limericks on lkml and other things from my vacation
Uh oh. Summer vacation is over and I've been working for 8 days already. Honestly I preferred the holiday :-/
As you may or may not know, my current job is being a manager at Sesca Technologies. In short that means I get to sit in a lot of meetings, look at my budget in an Excel sheet and lots of other interesting stuff... NOT! I don't get to do any of the interesting stuff anymore, such as programming and all the other things I used to enjoy.
So when we were going for holidays and asking each other what everyone was going to do, my employees where laughing at me when I said: Programming! (Since that is the thing they will take a vacation from!)
But fortunately between all the compulsory traveling and stuff, I did get time to maintain my Drupal module and also trying to enhance the URL filter which is part of Drupal core. The patch is yet to be accepted though, unfortunately July was feature freeze month for the upcoming 6.0 version. Now I'm excited to see whether the patch will be let in as a bug fix or be postponed for 7.x development. (It is a bug fix yes, but a rather big fix for a rather small thing, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it postponed.)
Diligently reading Linux Weekly News I saw that a fierce limerick competition had broken out on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. (This is the workplace - virtual office if you will - of our heroes Sir Torvalds and his merry kernel programmers, where they exchange hundreds of deeply technical programming related mails each day.)
It all started with a kernel hacker called Rusty Russel, who had decided to thoroughly explain and document the workings of a module called LGuest. (This is noteworthy in itself, because programmers are not known for being especially eager to do the documentation part. Some just like to write the code, then leave it as a big mystery to everyone else as to how and why it actually works. Anyway...)
It seems in addition to document the behavior of LGuest, Rusty also decided to aspire for the Nobel prize in literature. Or something, I don't know. So he had decided to document 5000 lines of kernel code in the form of a tale of a heroic adventure, guiding the reader, the hero, through all that code. One part of the tale is even written in various verse forms, ranging from limericks to haikus to hexameter. You can read about it in this KernelTrap post.
When the other kernel hackers realised what was going on, the limerick competition broke out on LKML. Well it's just logical isn't it, if someone is trying to include limericks into the kernel, the appropriate thing is to debate the merits of such an idea... with more limericks:
On Tue, 24 Jul 2007, Rusty Russell wrote: > > Indeed, no code changes, and I feel strongly that it should go into > 2.6.23 because it's *fun*. And (as often complained) there's not > enough poetry in the kernel. There's a reason for that. There once was a lad from Braidwood With a wife and a hatred for FUD He hacked kernels for fun, couldn't get them to run. But he always felt that he should. See? So when you say "there's not enough poetry", next time you'll know why. You *really* don't want want poetry. Linus
Whereto Rusty answers with his own limerick saying that he spent a lot of time doing the documentation and it really should not be wasted:
There once was a virtualization coder, Whose patches kept getting older, Each time upstream would drop, His documentation would slightly rot, SO APPLY MY FUCKING PATCHES OR I'LL KEEP WRITING LIMERICKS. Thanks! Rusty.
Jonathan Corbet, editor of Linux Weekly News declined to pick a winner, and didn't publish any of the limericks on that week's Quote of the week. This wasn't appreciated by kernel hacker Alan Cox:
The LWN quote of the week Is I think rather weak No poems allowed To rise from the crowd Its future looks terribly bleak -- Alan Cox
One almost gets the impression those nerds are starting to figure out that they are celebrities being monitored by the Linux magazines. Next week you can meet Alan at the gym making sure he'll look good in front of all the paparazzis!
The thing 'bout my job I don't like No limericks ever in sight At work we never Write poetry together That's why end of vacation bites -- Henrik
This is the thing I don't like about my current work. Not once did anybody write a limerick at Sesca! I would love to work in an environment where limericks happen on a regular basis.
(Just in case someone is curious: LGuest is a virtualisation module. It makes it possible to run one instance of Linux inside another instance of Linux. So you can pretend you have many computers inside only one. Technically, this is just as remarkable as writing documentation with limericks.)