Linus Torvalds Takes Break From Linux Kernel For Personal Attitude Adjustment

It looks as though Linus Torvalds needs a cooling off period. After a number of public outbursts online and raging against tech titans, Torvalds announced this weekend that he is temporarily stepping away from his current responsibilities of maintaining the Linux kernel to work on his personal behavior. 

In a post, Torvalds explained that his conduct with regards to how he treats the people that he works with and others in the industry hasn't exactly been productive. Things came to a head when he had a scheduling conflict for the Linux kernel maintainership summit. Although it was eventually rescheduled, Torvalds' rather dismissive reaction to the initial conflict in private and in public sparked a bit of self-reflection. 

linus torvalds ted

"It wasn't actually funny or a good sign that I was hoping to just skip the yearly kernel summit entirely, and on the other hand realizing that I really had been ignoring some fairly deep-seated feelings in the community," said Torvalds. "I am not an emotionally empathetic kind of person and that probably doesn't come as a big surprise to anybody. The fact that I then misread people and don't realize (for years) how badly I've judged a situation and contributed to an unprofessional environment is not good."

But he doesn’t stop there, he goes on to describe how his actions have been detrimental to others and how he plans to rectify the matter:

This week people in our community confronted me about my lifetime of not understanding emotions.  My flippant attacks in emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for.  Especially at times when I made it personal.  In my quest for a better patch, this made sense to me. I know now this was not OK and I am truly sorry.

The above is basically a long-winded way to get to the somewhat painful personal admission that hey, I need to change some of my behavior, and I want to apologize to the people that my personal behavior hurt and possibly drove away from kernel development entirely. He also jokingly stated that maybe he should obtain a filter that removes the curse words from the emails he sends.

As a result, Torvalds will take some time off to seek some professional assistance on “how to understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately”. In his absence, Torvalds has asked kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman to take the lead on finishing up the Linux 4.19 release.

Back in early January, Torvalds responded to Intel’s Meltdown-Spectre drama, writing, “Is Intel basically saying we are committed to selling you shit forever and ever, and never fixing anything?" Later in January, he blasted Intel again, writing, “They do literally insane things. They do things that do not make sense. I think we need something better than this garbage."