Linus Torvalds apologizes for years of being a jerk, takes time off to learn empathy

Linus Torvalds flips off Nvidia. (credit: aaltouniversityace)

Linux creator Linus Torvalds has apologized for years of rants, swearing, and general hostility directed at other Linux developers, saying he’s going to take a temporary break from his role as maintainer of the open source kernel to learn how to behave better.

For many years, Torvalds has been infamous for his expletive-filled, aggressive outbursts on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML), chewing out developers who submit patches that he believes aren’t up to the standards necessary for the kernel. He’s defended this behavior in the face of pushback from other developers, insisting that people being nice to one another was an American ideology.

But that may be coming to an end. In a lengthy email posted to the LKML on Sunday night, Torvalds expressed a change of heart. Taken to task over attacks that he recognizes were “unprofessional and uncalled for,” he says he now recognizes that his behavior was “not OK” and he is “truly sorry.” He’s going to step back from kernel development for a while—something he’s done before while developing the Git source control system—so that he can “get help on how to behave differently.”

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