Rusty Russell Quotes

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This page is here in honor of Rusty Russell, one of the funniest Linux kernel developers EVER

Here are some Rusty Russell quotes:

Well, you don't get to be a kernel hacker simply by looking good in Speedos. (source:

Rusty has had this in his e-mail signature:

Anyone who quotes me in their sig is an idiot. -- Rusty Russell

Rusty has also had this in his e-mail signature:

There are those who do and those who hang on and you don't see
too many doers quoting their contemporaries. -- Larry McVoy

Rusty often has problems with his last name being mispelled:

In looking through dev.c, I noticed that someone had misspelled my name at the top
of the file, so I sent a quick patch off to Alan and Linus: 

From: Rusty Russell <>
Subject: [PATCH] Trivial name typo.
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 1999 15:24:07 +1100

Just noticed this... 2.2 and 2.3.  This Russel disease must be stamped
out before it becomes widespread.

--- linux-2.2/net/core/dev.c.~1~    Sun Dec  5 13:24:45 1999
+++ linux-2.2/net/core/dev.c    Thu Dec 23 15:20:21 1999
@@ -56,7 +56,7 @@
  *        Adam Sulmicki   :    Bug Fix : Network Device Unload
  *                    A network device unload needs to purge
  *                    the backlog queue.
- *    Paul Rusty Russel    :    SIOCSIFNAME
+ *    Paul Rusty Russell    :    SIOCSIFNAME
 #include <asm/uaccess.h>

Here's another comment on comments:

In [the] future, I'd recommend adding a witty comment to any such trivial patch:
it's really the only way to get it featured on LWN's Kernel Quote of the Week.

Here are some more:

  • I expect better: You never see me hard with time word making sentence coherent stuff. Ever.
  • On the assumption that it has failed to coerce the spirits of our ancestors to land among us, I'll create a patch to remove it.
  • No subject should ever contain the word "trivial". If it's really trivial, you can sum it up in the subject and we'll know it's trivial. Plus the diffstat shows it. 'trivial' is propaganda to sneak a patch into -rc7.

Here's one where Rusty responds to a simple question with a patch series that fixes the issue and improves the kernel:

This *looks* like the kind of naive question a newbie would ask. And a poor coder
would simply patch in the increase. A reasonable coder would also make a comment
about the potential bloat. A good coder would ask why you need more than

But you're operating on a completely different level!

You chose this example to demonstrate, by (if I may) expandio ad absurdum, that
our current approach is flawed. Obviously you *knew* that it could be converted
to a pointer, and equally obviously this would require us to process relocations
before parsing version symbols. Clearly, you understood that this would mean we
had to find another solution for struct module versioning, but you knew that that
was always the first symbol version anyway.

You no-doubt knew that we could potentially save 7% on our module size using this
approach. But obviously not wanting to criticize my code, you instead chose this
oh-so-subtle intimation where I would believe the triumph to be mine alone!

I am humbled by your genius, and I only hope that my patch series approaches
the Nirvanic perfection you foresaw.

Kudos Shawn, kudos!

Here's a quote about his attitude about open source:

I love that noone needs my permission to take my code and do something cool with it, and
someone else can do the same with that code. I love that an "end user" is usually only a
few hours work away from being an active documenter, bugreporter, web-mistress or coder
in most projects.

As a result, I despise anything which artificially raises barriers to entry for programmers
and users. Everything from stupid software patents, to bad user interfaces, cabalesque
knowledge and crummy code.

Rusty once had a patch that was criticized for being worded as a triple-negative. Here's his response:

No.  I don't think that my original version wasn't
clear, nor do I have time to negate every suggestion,
no matter how well meaning or not, even if I had no
better things to do, which does not seem likely, does
it not?

Point taken...