns to head Linux coding community

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Mr Torvalds had a reputation for sending rude emails to fellow developers

Linux founder Linus Torvalds has returned from a month of “reflection” to his job as chief developer of the widely used operating system.

Mr Torvalds stepped back from heading core development of Linux following accusations of bullying and rudeness.

He sought professional help to curb his abrasive side and to develop empathy with the Linux community.

His return comes as Linux coders adopt a code of conduct that seeks to make the community more welcoming.

‘Morass of nastiness’

In a long essay shared with the BBC in September and in a separate message to developers, Mr Torvalds said he was not a “people person” but was taking time off to develop the interpersonal skills required by the role as the Linux figurehead.

Before taking the short sabbatical, Mr Torvalds was known for giving forthright feedback, often in the form of expletive-filled emails, to contributors.

Mr Torvalds said he doubted that he would ever be “cuddly” but could improve the way he handled people.

The Linux development community has also acquired a reputation for being a rough place to work. Parts of it had become a “morass of nastiness”, Mr Torvalds told the BBC.

The code of conduct adopted by the larger Linux community at its Open Source Summit this week also seeks to improve behaviour by participating engineers.

It asks developers to:

  • Use welcoming and inclusive language
  • Be respectful of differing viewpoints and experiences
  • Gracefully accept constructive criticism
  • Focus on what is best for the community
  • Show empathy towards other community members

It also lists unacceptable behaviour which includes sexualised imagery and language as well as trolling and personal attacks.

It calls on key developers, including Mr Torvalds, to police the code and live up to its standards.

Mr Torvalds developed the first version of the Linux operating system while studying at the University of Helsinki, Finland, in 1991. Since then, the free OS has become hugely popular across the web and in many industries.




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