Tech. Science. Culture.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Linux Founder Apparently Completes Empathy Journey in About a Month

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Linux founder Linus Torvalds temporarily took time off from the organization in September in order to “get some assistance on how to understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately.” During his helm within the open-source software community, he developed a reputation for his egregious verbal abuse. Now, about a month after his self-imposed send-off to better himself, Torvalds is returning.

“And with that, Linus, I’m handing the kernel tree back to you,” interim Linux chief Greg Kroah-Hartman wrote in an announcement on Monday. “You can have the joy of dealing with the merge window :).”

Torvalds had “sought professional help” to address his behavior, according to the BBC. Ahead of Torvalds’ return, the Linux community instituted a revised code of conduct. The pledge states:

“In the interest of fostering an open and welcoming environment, we as contributors and maintainers pledge to making participation in our project and our community a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of age, body size, disability, ethnicity, sex characteristics, gender identity and expression, level of experience, education, socio-economic status, nationality, personal appearance, race, religion, or sexual identity and orientation.”


In Torvalds’ email last month, he said his stepping back wasn’t a result of being burnt out, and that it also wasn’t an indefinite or potentially permanent leave of absence. He compared it to his break from kernel development to create the Git version-control software. But the departure effectively boiled down to an effort to be less of an abusive asshole and a more empathetic, effective leader.

“Maybe I can get an email filter in place so [that] when I send email with curse-words, they just won’t go out,” he wrote in his email.


Torvalds has yet to make an official statement about his time for self-reflection and self-improvement, or why he’s now equipped to lead with care and inclusivity.