Torvalds rages at Linux security zealots

17 Jul 2008

Linus Torvalds despairs at the Linux "security circus"

Linus Torvalds has launched a bitter attack on developers who've accused him of hiding security bugs.

Torvalds lost his temper on a Linux developer mailing list, when one of the members challenged him to "publicly explain why you're covering up the security impact of bugs".

The Linux guru responded angrily, claiming "the only place I consider appropriate [to report security bugs] is the kernel changelogs, and since those get published with the sources, there is no way I can convince myself that it's a good idea to say 'Hey script kiddies, try this' unless it's already very public indeed."

"So as far as I'm concerned, 'disclosing' is the fixing of the bug," he adds. "It's the 'look at the source' approach."

He then launched a scathing attack on developers' obsession with security. "Btw, and you may not like this, since you are so focused on security, one reason I refuse to bother with the whole security circus is that I think

it glorifies - and thus encourages - the wrong behaviour.

"It makes 'heroes' out of security people, as if the people who don't just fix normal bugs aren't as important."

He then turned his wrath on the developers of Unix operating system OpenBSD. "Security people are often the black-and-white kind of people that I can't stand," he wrote. "I think the OpenBSD crowd is a bunch of masturbating monkeys, in that they make such a big deal about concentrating on security to the point where they pretty much admit that nothing else matters to them."

It's not the first time Torvalds has vented his spleen on the Linux mailing lists. Last year, he tore into the Free Software Foundation over its GPL reform, accusing it of "acting like some Alice-in-Wonderland character".