Dans un post sur la plateforme privatrice Google Plus, le célèbre et très contesté développeur Lennart Poettering se plaint de l'ambiance dans la communauté Linux (ou "Open Source" par endroits), et du comportement désagréable de ses membres les plus respectés qu'il voit comme une des causes, ou au moins un catalyseur, de ce comportement d'ensemble.
Much of the Open Source community tries to advertise the community as
one happy place to the outside. Where contributions are valued only by
their technical quality, and everybody meets at conferences for beers.
Well, it is not like that. It's quite a sick place to be in.
I don't usually talk about this too much, and hence I figure that
people are really not aware of this, but yes, the Open Source
community is full of assholes, and I probably more than most others am
one of their most favourite targets. I get hate mail for hacking on
Open Source. People have started multiple "petitions" on petition web
sites, asking me to stop working (google for it). Recently, people
started collecting Bitcoins to hire a hitman for me (this really
happened!). Just the other day, some idiot posted a "song" on youtube,
a creepy work, filled with expletives about me and suggestions of
violence. People post websites about boycotting my projects,
containing pretty personal attacks. On IRC, people /msg me sometimes,
with nasty messages, and references to artwork in 4chan style. And
there's more. A lot more.
I am used to rough discussions on mailing lists, and yes, when I was
younger I did not always stay technical in flamewars, but nowadays
I am pretty good at that, I am sometimes articulate, but never
personal. I have a thick skin (and so do most of the others involved
in systemd, apparently), and I figure that plays a major role why we
managed to bring systemd to success, despite all the pressure in the
opposite direction. But from time to time, I just have to stand back
and say "Wow, what an awful community Linux has!".
The Internet is full of deranged people, no doubt, so one might just
discount all of this on the grounds that the Open Source community
isn't any different than any other community on the Internet or even
offline. But I don't think so. I am pretty sure there are certain
things that foster bad behaviour. On one hand there are certain
communities where it appears to be a lot more accepted to vent hate,
communities that attract a certain kind of people (Hey, Gentoo!) more
than others do. (Yes, the folks who post the stuff they do usually
pretty clearly state from wich community they come).
But more importantly, I'd actually put some blame on a certain circle
of folks that play a major role in kernel development, and first and
foremost Linus Torvalds himself. By many he is a considered a role
model, but he is quite a bad one. If he posts words like "[specific
folks] …should be retroactively aborted. Who the f*ck does idiotic
things like that? How did they not die as babies, considering that
they were likely too stupid to find a tit to suck on?" (google for
it), than that's certainly bad. But what I find particularly appalling
is the fact that he regularly defends this, and advertises this as an
efficient way to run a community. (But it is not just Linus, it's
a certain group of people around him who use the exact same style,
some of which semi-publically even phantasize about the best ways to,
… well, kill me).
But no, it's not an efficient way to run a community. If Linux had
success, then that certainly happened despite, not because of this
behaviour. I am pretty sure the damage being done by this is quite
obvious, it not only sours the tone in the Linux community, it is also
teaches new contributors to adopt the same style, but that only if it
doesn't scare them away in the first place.
In other words: A fish rots from the head down.
I don't mind using strong language, I don't mind the use of words such
as "fuck", I use the word all the time too, it's really not about
that. I must simply say that I wished it would stay at that, because
what actually is happening is so much worse, and and so much more
If you are a newcomer to Linux, either grow a really thick skin. Or
run away, it's not a friendly place to be in. It is sad that it is
that way, but it certainly is.
The Linux community is dominated by western, white, straight, males in
their 30s and 40s these days. I perfectly fit in that pattern, and the
rubbish they pour over me is awful. I can only imagine that it is much
worse for members of minorities, or people from different cultural
backgrounds, in particular ones where losing face is a major issue.
You know, I can deal with all this shit, and I guess in a way with the
energy we are pushing the changes we propose with we are calling for
opposition, so this post is really not intended to be a call for
sympathy. The main point I want to make with this is to correct a few
things about our communities, and how their are percieved. Open Source
isn't a kindergarten. Open Source is awful in many ways, and people
should be aware of this.
Not everybody in the Linux community is like this, the vast majority
isn't. Not even all our different communities really have a problem
with this at all. But many do, and the most prominent one, the Linux
community as a whole certainly has.
I am not the one to fix any of this, I cannot tell you how one could
do it. And quite frankly, I really don't want to be involved in fixing
this. I am a technical guy, I want to do technical things.
My personal conclusion out of all this is mostly just that I don't
want to have much to do with the worst offenders, and the communities
they run. My involvement with the kernel community ended pretty much
before it even started, I never post on LKML, and haven't done in
years. Also, in our own project we are policying posts. We regularly
put a few folks on moderation on the mailing list, and we will
continue to do so. Currently, the systemd community is fantastic, and
I really hope we can keep it that way.
And that's all about this topic from me. I have no intentions to ever
talk about this again on a public forum.