Microsoft’s Controversial Magic Constant For HyperV

Who said Microsoft developers don’t have a sense of humor. Even if that humor is sexist. Our own Matthew Garrett, UEFI secure boot fame, has posted a blog about the magic constant Microsoft used in its HyperV code.

Matthew writes:

Paolo Bonzini noticed something a little awkward in the Linux kernel support code for Microsoft’s HyperV virtualisation environment – specifically, that the magic constant passed through to the hypervisor was “0xB16B00B5″, or, in English, “BIG BOOBS”. It turns out that this isn’t an exception – when the code was originally submitted it also contained “0x0B00B135″. That one got removed when the Xen support code was ripped out.

At the most basic level it’s just straightforward childish humour, and the use of vaguely-English strings in magic hex constants is hardly uncommon. But it’s also specifically male childish humour. Puerile sniggering at breasts contributes to the continuing impression that software development is a boys club where girls aren’t welcome. It’s especially irritating in this case because Azure may depend on this constant, so changing it will break things.

So, full marks, Microsoft. You’ve managed to make the kernel more offensive to half the population and you’ve made it awkward for us to rectify it.

Kernel development is already not a very pro-female-friendly field. There is no notable female kernel developer. The absense of female kernel developers can be attributed to the often hostile and abusive communication common in the kernel development.

However, communities like Gnome and Ubuntu are trying to make it a female friendly place by running quite a lot of programs to engage female developers.

Even during LinuxCon this year Alan Cox admitted that gender gap is one of the biggest challenges for the Linux kernel community.

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About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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