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Linus crushes Change.org petition, threatens to poison coffee – just an ordinary week

It’s a good thing he’s got a cute and cuddly little penguin to soften his branding, because Linus Torvalds is certainly not going to be winning any Mr Congeniality prizes. Torvald shocked absolutely nobody yesterday when he reared out of his foxhole to slam a petition by Kyle Condon calling for his open-source kernel to spurn the Intel processor instruction RdRand for generating random numbers.

Known for his pioneering work on the Linux kernel, Torvalds is almost equally notorious for his angry outbursts.

Condon’s worries over the security of RdRand appear to have stemmed from the  latest disclosures by Edward Snowden, which have many conspiracists believing that the RdRand instruction in Intel processors has been compromised by the NSA and GCHQ. The petition was started on 9 September, and by the time Torvalds responded it had attracted a hardly-threatening five signatures.

Not content with dismissing the Change.org activists as “ignorant”, Torvald then went on to write, “Where do I start a petition to raise the IQ and kernel knowledge of people? Guys, go read drivers/char/random.c. Then, learn about cryptography. Finally, come back here and admit to the world that you were wrong...Short answer: we actually know what we are doing. You don't.”

Having put the RdRand naysayers in their place, the same week, the rampaging Finnish-American  then hit-up the Linux kernel mailing list, where he turned his ever charming thoughts to how ARM systems-on-a-chip (SoC) need to be handled under Linux 3.12. Torvald wrote, “I still really despise the absolute incredible sh*t that is non-discoverable buses, and I hope that ARM SoC hardware designers all die in some incredibly painful accident.”

Just in case anyone hadn’t quite got the point, he then told the long-suffering Linux community, “if you see any, send them my love, and possibly puncture the brake-lines on their car and put a little surprise in their coffee, ok?”

After 22 years of success with Linux, Torvalds revels in his right to unabashedly scorn any attempts at walking the HR line. He holds the belief that, “On the internet, nobody can hear you being subtle”, making the point that, after two decades in his business, he wouldn’t be doing things the way he does if he didn't have the utmost conviction - including the opinion that being ‘respectful’ and ‘polite’ is “just so much crap and bullshit.” It’s certainly not an approach that works for everyone - but with his twenty year track record, short of a series of visits from some festive spirits, it seems unlikely that Torvalds will be diluting his venom now.

Lucy Carey

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