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Linus Torvalds suspends key Linux developer

Rare and dramatic step

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An argument between developers of some of the most basic parts of Linux turned heated this week, resulting in a prominent Red Hat employee and code contributor being banned from working on the Linux kernel.

Kay Sievers, a well-known open-source software engineer, is a key developer of systemd, a system management framework for Linux-based operating systems. Systemd is currently used by several prominent Linux distributions, including two of the most prominent enterprise distros, Red Hat and SUSE. It was recently announced that Ubuntu would adopt systemd in future versions as well.

Sievers was banned by kernel maintainer Linus Torvalds on Wednesday for failing to address an issue that caused systemd to interact with the Linux kernel in negative ways. Specifically, the command line entry "debug" ran both the base kernel's debugging routine and that of systemd, potentially flooding some systems.

Torvalds bashed Sievers for lacking responsibility in a mailing list message. "Key[sic], I'm [expletive] tired of the fact that you don't fix problems in the code *you* write, so that the kernel then has to work around the problems you cause," he wrote.

Torvalds went on to state that "this has been going on for *years*," and said that he will refuse to accept patches from Sievers until Sievers cleans up his act.

Sievers could not be reached for comment at the time this article was published.

Linux's inventor is also the main overseer of the kernel, and he has long been known for his combustible style of communication. Torvalds famously used expletives in referring to former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney as well as companies that displease him, like Nvidia. He has even instructed some security developers to "kill yourselves."

Style aside, however, his complaint about systemd has been widely echoed in the Linux world, with prominent contributors like Ingo Molnar, slamming the "excessively passive/aggressive" attitude of the project's maintainers.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.



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