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 both!

--Marc Rochkind

On Sun, Aug 28, 2016 at 12:21 PM, Dave Horsfall <> 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
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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