Linux Code of Conduct Likely To See Changes Ahead Of 4.19 Kernel Release

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 7 October 2018 at 03:11 PM EDT. 56 Comments
The Linux kernel's Code of Conduct that was abruptly dropped onto the Linux kernel, which happened as Linus Torvalds was announcing his empathy retreat last month, will likely see some revisions ahead of the upcoming Linux 4.19 stable debut.

Longtime Linux kernel developer James Bottomley spent some of his Saturday sending out two "fixes" that he would like to see applied prior to the Linux 4.19 final release if there is enough support from the kernel community.

The first patch addresses the part of the kernel CoC that mentions publishing other individuals' private information including electronic address (a.k.a. email address). Well, with the Linux kernel development workflow relying upon patches and with Git there being reviewed-by, signed-off-by, and other tags, the email address is quite a vital part of the standard developer workflow in the open-source community... So technically it could be a CoC violation in its current form with the redistribution of patches containing a user's email address. So this patch adds in "physical or electronic address not ordinarily collected by the project."

The second patch is more prominent and that's the dropping of the enforcement section of the Code of Conduct. The current enforcement section assigns handling of violations to the Linux Technical Advisory Board (TAB)... The actual enforcement is still to be determined, but until it's decided upon, they don't want to ship this potentially binding statement in the Linux 4.19 kernel.

It was also brought up in the comments to these patches that the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) was not elected to be an enforcement agency but its original responsibility was liasing between community technical matters and the Linux Foundation. Another kernel developer (as opposed to random Internet commenters) also expressed displeasure still at how this CoC was "rushed in" and still "don't understand why it happened." It was also brought up as well that the current CoC may have not been reviewed by any of the traditional Linux/open-source legal counsel for accuracy.

Separately, Linux kernel developer Geert Uytterhoeven sent out a patch that would remove the explicit list of discrimination factors from the CoC. The basis of that is a "false impression that discrimination based on other unlisted factors would be resolved."

With that patch, "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." would change to "a harassment-free experience for everyone."

There's two weeks until Linux 4.19 final (and the expected return of Linus Torvalds) so we'll see what happens with the CoC by that stable milestone.
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