Linus Torvalds: Don't glorify the security "monkeys"

Linus Torvalds is right: Security is not our biggest problem in software.

Leave it to Linus Torvalds, founder of the Linux kernel, to speak his mind. While many point to Linux as superior to Windows as offering superior security, Torvalds doesn't want anyone to make a fetish of security, including the OpenBSD people to whom he addresses this classic missive:

...[O]ne reason I refuse to bother with the whole security circus is that I think it glorifies - and thus encourages - the wrong behavior.

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

In fact, all the boring normal bugs are way more important....Security people are often the black-and-white kind of people that I can't stand. I think the OpenBSD crowd is a bunch of [self-stimulating] monkeys....

I agree. Well, it's not that I have anything against the OpenBSD developers, or against anyone that makes security their job, but rather that I personally think computing has much bigger problems than code-level security. We've seen that human error (like lost laptops) leads to widespread security vulnerabilities that no amount of development can fix.

If I had to choose between a better UI for Linux and better security for Linux, I'd take the former every time. Users can improve poorly secured software by improving only behavior, but not if they won't use the software in the first place.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.



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