It’s no secret that I’m a Linux guy. I love open source software. I’m not the greatest coder in the world, but I get by. I’m not the greatest scripter in the world, but I get by. Computers are my bread and butter, and considering my livelihood and my freedom to choose what software to use is threatened by this, I’ll be damned if I stand idly by while Microsoft engages in their latest and possibly greatest power-play ever — controlling what operating systems are digitally signed and allowed to run on your computer in the UEFI boot standard they’ve created and are demanding hardware manufacturers support.
The move is ostensibly intended to prevent rootkits that aren’t signed by a signing authority from running on your computer, but its real effect is that every operating system that isn’t Microsoft-made will have to come grovelling before Microsoft to have their operating systems signed just so that your computer will run them. It is, in effect, leveraging a virtual monopoly into a true one — while their marketshare was slipping, suddenly if your computer will only run a Microsoft-approved OS, you’re at MS’ whims.
I’ve already butted up against this issue once, after buying my current laptop and failing miserably to install Ubuntu until I discovered that UEFI was the new spanner thrown into the works. I had to disable that — being told by my computer how vulnerable I was leaving myself to hackers, and being informed by various websites how fortunate I was that ASUS, my laptop’s manufacturer, deigned fit to ALLOW me to disable UEFI booting — before I could install the operating system of my choice.
Others may not be so lucky, it seems. So Red Hat has decided to try to have Microsoft sign their distribution of Linux. And Linus Torvalds, Linux’s creator and godfather, was hopping mad. On the Linux Kernel Mailing List, he scolded Michael Garrett of Red Hat:
On Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 8:42 AM, Matthew Garrett wrote:
> There’s only one signing authority, and they only sign PE binaries.
Guys, this is not a dick-sucking contest.
If you want to parse PE binaries, go right ahead.
If Red Hat wants to deep-throat Microsoft, that’s *your* issue. That
has nothing what-so-ever to do with the kernel I maintain. It’s
trivial for you guys to have a signing machine that parses the PE
binary, verifies the signatures, and signs the resulting keys with
your own key. You already wrote the code, for chissake, it’s in that
f*cking pull request.
Why should *I* care? Why should the kernel care about some idiotic “we
only sign PE binaries” stupidity? We support X.509, which is the
standard for signing.
Do this in user land on a trusted machine. There is zero excuse for
doing it in the kernel.
I agree with everything in this comment except the specific wording of the bolded parts. Not because I don’t think Red Hat is acceding to Microsoft’s hegemonic desires — they definitely are, willingly turning themselves into a thrall of the software giant and at their mercy if (and likely when) they decide to put their thumbs on Linux once and for all. They are not good stewards of the software industry. They have demonstrated bad faith in market dealings time and time again.
But there’s absolutely zero reason for Linus to use such misogynistic and homophobic language.
The thread at Muktware is very telling about the mentality of the anti-Microsoft crowd. Even the original article itself, trumpeting that Linus “said what most free software user feel and wanted to say from the very beginning but neither had the strength or conviction,[sic] that Linus has”, entirely elides that there are women, gay folks, people who generally don’t think sucking cock is a nasty dirty action, who might be irritated by the prevalence of the anti-fellatio bias of such “common parlance”.
A feminist appears in the comments to chide this nonsense and is immediately strawmanned as someone “working for Microsoft”, when in fact they’re a 30-year veteran of the open source movement. Nobody cares that they repeatedly agreed with the fact that control over UEFI boot executable signing should not be in Microsoft’s (or really ANY ONE COMPANY’S) hands. Nobody seems to care when they point out repeatedly that there is no reason to use the specific language Linus did, and that the only reason anyone else might fight being told the language is damaging is because they ENJOY using the language in exactly that damaging manner.
When in our society it’s every bit as easy (easier, even!) to tell someone their opinion is valueless to you, as it is to tell them to suck your cock (whether you have one or not), there’s no excuse to associate any sex act with such negative connotations. When it’s as easy to say “you’re paying deference to people who don’t deserve it” as it is to say “you’re deep-throating them”, it’s simply contributing to the background prejudice experienced by people who like to suck cock. (Not to mention the people who enjoy having their cocks sucked, but whose partners might have internalized the meme that cock-sucking is bad!)
It’s not like there isn’t already an idiom for such unnecessary shows of fealty to parties undeserving of such, which even comes complete with its own set of body-shaming connotations: “kiss their ass”.
Linus Torvalds, you’re right about everything else in that comment. But if you do any more splash damage to people who like to perform fellatio, if you do any more splash damage to women in general and gay men in general, now, after having been informed how shitty of behaviour that is and how it unnecessarily hurts people who have nothing to do with the target of your rage, then you can kiss my ass.