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Aging Linux Kernel Community Is Looking For Younger Participants 332

Posted by Soulskill
from the fresh-meat dept.
Lemeowski writes "Time has been good to Linux and the kernel community, with the level of participation and volume of activity reaching unprecedented levels. But as core Linux kernel developers grow older, there's a very real concern about ensuring younger generations are getting involved. In this post, Open Access supporter Luis Ibanez shares some exciting stats about recent releases of the Linux kernel, but also warns that 'Maintaining the vitality of this large community does not happen spontaneously. On the contrary, it requires dedication and attention by community members on how to bring new contributors on board, and how to train them and integrate them alongside the well-established developers.'"
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Aging Linux Kernel Community Is Looking For Younger Participants

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @03:10PM (#45404629)

    I'm part of one of these younger generations, and I'm honestly not interested in getting involved because I've seen how much of a raging asshole Linuz can be. He's a great maintainer, but he could be honest and give constructive criticism in less condescending ways. I'm not as experienced as he is, but that doesn't give him the right to be a complete dick in public theater.

  • Don't worry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @03:10PM (#45404635)

    Really don't worry. It is commercial enough and if the community just winds down, the companies will just staff the kernel developer ranks,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @03:12PM (#45404663)

    This semester, I am taking OS course at UMBC.
    Course is easy, material is easy. Hard part - figuring out how the fuck you should write Linux Kernel code.
    Why there are no good tutorials that on how to write basic kernel code, good guides on its structure (many book sold on Amazon are outdated) ......there should be one, centralized place with all the useful materials for the beginners + it should be constantly updated.

  • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @03:16PM (#45404707)

    This. I've tinkered with the kernel, written device drivers, blah, but there's no way in hell I'd ever try to contribute upstream, because I know I'm not an experienced kernel hacker, and frankly I'm not sewn for the sort of macho abuse that dorks like to give each other.

    There are other things I do as a hobby where I'm surrounded by people who are highly experienced, well-respected, but also excellent teachers - e.g. ham radio. There, I'm happy to do as much as I can for the community.

    N.B. I'm not saying that I'd necessarily be good enough to contribute to the official kernel, merely that I wouldn't even try in that sort of environment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @03:41PM (#45404971)

    in that sort of environment.

    Well clearly you have never once 'been to' the LKML but instead built your opinion on the basis of stories-posted-on-slashdot.
    Otherwise you would know that the LKML receives around 400 mails per day, the vast majority of which are polite, friendly and helpful.
    Compare that with the number of posts offensive enough to make a story on /.

  • by fisted (2295862) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @03:51PM (#45405089)

    I know I've mentioned this before, but you need to consider the possibility that your software might be done.

    Considered and considered stupid, because suggested in the context of operating systems. Operating systems are only done when hardware is 'done', which is unlikely to happen any time soon IMO.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @03:54PM (#45405121)

    Your input is not needed, obviously.

    You have no sense of ethics ("code base developed by near-religious zealots"), you don't understand the value of C or C++ ("language 20 years beyond chic") and you don't have enough ambition ("resume fodder").

    What I do agree with you is there is no need to treat people condescendingly.

    Just sit back and watch the Linux kernel triumph.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @04:04PM (#45405247)

    Feature-rich and stripped down are opposites. You want features to be available to you on a whim, learn to install new software.

    You are missing the point. A stripped down system can still have a feature rich kernel. If I want a feature rich desktop then I need a kernel that has features that enable the sort of high performance UX I need.

    Right down to a scheduler that's friendly to interactive user processes. But maybe that scheduler's not as optimal for what you were doing with your server, so now we want a tunable scheduler that can be adjusted towards either.

    And the complexity begins its lift off.

  • by lorinc (2470890) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @04:31PM (#45405607) Homepage Journal

    I'm actually managing an OS course for graduate students, and it's heavily based on linux (userspace and kernelspace). We do a few exercices (like writing a kernel module that computes averages), but nothing fancy. I've always been looking to propose them some projects related to kernel dev, but as I'm not a kernel hacker myself, I have clearly no idea of what seems reasonable.

    So here's the deal: If you are involved on some subsystem of the linux kernel and you have something you want to get coded that can be a first experience with kernel dev, and that can be done under about 100 hours (the length of a typical project), you contact me. I'll do as much as possible as a first step filtering so that you won't get spamed. It's a win-win situation: I have great projects for my students, you get free work. For this year, it's a bit short, because projects are from September until January, but next year is ok.

  • by undeadbill (2490070) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @04:39PM (#45405723)

    When Linux was first released, it was relatively easy to break into the IT field and get directly into programming with limited experience and resources. The fact that the Linux kernel was initially created by a 15 year old kid on a home computer says much about that. My saying so doesn't lessen Linus Torvald's genius in any way, but it does underscore how those opportunities to create haven't been extended to future 15 year olds in the same manner.

    Or anyone of working age. When was the last time a company hired junior admins and other flunkies specifically for the purpose of training them up to a competent level of expertise? That was common in the 90s, and is almost non-existent 20 years later. The last two companies I've worked for flat out refuse to hire junior staff and train them. Many companies refuse to future proof their IT (ops and dev) staffing in any way. This has led to a huge gap in expertise.

    The final issue that was birthed out of refusing to hire inexperienced staff is all of the certification programs that arose as a result of such parsimony. Am I the only one who thinks that being able to turn on a few services *doesn't* make someone a systems administrator? I'd be more concerned about their ability to write and update their own changes to services, and to the man pages, and submitting complete work back to the relevant project- but THAT isn't (generally) taught in the cert programs, even though that will make someone a better administrator and/or developer. This just weakens expectations in the field, and severely limits a self-selected candidate pool of future kernel programmers.

  • "environment" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @04:59PM (#45406003)

    Well clearly you do not understand what the word "environment" means.

    If someone makes a sexist, derogatory joke in the weekly programming meeting and someone is offended and complains, it's not a defense to say "well it was only one joke, in one meeting, from one person."

    The problem is not the one joke. The problem is that the environment was conducive, accepting, and tolerant of the joke. Linus's abusive treatment of others is not only tolerated, but accepted, excused, and justified, both there and on other communities (like Slashdot, right now...) Because he's in a leadership position, it sets the example and tone for how others are treated...

    The response to people saying "I'm not comfortable contributing" is not "stop being a baby." If it is, you don't actually care about getting people to contribute.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @05:13PM (#45406127)

    There, is that specific enough for you?

    You have freedom to associate or not associate with a group. You have no right not to be offended. And you have no right to expect free adults to confirm to your whiny, politically correct, victimhood critical race theory politics.

  • by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @05:26PM (#45406277)

    It's funny how different perspectives can be. If I wanted to contribute to the kernel and someone ended up being severely impolite, I'd find it weird and either reply or don't. On the other hand, if my boss was being abusive, I'd switch jobs ASAP. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I find random interpersonal abuse way less disturbing than workplace abuse, since in the latter case you're at a clear hierarchical disadvantage and actually depend on your boss to get your paycheck.

    And, by the way, it's interesting that you say "some prick who expects me to VOLUNTEER for the honor of having him dress me down like a bitch? Not so much." while posting on /., where that kind of free verbal aggression seems to be mandatory.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @06:50PM (#45407153)
    *If*, You'd first have to disprove the simpler explanation, that most young people do not have the skills or resources to develop for a kernel. Though, if this FUD that Linus does nothing but yell at puppies and eat orphans persists, I wouldn't be surprised if the FUD is successful. Hell, look at how many people here on slashdot, people who really should know better, are falling for the fabricated reality of headlines.
  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @07:34PM (#45407559) Journal

    I'm part of one of these younger generations, and I'm honestly not interested in getting involved because I've seen how much of a raging asshole Linuz can be. He's a great maintainer, but he could be honest and give constructive criticism in less condescending ways. I'm not as experienced as he is, but that doesn't give him the right to be a complete dick in public theater.

    I've been in the Linux scene very early, and I've watched contributors come and go

    The one thing that I've observed is that it's kinda generation gap

    The older crop (age 40+) were the ones who like to take on challenges - and even when they have been shouted down, they still come back again and again, with better and better code implementation, to prove others wrong

    The younger crop (age 35 or younger), on the other hand, can't stand people criticizing their code

    They seem to think that since it's their code and they have contributed it FREE OF CHARGE others must be happy to accept them as is

    What has transpired in the Linux Kernel scene reflects what is going on in the society at large, as well

    The young uns can't stand criticism because they think they are too good to be criticized

    Those old farts, on the other hand, don't mind criticism, and in fact, many actually welcome criticisms, for criticism only makes them tougher

    I know, it's too much a generalization - as there are exceptions - but at least that's from my own observation

  • Re:"environment" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @10:33PM (#45408913) Homepage Journal

    Well clearly you do not understand what the word "problem" means

    Apparently it means that the kernel community is looking for more (younger) participants.

    Funny how all the a-holes on this thread are posting A/C, eh? Besides that, every business school researcher who's looked at this issue has found that the environment the parent loves reduces productivity. It's the hazing culture that perpetuates it.

  • Re:"environment" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:30AM (#45410219)

    No, see, the thing is, your feelings are supposed to be your responsibility, not the group's. If you're 'offended' like that, to the point where you want to sue people and/or get that person's employer to fire him/modify his behavior for you, you are the one with the problem. These entitlement attitudes bred into the culture from political correctness confuse the issue and the definitions of these words for a lot of people. Young people today suffer from this a great deal more than the previous generations, as recent as the 1990s.

    No, the phrase "I'm not comfortable" is newspeak for "I am a timid coward who wants others to limit the diversity around me to acceptable parameters". In this case, diversity of thought and expression. You don't have to agree with everything others said, and you're welcome to voice your displeasure, but if you 'feel uncomfortable' on a regular basis just because of what others said, the weakness is you, not them.

  • Re:"environment" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @05:37AM (#45410945) Homepage
    Yeah, I used to think like that. Then I worked out that being a dick to people around me is actually not OK. I get it, it's really easy to think like this when you're a straight white male. But it's just bullshit. Grow up and get over it.

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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