[TUHS] Comments on "C"

Marc Rochkind rochkind at basepath.com
Mon Aug 29 10:37:21 AEST 2016

Yeah, OK, another one of those clever glib UNIXy aphorisms.

But, as anyone who's actually programmed seriously in assembly language
knows, C is not assembler. It is a system programming language low enough
to be used for things that were once done in assembler, the most important
of which is an OS.

So, for most of us, we no longer had to write in assembler. But that
doesn't mean C is assembler.

So, are we just having fun over a few beers, or talking seriously? I like

--Marc Rochkind

On Sun, Aug 28, 2016 at 12:21 PM, Dave Horsfall <dave at horsfall.org> wrote:

> 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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