Linux founder, Linus Torvalds Says “I do no coding at all anymore,” I just read and write emails now
Linus Torvalds the founder of Linux and often called the father of Linux is no longer involved in programming. In fact, he says the only code he writes is inside his emails. In an interview with Dirk Hondell, VP, VMware, Linux founder discussed his role at Linux Foundation and the working of Linux Kernel.
Most Linux fanbois would have bet big time on Torvalds coding ferociously for the new Linux Kernel but that is exactly what he is not doing. Torvalds told Hondell that he’s no longer coding at all. When asked what he does now, Torvalds said he spends most of the time answering emails on his email app which includes a fair bit of code.
“I read email, I write an email, I do no coding at all anymore,” he told Hondell. “Most of the code I write, I actually write inside my mail reader. So somebody sends me a patch, or more commonly they send me a pull request or there’s a discussion about the next pull request, and there’s something I react to and say, ‘No, this is fine, but…’ And I send out pseudocode, or — I’m so used to sending out patches that I sometimes edit patches and send out the patch without having ever compiled it, ever tested it, because I literally wrote it in the mail reader, and saying ‘I think this is how it should be done.’ But this is what I do. I’m not a programmer anymore.”
Torvalds, who has been a preacher of open source and the one who took on Microsoft in the 1990s and 2000s says that now his work is to just decide. Yes and No are the only decisions he takes nowadays via email is essential.
And he says no a lot. Last month, he pulled a plug on a patch for Linux Kernel developed by an AWS engineer. Beyond Stupid is what he called a patch from AWS engineer Balbir Singh that supposed to provide “an opt-in (prctl driven) mechanism to flush the L1D cache on context switch. The patch was supposed to be included in the Linux 5.8 but Linux Torvalds put his foot down and removed it.
“I read a lot more email than I write, because what my job really is — in the end, my job is to say no. Somebody has to be able to say no to people. Because other developers know that if they do something bad, I will say no. They hopefully, in turn, are more careful. But in order to be able to say no, I have to know the background. Because otherwise I can’t do my job. So I spend all my time, basically, reading email about what people are working on… It is an interesting job, but you do end up spending most of your time reading email,” he says.
Tune in to Linux founder in conversation with Dirk Hohndel at the Open Source Summit and Embedded Linux Conference: Europe in the video below: