GNUStep Maintainer Whines About Linux and Linus

Here’s a big bunch of boo hoo from Greg Casamento, maintainer of GNUStep. He starts off by saying:

I must admit to getting really fed up with the Linux community lately. They seem to believe that their hero, Linus Torvalds, can do nothing wrong.

I don’t know where this comes from. Perhaps Mr Casamento has missed out on the scheduler debate that caused Con Kolivas to head for the hills and put down the direction of personal computers. Now, if Casamento had written this about Kolivas and his supporters, I would be able to agree. But to say that Linus gets a free pass from everyone is total bullshit. Linus is still taking shit over that.

He continues:

For anyone who can’t think for themselves, yes, his opinion really counts. I, personally, like to form my own opinions of things. While Linux has been seized upon by people as a great operating system. The only good thing about it is that it’s free. Linux is a monolithic kernel architecture which, as many operating systems experts will tell you, has number of problems.

Again, I wonder if Mr Casamento has ever bothered reading the discussions in which Torvalds participates. It’s not like there’s a lack of opinions among kernel developers. Or users. There’s often very wide open debate about issues pertaining to the direction of Linux development.

I don’t know how much Casamento knows about kernels, either. Kernel designs encompass many compromises. Monolithic kernels can have as many problems as microkernels and vice versa. Microkernels have their own peculiarities. In the grand scheme of things, look at the different operating systems and take note that every major operating system — Windows, Linux, the BSDs, Solaris, etc. — is based on a monolithic kernel. Also note that the existing microkernel operating systems — BeOS, Haiku, and Minix — are marginal in their acceptance if they’re even actively developed (Be went out of business years ago). So again I say, total bullshit, Mr Casamento.

EDIT: I earlier included Mac in the list of monolithic kernels. I know Apple uses a hybrid kernel, not a pure microkernel.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that he’s some kind of visionary, when he’s not. The man never says anything positive about anyone else’s work.

I don’t know if these two sentences are intended to be together, but the former has nothing to do with the latter. Visionaries seldom see the merit of others’ work, they’re driven by the pursuit of their own visions. And Linus’ own vision was always very clear. Say what you want about his people skills, Mr Casamento, but I don’t think yours are much better. And Linus is smarter than you.

As far as projects and leadership go: Linux is his, GNUStep is yours. How many organizations and individuals use Linux? How many organizations and individuals use GNUStep?

I find it really tiring to listen to him rail on everything under the sun… speaking of Sun. Linus railed against them for not giving anything to the community….

“Railed” is interesting given the baseless assertions you leveled above. In this case, Linus is right: Sun wants it both ways. They want to be able to use drivers from Linux without making dtrace and zfs available to anyone else.

let’s examine that assertion for a minute: Sun has: 1) Given it’s OS out under a Free Software license

Under CDDL. It’s not as free as GPLv2. And even though Sun participated in GPLv3’s drafting, they’ve yet to release OpenSolaris under it. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. And be sure to specify exactly which OS they released. They didn’t open all of Solaris under a free license. Did they?

2) Given it’s Processor out under the GPL

Linus, IIRC, has been very supportive of this.

3) Released Open Office under the GPL

Again, I think Linus’ interest is in what Sun intends to do with ZFS and dtrace.

4) Is in the process of releasing Java under the GPL.

Yes. Finally. When will they release OpenSolaris, ZFS, and dtrace under GPL? Or relicense the latter two in such a manner that they’re GPL-compatible?

Casamento continues:

He regularly criticizes RMS.

And rightly so. RMS is an absolutist, a puritan, impractical, dogmatic. Linus is very pragmatic.

I don’t agree with everything RMS says, but some of the things that Linus dings him on are completely assinine.

Such as? Such as this, Mr Casamento:

The GPLv2 was created before certain technologies existed. The GPLv3 was made to address the problems these new technologies present… and keeps with the spirit of the GPLv2. Linus is too blind to see this.

Linus’ position (and mine — read my posts categorized under FSF sucks) is that GPLv3 exceeds what’s necessary to protect his and other programmers’ interests. GPLv3 tries to fix what’s not broken. It goes beyond software to encompass data (there were data before GPL) and hardware (also pre-dates GPL). Linus said those are areas that don’t affect his kernel or his license and won’t change his mind.

I don’t know what Casamento thinks Linus doesn’t understand, but I would say from everything I’ve read that Linus understands the differences and the underlying reasons for the changes in GPL pretty well — if he doesn’t, I’m sure he has people around him to help advise him (not to mention all the FSF types flooding him with e-mails about changing licenses). Linus said he’s not interested in Stallman’s war on DRM. Linus also said that TiVo has played fair and contributed back to Linux development as they were obligated under GPLv2. If he’s happy with GPLv2 — and it’s worked out quite well for him — why should be feel compelled to change?

I’m sure I’ll be dismissed as one of the sycophants Casamento ranted about. That’s fair. I’ve been called a lot worse.

PS: I just tried to post a comment on Mr Casamento’s blog to summarize and share these thoughts but I would have to get a blogger account.

EDIT (Sat Mar 27 09:25:20 CDT 2010): Struck last lines (before the postscript); see comments.

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3 Responses to “GNUStep Maintainer Whines About Linux and Linus”

  1. bheron Says:

    While I did read this article years ago when it first came out I didn’t reply to it because it required me to get a wordpress account (note your objection to getting a blogger account… there’s a reason I didn’t leave comments open since blogger sucks at filtering spam).

    “I don’t know how much Casamento knows about kernels, either. Kernel designs encompass many compromises. Monolithic kernels can have as many problems as microkernels and vice versa. Microkernels have their own peculiarities. In the grand scheme of things, look at the different operating systems and take note that every major operating system — Windows, Linux, the BSDs, Solaris, etc. — is based on a monolithic kernel. Also note that the existing microkernel operating systems — BeOS, Haiku, and Minix — are marginal in their acceptance if they’re even actively developed (Be went out of business years ago). So again I say, total bullshit, Mr Casamento.”

    I am aware of the tradeoffs of building an operating system kernel having actually written one in college when working on my CS degree. So while I may not be as knowledgable about it as some, I’m certainly not clueless.

    Also, success in business *does not* mean technical superiority by a longshot. If technical superiority meant success in the marketplace we would all be using Amigas or NeXT machines these days instead of cheap PCs.

    “As far as projects and leadership go: Linux is his, GNUStep is yours. How many organizations and individuals use Linux? How many organizations and individuals use GNUStep?”

    At the time this article was written I had been the lead of GNUstep for less than a year. GNUstep is not mine, I have not been responsible as project lead for it’s entire existence. GNUstep is a community. Also… comparing GNUstep to an OS is comparing apples to oranges (no pun inteded ;)) and is hardly fair. I know GNUstep isn’t as widely used as it should be, that’s why I took it over.

    What I was after with the article I wrote was that far too many people simply take Linus’ word for everything simply because he’s done what he’s done. I have no lack of respect for Linus himself. What I don’t like is the following he seems to have on sites like slashdot. Even Linus himself has railed against this…

    http://digg.com/linux_unix/Linus_Torvalds_on_Slashdot

    “Linus’ position (and mine — read my posts categorized under FSF sucks) is that GPLv3 exceeds what’s necessary to protect his and other programmers’ interests. GPLv3 tries to fix what’s not broken. It goes beyond software to encompass data (there were data before GPL) and hardware (also pre-dates GPL). Linus said those are areas that don’t affect his kernel or his license and won’t change his mind.”

    This I have come to agree with. GPLv3 is only useful under certain circumstances. Other than that it does go a bit too far. If people feel like using GPLv2 or whatever it is certainly up to them.

    “I’m sure I’ll be dismissed as one of the sycophants Casamento ranted about. That’s fair. I’ve been called a lot worse by people who actually had a clue what they were talking about. You clearly don’t, Mr Casamento.”

    Not at all. I don’t dismiss you as a sycophant. And, about me not knowing what I’m talking about… whatever. :)

    GC

    • lucky Says:

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

      When I first read your post, I wondered who pissed in your cereal that morning. It seemed much more emotive than merely “far too many people simply take Linus’ word for everything simply because he’s done what he’s done,” and seemed to be more about attacking Linus than his “fan club.” I accept your opinions for what they are: opinions. You have yours, I have mine, Linus has his own, and even those his “fan club” hold their own opinions. Obviously, none of us can or will agree with each other about everything every time. I thought, and still do, you were unfairly critical about Linus’ views on the specific things I addressed — particularly licensing issues (Sun and GPLv3).

      I’m not sure what else to say considering this is ~2.5 years old and I really don’t know what’s changed other than you now concede GPLv3 generally “goes too far,” which to your credit does indicate you’re open-minded enough to change your opinions as you learn more. I’ll respond in kind and take back the things I wrote about not knowing what you’re talking about — I just disagreed with what you talked about. Fair enough?

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