As with any big piece of software, Linux is complex, and difficult for outsiders to comprehend. That’s why it’s not terribly shocking that a 9-year-old Linux kernal vulnerability, known as Dirty COW, wasn’t patched until just a few days ago on October 20.
First off, here’s a quick reminder of what Linux is: Linux is a kernel, just one piece of software in the GNU/Linux OS, with the GNU suite of tools making up the majority of the base operating system. That said, the kernel is one of the keys to the OS, allowing the software to interact with hardware. Linux’s importance to servers and infrastructure means that a lot of eyes are constantly looking at the kernel. Some of those eyes belong to employees at companies like IBM or Red Hat who are paid to work on it full-time. That’s pretty impressive for a piece of software that’s freely given away.
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