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Kernel: Media Having Another Go at Linus Ahead of 5.13 Release (and Some Other News)

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  • Linus Torvalds, the combative creator of Linux, canceled himself to become a nicer person. Now he's in a race against time to save his legacy.

    The list of scathing messages that Linus Torvalds has written over the years is so rich and colorful that there's an entire subreddit devoted to the topic.

    "Mauro, SHUT THE F--- UP!" Torvalds, the famed creator of the Linux operating system, wrote publicly to a software developer in 2012, calling the hapless recipient's opinion "garbage and idiocy."

    "The above code is s---, and it generates s--- code," Torvalds rebuked a different colleague working on Linux, while blasting the work of yet another because "I expect *some* quality control, and this piece-of-s--- driver has clearly seen none at all."

    He's attacked tech giants like Intel, wondering whether the company is "committed to selling you s--- forever and ever, and never fixing anything?" When the graphics chipmaker Nvidia ran afoul of Torvalds one time, he said simply: "f--- you."

    As Torvalds labored over the wording of an important announcement in 2018 though, he was gripped with doubt and self-consciousness. Nearly three decades after creating the software that made him famous, revered and feared, Torvalds — on the advice of a few close friends — was temporarily stepping away to "get help on how to behave differently."

    "I am not an emotionally empathetic kind of person," Torvalds would acknowledge in the 989-word public apology.


    "We are aging, and we need to bring people into the community as quickly as possible to replace these old hats," Miller said.

    When I asked Torvalds about how several developers said the Linux community was getting older, he said that he's "actually not very concerned about that." While kernel maintainers used to skew young — Torvalds himself was 21 — it's been three decades, and many of these people have stuck around.

    "It's absolutely true that the kernel maintainers are getting older - it seems to happen to all of us, with each of us being a year older every year," Torvalds said. "Some of us get fatter too, while others have thinning hair."

    Linux has "plateaued" in growth though, Torvalds acknowledges. While the project has a "healthy development pace," it's not "accelerating," he said. Still, Linux does releases every two to three months, with 1,500 to 2,000 developers involved in each, and he's comfortable with where the project is in terms of size and growth.

    Linux's reputation for not being inclusive might also deter newcomers. They might be intimidated, or even "mortified," about developing for the kernel, Miller said. And they're not going to stick around if they don't feel like they're being treated nicely, said Axboe, who has been actively recruiting new graduates at Facebook to work on the kernel.

    "As you go into decade one or two or three, to make the project survive and thrive over time, you need to bring fresh, new blood," Axboe said. "A caustic environment or reputation for being caustic is not conducive to bringing younger people into the fold."

    Perhaps the biggest question is what will happen to Linux when Torvalds steps down.

    Torvalds expects that Linux would go in a similar direction as the Python programming language. After the Python creator Guido van Rossum stepped away from day-to-day involvement, a steering committee was created to oversee things.

    "Yes, we have several high profile maintainers, but if I suddenly went away, there's a wide and deep set of people who could maintain Linux," Torvalds said.

    "There would be politics, there would be some infighting, but the chaos would very much be temporary."

    At least, that's what Torvald hopes.

  • Linux's New "randomize_kstack_offset" Security Feature Having Minimal Performance Impact - Phoronix

    Of the many new features in Linux 5.13 one of the prominent security features is the ability to randomize the kernel stack offset at each system call. With Linux 5.13 stable imminent, here are some performance benchmarks of the impact from enabling this security feature.

    Linux 5.13 has the ability to randomize the kernel stack offset per system call to make it more difficult for attackers to achieve stack-based attacks on the kernel for those exploits relying on stack determinism. This mainline kernel feature was inspired by PaX's existing "RANDKSTACK" while the actual implementation differs.

  • Mesa's Exciting Milestones So Far In 2021 From Zink To Great Intel/AMD Open-Source Work - Phoronix

    With the half-way point for the year upon us, here is a look back at the most exciting Mesa open-source graphics driver news so far in 2021 with exciting contributions from Microsoft, AMD and Intel continuing to be the most open-source friendly graphics vendors, Zink making remarkable progress for OpenGL over Vulkan, performance optimizations galore, more embedded Vulkan drivers coming about, and other milestones for open-source Linux graphics.

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