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posted by martyb on Wednesday October 30 2019, @11:07AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the programming...people dept.

Submitted via IRC for soylent_blue

Linus Torvalds: 'I'm not a programmer anymore'

Linus Torvalds, Linux's creator, doesn't make speeches anymore. But, what he does do, and he did again at Open Source Summit Europe in Lyon France is have public conversations with his friend Dirk Hohndel, VMware's Chief Open Source Officer. In this keynote discussion, Torvalds revealed that he doesn't think he's a programmer anymore.

So what does the person everyone thinks of as a programmer's programmer do instead? Torvalds explained:

I don't know coding at all anymore. Most of the code I write is in my e-mails. So somebody sends me a patch ... I [reply with] pseudo code. I'm so used to editing patches now I sometimes edit patches and send out the patch without having ever tested it. I literally wrote it in the mail and say, 'I think this is how it should be done,' but this is what I do, I am not a programmer.

So, Hohndel asked, "What is your job?" Torvalds replied, "I read and write a lot of email. My job really is, in the end, is to say 'no.' Somebody has to say 'no' to [this patch or that pull request]. And because developers know that if they do something that I'll say 'no' to, they do a better job of writing the code."

Torvalds continued, "Sometimes the code changes are so obvious that no messages [are] really required, but that is very very rare." To help your code pass muster with Torvalds it helps to ''explain why the code does something and why some change is needed because that in turn helps the managerial side of the equation, where if you can explain your code to me, I will trust the code."

In short, these days Torvalds is a code manager and maintainer, not a developer. That's fine with him: "I see one of my primary goals to be very responsive when people send me patches. I want to be like, I say yes or no within a day or two. During a merge, the day or two may stretch into a week, but I want to be there all the time as a maintainer."

That's what code maintainers should do.


Original Submission

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Linus Torvalds On The Importance Of ECC RAM, Calls Out Intel's "Bad Policies" Over ECC 99 comments

Linus Torvalds On The Importance Of ECC RAM, Calls Out Intel's "Bad Policies" Over ECC

There's nothing quite like some fun holiday-weekend reading as a fiery mailing list post by Linus Torvalds. The Linux creator is out with one of his classical messages, which this time is arguing over the importance of ECC memory and his opinion on how Intel's "bad policies" and market segmentation have made ECC memory less widespread.

Linus argues that error-correcting code (ECC) memory "absolutely matters" but that "Intel has been instrumental in killing the whole ECC industry with it's horribly bad market segmentation... Intel has been detrimental to the whole industry and to users because of their bad and misguided policies wrt ECC. Seriously...The arguments against ECC were always complete and utter garbage... Now even the memory manufacturers are starting [to] do ECC internally because they finally owned up to the fact that they absolutely have to. And the memory manufacturers claim it's because of economics and lower power. And they are lying bastards - let me once again point to row-hammer about how those problems have existed for several generations already, but these f*ckers happily sold broken hardware to consumers and claimed it was an "attack", when it always was "we're cutting corners"."

Ian Cutress from AnandTech points out in a reply that AMD's Ryzen ECC support is not as solid as believed.

Related: Linus Torvalds: 'I'm Not a Programmer Anymore'
Linus Torvalds Rejects "Beyond Stupid" Intel Security Patch From Amazon Web Services
Linus Torvalds: Don't Hide Rust in Linux Kernel; Death to AVX-512
Linus Torvalds Doubts Linux will Get Ported to Apple M1 Hardware


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @11:28AM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @11:28AM (#913659)

    "I Am Not Famous Anymore".

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday October 30 2019, @01:37PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 30 2019, @01:37PM (#913687) Journal

      He's still and probably always will be famous.

      He just doesn't get so much attention anymore.

      --
      You can not have fun on the weak days but you can on the weakened.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @02:30PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @02:30PM (#913709)

      No, this is just normal career progression. You do most of your learning and wrench turning when you are early in your career. Late in your career you're managing projects that you've developed or have put in charge of because of the knowledge and experience you've built up, but that takes a lot of work, so you have junior people working for you. I've heard many people complain that all they do is PowerPoint and try to bring in more work instead of "real work".

      It is a bit of an extreme example, but most of the first dozen or more names on a LIGO or LHC paper (unless they're listed alphabetically, of course) have not done "real work" in many years, if you define "real work" to be soldering up detector wires or writing and processing code for data analysis. But, they direct at a higher level and get the satisfaction of setting the direction and goals of the project, which can be very satisfying. However, they also spend a lot of time selling the program, writing proposals, managing schedules and budgets, etc.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by HiThere on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:28PM (2 children)

        by HiThere (866) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:28PM (#913774) Journal

        I'd say, personally, that there are strong reasons why he *should* work that way. I know that I, personally, am no longer as good a programmer as I once was. I can't hold as much code in my head at once, and need to keep referring back to what I've just written. The eventual code is still as good (AFAIKT), but it takes a lot longer for anything long...and I need to document the code while I am writing it rather than later. (OTOH, documentation for my own use is significantly different from documentation for users. And documentation of private and local variables is necessary unless their use is both really local and trivial.)

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @06:09PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @06:09PM (#913814)

          Aren't you? With age and experience comes a tendency to second-think your code generation, I think for the better. I know that I can't (won't) hack something together the way I could (did) when I was 12, but overall what I write now is much more reliable and maintainable.

          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Thursday October 31 2019, @02:40AM

            by HiThere (866) on Thursday October 31 2019, @02:40AM (#914001) Journal

            At 50 that was true. Perhaps at 60. Not these days. Short term memory declines. It's not noticeable if I'm not doing something like programming, and I'm probably still better at it than most, but I'm no longer even nearly as good as I was. Small pieces I might be better at, and overall design, but not large chunks of detail. I need to go over those again and again, and still depend on a debugger and assertions to catch slips I shouldn't have made.

            --
            Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Wednesday October 30 2019, @01:42PM (6 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @01:42PM (#913689)

    True, while he's no longer getting his hands dirty with coding on PCs with 4MBs of RAM and simple libraries and tools, Torvalds is still having fun.

    So his idea of fun is answering emails all day every day, and suggesting pseudo-code to developers who are still sharp? Shit, I guess he hasn't reached the final stage yet - which is to be completely fed up with computers and get out of this stupid job to do something else more rewarding. Me, I've never been as famous as he is and never will be, but I reached that stage 15 years ago. I don't want anything to do with computers anymore: the excitement of one's early years in this business is quickly replaced by the grind, and the unending litany of the same stupid issues cropping up again and again.

    I guess Torvalds can't let go of his baby that made him famous. But I can't imagine he's still really having fun maintaining it...

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @02:11PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @02:11PM (#913700)

      Linus doesn't have incompetent management holding him down. That's the difference between him and the rest of us.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:54PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:54PM (#913762)

      Like another poster, I actually feel bad for him. I've been looking for a development job for a few years and what I see is that there are basically three types. Juniors, managing juniors, and janitors cleaning up after the other two. There seems to be no room for experts and experts aren't going to be happy in any of the other types.

      Apply for a job as a junior and you'll constantly be fought against by those who feel threatened that you know something they don't (ie everybody).
      Apply for a job managing juniors and you'll just be frustrated to no end at what they can't do and having to be responsible for the results.
      The most dangerous, though, is landing in a janitorial job, because you'll never get out. Nobody respects the janitor. Not at the job where you're cleaning up an endless stream of messes, not at a prospective job where you're selling that as experience. You're fucked. Either figure out how to sell your own software or go stock shelves at Target.

      At least Linus has the money that Linux brought/brings in. Still needing to work and not being able to find anything worth doing is making me consider jumping off a bridge.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:59PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:59PM (#913765)

        Still needing to work and not being able to find anything worth doing is making me consider jumping off a bridge.

        Gather up your life savings, buy supplies, and live in a shack in the woods. Hunt and eat deer, wolves, bears, etc.

        • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:38PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:38PM (#913777)

          Don't limit yourself. Hunt and eat deer, wolves, bears, tourists, etc.

          • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @08:33PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @08:33PM (#913862)

            Don't limit yourself. Hunt and eat deer, wolves, bears, tourists, etc.

            No no no no no, the tourists are there for the bears and wolves to eat...you don't want to be catching anything sketchy by directly hunting and eating the buggers directly...best let the bears and wolves convert the long pig into bear and wolf and hunt them, butt naked, using only a Swiss army knife...

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31 2019, @12:25PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31 2019, @12:25PM (#914087)

              That's not very eco-friendly. Do you know how many tourists it takes to grow a bear or wolf to full size, and what the carbon footprint of that many tourists is? It is much better to eat the tourists directly.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @02:01PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @02:01PM (#913695)

    My job really is, in the end, is to say 'no.'

    But he couldn't say 'no' to the CoC.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @02:49PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @02:49PM (#913719)

      Once you suck a CoC, you'll always be a CoCsucker.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:02PM (#913726)

        The manslut Linus Torvalds has fun maintaining his crumbling empire. Fun with a gun to his head.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by epitaxial on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:05PM

      by epitaxial (3165) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:05PM (#913729)

      Linux is a business now, deal with it. This all came about for two reasons. First, people are incapable of keeping their mouth shut and focusing on the task at hand. Second this is to protect against lawsuits. It was only a matter of time until things escalated from idiots name calling to lawyering up. I'll also chalk up tribalism as a partial cause. In today's world there is no middle ground or respected difference of opinion. Look at the current political landscape.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday October 30 2019, @05:19PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @05:19PM (#913796) Journal

      But he couldn't say 'no' to the CoC.

      Neither could we.

      SoylentNews Moderation CoC [soylentnews.org]
      SoylentNews Submission CoC [soylentnews.org]

      Writing down the rules hurts muh freedum!!!!

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by looorg on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:17PM (5 children)

    by looorg (578) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:17PM (#913734)

    I normally wouldn't care or give a damn about Linus but now I actually feel a little sad for him. He gone from creator to icon and now he is left answering token emails and making decisions (aka management). That said he made a good life for himself from something that started out as a little fun project in Finland.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by janrinok on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:50PM (4 children)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:50PM (#913758) Journal

      That said he made a good life for himself

      He also made a pretty good OS that many of us use today. I am grateful for that, but 'Somebody' has to lead.....

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @08:05PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @08:05PM (#913848)

        I am not that pedantic gnu zealot but he only created a kernel. If it weren't for Linux we would have had Hurd with all that mind share and it was a big deal to license it under gpl, but he didn't make an os.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31 2019, @04:11AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31 2019, @04:11AM (#914024)

          What's stopping the FSF from making the superior GNU Hurd? It's only been DECADES already.
          They should form a procrastinators' club with the Perl people.

      • (Score: 2) by epitaxial on Thursday October 31 2019, @12:25AM (1 child)

        by epitaxial (3165) on Thursday October 31 2019, @12:25AM (#913949)

        Hey BSD, is that you hiding over there?

        • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Thursday October 31 2019, @06:19AM

          by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Thursday October 31 2019, @06:19AM (#914048) Journal
          I'm not saying he made the only OS - but his kernel work is still significant.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bradley13 on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:08PM (5 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:08PM (#913770) Homepage Journal

    I think every technical person reaches a time where they lose some of the joy of tech. I used to stay up-to-date on as many different aspects of tech as I could. I was actively using multiple programming langauges, keeping up with the latest hardware news. Always updating to the latest OS, database server, playing with admin tools, etc, etc, etc, etc...

    Eventually, sometime in my late 40s, I started to find the continual changes irritating rather than interesting. Yet another JS framework, whoopie. Why, exactly, did PHP need to add OO? Wow, another set of oddball codes added to the already overloaded x86 instruction set. Why do we need JSON when we have XML? More junk added to CSS that violates the original principles of the web. Yet another arcane UI designed at 3am by a stoner, ugh. On top of that, many of the changes are re-inventing the wheel, by clever young folk who don't know what came before. This is especially true when it comes to things where consultants earn their bucks - project management methodologies and the like. They've all been done before, in trivially different ways, with different terminology for the same concepts.

    Some people get fed up with the hamster wheel earlier, others seem to manage to avoid it until much later. Give me something genuinely new, and I'm there and interested. Give me fake-functional programming in Java, or some other poorly conceived idea, and...yawn.

    Another problem is, of course, that no employer pays for you to stay current, at least, not outside the tech you use in your job. That means that this is your free time. If you have a family, if you have other hobbies, there just aren't enough hours in the day to keep it up. Eventually, you're going to burn out, or you're going to lose touch. The pace of change is relentless, and mostly useless...

    Now, get off my lawn.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by acid andy on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:52PM

      by acid andy (1683) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:52PM (#913787) Homepage Journal

      On top of that, many of the changes are re-inventing the wheel, by clever young folk who don't know what came before. This is especially true when it comes to things where consultants earn their bucks - project management methodologies and the like. They've all been done before, in trivially different ways, with different terminology for the same concepts.

      This has to be one of the most irritating attributes of the industry. The hundreds of person-years, the billions of dollars that must get wasted on reimplementing the exact same functionality using some new fad technology (which itself is probably just a bit of lipstick and some different buzzwords put on an older technology), over and over again.

      I'd say a good 50-60% of software development work is therefore like getting paid to dig holes and fill them in again. But management seem to fall for it, again and again. On the plus side, I suppose at least that kind of work is doing less damage to the environment than someone working in manufacturing or the mining industry, although there is the wasted electricity of running all the computers.

      --
      Master of the science of the art of the science of art.
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by acid andy on Wednesday October 30 2019, @05:09PM

      by acid andy (1683) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @05:09PM (#913793) Homepage Journal

      I'd also add that these religious obsessions with reinventing libraries, languages and methodologies without adding any genuinely new power to what came before are probably the mark of a bad software developer. A good coder can see if programs written using two different technologies are functionally equivalent--and if they both compile to equivalent machine code then all that is left to differentiate them is higher level things like readability, type safety, expressive power, and how experienced a team is with that language.

      I can see a case for the development of new languages, or libraries, to improve security, take better advantage of parallelism, or support new technologies like quantum computing. If on the other hand it's just a new flavor of the same old stuff, as far as I'm concerned it's just an excuse to boast and to sell books, software licenses and training courses.

      --
      Master of the science of the art of the science of art.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @07:28PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @07:28PM (#913836)

      This is especially true when it comes to things where consultants earn their bucks - project management methodologies and the like. They've all been done before, in trivially different ways, with different terminology for the same concepts.

      Good God, we're living this annoyance. My wife has been project managing for almost 30 years, but now all jobs require a PMP Certification. It's the new fad for program managers. It is the MCSE certificate of program management. It is all run by a company that charges you a lot of money to take a course and test to be "certified", and this certification is only good for a limited amount of time before you have to pay them again to be certified. It is a huge scam, but I guess now that Management probably burned out on "black belts" and other nonsense, they have moved on to this scam.

      She now has to decide whether to play the game or say "fuck off".

      • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Thursday October 31 2019, @12:45PM (1 child)

        by deimtee (3272) on Thursday October 31 2019, @12:45PM (#914089) Journal

        Get a few friends together, start up the Project Masters Institute and issue your own certifications.

        Now, for testing : Ask her for a sandwich.
        - If it's a good sandwich, make her a Project Management Professional
        - If it's a crappy sandwich make her a Project Management Consultant
        - If she gets the kids to make it, make her a Manager of Project Management Professionals.
        - If you get a beer with it, make her Supreme Master of Project Management
        - If you don't get a sandwich, make her an MBA.

        --
        No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
        • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Thursday October 31 2019, @07:33PM

          by krishnoid (1156) on Thursday October 31 2019, @07:33PM (#914296)

          What if you get a burrito or a hot dog?

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