[TUHS] Comments on "C"

Dave Horsfall dave at horsfall.org
Mon Aug 29 04:21:46 AEST 2016

Seen on another list...  And I got quoted by Steve Bellovin :-)

Dave Horsfall DTM (VK2KFU)  "Those who don't understand security will suffer."

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kent Borg
To: cryptography at metzdowd.com
Subject: Re: [Cryptography]
    "NSA-linked Cisco exploit poses bigger threat than previously thought"

On 08/25/2016 06:06 PM, Steven M. Bellovin wrote:

> I first heard more or less that line from Doug McIlroy himself; he 
> called C the best assembler language he'd ever used.

Ancient fun-fact: Years ago there was an article in Byte magazine 
describing how a useful subset of C could be directly assembled into 68000 
code. Not compiled, assembled.

C is a stunning assembly language. When those wild-eyed nerds at AT&T 
decided to write Unix not in assembly but in C (where was management!?), 
it was radical. But C was up to (down to?) the task, it was pioneering 
then and is still doing useful things decades later: From the fastest 
supercomputers to some pretty slim microcontrollers (plus a hell of a lot 
of Android devices) multitudes of computers run a Linux kernel compiled 
from the *same* C source code, with almost no assembly. Big-endian, 
little-endian: no matter. Different word lengths: no matter.

That is one impressive cross-platform assembly language!

Unfortunately, C is also a dangerous language that mortal programmers 
cannot reliably wield.

-kb, the Kent who knows he is pressing his luck on a moderated 
cryptography mailing list, but C deserves a lot of respect, as it also 
deserves to be efficiently sent into a dignified retirement.

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