Saying the University of Minnesota’s ban from contributing to the Linux kernel has been a popular topic of conversation among the open source community would be an understatement. Now, Linux creator Linus Torvalds has weighed in on the issue, and his response was milder than one might expect.
Whatever he did seems to have worked. Torvalds reportedly told iTWire that “I don’t really know what to say” about the University of Minnesota ban. “I think the email thread is likely the most relevant information. […] I don’t think it has been a huge deal _technically_, but people are pissed off, and it’s obviously a breach of trust.”
Interestingly enough, Torvalds, according to The New Yorker, stepped aside from Linux in 2018 because he was seeking help “after years of verbally abusing programmers” who contributed to the Linux kernel.
Linux developers are still looking through code submitted as part of the college’s research project, as well as other contributions associated with the University of Minnesota. Right now it seems like this was a one-off issue, as Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board member Kees Cook said in an email to the Linux kernel mailing list.
“The LF Technical Advisory Board is taking a look at the history of UMN’s contributions and their associated research projects,” Cook said in the email that was sent on Thursday. “At present, it seems the vast majority of patches have been in good faith, but we’re continuing to review the work.”
Cook added that “several public conversations have already started around our expectations of contributors.” That’s one way to put it—developers have gone back-and-forth on the issue on Twitter, GitHub and other social platforms since the ban was announced on Wednesday. (It’s probably even reached TikTok by now.)
For its part, the University of Minnesota Department of Computer Science and Engineering said Wednesday that it was looking into ” the research method and the process by which this research method was approved” and would “determine appropriate remedial action and safeguard against future issues, if needed.”