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Linux 'Code of Conduct' is neither Code nor Conduct

There is a patch that has landed in the Linux 4.0 kernel release that is intended to be a 'Code of Conduct' for Linux kernel developers.

The challenge in my view, is that that there is no code or real conduct in the patch. Rather the patch is a comment for process. The code commit states:

If however, anyone feels personally abused, threatened, or otherwise uncomfortable due to this process, that is not acceptable. If so,please contact the Linux Foundation's Technical Advisory Board at <tab@lists.linux-foundation.org>, or the individual members, and they will work to resolve the issue to the best of their ability."

So if there is an issue, the process is to email the complaint to the Linux Foundation. I contacted the Linux Foundation directly to find out what the specific remediation process is for a complaint. TL;dr version is I didn't receive a reply with comments on the actual process.

No that's not necessarily a bad thing. Though IMHO the Code of Conduct doesn't actually provide a 'bona-fide' code of conduct, it does what Linux does best - it provides a loose framework for how things should work.

Instead of a rigid code, the comment encourages devs to 'be excellent to each other.'

Much like the Linux kernel development process itself has evolved as a function of development, I suspect the code of conduct will be the same. That is to say it will be self-regulating without some kind of rigid system of policies.

The simple truth is that the vast majority of Linux kernel development is done by those that work for companies. Since LKML is all in the open, and it's clear to see who works for whom, I suspect that various corporate masters already have policies in place as well.

So while the Linux Code of Conduct really doesn't have much in the way of explicit 'teeth', it's representative of how Kernel development has always been done - that is, it just gets done.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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