Torvalds Apologizes for His ‘Bad Behavior’, Takes a Break from Linux

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that Linus Torvalds is not a diplomatic person. He doesn’t even try to be polite or politically correct. He is known for his angry outbursts. Mild swearing and F-words drops in the Linux Kernel mailing list when he is unhappy with a kernel patch. He has even defended this behavior in the past.

But it seems that he has been forced to introspect and improve his ‘unprofessional’ behavior.

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.

Linus Torvalds Apologizes

In the Linux kernel mailing list thread, Torvalds further apologized to the people who left kernel development (possibly) because of his behavior. Remember the Sarah Sharp episode?

He also announced that he was going on a break to take professional help on how to behave differently. 

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.

I am going to take time off and get some assistance on how to
understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately.

Don’t worry! Linus Torvalds is not quitting Linux

Don’t jump to any conclusions yet. Linus Torvalds is not going away from Linux development forever.

He has taken temporary breaks from maintaining Linux in the past. For example, he took a break in 2005 for developing Git, an open source version control system.

Only this time, he is taking a temporary break to work on personal development. 

This is not some kind of “I’m burnt out, I need to just go away”
break. I’m not feeling like I don’t want to continue maintaining
Linux. Quite the reverse. I very much *do* want to continue to do
this project that I’ve been working on for almost three decades.

This is more like the time I got out of kernel development for a while
because I needed to write a little tool called “git”. I need to take
a break to get help on how to behave differently and fix some issues
in my tooling and workflow.

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I hope that this ‘break’ helps Torvalds become a better leader who empathize with his colleagues and subordinates.

If this personal development helps him in using fewer F-words, NVIDIA would surely be happy with it :)

Meanwhile, you can watch this video to remember the bad-ass avatar of Linus Torvalds which we might not see anymore :D

Are you looking forward to seeing a new Linus Torvalds? Do you think he really needed a break for improving his behavior?

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  • I think Linus could afford to slow down and be more civil. But there are some times when people continually refuse to listen, or don’t even try to understand. In those cases where the irresistible force meets the unmovable object, the senior member wins. And if they complain, a few expletives are not out of order. I agree with “It’s OK to be offended”. Censoring what you don’t like doesn’t make it go away — on the contrary, it makes what you don’t like more powerful.