09.28.19

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LF Kool-Aid is Unhealthy to Linux

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Kernel, Marketing, Microsoft, OSDL, Red Hat at 3:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Linux Foundation (LF) business model, which revolves around marketing and openwashing, is draining the life out of Linux

LF Kool-Aid

Summary: Lack of devotion to Linux, the very thing that the LF is named after, is putting the project at peril; Linux is meanwhile, under the auspices of the LF and Microsoft GitHub, becoming IBM™ systemd®

HESITATION to publish this article can be attributed solely to largely speculative remarks about how Linus Torvalds thinks and feels. He has not spoken to me for a long time, though I don’t choose to interpret that as snobbery. I just don’t think he’s free to say as much as he did in the past (we corresponded even before the Linux Foundation existed).

Some time earlier this month (depending on one’s subscription/paywall status) I saw a photograph of Torvalds at LWN. I don’t see many photographs of him anymore even though I read Linux news all day long; he keeps a relatively low profile and he doesn’t make many public appearances any longer. The ‘face of Linux’ has changed. So anyway, earlier this month LWN published an article with the following photograph of Torvalds, who is only in his forties. I don’t want to ‘creep up’ and talk about his personal life, but this made me wonder if Torvalds even leaves the house much (he says he works in a bathrobe; he apparently exercises at home only, or so I’m led to assume because there’s a treadmill there); he looks older than he is in this photo. He looks/seems to have aged faster in recent years. Readers can judge for themselves. This is 2019:

Linus Torvalds 2019

5 years ago (famous picture, mirrored for comparative purposes):

Linus Torvalds 2014

Read the comments in LWN. “Is that really a photo of Torvalds on the left? Jesus, he looks like he has aged like, 20 years since 2012,” says the first comment.

“He’s not wearing glasses, looks like a very different person without them” was the unconvincing first reply. I saw him without eyeglasses many times before.

The next comment said, “bad photograph, perhaps, i saw him in 2018, he looked much younger” and immediately after that: “Was that before he took the politeness training break?”

This refers to the famous incident we’ll come to in a moment.

Out of 8 comments in total only a single comment (the one by Paul McKenney) isn’t about that photograph of Torvalds (and what it says about aging). So people were certainly taken aback.

I personally have a lot of respect for Torvalds. He’s a geek and he’s a hard-working person. Very hard-working. He typically releases Linux and its release candidates on a Sunday, sometimes even late at night or whilst on holiday. That’s dedication. It’s a 30-year (nearly 30) devotion.

Torvalds is in it for Linux.

Zemlin is in it for the money.

Microsoft is in it for sabotage.

“Zemlin is in it for the money.”The Linux Foundation is a facilitator of corporations’ power (including Microsoft’s). It may have outlived its usefulness (long ago). There’s also the IBM factor, which can give room for concern. In the 1980s we had RMS, FSF and his GNU project/manifesto. The 1990s saw media shifting all attention to Torvalds, the ‘new wunderkind’ (child prodigy) on the scene. IBM was happy to boost him as a poster child after he had made a kernel that went well with GNU (he said Linux was nothing professional like GNU). In the 2000s GNU was already ignored; “What’s that,” people might respond. “Oh….. You mean Linux!”

In the 2010s Red Hat was propping up systemd after the ‘Pulseaudio experiment’. It was introduced initially as just an init system (process number one or zero); from “nothing professional like Linux” it’s quickly turning into a replacement to most of Linux. The 2020s, in IBM’s vision (now that it owns Red Hat), might be an IBM-controlled system with very frequent releases of systemd to keep the competition always behind, always chasing IBM.

The LF has had virtually nothing to say about technical aspects and competitive aspects of the above. Nothing. It’s too busy doing what it does best: outsourcing projects to Microsoft (GitHub, where systemd too is hosted).

“Torvalds might not be in real control of the project he started almost 3 decades ago. Maybe he should consider picking his trademark and relocating elsewhere, as he did back in 2007.”Maybe it’s time to begrudgingly reach the conclusion that LF became another OSDL. A lot of people don’t know or don’t remember it, but OSDL was disbanded after it had been mostly abandoned by key Linux people. This is a matter of suppressed public record. They hated the OSDL and thought it went all wrong. It used terms like “IP” to sell services (article by John Oates), it wanted its own ‘GitHub’ (article by Ingrid Marson), it wanted Microsoft Office, and it was generally getting close to Microsoft. Sounds familiar? To quote Slashdot: “Martin Taylor, Microsoft’s general manager of platform strategy, declined to comment on the specifics of what was discussed when he met with OSDL’s CEO Stuart Cohen, only to say that they met.”

Readers have long told us that Torvalds went sort of silent or at least quiet after serving some time in the ‘penalty box’ one year ago (due to a media lynch akin to that which ousted Richard Stallman; he’s being pressured to be more 'corporate' (a 'socially-engineered' Torvalds), never use strong words, or else risk ousting). Judging by the photo above (it’s public), he might not be all that happy either. Torvalds might not be in real control of the project he started almost 3 decades ago. Maybe he should consider picking his trademark and relocating elsewhere, as he did back in 2007. Jim Zemlin and his corporate friends can carry on running their PR agency under a different name. Maybe they’ll even be asked, belatedly, to pay their taxes (if the IRS reassesses their status). “Not under my name…”

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