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July 22nd, 2013

Linus Torvalds Shoutback, ‘The H’ Closes & More…

FOSS Week in Review

Here we go with yet another “better late then never” edition of our Week in Review…

Jolla smartphones to utilize Wayland

You might remember Jolla, the Finnish company started by a group of laid-off Nokia employees. Back in May, we reported on their plans to release a new phone to be sold online that would run their own MeeGo fork called Sailfish OS.

We learned last week from Phoronix that the first smartphone from Jolla will be utilizing Wayland instead of X. As we already reported, this phone will feature a 4.5-inch display, 16GB of storage, and an 8MP camera. The device is also supposed to be capable of running all Android apps with no modifications. It will sell for $500 US and is expected to be available online through their website before year’s end.

Linus and his bad ol’ potty mouth

Those of us who have been reading the Linux or FOSS press for more than a week or two have come to appreciate how ably Linus Torvalds has been able to master the use of English as his second language, especially when it comes to what used to be called “dirty words.” The fact is, on many a FOSS reporter’s keyboard the special characters located where uppercase numbers would be if numbers had uppercase, wouldn’t get any use at all if not for efforts to keep Mr. Torvalds’ prose fit for family consumption. We here at FOSS Force are particularly impressed with his mastery of the use of the “F” word.

Mainly he’s become known for his carefully worded rants to developers about some issue or another with the kernel. Hardly a week goes by when we don’t enjoy a midweek chuckle or two at the expense of some poor schmo programmer who’s been caught by Linux’s grand pooh-bah using a slang expression in C where a formal expression would work better.

By now, it’s old news that the week before last Sarah Sharp, a Linux kernel developer, called Mr. Torvalds out for his bad behavior on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML), which is the grapevine for kernel devs. She told him the time had come for him to stop “verbally abusing” his programmers. She also told him to QUIT SHOUTING, or words to that effect.

The incident began when the Father of Linux posted a classic Torvalds’ rant after merging some code he thought to be stable wasn’t:

“What the F*CK, guys?

“This piece-of-shit commit is marked for stable, but you clearly never even test-compiled it, did you?

“Why the hell was this marked for stable even *IF* it hadn’t been complete and utter tripe? It even has a comment in the commit message about how this probably doesn’t matter. So it’s doubly crap: it’s *wrong*, and it didn’t actually fix anything to begin with.

“There aren’t enough swear-words in the English language, so now I’ll have to call you perkeleen vittupää* just to express my disgust and frustration with this crap.”

Hmmm… Evidently Mr. Torvalds sometimes falls back on his native Finnish. We didn’t know that…

Anyway, that’s when Ms. Sharp got busy demanding that Mr. Torvalds change his ways and change them quickly:

“Seriously, guys? Is this what we need in order to get improve – stable? Linus Torvalds is advocating for physical intimidation and violence. Ingo Molnar and Linus are advocating for verbal abuse. Not *fucking* cool. Violence, whether it be physical intimidation, verbal threats or verbal abuse is not acceptable. Keep it professional on the mailing lists.”

Linus Torvalds talking

Linus Torvalds

After that, all heck broke loose. Mr. Torvalds has explained that it’s just his freaking management style and that he wasn’t put on this rapidly warming earth to be politically correct and play mamby-pamby. Ms. Sharp has held her ground and continues to demand that devs be treated with a little respect.

Here at FOSS Force, we’ve always rather enjoyed reading examples of Mr. Torvalds unique “management style,” so we’d miss the old Linus if he were to ever change. At the same time, we figure it doesn’t make for a good work environment when the boss is always going off and cussing everybody out. Mostly, however, we feel that Linus and the other kids at Linux will have to work this out on their own.

Linux for Workgroups

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out here that Mr. Torvalds isn’t all about being mean and such. Often he exhibits a sense of humor that is gentle, playful and clever, as he’s done with the release of Linux 3.11, which he’s named “Linux for Workgroups.”

Linux 3.11

Linux 3.11 “Linux for Workgroups” boot icon.
courtesy H-online

Those of us here at FOSS Force who are old enough to remember all the way back to 1993 remember Windows 3.11, dubbed by Redmond as “Windows for Workgroups” as the only version of Windows we ever really liked, mainly because it was the last version of Windows that was still close to the command line. If memory serves, it was also the last version of Windows to store configurations in easy to edit INI files instead the Registry monstrosity. Also if memory serves, Window 3.11 came on 25 floppy disks, 26 if you count the MS DOS disk, and took an hour or so to install.

Linux 3.11 comes nearly twenty years later to the day. Among other things, Linux for Workgroups includes improved support for Radeon power management as well as support for Intel Rapid Start Technology. Oh, it also come with a cute retro Windows boot icon featuring Tux waving a (Gasp!) Windows flag.

According to Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica:

A couple of years ago, Linus Torvalds was discussing Linux version numbers and said, “I think I will call it 3.11 Linux for Workgroups.”

This would be where we would say, “The rest is history…”

The H says, “Auf wiedersehen”

On Friday, we learned suddenly and without warning that The H website was closing down. In a brief announcement on the site, the reason given for the closing was a failure to monetize and develop a successful business model.

The H was an English language site published by UK based Heise Media UK Ltd., a division of the German company Heise Media Group, which is primarily known for publishing computer magazines. The H first went online in February 2008 as Heise Online after testing the waters for a couple of years with Heise Security. In February 2009, Heise Online was renamed The H.

The site built a solid reputation as a consistant and reliable source for technology news. The H – Open, which focused on open source news, has been an invaluable news and information source for the FOSS community. We are sad to see it go.


That does it for this week. With luck, we’ll be on time with our next edition of our Week in Review. As always, until then, may the FOSS be with you…

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