Torvalds Calls OpenBSD Group "Masturbating Monkeys"
Linux kernel creator sounds off on hype surrounding security software vulnerabilities, his disclosure model for the Linux security list and his controversial thoughts about the OpenBSD "monkeys."
Fri, August 15, 2008
Torvalds explained his position in an e-mail exchange with Network World this week. He also expanded on critical comments he made last month that caused a stir in the IT industry.
Last month Torvalds stated in an online posting that "one 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, just because there's a lot more of them."
Never one to mince words, Torvalds also lobbed a verbal charge at the OpenBSD community: "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."
This week Torvalds—who says the only person involved in the OpenBSD community with whom he talked to about the "monkeys" barb found it funny—acknowledges others probably found it offensive.
Via e-mail, he also explains why he finds security people to be so anathema.
Too often, so-called "security" is split into two camps: one that believes in nondisclosure of problems by hiding knowledge until a bug is fixed, and one that "revels in exposing vendor security holes because they see that as just another proof that the vendors are corrupt and crap, which admittedly mostly are," Torvalds states.
Torvalds went on to say he views both camps as "crazy."
"Both camps are whoring themselves out for their own reasons, and both camps point fingers at each other as a way to cement their own reason for existence," Torvalds asserts. He says a lot of activity in both camps stems from public-relations posturing.
He says neither camp is absolutely right in any event, and that a middle course, based on fixing things as early as possible without a lot of hype, is preferable.
"You need to fix things early, and that requires a certain level of disclosure for the developers," Torvalds states, adding, "You also don't need to make a big production out of it."
Torvalds also says he doesn't care for labeling updates and changes to Linux as a security fix in a security advisory.