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How bad a boss is Linus Torvalds?

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | Nov. 12, 2015
It depends on context. In the world of software development, he’s what passes for normal. The question is whether that situation should be allowed to continue.

That’s not a communication style that works for me. …

Many senior Linux kernel developers stand by the right of maintainers to be technically and personally brutal. Even if they are very nice people in person, they do not want to see the Linux kernel communication style change.

She’s right.

Where I differ from other observers is that I don’t think that this problem is in any way unique to Linux or open-source communities. With five years of work in the technology business and 25 years as a technology journalist, I’ve seen this kind of immature boy behavior everywhere.

It’s not Torvalds’ fault. He’s a technical leader with a vision, not a manager. The real problem is that there seems to be no one in the software development universe who can set a supportive tone for teams and communities.

Looking ahead, I hope that companies and organizations, such as the Linux Foundation, can find a way to empower community managers or other managers to encourage and enforce civil behavior.

We won’t, unfortunately, find that kind of managerial finesse in our pure technical or business leaders. It’s not in their DNA.


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