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Linus Torvalds banishes masters, slaves and blacklists from the Linux kernel, starting now

As a colossal commit count crashes into Linux 5.8-rc5

Linux overlord overseer principal developer Linus Torvalds has signed off on a new policy to adopt inclusive language across the project.

A Git commit adopted changes recommended by kernel developer Dan Williams, with the result that Linux will no longer refer to masters, slaves or blacklists.

In their place coders will be expected to use alternatives such as “primary” and “secondary” relationships, or refer to “leaders” and “followers”, or even “directors” and “performers”.

Blacklists are to become either “denylists” or “blocklists” and whitelists will become “allowlists” or “passlists”.

Torvalds’ commit was made on July 10th and said he thinks there’s no need for the change to wait for the next merge window for a new cut of the Linux kernel.

Torvalds later offered his weekly state of the kernel post in which he perhaps tremulously observed that while last week’s Linux 5.8-rc4 was “small”, “now a week later, rc5 is large.”

“It's not _enormous_, but of all the 5.x kernels so far, this is the rc5 with the most commits. So it's certainly not optimal. It was actually very quiet the beginning of the week, but things picked up on Friday. Like they do…”.

White, Gray and Blacklist

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Having given penguinistas reason to pause, he added: “That said, a lot of it is because of the networking fixes that weren't in rc4, and I'm still not hearing any real panicky sounds from people, and things on the whole seem to be progressing just fine.”

“So a large rc5 to go with a large release doesn't sound all that worrisome, when we had an unusually small rc4 that precedes it and explains it.”

Each point release of the Linux kernel typically requires eight release candidates and versions numbered x.4, x.9, x.14 and x.19 have historically been denoted as long-term-support releases. So if work on version 5.8 meanders on for an extra week or two, few users will be vastly discomfited.

Torvalds already has an eye on version 5.9 – this week’s missive notes that some of the changes that popped up over the last week are “clean-ups” in preparation for the next long-term cut of the kernel. ®

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