Debating Civility in Linux Software Development

Think that civility in government is a matter only for senators and representatives? Think again. In the world of open source software, July saw a vigorous debate about the tone and tenor of Linus Torvald’s governance of the Linux kernel, one of the largest and most active collaborative software development projects today.

Originally started in 1991 by Torvalds, the Linux kernel is a key piece of code that powers computers around the world from the Internet’s largest servers to pocket-sized Android smartphones. Torvalds is known for dealing brusquely with the project’s contributors, often rejecting what he considers to be poor programming, publicly, in colorful and sometimes overwrought language.