This article will likely contain some software concepts not clear to some members of our community. While some effort has been made to explain these concepts there is a limit to what can be done within the confines of a single article. If any software concepts are unclear feel free to raise this in the comments. –Ed
This article discusses the recent Linux Code of Conduct controversy. I want everyone to know why this is important to all of us.
I’m an MRA, anti-feminist and actively fight against political correctness and identity politics. I’ve also been active in the FOSS (free and open source software) community and been using & administering Linux systems for 24 years. I have also held positions of responsibility within the FOSS community over the years.
It is important to clarify at this point what Linux is and is not. Linux is central to FOSS today. Linux refers specifically to a piece of software known as the kernel. The kernel is the core of any operating system and arguably the most important component. The kernel is essentially invisible to most people using a computer but it is a complex piece of software that users rely on to get even the simplest tasks done. The term Linux is sometimes used to refer to any operating system built on top of the kernel but in this article refers only to the kernel itself.
FOSS runs the world. That’s the reality. Even Linux itself is largely dominant today. A variant of Linux powers Android phones (more on that later). Linux dominates the server market. A high proportion of routers (used to move data around on the Internet) use Linux. A high proportion of embedded devices run Linux too. Even Microsoft’s Azure cloud solution is beginning to be dominated by Linux and this trend is continuing. The site top500.org is a list of the 500 most powerful computers on Earth. The first Linux system appeared on this list in 1998. As of 2017 all 500 of the most powerful systems on Earth are running Linux.
I have watched with concern as SJWs extend their reach into the FOSS community. Like many communities before it, SJWs demanded a seat at the table. Once they got it they started demanding special treatment for certain groups and to dictate the terms of the conversation.
In 2015 a prominent member of the FOSS community, Eric S Raymond, stated that he had information that some members of the women-in-tech group the Ada Initiative were attempting to trap prominent men in the FOSS community with false sexual assault allegations. It is also claimed that Linus Torvalds, the founder of the Linux project, is aware of these risks and is never alone at FOSS events. Interestingly the Ada Initiative was shutdown a few weeks before these allegations were made. Raymond went on to warn about the growing presence of SJWs in the FOSS world but was largely ignored.
The Linux project has recently adopted a new Code of Conduct (CoC) called the Contributor Covenant. Those behind the CoC, such as Coraline Ada Ehmke, specifically reject meritocracy as flawed. They admit that FOSS is a meritocracy today. They are by their own admission seeking the change the fundamental nature of FOSS. The new CoC also draws heavily on identity politics as can be seen in the first paragraph when it singles out groups based on physical characteristics for special consideration. The Contributor Covenant has apparently already been adopted by 40,000 FOSS projects.
In 2015 we also saw an example of how a CoC like this can be applied in practice. Elia Schito, a developer for the Opal FOSS project expressed an opinion that was considered to be transphobic by Ehmke. Ehmke then filed a bug report with the project insisting that Schito be removed from the project. With a CoC like the Contributor Covenant it is very likely that Schito would have been removed from the project.
This pattern will be familiar to readers of AVfM as we know that SJWs demand orthodoxy in all areas of life. They do not accept that people may express opinions that they do not agree with. People who do so must be punished.
Anyone who believes they are being marginalised in a FOSS project, or the project is not going in the direction they want is free to fork the project. People not familiar with FOSS may be unaccustomed to the idea of a fork but many projects have used this approach successfully to resolve technical and serious interpersonal problems in a FOSS project. A fork involves a complete copy of the source code being taken and copied to a new project with a new name and possibly new leadership and rules. There is no need for anyone to try to impose their own will on others in a FOSS project because any person is always free to fork a project and take it in a new direction. Android is a fork of Linux.
A suggestion has been made that developers who are ejected from the Linux project as a result of the CoC could revoke the licences to use their code within Linux. It is this that has been the focus of recent news coverage on the Linux CoC. When someone contributes code to Linux they (or their employer) retain copyright to the code. It was first proposed to me more than 20 years ago that FOSS code already submitted could have its licence revoked by the copyright holder, so this is not a new idea. It is, however, a distraction from the real issues.
The presence of SJWs within the FOSS world and their rejection of meritocracy still needs to be addressed as this is the real problem. Until they are stopped they will continue to try to dominate the FOSS community as they have so many others. For this reason, all FOSS projects should reject any CoC that draws from identity politics and is associated with a rejection of meritocracy.
Buoyed by the wide acceptance of the CoC we will see, in time, SJWs demand stronger and stronger measures to increase their control of FOSS projects. It is only a matter of time before they demand quotas within projects for certain identity groups. Because of the importance of FOSS in the modern world this is a danger to us all.
Cover image depicts Linus Torvalds done in a graffiti style. Presented at the “Abode of Chaos” museum of contemporary art, in France. Resized and cut for use on this site. Licenced under CC-BY-2.0