Linux patch replaces f-words with 'hugs' in kernel comments, but some cry censorship

Linux developers clean up code comments to align with the new contributor code of conduct.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

An Intel engineer who contributes to the Linux kernel has released a set of patches that conceal some of the f-bombs that Linux kernel developers have added to kernel code comments over the years.

The patches are intended to "comply" with Linux developers' recently adopted Code of Conduct, which requires developers, maintainers, and especially Linus Torvalds to treat all contributors with respect and dignity when working together.

As spotted by Phoronix, the patch set issued by Intel software engineer Jarkko Sakkinen addresses 15 components where 'fuck' or 'fucking' appeared in code comments, which have now been swapped out for a 'hugload of hugs'.

For example, "* IOC3 is fucking fucked beyond belief ..." is now "* IOC3 is hugging hugged beyond belief ...".

Another now reads: "Only Sun can take such nice parts and hug up the programming interface* like this. Good job guys...".

Elsewhere, comments have been amended to "Hug, we are miserable poor guys...".

While there's plenty more profanity in Torvalds' old emails to fellow kernel maintainers, at least the instances where they appeared in code comments have now been cleaned up.

SEE: How to build a successful developer career (free PDF)

Since his recent hiatus, Torvalds has also toned down his language and refrained from demeaning peers when poor choices or mistakes are made. The hope is that the code of conduct creates a more professional environment for maintainers to work in.

Just 33 lines of code comments were addressed, a try fraction of the 3.3 million lines of comment in code within the kernel source tree. However, there may be more patches in future.

At least one Linux kernel developer was not happy with the hugs. One person described the move as "censorship" and said he hoped it was a joke, adding some colorful 'prose' to the mailing list.

Sakkinen said it is definitely not a joke, quoting from the Code of Conduct: "Harassment includes the use of abusive, offensive or degrading language, intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, inappropriate physical contact, sexual imagery and unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors."

The Linux code of conduct is based on the Contributor Covenant, which Intel's Source Technology Center recently adopted as the basis for its code of conduct.

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