Linus Torvalds runs a tight ship

Posted by Rick C. Hodgin

Indianapolis (IN) - This past Sunday, as release candidate three (rc3) prepared for launch with the stable 2.6.23 Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds came out of relative seclusion to give a little smack-down and keep the project on track.  

Torvalds is the original author of the Linux operating system which bears his name ("Linu"x).  The incident in question occurred over Sunday and Monday on the x86_64 mailing list.  A bug was noticed in a recent patch and Torvalds personally stepped in to make his presence known, something he only does a few times each year on this list.  He made it very clear that at this late stage (ready for rc3), the types of bugs being found and, more specifically the types of patches being applied, were a little too loose for comfort and wholly undesirable.

While no true fighting took place, Linus did write to one of the patch authors, "Damn you, Andi.  You had obviously never actually tested this on x86."  He was referring to Andi Kleen, a prominent Linux coder from Suse.  Linus went on to discuss the quality of Kleen's recent patches by writing "Should I be impressed by the fact that 16% of your patches caused bootup problems?"  And referring to one of Kleen's replies he wrote, "Oh. It's the 'Make patching more robust' commit[sic].  'Robust' my ass."

Linus continued with a few instructions and commentary on the public forum (viewed by many 64-bit x86 kernel coders) by writing:  "I simply want you to be more careful.  *Much* more careful. As it is, I end up always being afraid of merging your patch-series ... Bugs happen, but (a) they should happen during the merge window, not when we're in stabilization phase and (b) the percentages here were just not very good."

Apparently Torvalds is well known for going off like this from time to time, though he usually prefers to do it in email.  He's only posted to the x86-64 mailing list on five separate occasions so far this year, including this exchange.  His active presence under such circumstances should be very comforting to the Linux users out there, knowing that he still has an active hand in everything of significance.  And that he still runs a tight ship.

According to Suse's website, Andi Kleen has been working on the Linux kernel since 1994.  He co-maintained the TCP/IP stack for several years and joined Suse labs back in 1998. Most recently, he worked on the x86-64 Linux kernel port, which he maintains.  The x86-64 port was originally developed in the early 2000s to give software developers a 64-bit platform which emulated AMD's 64-bit technology (later named AMD64) before the hardware was even available.