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07.05.20

Systems Can Crash and People Can Die by Changing Language (Even in Parameter and Function Space) to Appease Activists

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 7:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There are also purely practical considerations to be taken into account (and the worst culprits are Windows people)

Microsoft Apologizes, Removes 'Big Boobs' String From Linux Code
Older: Microsoft Apologizes, Removes ‘Big Boobs’ String From Linux Code

Summary: It seems clear that Intel takes the lead in trying to change Linux not in technical means but purely social means; even when (and where) that can compromise the robustness of the kernel (Intel is nowadays known for profoundly defective chips with back doors)

MANNERS are a good thing. Being polite is also always preferable. It might not always be possible, but it is preferable.

“The company which commits so many crimes claims to be a source for good, a voice for ethics.”It’s difficult to forget how people who wrote bad code complained about Torvalds. Eventually he was even ‘removed’ from the project — his own ‘baby’ — for about a month. Intel played a big role in that. As we’ve noted before, Intel keeps coming back. The company which commits so many crimes claims to be a source for good, a voice for ethics. Welcome to the brave new world… white is black, black is white.

It’s no secret that changing words inside code (not literature) can complicate things, break things, become an expensive development venture and even cause systems to fail/break down (unexpectedly). Some mission-critical systems (aviation, hospitals and disaster recovery) are also impacted. It’s an endless adventure; you’ll never please everyone. Just taking the latest article from Phoronix, it says “A.k.a. Spectre, Meltdown, etc.” and we all know what “Spectre” is to “Master” and what “Meltdown” is to people with mental health issues [1].

Should we remove all mentions of these terms as well? Where does it end? By the way, slavery is not a thing of the past but a thing of the present. Many Africans are still enslaved by fellow Africans and many are sold as slaves. Deleting particular words may make it harder to explain the problem, which is still ongoing (see the UN’s Web site).

“Remember how Intel viciously attacked children’s education in Africa.”The other morning coverage in Phoronix says there’s an effort wherein “Linux Kernel [is] Preparing New Guidelines For Using Inclusive Terminology” (included in circulation are two people from the Linux Foundation, one from Intel, another from Facebook and lastly one from Google). To quote Michael Larabel: “The exception being granted though is where changing the terminology could potentially break the user-space ABI given the kernel’s longstanding guarantees on not breaking that interface.” (Many comments on this, 54 as of this morning, with more noteworthy comments — 21 of them so far — in CNX Software under “New Tech Vocabulary for 2020 Could Break Software Compatibility”)

Not many have mentioned the aspect of debugging being necessary (if not rewriting of software units, followed by a lot of testing). It can also harm backward compatibility and thus increase electronic waste, harming the environment. We all know that a lot of electronic waste (basically Western trash) is being shipped to Africa, outsourcing the pollution to ‘lesser’ races, right? So much for justice…

Looking at the original, however, and bearing in mind what some Intel employees already did to sanitise Linux (see “New Patch Replaces F-Words in Linux Kernel Code with “Hug”) while Intel became speech police in the whole project, this is what we have from Intel’s Dan Williams ([PATCH] CodingStyle: Inclusive Terminology):

Recent events have prompted a Linux position statement on inclusive
terminology. Given that Linux maintains a coding-style and its own
idiomatic set of terminology here is a proposal to answer the call to
replace non-inclusive terminology.

Cc: Jonathan Corbet <corbet@lwn.net>
Cc: Kees Cook <keescook@chromium.org>
Signed-off-by: Chris Mason <clm@fb.clm>
Signed-off-by: Greg Kroah-Hartman <gregkh@linuxfoundation.org>
Signed-off-by: Dan Williams <dan.j.williams@intel.com>

Documentation/process/coding-style.rst | 12 ++++
Documentation/process/inclusive-terminology.rst | 64 +++++++++++++++++++++++
Documentation/process/index.rst | 1
3 files changed, 77 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 Documentation/process/inclusive-terminology.rst

diff –git a/Documentation/process/coding-style.rst b/Documentation/process/coding-style.rst
index 2657a55c6f12..4b15ab671089 100644
— a/Documentation/process/coding-style.rst
+++ b/Documentation/process/coding-style.rst
@@ -319,6 +319,18 @@ If you are afraid to mix up your local variable names, you have another
problem, which is called the function-growth-hormone-imbalance syndrome.
See chapter 6 (Functions).

+For symbol names, avoid introducing new usage of the words ‘slave’ and
+’blacklist’. Recommended replacements for ‘slave’ are: ‘secondary’,
+’subordinate’, ‘replica’, ‘responder’, ‘follower’, ‘proxy’, or
+’performer’. Recommended replacements for blacklist are: ‘blocklist’ or
+’denylist’.
+
+Exceptions for introducing new usage is to maintain a userspace ABI, or
+when updating code for an existing (as of 2020) hardware or protocol
+specification that mandates those terms. For new specifications consider
+translating specification usage of the terminology to the kernel coding
+standard where possible. See :ref:`process/inclusive-terminology.rst
+<inclusiveterminology>` for details.

5) Typedefs
———–
diff –git a/Documentation/process/inclusive-terminology.rst b/Documentation/process/inclusive-terminology.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..a8eb26690eb4
— /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/process/inclusive-terminology.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,64 @@
+.. _inclusiveterminology:
+
+Linux kernel inclusive terminology
+==================================
+
+The Linux kernel is a global software project, and in 2020 there was a
+global reckoning on race relations that caused many organizations to
+re-evaluate their policies and practices relative to the inclusion of
+people of African descent. This document describes why the ‘Naming’
+section in :ref:`process/coding-style.rst <codingstyle>` recommends
+avoiding usage of ‘slave’ and ‘blacklist’ in new additions to the Linux
+kernel.
+
+On the triviality of replacing words
+====================================
+
+The African slave trade was a brutal system of human misery deployed at
+global scale. Some word choice decisions in a modern software project
+does next to nothing to compensate for that legacy. So why put any
+effort into something so trivial in comparison? Because the goal is not
+to repair, or erase the past. The goal is to maximize availability and
+efficiency of the global developer community to participate in the Linux
+kernel development process.
+
+Word choice and developer efficiency
+====================================
+
+Why does any software project go through the trouble of developing a
+document like :ref:`process/coding-style.rst <codingstyle>`? It does so
+because a common coding style maximizes the efficiency of both
+maintainers and developers. Developers learn common design patterns and
+idiomatic expressions while maintainers can spot deviations from those
+norms. Even non-compliant whitespace is considered a leading indicator
+to deeper problems in a patchset. Coding style violations are known to
+take a maintainer “out of the zone” of reviewing code. Maintainers are
+also sensitive to word choice across specifications and often choose to
+deploy Linux terminology to replace non-idiomatic word-choice in a
+specification.
+
+Non-inclusive terminology has that same distracting effect which is why
+it is a style issue for Linux, it injures developer efficiency.
+
+Of course it is around this point someone jumps in with an etymological
+argument about why people should not be offended. Etymological arguments
+do not scale. The scope and pace of Linux to reach new developers
+exceeds the ability of historical terminology defenders to describe “no,
+not that connotation”. The revelation of 2020 was that black voices were
+heard on a global scale and the Linux kernel project has done its small
+part to answer that call as it wants black voices, among all voices, in
+its developer community.
+
+Really, ‘blacklist’ too?
+========================
+
+While ‘slave’ has a direct connection to human suffering the etymology
+of ‘blacklist’ is devoid of a historical racial connection. However, one
+thought exercise is to consider replacing ‘blacklist/whitelist’ with
+’redlist/greenlist’. Realize that the replacement only makes sense if
+you have been socialized with the concepts that ‘red/green’ implies
+’stop/go’. Colors to represent a policy requires an indirection. The
+socialization of ‘black/white’ to have the connotation of
+’impermissible/permissible’ does not support inclusion.
+
+Inclusion == global developer community efficiency.
diff –git a/Documentation/process/index.rst b/Documentation/process/index.rst
index f07c9250c3ac..ed861f6f8d25 100644
— a/Documentation/process/index.rst
+++ b/Documentation/process/index.rst
@@ -27,6 +27,7 @@ Below are the essential guides that every developer should read.
submitting-patches
programming-language
coding-style
+ inclusive-terminology
maintainer-pgp-guide
email-clients
kernel-enforcement-statement

Notice the mention of ‘redlist/greenlist’; we've already mentioned why that too can be interpreted as "racist". It’s a never-ending game and nuance brought to such ‘overdrive’ (oversensitivity) means no good will come out of it. Richard Stallman has just remarked on the word “whitening” being phased out (even when it literally means just that, e.g. dental products).

“Intel is using black people (exploiting legitimate race grievances) to socially-engineer and interject disruption into a project it cannot control because of the GPL.”There aren’t many African contributors in Linux not because of the language but because African nations are poor and lack access to particular computing resources (sometimes Internet connections as well). Maybe focus on those latter issues before obsessing over the colour of some alert or a rule? Companies like Intel would rather have us speaking/bickering about race issues than class/wealth issues. Remember how Intel viciously attacked children’s education in Africa. All in the name of profit! Intel is using black people (exploiting legitimate race grievances) to socially-engineer and interject disruption into a project it cannot control because of the GPL.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. New readfile() System Call Under Review For Reading Small~Medium Files Faster

    Besides readfile() being simpler, the other intended use-case is for helping in performance due to less system calls. Greg does note that utilizing readfile should help performance, especially due to “syscall overheads go up over time due to various CPU bugs being addressed.” A.k.a. Spectre, Meltdown, etc.

    The readfile system call review is in this kernel thread. Hopefully it will be reviewed punctually and well to possibly make it into the Linux 5.9 cycle next month.

  2. Linux Kernel Preparing New Guidelines For Using Inclusive Terminology

    The new inclusive terminology documentation applies to new code being contributed to the Linux kernel but ultimately in hopes of replacing existing code with words deemed not inclusive. The exception being granted though is where changing the terminology could potentially break the user-space ABI given the kernel’s longstanding guarantees on not breaking that interface.

    These new guidelines for Linux kernel developers call for initially avoiding words including “slave” and “blacklist” to instead use words like subordinate, replica, follower, performer, blocklist, or denylist.

06.30.20

Linus Torvalds Explains Why GNU/Linux Development Speeds Up (Likely Owing to Coronavirus Lock-downs)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 3:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Photo by Alex Dawson, 2002

Linus

Summary: The COVID-19 pandemic has so far boosted not only GNU/Linux market share; it’s also speeding up development, leaving proprietary software players in the ashes (it’s harder for them to make sales and to pay their developers)

THE MORALE at Microsoft is not good. It’s low. The company really wasn’t prepared for the pandemic. Its business model isn’t suitable unlike — let’s say — Amazon’s and Facebook’s. The big clients of Microsoft are big businesses and governments that grossly overpay for licences. Home working is an impediment to certain types of contracts. Budgets are in general decreasing. It did not surprise me at all that a month ago Microsoft admitted layoffs, then Mixer died, then Microsoft Stores were shut down indefinitely (all of them). The first two were spun by focusing on a replacement (“HEY HI” hype and Facebook) and the second was announced late on a Friday, spinning that as ‘virtual’ stores. We’ve long mocked the idea of ‘virtual’ conferences and summits or whatever. They’re ‘webinars’ at best; the conferences themselves get canceled, but organisers don’t have the heart to say it like that (they don’t accept that they wasted months of their lives organising something that would never exist!), so they call a bunch of webstreams from people’s bedrooms or living rooms ‘virtual’ <something glorified>.

“It did not surprise me at all that a month ago Microsoft admitted layoffs, then Mixer died, then Microsoft Stores were shut down indefinitely (all of them).”Free software is not affected or barely affected by all this. As we’ve noted for months, people being stuck at home often means they have even more time for coding, especially in their ‘spare’ time (many work on Free software as a sort of hobby, not for a salary). Unemployment may also mean finding a contingent occupation by which to pass time.

Yesterday, in the article “Linus Torvalds on the future of Linux kernel developers and development” (by SJVN, who really needs to abandon that awful publisher) Torvalds was quoted as saying: “I suspect 5.8 might be [so large] because of people staying inside but it might also be, it’s just happened that several different groups ended up coming at roughly the same time, with new features in 5.8.”

“For me, it’s the only reason I can keep a full-time job and still run Techrights, even more so during this pandemic (less time spent outdoors).”Here’s more: “None of my co-developers have been hugely impacted either. I was worried for a while because one of our developers was offline for a month or two. … [But,] it turned out that it was just RSI [repetitive strain injury], and RSI is kind of an occupational hazard to deal with. One of the things that is so interesting about the Linux community is how much it has always been email-based and remote, how rarely we get together in person.”

SJVN referred to that as “videoconference” (again, the glorified term “conference” — in this case a bunch of coders streaming from home).

Regardless, here you have it from Torvalds himself. He has long worked from home and he should know how beneficial this can be to productivity. For me, it’s the only reason I can keep a full-time job and still run Techrights, even more so during this pandemic (less time spent outdoors).

06.27.20

Software Wars by Keith Curtis, Former Microsoft Employee

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 7:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keith Curtis

Summary: This video has just been released; we reproduce it here without further comment

From Microsoft Corporation to “Editorial Director at the Linux Foundation”

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 6:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Foundation is being infiltrated (some might say “infested”) by people who oppose software freedom

Star Trek Dagger of the Mind: GNU/Linux users

Summary: It’s getting more and more difficult over time to perceive the ‘Linux’ Foundation as spokesperson for Linux

Jason Perlow from IBM and then Microsoft is now “Editorial Director at the Linux Foundation” (according to this new blog post). That’s control over communication/messaging. The ‘Linux’ Foundation is quite likely defunct, especially when one takes into consideration Perlow’s track record at ZDNet. We wrote about the matter roughly — or primarily — a decade ago in (do by all means take note of the fact he also tried to ‘cancel’ Stallman back then):

With people like these in charge of the Linux Foundation (which uses Windows) Linus Torvalds must reassess the legitimacy of his employer. The Foundation was supposed to ensure he does not receive his salary from only one single company; but now that he receives his salary from many Linux-hostile companies (Microsoft included) and is being bossed by Microsoft executives how better off is he, really? The Corporate ‘Linux’ Foundation is what some people call it, but why not drop “Linux” and call it what it has really become: The Corporate Foundation, powered by Microsoft’s GitHub.

06.14.20

Linux Foundation Pretends Security ‘Best Practices’ is Outsourcing to Microsoft. All ‘Gold Badges’ (All of Them Except Linux) Go to Projects That Are Microsoft-Controlled at GitHub, With NSA PRISM.

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Kernel, Security at 3:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Gold Badges’ sponsored by Microsoft

A tuxedo Pooh: Free software project with CII badge; When you realise 'gold level best practices' means Microsoft-controlled

Summary: The Linux Foundation and others boast about being among those half a dozen projects honoured with a “CII” (not software patents) badge; the main issue is, except for Linux (the kernel) everything was outsourced to Microsoft’s proprietary software monopoly (GitHub), which is also a sponsor of “CII”

06.11.20

[Humour] Sexism 101: If You Lash Out at Women Like You Lash Out at Men, It Might be Gender-Neutral and Entirely Technical

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 5:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Context: They Tell Us Linus Torvalds is Sexist But Evidence Suggests Otherwise

Flames On The Side Of My Face: He lashes out at people all the time, usually guys; Yes, but when Linus lashes out at me it's personal and sexist
Technical criticism knows no gender

Summary: When somehow we’re told that our leaders are sexist always (sometimes by distortion of words and events) maybe the biggest victim is the cause of feminism because it’s leveraged if not exploited/misused to dethrone inspirational minds, leaving a vacuum for large corporations to capitalise on (as if those large corporations are very civilised; they help drop bombs on a lot of people, women included)

06.09.20

Know the Tricks, Know the Media’s Shaming Tactics…

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 7:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tabloids like ZDNet focus on bathrobes/gossip, not the actual, technical work (Linux)

The bathrobes gallery

Summary: In order to remove GNU/Linux leaders from their leadership positions, at least temporarily, media first needs to portray them as “unprofessional” and lacking empathy/dignity

In the Age of ‘Remote Work’ (Working From Home) This Media Smear Against Linus Torvalds Did Not Age Well

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 12:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Two Wild And Crazy Guys: They... ...Said he worked in his bathrobe... his bathrobe!!!

Summary: Teaser for the next part of our series about media’s (mis)treatment of GNU and Linux founders

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