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[dupe] Lennart Poettering on the state of open source communities (plus.google.com)
211 points by omnibrain on Oct 6, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 169 comments

I'm very grateful that Lennart Poettering wrote this post. I don't necessarily use the software he writes (my next distro will be systemd based) but I'm still happy that he writes it. It has advanced the state of Linux distributions (due to PulseAudio, lots of ALSA driver bugs were found and fixed, systemd has prompted improvements to other init/acpid/udev/automount/etc software too) regardless whether you use the software he wrote or not.

But the amount of flak he receives is unacceptable. The tone which people talk about him and even to him is despicable.

I'm glad he spoke up and hopefully people will realize that open source contributors are people too. If you have a technical reason to disagree, taking it personal is not constructive.

I don't advocate bullying nor would I dare to justify such personal attacks. But the abusive content aside, he does deserve constructive criticism because, frankly, his contributions towards open source have brought far more problems than any of the solutions he looked to replace.

I could write a lengthy blog post about the unnecessary problems that PulseAudio and systemd have thrown up over the years (problems I'd never had an issue with in all the years of running Linux and other UNIX-like platforms), but those topics are done to death now. However my point is I think Lennart's been so carelessly cavalier in rolling out his code, and so unapologetic about the shitstorm he started that he's gotten a lot of peoples back up. Obviously this doesn't warrant the kind of bullying that he discussed in his post; however although he doesn't deserve such attacks, he has largely brought them on himself.

Maybe instead of fighting against the community as he tries to impose his own imperial vision of Linux, maybe if he worked with the community then the aggressive dickheads might leave him alone (or at least he'd receive more supporters from friendly folk - of who massively outnumber the aforementioned dickheads).

But just to be clear, as much as I think he might draw negative attention to himself, I think that any kind of personal abuse, let alone of the quantity that Lennart's been subject to, is absolutely disgusting and undeserved. Period.

The thing is, he is a bully too. I also don't advocate the hate speech and threats he has received; no one deserves that. But his contributions to the world of GNU/Linux have been a net negative in my opinion. I get less benefit and more headache out of systemd, so I don't use a distro that has it. It's the same with PulseAudio; I think it's a good idea in concept but it was simply a bad implementation. He needs to hear that, but without the vitriol that accompanies it from certain people.

Will he ever listen even to good constructive criticism? Probably not; his personality seems to be egocentric and elitist, and as I said he can be quite the bully himself. But I'd imagine he would at least read constructive criticism, rather than dismiss it outright as he would (and should) dismiss hate filled criticism.


Bully or not, please be friendlier. I will start and hope you're following.

I've seen a few interviews with Mr. Pöttering and I admire his cleverness and his ambitious fight for a better GNU/Linux. I am not a fan of his person, nor his speech, but this is not the time, nor place to call him an egocentric elitist. There is a reason for everything, I too would become such a person to protect myself from the everyday threatening and hatred. Things like that break a person!! Keep this in mind, we as Engineers are especially very susceptible and sensible to attacks, because we have sharpened and trained our minds to try to find a meaning behind every action.

Remember Aaron Schwartz! He couldn't bear the weight on his shoulders anymore. He was not a soldier, he was not a criminal, he was like you and me a person that deserves to be respected. Souls break apart and suicide isn't rare among our people. You shall keep this in mind, when you speak up without a filter.

Whenever I've been complaining about something about Linux, I was told to improve it, or shut up. That was a culture that I thought as very unfriendly, but it was nonetheless logical. I could pass that along to you, but you have an opinion about Systemd and Pulseaudio that I simply cannot fathom as authentic or fact based.

ALSA did not allow controlling the volume of different applications. Period. PulseAudio made it happen!! Yes it's not perfect, but it's opensource and maybe it'll be as good as the software you want to use on your own computer.

With Systemd systems are starting up much much faster than tweaks to other init systems can provide. You're comparing Apples to Oranges, when you say, but if you disable everything then and only then my favorite init system is faster than systemd. Not everything in systemd is smart or good, but it fixes a problem that people have neglected for too many years. Systemd changed that!

Let's not discuss what is better or not, you have to be a Software-Architect and not an untrained Software-Developer to discuss such things in detail without being a hypocrite, desinformative or misleading. My impression was that even though the ideas of Mr. Pöttering were brilliant, his Software-Architecture skills are his Achilles heel. That's what he needs more training in.

Thank you for taking the time reading this.

>but you have an opinion about Systemd and Pulseaudio that I simply cannot fathom as authentic or fact based.

You criticize people for being unfriendly and then say you "simply cannot fathom" that their opinions are authentic?

How long have you been using Linux? PulseAudio was almost universally major pain point for many years until other people came along and fixed Poettering's work up enough to make it marginally better than ALSA. If you "simply cannot fathom" that the poster's opinions are authentic, you have been living under a rock.

I thought engineering and "science" was supposed to be a place for objectivity and fact-based reasoning, not pathos and let's-not-hurt-each-other's-feelings-with-criticism.

> PulseAudio was almost universally major pain point for many years

The operative word here is was.

ALSA had a lot of problems for my use case, Pulseaudio just works. Most of this is probably more due to other contributors and just generally distributions getting their act together, but the world we live in today is undoubtedly better than it was before Pulseaudio.

What about the counterfactual where Pulseaudio was never started?

It is often said that the best way to get a correct answer to a question on the internet is not to ask the question, but to post a wrong answer. It seems to me that what Poettering is doing is the exact same thing applied to open source software, and I for one am grateful for it.

> It is often said that the best way to get a correct answer to a question on the internet is not to ask the question, but to post a wrong answer. It seems to me that what Poettering is doing is the exact same thing applied to open source software, and I for one am grateful for it.

That's an interesting way to look at it, and I think you're right. He's coming up with what he sees as a solution to something that, while it isn't broken, isn't great either (in the case of systemd, other init systems work but they all have shortcomings), only this time I think it backfired. Now the "wrong answer" as you put it, is being implemented by the major distros except Slackware and Gentoo, and I fear that it's gotten to the point that it can only be fixed by being surgically removed and replaced with something else, which may end up being even worse.

My personal solution is to stick with non-systemd distros, for others it's grimace and bear it, and for many it's not a problem in the first place.

> What about the counterfactual where Pulseaudio was never started?

Everyone would then be using JACK, and the world would be a better place for it.

Which Jack? Jack1 or Jack2? [1]

My experience with JACK seems very similar to everyone else's early experience with PulseAudio, really buggy, lots of audio pops (small buffers) or latency (big buffers).

One of my most technically adept friends has spent a long time trying to setup a basic debian install with JACK working reliably (done) only it's very fragile, upgrades to random packages broke it so often we now do our audio work without a general purpose computer in the hotpath.

[1] http://trac.jackaudio.org/wiki/Q_differenc_jack1_jack2

I personally like jack2 better.

If your friend is using Debian, may I suggest the kxstudio repos [1]? They make JACK (1 or 2) easy as pie to deal with. I personally use Arch nowadays, and breakage after upgrading hasn't been a concern for quite some time.

1. http://kxstudio.sourceforge.net

First, calling someone egocentric and elitist is not an attack, it's an observation, and in this case, an apt one. He has said so about himself in the past. My intent isn't to attack him, it's to describe him.

Second, he is not Aaron Schwartz, who the community rallied around and the government bullied to death. In this case, the government isn't even involved, it's various groups of people reacting differently to Pottering, some in ways that I find disgusting, others in ways that I line up with (not happy with him or his work, but not attacking him for it), and still others like you with blind praise and faith bordering on religion.

"You're comparing Apples to Oranges, when you say, but if you disable everything then and only then my favorite init system is faster than systemd."

I never said that, please don't attempt to put words in my mouth to bolster your argument, because it makes you look quite the fool.

"Let's not discuss what is better or not, you have to be a Software-Architect and not an untrained Software-Developer to discuss such things in detail without being a hypocrite, desinformative or misleading."

You're making an assumption about me while knowing nothing about me, and at the same time calling me a hypocrite? Please, you're shooting yourself in the foot with this one.

There is simply nothing defensible in your entire argument, as far as I can see. You make assumptions, call me names including "hypocrite", telling me how to think ("You shall keep this in mind, when you speak up without a filter")? Sounds to me like you're just as much a bully as Pottering. It renders your entire argument invalid; you may as well be calling yourself out.

> "Second, he is not Aaron Schwartz, who the community rallied around"

That's not how I remember it going down on HN. Not while he was still alive anyway.


I didn't specify the HN community, I meant the hacker community at large.

yeah, systemd and friends (biosdevname, etc) changed eth0 into ens1295683290163-082.

tcpdumps are so much more fun.

EFF lennart, he is a scourge and a scum!

Many people would find the argument against systemd and the like stronger if you did not include personal attacks on Poettering.

Postel said it best. http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1122

be liberal in what you accept, and generous in what you send.

Did you deliberately misquote Postel?

From your link: "Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send".

I agree with most of your post. His attitude toward keyscript users is less than inspiring. But I still try - yesterday I spent 4 hours tweaking my VM builds against debian sid; by the end I had found a way to segfault systemctl, filed a bug, and still have absolutely no debugging info that explains why docker.service doesn't start at boot on its default network.target.

But the elephant in the room is that distros have adopted systemd and pulseaudio en masse. There must be buy-in for a reason. This outpouring of faux outrage is being leveled at an individual, what of the distro vendors?

"There must be buy-in for a reason."

Never forget chronology. The ideas and architecture in systemd are nothing new, in fact they're kind of obsolete. What has changed politically / strategically such that this specific instance can be rammed down everyones unwilling throats?

Lets run a thought experiment about if this hatred is a result of technical actions and behaviors or back room politics. Lets try... the upstart init system. A direct competitor. How many people have threatened to kill the authors of upstart? Oh, none you say? What a complete non-surprise.

This is the key weakness of his post. Hatred of authors of badly architected software is very rare in open source. Hatred of back room political dealings and extensive "embrace extend extinguish" product tying, well the feeling of hatred is completely unsurprising given that behavior being the opposite of the meritocracy straw dog he tries to tear down, but some claimed behavior does sound over the top (hire a hitman? really? a bit ridiculous if true). He could have made a decent post about misbehavior and over-reaction in politics and it would have been a correct and good post, but he can't admit in public the corrupt way an unwanted systemd is being shoved down our unwilling throats, so we end up with ridiculous "I am a technical guy" LOL yeah as if anyone believes the reported social problems are due to that.

You are spot on. As you said, Upstart probably never received death threats. I also agree the post could hae been a decent post because there are definitely some problems in some communities but he couldn't even resist gunning at Linus and Gentoo to make a point (or was that to discredit "resistance" ?)

> distros have adopted systemd and pulseaudio en masse. There must be buy-in for a reason

There is, and this reason is not always on the merits of the software.

I would like to add NetworkManager to the list of software that (used to) pain my existence. The case for including this were pretty much the same as PulseAudio, that other entities already had settled on it, in this case Gnome.

So the fact that some of the developers were important members of the Gnome community sort of gave their creation a direct path into Red Hat and Ubuntu, who based their desktops on Gnome.

Had they not been, the software would have had a much harder time getting included, and based on merits alone it would not have happened. That rubbed a lot of people the wrong way at the time, for some very good reasons.

"based on merits alone it would not have happened"

Which adds salt to the wound, or irony, of his claim of meritocracy in the second line of his post "Where contributions are valued only by their technical quality". Uh, no, that's definitely not why we're being forced into systemd.

There must be buy-in for a reason.

My impression, at least with systemd, is:

1) systemd put in a whole bunch of work to be backward compatible. They make migration easier, at the cost of some complexity within the codebase. It supports some compatibility with init shell scripts and has inetd compatibility.

If you want to take a dim view of it, it's a little bit like Microsoft's "embrace and extend". systemd has "good" properties for adoption. They do seem to engineer aggressively for adoption, rather than just trying to make the best technical solution. Pottering does have a good understanding of these politics, which makes people angry.

2) Features. Other systems are more "modular", but don't cover as much ground. There are some supervision toolkits like daemontools and runit, but they are meant more for servers. These systems leave it up to end users to do more work. systemd you can kind of drop in and it mostly works, until you have to debug it.

Again, this is sort of like Microsoft. You can stuff in features to satisfy all the different camps, even if the combination of those features results in a poor architecture.

3) Genuinely good ideas/features. I guess this is why Pottering is so controversial. There is a bunch of crap thrown in with some good ideas. Socket activation is genuinely a good feature. It's not new -- Apple's launchd and I believe Sun's SMF use it too. But yeah I think we should give credit to the good ideas for some of the adoption.

There's no doubt they put in a lot of effort to systemd. The only thing that compared is Upstart. It does seem that people paid to work on open source by companies like Red Hat and Canonical are the ones who really influence the direction Linux is going on.

People had issues with Upstart too, though not to this level. So really the high adoption of systemd is not that much of a surprise, given that there were few realistic alternatives.

"Engineering for adoption", as you said, is necessary for something attempting to replace something as key as the init system and other core components.

With software like this, whatever the replacement, if it doesn't have adequate backwards compatibility, it will never see any significant adoption. Switching over wholesale at once is simply too difficult.

>There must be buy-in for a reason

Yes, and that reason is that redhat has their hands in other software too, and added systemd dependencies to it whether people like it or not. So distros face the decision of "adopt systemd or your distro won't be able to run gnome".

>This outpouring of faux outrage

It is not faux outrage, it is real outrage. I find it odd how people can dismiss even someone like Linus' complaints as "faux outrage".

The outrage is obviously very real, otherwise we would not have this discussion; perhaps "poorly substantiated outrage" would be more fitting.

> his contributions towards open source have brought far more problems than any of the solutions he looked to replace.

If this were true, nobody would have adopted his work. If most of the major distros have switched to pulseaudio and systemd, it's because the people who actually know about this stuff have looked at his work and found it excellent.

So you're assuming that I don't know about this stuff? And that the members of Debian who voted against systemd doesn't know their stuff? Or even that Linus Torvalds (who's often complained about how bugs in systemd get pushed back as bugs in the Linux kernel) doesn't know his stuff either?

While it's true that systemd does have it's supporters; equally not everybody "who actually knows about this stuff" likes systemd either.

> Or even that Linus Torvalds (who's often complained about how bugs in systemd get pushed back as bugs in the Linux kernel) doesn't know his stuff either?

When did that happen?

There was one udev bug regarding firmware loading where during the discussion it turned out that it's the right thing to do that in the Kernel to begin with.

How this is related to the greater systemd is beyond me.

The occasion that springs to mind wasn't an altercation between Lennart and Linus specifically. But it was about systemd: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTY1MzA

(there's probably better write ups on this argument, Phoronix was just the first link that came up when Googling for the /proc/cmdline Linus systemd rant)

That is interesting... so basically the systemd developers wanted to turn the generic parameter kernel command line parameter "debug" into something that could be easily used by admins to find out why their system won't boot (whether the problem is in the kernel or in userspace), and got flamed to a crisp by kernel developers who want to keep using "debug" to debug their kernel code because they've always done it that way, and couldn't care less about helping actual end users.

The kernel devs are mad that flipping a kernel debug switch (on the kernel command-line, after all!), causes a userspace program to change its behavior, to the point that "the system becomes undebuggable on a dracut/systemd system" (kernel dev's words; apparently systemd spews a bunch of debug info into dmesg.)

If you're going to say it's the kernel's fault, it's ultimately because they ever exposed the kernel cmdline to userspace, as something like this was inevitable.

> got flamed to a crisp by kernel developers who want to keep using "debug" to debug their kernel code because they've always done it that way

If their reports can be believed, they literally can't get work done (if it involves turning on debug in the kernel of a systemd installation), so it's far from some petty turf war or irrational hatred for change. Even if they should change, you seem to take it for granted, that they should have to change their kernel workflow, based on what something in userspace does -- why?

The kernel command line has the "quiet" option, which has for many years been used by user-space to display a fancy graphical progress bar instead of 100s of lines of text; "debug" is just the inverse of that.

There was also some bug in systemd that caused it to log an excessive amount of assertion failures into some kernel buffer, which was in fact a really bad bug and was probably the reason for the whole flame-fest; naturally this bug has been fixed.

But think about it: is it likely that the whole distracting turf war over the "debug" flag helped in getting the actual bug fixed as fast as it could have been?

The reason why I would prefer to have systemd respect the "debug" flag, even if it means that kernel developers have to learn a new workflow, is that there are a lot more system administrators than kernel developers out there, and (on average) the kernel hackers have lots more expertise than the admins.

So if a system has problems booting there should be a simple, short, generic parameter to get some verbose logging enabled, that can be used to track down the problem whether it's in the kernel or in user space, which you can't know beforehand of course.

The kernel developers may be understandably unhappy about the change, but once they get over their initial reaction using a different parameter for kernel-only debugging is really quite trivial at their level of competence.

The reason why I would prefer to have systemd respect the "debug" flag, even if it means that kernel developers have to learn a new workflow, is that there are a lot more system administrators than kernel developers out there, and (on average) the kernel hackers have lots more expertise than the admins.

By this logic, there are a lot more servers than there are desktop Linux users, and more than likely a lot more system administrators than desktop Linux users (I believe I'm in the minority as I'm a system admin, who uses Linux daily on all his computers, desktops, laptops, and servers), so the things systemd does that are intended to make the desktop linux experience better, like faster boot (which was never strictly a problem on servers, except in the time it usually takes a server BIOS to get to the grub prompt, which systemd can't address), "better" hot-plugging of devices, socket activation (which already had a solution and is something you don't want on a server for the example use-case of mysql), the FSS logging that journald does (because sysadmins have already sufficiently solved that at scale) so systemd shouldn't be encroaching on server linux use. And there are a lot more system administrators out there than desktop environment developers, and (on average) have more system administration experience than the desktop environment developers.

This also assumes that sysadmins don't use the kernel debug flag, and only kernel developers do. I've had to use it on the rare occasion, and I've been glad that messages from the kernel are easily selectable via a specific kernel command line option as distinct from userspace messages.

> The reason why I would prefer to have systemd respect the "debug" flag, even if it means that kernel developers have to learn a new workflow

Again, you have things backwards. It was the systemd developers that DIDN'T want "to respect the debug flag". The systemd developers tried to prevent the debug flag from getting past the kernel. It was the kernel developers that forced the systemd developers "to respect the debug flag"

All the credit that you're attributing to the systemd developers was actually down to Linus Torvalds drawing a line in the sand.

You have things backwards. It was the systemd developers that didn't want the debug command line to be used against systemd. They were the ones who filed the patch to prevent the debug command line from reaching user space (/proc/cmdline) and it was the kernel developers (well, Linus specifically) who refused to patch and demanded that systemd cleaned up their debugging output so that 1) it didn't crash Linux (which it was doing previously), and 2) the output was more useful to end users for debugging.

Yeah, that was an odd fix. Then /proc/cmdline doesn't reflect what the actual kernel command line was, thereby making debugging more opaque. The sane option, which the kernel developers suggested, was that systemd namespace pre-boot options it takes from the kernel command line, just like every kernel subsystem already does.

systemd solves real problems that you may or may not have (or you think you don't have but affects you anyway, like systemd-logind solved various problems related to authetication and session that the old ConsoleKit had).

Linus Torvalds said in a recent interview that he don't like or dislike systemd, he even uses it and likes what the people of systemd is trying to do (but not necessary likes the way they're doing it), so yeah, even a person like Torvalds understand that we need what systemd folks are doing. Just that maybe this is not the best way to do it, but all folks just assume that systemd is bad and should be avoid at all costs.


> If most of the major distros have switched to pulseaudio and systemd, it's because the people who actually know about this stuff have looked at his work and found it excellent.

Here's a theory. This is pure conjecture on my part—I'm not close to the systemd project or the various distros—so please take it with a grain of salt.

Programmers prefer to do less work. Simple tools get the job done and are easy to understand, but often require more effort to use effectively. Using a hand saw, it is hard work to cut a solid piece of wood, but the only servicing it needs is to sharpen the blade. On the other hand, with a chainsaw it is much easier to cut through wood, but there are many more things that you need to care about to keep it running smoothly. When put this way, the hand saw seems superior in its simplicity, but remember that it's not immediately obvious that chainsaws can be difficult to start, or that the chains get stuck sometimes. Standing in the hardware store, the chainsaw might seem like the way to go, but one might regret not choosing the simpler option when complications arise later.

It seems to me (conjecture, remember) that systemd offers a lot to the distros. It gives them hooks to manage difficult things and, after all, the systemd people are doing all the work. That explains why the distro maintainers might choose it, but my worry is that the convenience comes at a cost.

> I could write a lengthy blog post about the unnecessary problems that PulseAudio and systemd have thrown up over the years (problems I'd never had an issue with in all the years of running Linux and other UNIX-like platforms), but those topics are done to death now

I haven't been keeping up with the linux side of things, could someone give some links to descriptions of this?

> However my point is I think Lennart's been so carelessly cavalier in rolling out his code, and so unapologetic about the shitstorm he started that he's gotten a lot of peoples back up. Obviously this doesn't warrant the kind of bullying that he discussed in his post; however although he doesn't deserve such attacks, he has largely brought them on himself.

That is the "look what she's wearing" argument. The victim is newer responsible for receiving such violent abuse as Pottering has.

I said about 5 times in my post that he doesn't deserve those kind of attacks, as I wanted to make it perfectly clear that I wasn't stating that he was responsible for it; yet you still drew that conclusion from my post?

My point was that if Lennart worked with the community instead of against it then he would have had a more positive experience from the nice guys (who outnumber the dickheads). Or to use your "look what she's wearing" argument, you don't dress like a hooker for a date with a price. But that doesn't mean that a woman cannot wear what she wants and nor that she deserves sexual / physical abuse for her choice in outfits. But that if she wants to change the monarchy then she needs to play along with them and their silly dress codes. It's best to change a system by working with and inside the system.

In other words, the nice people in the open source community would be more vocal in support for Lennart and his vision if Lennart worked nicely with the community. Dickheads will always be around (which sucks), but at least their voices would be drowned out by the millions of Lennart supporters.

> "date with a price"

Freudian slip? ;)

hahaha that's my funniest typo to date.

I meant "prince", but I expect everyone had worked that out already :)

OK, so how does that justify his attack on the Linux kernel community in particular? Were Linus or his lieutenants involved in any credible threats against Lennart? Sure, somebody who is incapable of recognizing hyperbole might interpret some of Linus's more immoderate emails as condoning or encouraging such things, but overall Lennart's post seems like using one group's excesses as an excuse to attack another.

No, this is the "you tried to gun me down last week - let me show you the weapon I've bought just for you!" argument: What goes around, comes around.

"But the amount of flak he receives is unacceptable"

So, did he never question why is that? Other comments explain this better, but he's creating more problems than solving them.

" If you have a technical reason to disagree"

Not all reasons are technical, but a lot of it has to do with shortsightedness. People don't care how PulseAudio does things, but they care that it works (at least as good and reliably as ALSA), and is it here that it's failed.

Same thing for systemd, based on average reliability of what LP writes we're going to have uptimes of days...

Several other projects took flak (KDE 4.0 comes to mind) but they addressed the criticism

Unix always ruled because it sucked simply. Now with lennart crapperings rubbish, unix can now suck the same way big fat stupid commercial bloated OSen suck.

Simple elegance vs bloat and complexity. Welcome to Lennarts world.

Do you even know who Pottering is? He deserves all this hate.

But the amount of flak he receives is unacceptable. The tone which people talk about him and even to him is despicable.

Sorry, but have you by any chance seen how he treats people? Respect is a two way street.

It's rather "Lennart Poettering on how communities react to him". He's very controversial person and it's not like he didn't earned that title by himself. Of course stuff like death threats cannot and shouldn't be justified in any way (however, they're not uncommon in any large community when dealing with highly controversial topics), but things like petitions are just hyperbolic opinions on Poettering's work and on how it affects all of us.

Poettering is no longer mere "technical guy" from "technical community". He's more like political figure, and political figures have to deal with various political reactions.

> however, they're not uncommon in any large community when dealing with highly controversial topics

Come on. We're talking about init systems here, not the Palestine/Israel conflict. It should be possible to have a level-headed discussion without insults and death threats. Saying "Poettering is a prominent, controversial person, therefore it's OK" isn't right.

Small correction: we are not talking about init systems. We are talking about the change from a "distributed" userspace to a "centralized" one. It's an highly political debate while also being technical. Tempers are gonna flare.

Go to your local town hall and threaten to kill the mayor because you don't like his opinions/work. Try to explain all your neighbors that that was okay, because "Tempers are gonna flare".

This is, by the way, an offense you can end in jail for, for good reasons.

Only that the open source community is a lot larger than your local town, so it's natural that you will get more extreme cases in the fringes.

I'm quite sure the mayor of New York gets death threats on a regular basis.

That might be the case in the US, but not everywhere.

You think people like Boris Johnson don't receive the occasional death threat? Laughable.

>Go to your local town hall and threaten to kill the mayor because you don't like his opinions/work.

Have you ever lived in a small town? This is what we call Tuesday evening at the local bar. Until they start buying bullets people threatening to kill you are to murder as people telling threatening to fuck you are to rape.

I am from a small town. I am not from _your_ small town.

Sounds like my small town could whip your small towns ass.

People talk about killing or maiming politicians all the time and don't end up in jail. It's only when the threats are credible that there's a problem (In Poettering's case, having a bitcoin fund for a hitman certainly constitutes this).

All the BSD's have a "centralized" userspace, I wonder why they haven't recieved any flak and death threats.

This is what systemd essentially is, an attempt to have a standardised minimal base OS beyond the Linux kernel (again like the BSD's), I don't see how it's 'highly political', if anything it's practical, which in turn is why it has been widely accepted by distros and software which makes use of it's features, like DE's.

No, what BSD's have is the analogue of what in Linux land are called "coreutils". The rest is usually code from external sources mantained inside the tree for consistency.

All the BSD's have a "centralized" userspace

No more so than all the GNU utilities that ship with every Linux.

That's not correct.

BSDs come as a system, Linux is a kernel. BSDs are more like Linux distributions, but every (base) part is part of the project. You get the whole thing from one team, vs. a (more or less) curated list of independent (GNU) projects.

I really don't think that these approaches are the same. I don't see any relevancy for the whole reference to BSD communities either, though.

That's semantics. Linux may "just" be a kernel, but almost all distributions come with the same set of "curated" GNU utilities. With BSD, the only real difference is that the kernel and userland teams have significantly more overlap.

"We're talking about init systems here, not the Palestine/Israel conflict."

To provide some background, that's actually a pretty good analogy, not to trivialize the middle east but to point out that forcing the adoption of one specific piece of software using an embrace extend extinguish business model is a traditional Microsoft tactic, and a lot of people in the linux community still see MS as their greatest enemy, fight to the death, etc.

The style of how systemd is being shoved down our unwilling throats is well optimized to generate the largest possible community firestorm at every step. Why someone would intentionally choose that rollout strategy, knowing the likely results, is a mystery. That social decision probably doesn't result in him getting added to many Christmas card lists (understatement).

Folks from those communities have tied up this debate to their identities.


> We're talking about init systems here

I think the background for this has more to do with Avahi and PulseAudio than systemd.

Also, at this time systemd comes with daemons or utilities for logging, network time, DNS, DHCP, network management, and is poised to act as the intermediary between dbus and kdbus, as well as provide user space virtual terminals.

I am likely forgetting something here, but systemd is way more than a "mere" init replacement at this time.

There are always extremes like that, even when dealing with the most innocent topics you could imagine. People can even react similarly with death threats over a change in cartoon TV show that they didn't like. In any sufficiently large community you will find some small percentage of such people, it's nothing exclusive to init systems or even tech as a whole.

And it's absolutely not "Poettering is a prominent, controversial person, therefore it's OK"! It's never OK. It's rather "Poettering is a prominent, controversial person, so he should be at least prepared for that and not act like he's surprised".

> It's rather "Poettering is a prominent, controversial person, so he should be at least prepared for that and not act like he's surprised".

I don't know. I wouldn't expect being harassed due to software I wrote.

It's not suddenly somehow his fault that there's people out there who take code being posted to the internet as a reason to harass and threaten someone, even if he did post that code to the internet by himself.

The community ought to rally around him and ostracize people who take it from "technical disagreement" to "personal attacks", not wring their collective hands about how it's really unavoidable and/or his own fault. A community that implicitly condones such behavior is complicit, even if only a minority actively engages in it.

Agreed with this, but I suspect the problem is no one's really sure how you react to things like this. There's no centralized body or medium for "out of band" issues - it's kind of the nature of open source.

I would say it does speak to the need for community managers, but again, a difficult ask for OSS projects. Who, when, how and what powers do they have?

Death threats aside (violence it just silly, please stop it?)... How many persons managed to acquire the amount of hate Poettering did? Jup, not many.

From my experience the OSS community can be quite dismissive of people who ignore prior art. Its a protective shield against bad design. You can not write good software as a large group by accepting people who fumble too bad. It's ok to submit a patch with a bug, its ok if the first implementation isn't any good. But when you have people who consistently push bad design, at some point it will slip through and the next generation of engineers as to deal with someones bad idea. Thus a conservative stance makes sense when it comes to APIs and architectures.

Now I know Poettering mainly for PulseAudio and systemd, both systems I really don't care for. My distribution of choice doesn't ship those, so I don't really have any gripes with him, but the fact that he is backed by a large vendor (RedHat?) is scary.

Imagine systemd/PulseAudio/whatever-to-come will be pushed into the "Linux core" by corporate pressure, funding etc.

How will I explain to my children that they are stuck with shitty-software-X? "Sorry son, there is no technical merit, its an ambitious guy's fault who was backed by RedHat."

I am already stuck with ALSA, if getting into a mud fight would help to avoid future clusterfucks, you could count me in. I don't think it helps though, so there is really no point in flaming the dude. Instead I suggest to use all this energy to discredit/control/QA his work on a scientific level.

Your whole comment is irrelevant, worse, detrimental even to the discussion. The discussion is about the violence. I think your stance on this is disgusting. You suggest that if it would deter the guy from building his software you would participate in his torment? That's weak, perhaps the foundation of this situation is that some of these open source communities attract people with especially weak personalities.

>there is really no point in flaming the dude. Instead I suggest to use all this energy to discredit/control/QA his work on a scientific level.

Their stance is that Poettering shouldn't be attacked on a personal level, only on a technical level. If that is a irrelevant, detrimental, disgusting manifestation of a weak personality to you, I suggest that you loosen your grip on your pearls.

> I think your stance on this is disgusting. You suggest that if it would deter the guy from building his software you would participate in his torment?

That's really not what I intended to express. Like I said I strongly oppose any violence. And that's why I suggested to stop flaming and use the energy for scientific criticism.

>The discussion is about the violence

No, he is trying to move the discussion to being about his supposed victimhood because he doesn't like dealing with the real discussion. You are pretending that the person you replied to is tormenting Lennart. That is unacceptable and pathetic. This has become a constant problem now where people do something bad, get criticized, and then characterize the people criticizing them as abusive. The 99.99% of people criticizing him are not a problem because of the 0.01% who send him "dur I kil u!1" emails. This insistence on painting the entire group as being all the 0.01% is absurd.

If you dont want to tell your children that they are stuck with shitty-software-X.

What mrottenkolber, is stopping you from being an ambitious guy who writes non-shitty-software?

Write better tools, and software than Poettering, and leave him alone to write his.

Nobody is actually forcing you to use any of his software, no not even Redhat or any other distribution, this is free and open source software, you havent payed for anything, you are free to use whatever software you wish.

You have a problem with Poetterings software? Do not use that software.

How fucking hard is that?

If you don't like systemd, you should leave Linux? That's as silly as saying that if you don't like the new military dictator after the coup, you should get out of the country. It's definitely pragmatic advice (as is 'give me your wallet, or I'll shoot'), but it's morally empty. They're not just creating a different (overcomplicated, impenetrable, still unfinished) way of doing things, they're plowing the old way under.

People have lives and businesses that have depended on Linux for decades. They can't just get out, and they don't want to get out. Instead, how about they push the same 10 or so decisionmakers to take their side as the systemd supporters pushed to get into every distro with no alternative? Why is it somehow a terrible act to express your opinion if it is against systemd?

edit: and with the abuse that the uselessd guy is taking (steady flames and DDOS), it looks that creating an alternative is a position also hated by systemd supporters.

> If you don't like systemd, you should leave Linux?

You should probably re-read what was said, instead of spewing nonsense.

>What mrottenkolber, is stopping you from being an ambitious guy who writes non-shitty-software?

>Write better tools, and software than Poettering, and leave him alone to write his.

The general perception is that Poetterig is able to push his software thanks to his position at Red Hat instead of its technical merits.

Why dont you get a position at RedHat or make your own company.

>The general perception...

Based upon what anecdotal evidence is that the 'general perception' ?

And furthermore how on earth would he be able to 'push this software' just because he works at Red Hat ?

> What mrottenkolber, is stopping you from being an ambitious guy who writes non-shitty-software?

That's actually the essence of my online persona: I try to write good software. Not so ambitious though, I am too green to suggest the community should use my software.

> You have a problem with Poetterings software? Do not use that software. > How fucking hard is that?

I really didn't want to step on anyone's toe here. I thought I made it clear that I oppose the violence. Sorry you feel like taking this on the personal level (irony?).

As to "how [..] hard is that?". I don't know, but as others have pointed out, and from what I hear, the guys working on Slackware have to put in some effort to maintain a distribution without systemd.

>What mrottenkolber, is stopping you from being an ambitious guy who writes non-shitty-software?

Yeah. And he should also personally fix global warming and create world peace. Otherwise he has like, no right to complain.

He can complain all he wants, but when people go around calling Poettering names, wishing him death, that shit has to stop. Thats not complaining. Thats not whats happening here with systemd.

He can complain about global warming all he wants, but if he sends a mail-bomb or threatens any ExxonMobile higher up manager, or bombs an oil-rig, that shit will not be tolerated. Altough you may argue otherwise.

Whoa slow down there since when is this about me bombing oil-rigs?

Please don't connect the "He" in parent to me please?

Did you ever think that maybe the majority of the Linux community knows better than you?

You must not forget that many distros moved to systemd out of necessity rather than desire, and for some (Debian) the decision was lengthy, splitting and controversial.

EDIT: By "necessity", I mean things such as GNOME (which is a very often used graphical shell in a majority of distributions) and udev (which is getting integrated into systemd, is used by most distros, and, bar Busybox's mdev or Gentoo's eudev fork, has no alternative) depending or planning to depend on systemd.

Also, before anyone points to previous messages saying that udev will continue to be usable without systemd, they're out of date. Lennart Poettering currently intends to make systemd a requirement to use udev and expects applications to use the new systemd-only way of calling into udev directly, so that distros can't even fork udev or use an older version to get around the issue. See http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTczNjI

And he even knows it : "I guess in a way with the energy we are pushing the changes we propose with we are calling for opposition"

On one hand, personal and death threats are way out of line. On the other hand, he kinda rip what he sow. He could have done the same post without mentioning Linus and Gentoo for instance. When you put so much "energy" to push for a key component, don't be surprise by the push back. Especially if you're not willing to compromise. Yes, it can get out of hand, but that doesn't mean the push back has no ground.

Take a group of ill-tempered, aggressive bears. Walk among them wearing a suit made of salmon. Not going to end well.

Much of what Lennart says about the kernel community is true. Much of what they say about him is also true. While he might stay away from invective and hyperbole, the underlying contempt and dismissiveness of reasonable concerns is still there. This is one fight where nobody in their right mind would want to support either side.

Circa 2002-2006 I was quite active in the Linux community I.e. I contributed some code to a few GNU projects and a couple of kernel patches to solve problems that were, quite selfish really. But hey it turns out it wasn't just me or my company so I thought I'd contribute them. They solved real problems to be honest (driver bugs and crashes).

Having been on the end of a chunk of hate for about 40% of my work simply on political grounds rather than any technical grounds, I can understand this entirely and I have no problem with Lennart at all on this basis. I'm talking about patches, not reengineering either.

The basic problem was raising a defect "X doesn't work properly, here's a tested fix that we deployed in production". The answer was ticket closed. I reopened, and asked for an explanation. Literally "get fucked, we don't want your 'fix'". I replied "I'll patch my own kernel and SRPMS then" followed by a massive lecture from one of the project leaders on how I should be communicating with the community and that I need to be part of the special circle jerk club on that project to get a patch in. The defects were even removed from the trackers if the community members were rude to the outsiders to hide the fact.

So out of the goodness of my own heart I wasted 5 days with GDB debugging shit, wrote a patch that fixed it and raised a ticket with the patch attached, was closed, BANG. This happened 4 times on different projects.

So yes I do find that a number of the higher profile projects are purely powered by liquid asshole.

Unfortunately that makes me want to rely on the platforms less and has made me shift my focus to the Windows and BSD platforms which are surprisingly less political.

Argh. I even hated writing this.

I don't know much of the drama around systemd, but this sounds like a typical "everyone's an asshole except me" post. First, he's shooting a broadside against all Open Source communities, but it all seems to be about 'I don't agree with Linus'. To me the Linux community seems to be quite successful in quickly identifying and kicking out destructive assholes and drama queens which don't help solve problems but only create new ones, otherwise Linux wouldn't be in the state it is.

I believe the point is that the Linux community does nothing or even encourages non-destructive assholes. There's no shortage of assholes who are good at what they do.

Similarly, "drama queen" is a larger category than "drama queens which don't help solve problems but only create new ones." It's easily possible to be a drama queen who solves problems. Personally, I find it hard to read a quote like "[someone who decided to] read things ONE F*CKING BYTE AT A TIME with system calls for each byte should be retroactively aborted" and not see it as anything other than a exaggerated and dramatic statement, which kinda fits the definition of a drama queen. Do you think it is a normal and non-dramatic response to reading a byte at a time?

The author also commented on your statement "otherwise Linux wouldn't be in the state it is" by writing "it's not an efficient way to run a community. If Linux had success, then that certainly happened __despite__, not because of this behaviour."

Certainly there's any number of successful racist, sexist, or fill-in-the-blank-ist organizations. Success should not be used to justify bad behavior (except for certain cases where the discrimination is a bona fide reason for the success, such as hiring only women for a topless club - but you are not making the point that assholes and drama queens are required for the success of Linux). To do so is to commit the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

That was very well written, much better then I would be able to express myself in english :) From my personal experience working in software project teams (not so much open source projects), there's a certain type of personality which can destroy a team or a project. Usually this type of person is charismatic, convinced of him/herself that they can't do wrong, has only a few years of real-world development experience, is extremely touchy about criticism, takes everything personally (no matter how the criticism is communicated), and starts scheming inside and outside the team. That's my definition of 'destructive asshole' and 'drama queen'. I only encountered very few cases where such a person is really useful for the project, and I don't know people with decades of experience exposing such character traits. It's usually 'young whizkids fresh from university' (only a few of course!).

Thank you for the compliment. I see you are considering only personalities which 'destroy a team or a project', which includes destructive assholes by definition. If you limit yourself to that personality type then certainly very few are useful to the project.

But productive assholes are not destructive assholes, nor is being an asshole a universal character trait. A fan of sports team X can be a faithful friend to other fans of sports team X while being an asshole to all fans of rival sports team Y. A team member can be verbally abusive towards those who don't use the One True Brace Style, while being the primary architect for the system. That person is a productive asshole.

That said, these people are usually called "difficult to work with", not "assholes". Calling a coworker an asshole usually makes it more difficult to work with them, not less.

Good points. In my personal categorisation system, the people who endlessly discuss about brace style or system A being better then system B without either of them having any hard advantages over the other get the label 'religious zealots'. Also, while the amount of 'asshole-ness' in a character may be orthogonal to the quality of being a good programmer, I know no one personally who I would describe as a 'productive asshole', and I only ever had to deal with 2 or 3 true A-quality 'destructive assholes' in my whole carrier.

The thesis is that Torvalds is one such 'productive asshole'. Do you have any way to tell if someone is an asshole, assuming asshole-ness is mostly orthagonal to productivity? http://www.vice.com/read/orson-scott-card-is-officially-the-... describes Card as "a complete asshole and an unrepentant homophobe", and Card is a a productive and successful SF writer, so could also fall into the same category.

It's hard to read about women doing scientific research 100 years ago without thinking that most of their male colleagues were assholes in how they treated women.

It's really unfortunate that all open source discussions don't go like the discussion I just read between the two of you. It sure would be nice if that were the case.

I don't think he's calling everyone an asshole or decrying all open source communities. He's saying assholes exist, and pointing out systemic reasons for why they're attracted and tolerated and why they're particularly harmful.

Even his personal criticism of Linus Torvalds is pretty specifically about an aspect of Torvalds' "community management style", not him as a person or his moral character or his work in general. It's also not a particularly wild analysis, I've seen that general sort of point made in all kinds of discussions, here on HN and elsewhere.

Fair point. But as it stands, if it would be such a big problem in the Linux community, there wouldn't be a community in the first place since everybody would be deeply offended by now and have left. This would especially have been a problem early when the project was still small, and as far as I know Linus Torvalds always had this special leadership style. I don't know any of the involved persons personally, I don't know how they are in real life, but personally I found Linus Torvald's rage posts mostly amusing, sometimes even Monty-Python-style hilarious. If I deliver some really fucked up code or design I prefer feedback in the style of 'you badly fucked up, and here is why' instead of some politically correct bullshitting.

For me, it sounds more like an "that weird, abusive shit people talk about? It's real!"-post.

He does, for example, admit that he did not always live up to those standards he wants.

Sure, but why is he specifically calling Open Source communities 'sick places' when this happens everywhere else too, including the real world outside the internet?

"Why doesn't he address all other evils in the world before the one I feel defensive about? The hypocrite!"

It's probably because he specifically works in and identifies with the larger open source community, and because people who (pretend to?) collect money to get him killed specifically identify with the open source community too.

Because that's the part of the world he can influence and make better?

It's the 'everybody hates me, therefore everyone is a sad hater filled with hatred' argument.

> I don't know much of the drama around systemd, but this sounds like a typical "everyone's an asshole except me" post.

He's discussing technical topics, there is no point in having such responses coming to one just because of a technical disagreement. For what it's worth, I have stuff flying my way too because I do not agree with the direction Python is doing and I don't think the tone that flies my way sometimes is justified.

Except that it's not just a technical disagreement. Or at least, his detractors don't see it as one, and if he tries to characterise it as one he's being hopelessly naive. He's seen as using his political position to force through a technical solution, regardless of its merits.

Not every open source community. The LibreOffice community is very positive and encouraging. The codebase needs lots of refactoring, but we are all in this together and we are getting results! And we are doing it by being nice to one another.

Frankly, I don't think we'd get any momentum if we didn't.

Yes, I agree that the atmosphere and the rules enforced differ between communities. It's also true that the Linux kernel community is known for its strong language and personal attacks (the last time I remember it being featured prominently on HN and elsewhere was when Sarah Sharp called out Linus on his behaviour [1]). But maybe LKML feels like it needs drama from time to time?

1: https://lkml.org/lkml/2013/7/19/634

Most of the particularly vicious flak Poettering gets isn't even really from the Linux kernel community, but just from random internet people who have an opinion. There's traditionally a bit of an expectation of a "meritocracy of code" in LKML where you can't yell too loudly if you don't also contribute (not necessarily literally "code", also documentation, testing, code review, hardware specs, etc.). I think the degree to which it's an idealized meritocracy can easily be overstated, but it does tend to at least raise the bar for ranting, since you can't only rant without ever doing anything else. The general internet doesn't really feel constrained by that, so you have people who know next to nothing about the Linux kernel who nevertheless feel entitled to very strong and intemperately expressed opinions about it.

This is pretty much it: Linus Thorvald telling people to go screw themselves is an argument of "I am widely recognized to have the loudest voice because of many useful contributions, now accept my opinion or go away".

This carries the danger of people shortening it into "I have the loudest voice" in their mind, which begs the question how other communities unite the role of "last instance for contentious questions" (aka benevolent dictator) with the ideal of being nice to everyone.

Linus's flames also tend not to be personal: they're more like "this architecture is shit" than "you're shit". They can be taken personally (and imo are sometimes over the top), but they don't seem intended in a more vicious way as trying to "hit" a particular person. When he does criticize people it ends up being pretty measured, e.g. a widely talked about blog post where he "attacks" RMS [1] is not a flame at all, but just him saying he isn't a huge fan of RMS and thinks RMS is a bit of a single-issue, black-and-white type of person. Which is a personal criticism, but a pretty civil one. And he definitely doesn't stoop to starting campaigns to try to drive people out of the open-source community who he doesn't like; he just works with them or doesn't.

[1] http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2008/11/black-and-white....

How common are flames like "How did they not die as babies, considering that they were likely too stupid to find a tit to suck on?"? Those seem very personal, even if the target isn't specifically named. Is it 40%, or more like 10%? Since to me 0% seems like the right level.

>Linus's flames also tend not to be personal: they're more like "this architecture is shit" than "you're shit".

I don't see how it gets much more personal than starting off a mail to a new contributor with the line:

  *YOU* are full of bullshit.
Even the supposed 'meat' of the argument was a thinly veiled personal insult:

  Quite frankly, even if the choice of C were to do *nothing* but keep the C++ programmers out, that in itself would be a huge reason to use C.

Nothing like a good old cherry-picked fiery comment out of the thousands of public messages Torvalds posts. Not to mention that you've sizably mischaracterised the 'meat' of his argument - which I find more offensive than hearing someone called 'full of BS' followed by an explanation.

Frankly, Linus is in the right here. There's nothing constructive about the initial tone of the post being made. It is a hostile question from the outset. He goes on to explain in detail the why of the answer. It's not a flame.

To bring this back to Lennart Poettering, I'd argue this is why community issues are hard to fix: there's far too many people who are happy to use efforts to stamp out really harmful stuff (threats of violence/death, flames and spamming/harassment) to instead try and knock down a prominent figure just because. It's a distraction that ultimately makes it irrelevant, and to boot ruins any forward progress to be made.

For those paying attention, that above lkml thread ended with Sarah Sharp stating that she'll bring and distribute pot brownies to everyone on stage at linuxconf. No word on whether GKH or Linus enjoyed them. :-)

The Drupal community is pretty damn good too.

I'm not defending shitty bevaiour at all (and taking it to a personal level such as killing people, thats just insane). Having said that, I'm not surprised though that the shitstorm is hitting systemd (and Lennart Poettering) perhaps most of all.

My observation of whats happening is quite frankly that people do not like the enforcing approach of systemd. There is no humble approach, it's the systemd approach and don't stand in the way.

> (and taking it to a personal level such as killing people, thats just insane)

It's not "insane". It's a thing people do because they get the impression that it's socially acceptable, because see, everybody sympathizes with people griping about systemd, right? Everybody agrees that Poettering is the devil, right? He's bringing it on himself by sneaking into people's houses and installing systemd on their computers, right?

It's not insane. It doesn't stem from some imbalance in brain chemistry or some other mental issue. Labeling it insanity belies the community's responsibility for setting standards of acceptable behavior.

If people take it to the level of actually murdering him, then yes, it's insane.

It's hardly an OSS problem though. It's practically a "western society and the internet" problem. Death threats are probably less common now then they were in the early anonymity days of the net, but conversely they're a lot less mundane.

But this a problem which turns up in every community where there are politicized issues. See: anything to do with women talking about video games.

We can take this problem even wider and start looking at say, American domestic politics and it's infatuation with "second amendment solutions". It's apparently socially acceptable to drop that phrase when discussing elections, policy and the president when you're a state or federal representative. Locally in Australia we've got an entire political party that carefully fans the flames of almost but not quite encouraging violence and intolerance.

You can certainly improve things at a community-by-community level, and OSS definitely should try to do so (and there should be support to do so in sensible, constructive ways). But this is a problem which goes a lot further then software development.

It's certainly a problem in a wider scope than just software development, and not really inherent to software development at all, but I think it manifests in open source communities in a particularly insidious way. Everybody thinks they're philosophically on the right side anyway, they're too smart for prejudice and too useful a community member to possibly be part of the problem.

Also I figure people rely on meritocracy being some sort of infallible system, in some sort of just-world fallacy where they figure if this guy who's screaming bloody murder on the mailing list were wrong to do so, surely someone would have stopped him, right...? But he's got all these patches in the tree, so that means he's correct by definition, and that's more important than "real-life" social norms anyway.

Before we throw any more hate again, here's what I understand:

* Most Linux-based OSS communities (specially the kernel) market themselves as a Merry Community

* In reality, they're not, they're full of bullies who won't hesistate to call you or your mother names

* You must equally be a bully enough if you want to stand on your own

And I relate with this a lot. Bullies act like this in groups, and they always feel extremely proud and righteous of themselves, and think they're doing God's Work. But beyond all that overflowing sense of righteousness, bullying is simply, plainly, wrong.

Unfortunately, most of these Linux-based communities have grown to become bands of bullies, and they are also extremely proud of it. Such a sad situation to be in. Folks who call themselves "Freedom-loving FOSS members" behaving in polar opposite to the values that they supposedly care about. Some things are just unacceptable.

IMO, you misunderstand some of it:

"communities are full of bullies who won't hesitate to call you or your mother names" - I think this is best put as "doing controversial things will attract trolls and haters".

"you must equally be a bully enough" - no, you just need to tune out the haters and continue to work towards your goal.

Lennart and the others underwent a ginormous effort to grow systemd from a borderline dangerous "I'm smarter than everyone else" toy project into something that's actually useful.

They did that despite the fact that the problem in question had been solved a couple times over (upstart was the last in a series of "improved" versions of SysVInit), and despite the fact that systemd adoption incurs a large switching cost of re-writing init scripts for all packages.

The art of leading a successful open source project is partly in tuning in to useful feedback and tuning out the haters who have nothing to contribute. Yes, the haters function based on ways that are similar to bullying. But while you can keep them off the mailing list, you can't ban them everywhere.

The more visible a community or an undertaking, the more visible it is for haters and bullies, and the more effort is lost on policing them or tuning them out. There's no way around it, other than educating the general population or staying a small, very technical in-group.

> the problem in question had been solved a couple times over

This seems a bit disingenous. Unless you think upstart is literally perfect, the problem is obviously not solved, only iterated on...and without further arguments there's no reason systemd shouldn't attempt to be the next (further improved) iteration.

Systemd certainly has features upstart doesn't, some of which are prominent arguments for its adoption. So it seems the community doesn't agree - no, upstart is not the pinnacle of init systems.

BSD init is certainly not the pinnacle of init systems. rc.d-based SysV init isn't either. upstart also has its warts.

For some people, BSD init works just fine and they're happy with it and they abhor the additional complexity. Without any doubt, Systemd also has its flaws - it's not compatible with *BSDs, or generally non-Linux systems, it's a departure from the "everything is accessible using a simple text editor" principle that has brought Linux where we're now, and there's a non-zero switching cost for each and every package.

Many people know polipo-audio (later renamed to pulseaudio) and the crashing propensity of its earlier versions, and who are kind of intimidated by the whole DBus/ConsoleKit tangle that introduces many moving components that are hard to debug when they fail. A system that is "perfect in theory" but crashes often is not that great.

So people are kind of apprehensive when the same guy who brought them crashing sound demons a couple years ago now comes over happily with a solution to replace the most central component for their system. Thus far, I've been pleasantly surprised by Systemd silently doing its thing and working as advertised. And I wouldn't swap it out for upstart if someone gave me the choice.

The morale? Yes, people grow up, complex systems become more manageable with time when people write debugging aids for them. (Including things such as VirtualBox which make debugging central system components much easier - imagine living in a world where your systemd crashes and bugs simply get closed with a WORKSFORME tag and ignored).

Also, with consolekit you could use any number of inits. Drop logind on top of anything but systemd and it will simply refuse to function.

Meaning that if any of the older inits balk you can bring up the system piecemeal manually and get to town figuring out why it balked.

There are a number of experiences documented on G+ and forums of systemd getting into a deadlock, with no useful error messages, and where it can't be brought up piecemeal for diagnosis as everything relies on systemd running as pid1.

That is the kind of boot time Russian roulette that MS products have been lambasted for in the past.

Yes, Open Source communities can be bad. But there are also good ones. And if you think Linus is bad, read some comments from Theo de Raadt.

The first opensource project I tried to contribute to when I started coding has been a horrible experience. When I asked about some directions regarding some details, the only responses I got were not nice, to say the least. f.i. they complained that i mixed british and american english, and that was the most constructive response. Well, stuff like that can happen if your 13, from austria and never had a proper english-teacher before ;-)

OTOH there are also the good experiences where people help each other out and aren't afraid to teach someone how things work. there are a lot of good FOSS communities out there.

For me personally the guys around the Aboriginal Linux project stand out. They have been really helpful on IRC and the ML is also refreshing to read :)

>The Linux community is dominated by western, white, straight, males in their 30s and 40s these days. I perfectly fit in that pattern, and the rubbish they pour over me is awful.

Maybe you are the problem. I don't know a single OSS developer that is more hated than you. Ever wondered why this might be?

> Maybe you are the problem. I don't know a single OSS developer that is more hated than you.

Lennart's complaints about Linus are on point here. But not for the reason Lennart thinks.

Linus has scathing personal insults. And people don't hate him. Because most of the time... he's right. Linus has gotten where he is through brains, a lot of work, and a certain amount of luck. His code has been adopted through sheer technical merit.

Lennart has written a lot of code, but the perception is that much of it was adopted for political reasons. This adoption goes directly against the core principles of the Open Source movement.

i.e. people feel emotionally betrayed.

In contrast, Linus telling them to go fuck themselves is just strong wording around a technical discussion. It doesn't hit emotional buttons in the same way.

The "feature creep" of systemd is another case in point. Systemd is increasing it's functionality, and forcing people to use it. Because the alternatives are no longer supported, or their favorite software is now welded to systemd. This process hits more emotional buttons.

The perception is that Open Source is about freedom, personal choice, etc. When people have choices removed in Open Source software, it hits emotional buttons. When they get told "my way or the highway", they get deeply offended on a personal level.

Lennart may be right in all of his technical decisions. But the environment he's in means he's guaranteed to get a lot of flak for it.


After reading this http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systemd , I dislike systemd also. The conspiracy side of my mind think redhead is pushing for systemd because systemd's complexity enable redhead to sale more support contracts.

It's because he implicitly and explicitly points out the very real flaws in desktop linux. And then he has the audacity to try and fix things by changing them!

If there's one thing people hate more than having flaws pointed out in something they like, it's someone else changing that thing and making it better. Not only does it feel like an insult, but it means that all that pain you went through to learn bash/xfree86.conf/ifconfig/alsactl/etc. is now irrelevant.

I don't see how you can seriously argue against systemd. The lack of integration and modernity in desktop linux has hurt it. Does no-one remember how much of a pain in the arse it was to simply connect to a WPA2 wifi network for years? That was because wifi configuration was a jumbled assortment of (really secure no doubt) shell scripts - not something that is easy to interface to a GUI. We should be celebrating the fact that someone is fixing the mess that is the linux userspace.

Anyway, none of this justifies the stupid amount of hatred inflicted on him. And I've still yet to see a sane technical criticism of systemd.

Actually, the main problem with wifi on Linux was that the drivers were crap and there were a bunch of competing WiFi stacks with mutally-incompatible APIs. If you had a decent driver, connecting to an access point and authenticating was - and still is - handled entirely by a small, single-purpose monolithic program called wpa_supplicant. The "jumbled assortment of (really secure no doubt) shell scripts" didn't need to know or care whether your network was WPA2. All they had to do was start wpa_supplicant and wait for it to tell them it had connected. Most of the complexity and issues came from older, incompatible drivers with their own built-in WPA supplicants (or no WPA support at all) that aren't supported anymore.

How are Bash, ifconfig and alsactl irrelevant? I know the second is deprecated, but obtaining debug information on network interfaces isn't something that has went away from a typical Linux distro workflow, and Bash is still the default shell on almost every distro.

Also, you won't believe how many times an "alsactl restore" has ended up fixing my audio, even on systems with PulseAudio.

And Mr. Poettering should know all about being an obnoxious asshole: http://youtu.be/_ERAXJj142o?t=16m31s

Why is that video always brought forward? Datenwolf obviously has no clue what he's talking about and Lennart tells him where he is wrong.

Datenwolf looks at the problems from the sysadmin perspective and all he is seeing and complaining about is complexity that introduces hard to debug problems and bugs. Sure his criticism is derided by Lennart as he has far more intimate knowledge about the software. However 'Did you file a bug?' and 'Do you hate disabled users?' actually are not helping here either.

It's complicated and modern Desktop Linux userland (ConsoleKit/PolKit/dbus/pulseaudio/GNOME...) feels like a sub-optimal solution from a sysadmin perspective. Maybe systemd will fix some of these issues but some are afraid it will introduce others.

Having dealt with "modern Desktop Linux" I can totally relate to Datenwolf. I understand that he lacks knowledge but if you are not a developer of these systems it's impossible to deal with this mess. And yes - I think it's largely a undocumented, poorly implemented and overly complex mess.

And that seems to be the eternal issue. Poettering seems to come at this not from an admin perspective but from a developer perspective. And with RH shifting their focus more and more towards cloud computing, so is systemd.

And in cloud computing the admins are not kings, but peons.

Peons tilling the cattle (server) farm of 100s of servers, each running any number of VM instances. If one or more of those instances go down, new ones are spun back up.

And you see this attitude within systemd. If a daemons crashes you don't leave it down and try to figure out why it crashes. Instead systemd will simply restart any daemon it finds not to be running when it should.

Basically this is not uptime by way of applying carefully measured and maintained administration. This is uptime by machinegun.

It is what allows anyone with some grasp of php to rent server time on a amorphous blob like the Amazon EC2 and spin up the next Twitter or Facebook.

No need to optimize for or maintain the hardware. If the current load is too much, wave your credit card and have 1000 fresh instances behind the the load balancer, courtesy of Amazon or RH.

Datenwolf is demonstrating the kind of exasperation that have in the past driven people to look for alternatives to Windows. They thought they had found the promised land in Linux, but now the blight is coming over the walls and taking up residence even here.

Because no one knows what they are talking about. There is a difference between a bug that's inside a program and a bug that's caused by the unexpected interaction of half a dozen programs. The only people who will see the later are those who actually use programs in the wild, e.g. system admins and not developers.

Which is exactly his point. "Have you submitted a patch" followed by "it's not our bug" doesn't help, it's down right idiotic when it comes to emergent bugs. Everyone involved can honestly say "not my problem" while you're stuck with a dead system "because you have the disabled".

Mr.Poettering et al seem not to realize that bugs don't just come from within programs but from how programs interact with their environment. When you hide all the details behind a single monolithic process it is either "this works" or "this doesn't" and there's nothing you can do about it. When it's a shell script trying together 20 programs it's "this kind mostly works apart from when x happens, which I can have a check for".

> When you hide all the details behind a single monolithic process it is either "this works" or "this doesn't" and there's nothing you can do about it.

The exact kind of behavior that has driven many from Windows to Linux.

I know nothing about this man, so I decided to look him up...


"The "Poettering effect" is now sometimes used as a negative term for presumed damage his mindset is doing to opensource communities."


I guess there's two sides to every story...

What a strange situation.

But notice that's all technical in nature--what he's discussing is abuse and harassment. I don't know a lot about the context, but if he's right, those are very different things--not really two sides at all.

He says "Wow, what an awful community Linux has!". How is that "technical in nature"?

No, the reasons people dislike him are primarily technical in nature: they don't trust the things he creates. They respond by attacking him in a very personal and abusive way.

That's not an issue that has two sides. That's an issue about his technical work, and then some people doing something abusive. There's two sides to that technical debate, but there's only one side to the other debate, and that's "stop being awful." There would only be two sides if the technical issues surrounding his work somehow justified the abuse. And they don't, because basically nothing justifies that kind of abuse in the tech world.

The comment "Linux is an awful community" is not technical, but it came after the abuse. Hopefully you can see that there's a difference between that and threatening someone.

"Poettering is known for having controversial technical and architectural positions regarding the linux ecosystem"

It seems to read that he is basically going around systematically "upsetting the applecart".

Now, whether he's doing that technically or otherwise, it's still having an effect on the ecosystem. You can't detach yourself from that.

The problem with "communities" that mainly exist online is that they are not really communities at all, instead they are people scattered across different websites with only the loosest of connections and absolutely no barrier to entry whatsoever and there is no way with which people can be expelled. Therefor it becomes easy for any online community to attract many people who are more interested in the drama and tribalism that surrounds the community than the goals of the community itself,. Posting "systemd sucks" (or more personal things) is much lower effort than actually building an alternative to systemd.

There is nothing hard about kicking repeat offenders from an "official" mailing list/subreddit/IRC channel for breaking community guidelines. You just need to set up clear rules, explain them if needed, and expel people too thick to follow the rules, and have enough moderators. Trolls may still complain on other forums, but it will make the place much more liveable for people actually interested in exchanging and contributing.

In the article he talks about people posting stuff about him to other websites, namely youtube , 4chan (or at least in 4chan "style") and petition websites.

Fair point. You can't really police the Internet. I had more in mind some ridiculous overreactions that have happened in the past in various forums. But you will always have the cowardly, usually anonymous abusers.

Well, the "western, white, straight, male, blah, blah" rhetoric should at least bring out some pavlovian support these days. Maybe it's time to replace Linus as BDFL, and this could be a fine tactic too.

I stopped caring so long ago that I wasn't even hit by pulseaudio, so both Lennart and Mr. Drepper have my sympathy and support, as long as they keep to Linux (thankyouverymuch).

First they came for Linux, and I did not speak out— Because I was not using Linux.


I don't think this problem is anything particular to open-source communities. There's lots of popular software that is poorly received (Windows 8).

There's the software people hate, and the software nobody uses.

(Of course turning it into a personal attack is very poor behaviour.)

Oh, come on.

Poettering wants to show how his community is nice and welcoming, and he does it by... making gratuitous attacks at Gentoo? Sounds legit.

Any group of people that grows will eventually accumulate traits that resemble humanity in general. This means that once a group is sufficiently large enough it will probably contain some of the jerks, too. The proper response, of course, is to ignore them unless you have evidence of some actual specific threat which should be brought to the attention of law enforcement, not complained about on the web. Any group that grows eventually has to deal with these jerks, and most learn to just file the rant based "threats" to /dev/null where they belong.

There is one data point you can possibly extract from the sudden appearance of jerks ranting about your work: it is a rough heuristic that suggest that group of people has grown "sufficiently large". People working in the arts sometimes take this as a suggestion that they have "made it", as they have finally achieved an audience that is large enough that touches on a diverse cross-section of the population, and n not just their original niche.

So this suggest that the thing Mr. Poettering is complaining about... is that the people whgo oppose his software have become so large that normal users from random parts of society are complaining. It is proof that it is not, as many suggest, a small amount of unix beards[1] that are doing the complaining.

Mr. Poettering just needs to learn that when you make it big by trowing your weight around - especially when you deliver your own testosterone-fueled challenges and insults - you are making yourself a target. This may or may not be deserved, but if you want to survive in a world where assholes and jerks still exist you need to learn to not take their insults too personally.

/* I'll point out that this general advice is true for anybody with a large audience. If I were to reply to the long history of how systemd forced a coup and hostile takeover of the linux community, then i might suggest that while there area always assholes, this does stink a bit like he's responding to a situation nicely setup for him by some agent provocateur. It certainly fits his cabal's historical style. /

Edit; for the record, in no way am I condoning* jerks that merely throw around insults and threats. I am simply stating that they are inevitable once your audience is big enough.

[1] myself included; also: https://imgur.com/QWkbh

Excuse me if I don't trust Lennart "all pulseaudio problems are driver/application problems, get fucked" Poettering to tell me about online communities.

Your point might be better made if you weren't anonymous. Also if it had less victim blaming.

Are you trying to win an irony award?

That would only work if my username wasn't -astonishingly- easy to link back to my real self. Not even 5 minutes of work.

Every time I see a similar submission on how bad FOSS communities are, I can't help but wonder - what do we do about it then? People react violently not always solely because of their nature, but also because they don't see a reasonable way to change things. It probably would help better for Poettering to write a post addressing systemd criticism, maybe there is one, but it never made to HN for some reason.

lennart poettering is the santa claus politician of *nix , well just Linux because none of his garbage ports.

He promises stuff that does magic and its free, but the reality is hey can deliver, nor his sycophants and minions, anything that works.

He is poetter-izing linux, making it suck in the same ways as many commercial OSen.

I have to say systemd is the crappiest rip off of SMF I have ever seen.

Poettering is a complete asshole and deserves all the hate he gets. He replaces perfectly fine software with his own shitty code, and has done noting innovative in his entire life.

Pottering needs to toughen up if he wants to dictate the majority of userland. His attachment to Google+ is a bit annoying from a FOSS perspective too.

"Torvalds needs to tone down if he wants to dictate the majority of kernel space" isn't much of an argument, is it? I don't see how your comment regarding Pottering is any stronger.

Our attachment to Hacker News is also a bit annoying from a FOSS perspective, unless there's been some release since the suggestion at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5006037 . Torvalds uses Google+. How is your comment any different from the pot calling the kettle black?

Torvalds needs to tone down nothing. The Kernel would be utter shit if he wasn't cracking the whip on people. I personally find his language on LKML hysterical and enlightening; he writes well too. I appreciate when people are honest and don't sugar coat things.

I wasn't aware Torvalds uses G+, shame on him for doing so. The comment was more about the absurd policies the user signs off on to use the service more than the lack of source code, not that that isn't an issue.

HN being closed source is a bummer. I respect a webmasters choice to refrain from publishing server side code. But considering most of the content discussed on HN, it is hypocritical. As unethical as HN is from a FOSS standpoint, I can't turn away from a site where the user-base falls on the right side of a bell curve for I.Q. Too good to pass up.

>My involvement with the kernel community ended pretty much before it even started, I never post on LKML, and haven't done in years.

Poor baby. Why is everyone so mean to him? He's western, white, straight, male, 30s-40s (really?).

> I can only imagine that it is much worse for members of minorities, or people from different cultural backgrounds, in particular ones where losing face is a major issue.

Speaks for itself.

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