Linux creator slams Intel for crappy Meltdown/Spectre patches

Linux creator slams Intel for crappy Meltdown/Spectre patches
Credit: Kuttofos / YouTube

Intel’s had a (mostly) crappy start to the year, thanks to the revelation of Meltdown and Spectre, two major security flaws affecting a wide range of its processors that are present in hundreds of thousands of devices around the world. It’s working to release fixes for them, but Linux creator Linus Torvalds is not impressed by the company’s efforts.

In a public email conversation between him and UK-based Amazon engineer David Woodhouse, Torvalds (pictured above giving the bird to Nvidia) calls the patches, “COMPLETE AND UTTER GARBAGE.”

According to him, the Meltdown patch requires the user to opt in and enable the fix while the computer boots up, when it really should just be enabled automatically. Torvalds believes that this isn’t being turned on by default because it could affect performance benchmark tests and make Intel look bad.

TechCrunch noted that he’s also mad about redundant fixes for previously mitigated security flaws, which he believes are being included to pad the patch, so it appears to solve a number of issues instead of merely addressing Meltdown.

In a statement released after the email exchange did the rounds, Intel said:

We take the feedback of industry partners seriously. We are actively engaging with the Linux community, including Linus, as we seek to work together on solutions.

It sounds like the company has a lot of work to do before it can declare the Meltdown fiasco done and over with – and that includes addressing Torvalds’ concerns.

After installing the official patches made available last week, users found that their computers were rebooting at random; Intel has now discovered what’s causing this issue; today, it’s urging users to skip those patches and await a better fix.

At CES 2018 earlier this month, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich promised that the company would patch all Meltdown/Spectre affected processors made in the past five years by the end of January. It’s already missed its deadline to sort out 95 percent of those processors by the end of the week during which CES took place.

This is one issue we can’t afford to hear more bad news about. Hopefully Intel will get its act together before it’s too late.

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