Lennart Poettering

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Lennart Poettering
Lennart poettering.jpg
Poettering in December 2012
Born Guatemala City
Nationality German
Occupation Software engineer
Employer Red Hat
Known for Avahi, PulseAudio, systemd

Lennart Poettering is a German computer free software programmer known for his work on PulseAudio, a sound server,[1] the systemd replacement for the System V init daemon,[2] and Avahi, an implementation of the zeroconf protocol for network device discovery.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Poettering was born in Guatemala City but grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Hamburg, Germany.[4] Poettering currently works for Red Hat.[5] Poettering is a long term contributor of the GNOME project,[6][7] a GNOME Foundation member[8] and a regular speaker at the GUADEC conference.

Lennart Poettering is a hobbyist photographer with a special interest in travel pictures, usually taken during extended trips near the conferences where he is invited.[9] He has created a collection of more than a hundred stitched panoramas.[10]

Since 2003, Poettering has worked in more than 40 software projects, mainly written in C and related to solution stacks in areas like multimedia (PulseAudio), networking, telephony and system startup (systemd) on Linux.[11]

Poettering is a key developer of kdbus, a Linux kernel-based re-implementation of D-Bus, a topic which was publicly presented, by himself, for the first time during Linux.conf.au 2014.[12]

A medium term goal that Lennart is working on seems to be "Sandboxed Applications for GNOME/Linux".[13][14][15][16]


Poettering is known for having controversial technical and architectural positions regarding the linux ecosystem.[17][18][19]

For instance, Poettering, who is the main developer of PulseAudio, praised the Windows and MacOS audio stacks as "more advanced" and called OSS "a simplistic 90's style audio stack" without relevance for a modern desktop.[19]

On the question of why the Linux desktop hasn't been adopted by the mainstream users yet, Poettering voiced the opinion that "Linux is still too fragmented...[and] needs to be streamlined...".[20]

Poettering has also advocated speeding up Linux development at the expense of breaking compatibility with POSIX and other unices like the BSDs,[21][22] Poettering took this decision because of his experience in writing some other low-level components in the desktop stack.[17] He even goes further with this provocative invitation to other developers to do the same.[18] Poettering recommends also reading The Linux Programming Interface but ignoring the POSIX-specific parts.[19]


  1. ^ "LPC: Linux audio: it's a mess". Lwn.net. Archived from the original on 2009-10-18. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  2. ^ Michael Larabel (2010-08-23). "An Update On The SystemD System & Session Manager". Phoronix. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  3. ^ "Using Avahi The 'Right Way'", linux.conf.au 2007
  4. ^ linux.conf.au profile
  5. ^ 2011 FOSDEM interview
  6. ^ "glib main loop". 
  7. ^ "GNOME 3.0 Is Out!". 
  8. ^ "GNOME Foundation Members". Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  9. ^ http://0pointer.de/photos/
  10. ^ http://0pointer.de/static/panoramas.cgi
  11. ^ Personal Blog, retrieved 2013-01-26 
  12. ^ https://lca2014.linux.org.au/schedule/30120/view_talk?day=None
  13. ^ "GNOME developers plan "Linux apps"". Heinz Heise. 2013-02-06. 
  14. ^ "Sandboxed Applications for GNOME" (pdf). 2013-05-24. 
  15. ^ "Apps for GNOME desktops". LWN.net. 2013-08-07. 
  16. ^ "GNOME Wiki: Sandboxing". 
  17. ^ a b "Interview: Lennart Poettering - Lennart Poettering will give a talk about "Systemd: beyond init" at FOSDEM 2011.". fosdem.org. 2011. Retrieved 2014-06-16. "Many of my previous projects (including PulseAudio and Avahi) have been written to be portable. Being relieved from the chains that the requirement for portability puts on you is quite liberating. While ensuring portability when working on high-level applications is not necessarily a difficult job it becomes increasingly more difficult if the stuff you work on is a system component (which systemd, PulseAudio and Avahi are)." 
  18. ^ a b "Interview: Lennart Poettering - Lennart Poettering will give a talk about "Systemd: beyond init" at FOSDEM 2011.". fosdem.org. 2011. Retrieved 2014-06-16. "In fact, the way I see things the Linux API has been taking the role of the POSIX API and Linux is the focal point of all Free Software development. Due to that I can only recommend developers to try to hack with only Linux in mind and experience the freedom and the opportunities this offers you. So, get yourself a copy of The Linux Programming Interface, ignore everything it says about POSIX compatibility and hack away your amazing Linux software. It's quite relieving!" 
  19. ^ a b c "Un entretien avec Lennart Poettering". 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2013-01-26. "we still can't fully match competing audio stacks like CoreAudio [...] Both Windows and MacOS have much better integrated audio stacks than we have. [...] in general the CoreAudio stack is definitely more advanced than ours. [...] there's no doubt that it [the Windows audio stack] is probably still a better integrated audio hacking experience to develop for Windows. [...] OSS is a simplistic 90's style audio stack. I doesn't really have any relevance for what you need for a modern desktop." 
  20. ^ "Un entretien avec Lennart Poettering". 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2013-01-26. "I think we weren't innovative enough in the interface, and we didn't have a convincing message and clear platform. If you accept MacOS as benchmark for user interfaces, then we weren't really matching it, at best copying it. I think this is changing now, with GNOME 3 which is a big step forward as an interface for Linux and for the first time is something that has been strictly designed under UI design guidelines. So we now have a better interface, leaves the message and the clear platform. Linux is still too fragmented, and a developer targeting Linux will have to choose from a variety of APIs, a bazaar of somewhat matching but mostly just chaotic choices that will work on some systems but not on others. I think it would be in our greatest interest to streamline the platform top to bottom, and thus have a clear message what the Linux OS is. And of course, I believe my work in cleaning up the lower levels of our userspace stack is helping to work in that direction. Getting a clear message out what Linux is supposed to be is definitely a social issue, but to make that happen the Linux platform needs to be streamlined first, and that's a technical task, and not done yet." 
  21. ^ "Choosing between portability and innovation". lwn.net. 2011-03-02. "POSIX is really an encapsulation of some choices that various Unix systems made along the way, rather than a body of text that got standardized and then implemented. According to Poettering, Linux should use its position as "market leader" (in the market of free Unix-like operating systems) and try out some new things. If developers don't force themselves into the constraints of the POSIX API, they could develop some really innovative software, like systemd shows. When these new developments happen to turn out really interesting, other operating systems could eventually adopt them as well." 
  22. ^ "FOSDEM 2011 interview". 2011-02-06. "Not having to care about portability has two big advantages: we can make maximum use of what the modern Linux kernel offers these days without headaches -- Linux is one of the most powerful kernels in existence, but many of its features have not been used by the previous solutions. And secondly, it greatly simplifies our code and makes it shorter: since we never need to abstract OS interfaces the amount of glue code is minimal, and hence what we gain is a smaller chance to create bugs, a smaller chance of confusing the reader of the code (hence better maintainability) and a smaller footprint." 

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