back to article GOOGLE GMAIL ATE MY LINUX: Gobbled email enrages Torvalds

Linux kernel supremo Linus Torvalds has published a scathing open letter to Google's Gmail team after discovering that the service had incorrectly marked hundreds of his incoming email threads as spam – including ones containing kernel patches. "Something you did recently has been an unmitigated disaster," Torvalds wrote in …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I guess they picked the wrong guy to test the spam algorithm on.

    <see title>

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: I guess they picked the wrong guy to test the spam algorithm on.

        Cheap shot at systemd... Have an upvote.

      2. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: I guess they picked the wrong guy to test the spam algorithm on.

        Uh? systemd != kernel

        1. Vic

          Re: I guess they picked the wrong guy to test the spam algorithm on.

          systemd != kernel

          ...yet.

          Vic.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I guess they picked the wrong guy to test the spam algorithm on.

      At least they were not discarding it altogether as they do with mail being sent to domains which have both v6 and v4 MXes.

      If gmail starts trying to deliver via v6 it _NEVER_ falls back to a v4 MX. So if the v6 MX has an issue, well you just lost your mail. So effectively, there is no MX order fallback.

      So, looking at that, do you expect antispam to work in a company which has degenerated to a point where the mail team does not understand the concept of an MX how mail delivery should work? I would not. I guess I am not the only one too as I have just noticed that comcast has removed the v6 MX off their DNS records.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I guess they picked the wrong guy to test the spam algorithm on.

      Cue the Torvalds Profanisaurus.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I guess they picked the wrong guy to test the spam algorithm on.

      No, they picked exactly the right guy. The object of testing is to find the problems.

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    artificial neural network

    And before they were using a real one ......

  3. bhtooefr

    It's because of how many mailing lists don't really work with DKIM

    Basically, Google's enforcing DKIM from certain domains, and if a message is "from" someone whose e-mail host provides proper DKIM, but it's missing it, Google (and Yahoo) servers reject it. Mailing lists aren't usually set up to properly handle DKIM (being, effectively, a relay), and therefore get rejected.

    The workaround that I saw one mailing list use was to resend the e-mail from the mailing list's address, append "via (mailing list name)" to the name on the from field, and just have both the mailing list and the original author in reply-to.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      DMARC, not DKIM

      It's DMARC that's to blame (being a broken solution). DKIM itself is fine.

      It's also the obnoxious "conversation view" I suspect. Switch that off and only the actual spam ends up in the spam box. I probably get less mail than Linus, but I do get 100 or more per day on gmail, and the false positives are rare. But come on, if you care about this, you need to eyeball the spam folder a couple of times a week. I see less than 1% false positives and they are almost all from [email protected] via mailing lists, and caused by DMARC.

      1. Cheshire Cat
        FAIL

        Re: DMARC, not DKIM

        DMARC is massively broken, because it mandates an SPF test on the From header, even if a Sender header is present. What it should do is to test the Sender if present, else the From, but it doesn't.

        Most mailing lists work completely RFC-compliant by adding a Sender header (known as the 'secretary scenario'). However, to get past DMARC tests, they have to violate the RFC and rewrite the From header instead, concealing the originator of the mail.

  4. koswix

    I have had a number of mid-conversation messages end up in spam this last two weeks or so. Do I win a prize?

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      I've been seeing a lot of it as well, annoyingly combined with stuff that's obviously spam making it into my inbox.

      I don't quite get how a thread I've replied in can get marked as spam, whilst "I'm a 21 years old, so I desire 2bang you" gets an A-OK.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I don't quite get how a thread I've replied in can get marked as spam, whilst "I'm a 21 years old, so I desire 2bang you" gets an A-OK."

        The artificial intelligence has determined that you wish to be banged by a 21 year old, but it doesn't like the discussion thread.

      2. Turtle

        Needs And Wants.

        "I don't quite get how a thread I've replied in can get marked as spam, whilst 'I'm a 21 years old, so I desire 2bang you' gets an A-OK."

        You know what you need, but Google knows what you want.

        Google is everywhere, all the time! Google sees all, reads all, knows all!

        1. Pierson

          Re: Needs And Wants.

          "Google is everywhere, all the time! Google sees all, reads all, knows all!"

          Remember, Mundanes: "Google is Mother, Google is Father!"

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. asdf

      Re: Does not compute!

      Wow even Torvalds falls for the pretty Google trinkets in exchange for them knowing oh everything about you. Sad.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        @asdf

        The kernel mailing lists are not in any way secret. For all we know, Linus has some other address for person email. I can understand Linus picking something where someone else has to defend against a DDOS so he can concentrate on other things.

    2. VeganVegan
      Facepalm

      Re: Does not compute!

      Betacam, asdf, you beat me to it. It's astonishing that Torvolds uses gmail.

      it would be almost as shocking as SatNad or Tim Cook using gmail.

      Hasn't he heard of eating your own dog food?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does not compute!

        "Hasn't he heard of eating your own dog food?"

        He is. Google runs on Linux.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does not compute!

      Linus works for Linux Foundation and their MX records seem to point at Google.

      1. Ilgaz

        Re: Does not compute!

        That carries the issue to the level of absurdity.

    4. MrRtd

      Re: Does not compute!

      Who's this Shirley you're talking about? Surely Shirley should have been surely.

      1. Esme

        Re: Does not compute!

        Surely, surly Shirley surely should;but somehow, sadly Shirley shied.

      2. Antonymous Coward
        Holmes

        Re: Does not compute!

        Who's this Shirley you're talking about? Surely Shirley should have been surely.

        Fur Shir

    5. Bob H

      Re: Does not compute!

      He probably uses it because:

      1) Volume - The quantity of general mail he gets and the amount of spam he might get be vast, so he needs something that can handle the GBs of email smoothly. His inbox size could be huge and difficult to not only maintain but search. Bet he doesn't "Inbox Zero" at the end of the day.

      2) Conversation View - Yes I know that Thunderbird or other tools do provide conversation view but Thunderbird is increasingly less performant especially on larger mail boxes (in my experience).

      3) Spam - This is the controversial part of the mix because it is the bit that failed, but good spam filters are rare.

      I spent many years running my own mail server, dealing with spam filters, I've moved to a hosted solution mainly because I can't be bothered with the hassle any more. My IMAP host isn't google which means it is relatively slow and has terrible webmail, but at least I don't have to worry anymore.

      Anyone have any suggestions of good value hosted IMAP providers with decent webmail (e.g. Horde IMP not just Squirrel Mail) and configurable spam filters?

  6. Pliny the Whiner

    Perhaps Hillary Clinton could offer some useful advice?

    It's a shame that Torvalds couldn't find a reliable email server that runs under Linux.

    1. Grifter

      Re: Perhaps Hillary Clinton could offer some useful advice?

      You know, that's probably exactly what gmail runs on (:

      1. harmjschoonhoven

        Re: Perhaps Hillary Clinton could offer some useful advice?

        You know, that's probably exactly what gmail runs on (:

        ftfy

        1. Ilgaz

          Re: Perhaps Hillary Clinton could offer some useful advice?

          Google has legal right to keep and analyse every single mail that comes in or out. Also being an American company it can create major international problem for hackers.

          NSA probably runs a cooler Linux (SELinux) too, why doesn't Linus get [email protected] next time? They probably have better anti spam filters.

        2. LDS Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Perhaps Hillary Clinton could offer some useful advice?

          Is GMail code open source?

          I know it doesn't violate the GPL because it's never transferred to anyone, making it even more closed than non-open source code released as binary only.

          Thereby, the fact it runs on some variant of Linux is close to irrelevant. Google does whatever it likes and you have to accept it.

          If I where Linus, I would run the mailing list out of standard, well known mail applications, without Google-in-the-middle.

          1. Fibbles

            Re: Perhaps Hillary Clinton could offer some useful advice?

            Is GMail code open source?

            I know it doesn't violate the GPL because it's never transferred to anyone, making it even more closed than non-open source code released as binary only.

            Torvalds != Stallman

            1. Orv Silver badge

              Stallman doesn't believe in graphical email clients or attachments. He doesn't even use a graphical web browser. GUIs have no place in his free software utopia.

            2. Indolent Wretch

              Re: Perhaps Hillary Clinton could offer some useful advice?

              Yes for all his rants Linus is a practical man methinks.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Stallman

                He doesn't believe in showers either (anon so not to get the person who has dinner with him and passed on that nugget in to trouble)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This seems too obvious

    Like an April Fool gag. You're ready to post "Really!! He uses Gmail??" - then you remember what day it is.

    (Notice, I'm hedging my bets, here!)

    Nb. So, what, he uses Gmail because it's free?? My superior provider charges me ~£5 a year. Runs a tight ship, does ol' Linus?

    1. VinceH

      Re: This seems too obvious

      "Nb. So, what, he uses Gmail because it's free?? My superior provider charges me ~£5 a year."

      Gmail may not necessarily be free, depending on how Torvalds and/or the Foundation use it - for UK pricing, I'll they'll see your £5 per year and raise it to £3.30 or £6.60 per user per month.

      I haven't checked those prices for myself - I've no intention of farming the email for any of my domains out to Google - but because of clients who seem to think Google's arse is the source of our sunshine.

  8. Ole Juul
    Joke

    Gmail users

    don't know what they're missing

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gmail users

      Gmail users

      don't know what they're missing

      Privacy?

    2. 080

      Re: Gmail users

      "Gmail users

      don't know what they're missing"

      You'r right, I've just looked in my Spam Box and along with 18% falsies I found all sorts of interesting offers from "Marie"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you, Linus!

    Maybe now Google will fix this crap. Me yelling about it doesn't cause any publicity so they just ignore it. Now Linus on the other hand, he's a professional yeller!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thank you, Linus!

      I wonder if he can do anything about Google Inc. seizing the accounts of TOR users and refusing to release them unless provided with the victim's verified telephone number? All under the ruse of them protecting us. Disingenuous twats.

  10. Marcel

    DIY

    He can write his own OS, his own version control system (Git), why can't he write his own spam filter? Or at least bother to setup his own LINUX server with a nice FOSS mail server and spam filter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DIY

      There is something *soul sucking* about having people, some very clever indeed in their anti-social way, making your job harder on purpose...and it's every day. It rarely slows down and it never ever stops. After 20 years of Spam (I had been running a mailserver for some years by 1994) it was just too depressing.

      Antispam tends to be a grind job and I, for one, don't want Linus Torvalds having to deal with it. He has plenty of necessary grind in his life already without adding to it.

      The day I stopped running a significant mail server was a bright and wonderful new chapter in my life.

      I am in no way exaggerating.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DIY

        Read your first sentence and couldn't tell if you were talking about Torvalds or not... because nothing makes a customer popular like (the internet's equivalent of) CCing the CEO in your complaint.

      2. Doctor_Wibble

        Re: DIY

        > Antispam tends to be a grind job

        Yes and unfortunately our continued use of ever-fancier methods of looking for it after it has arrived only serves to mask the problem so the end users (and NB higher-ups) don't understand the scale of it except for some stats and using it to pretend they never got that email.

        There are easy ways to reduce the quantity of it (and I'm as guilty as anyone of posting that 'your spam solution does not work' list) but require several things to happen and the fact that any one thing won't kill all of it at once shouldn't be the reason not to bother but there's a huge amount of money (as well as our time and efforts) tied up in this 'filtering technology' so nobody wants to try anything different.

      3. LDS Silver badge

        Re: DIY

        You mean that there's no one among the LF supporters willingly to setup a real mail server and spam software?

      4. Indolent Wretch

        Re: DIY

        100% agree.

        It's a pity though that a man who knows how hard large scale software development is, how hard a bug free program is, and how hard accurate spam detection is... would have a rant at a bunch of software developers for making the occasional and utterly unavoidable mistake.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: DIY

      GITMAIL

    3. phil8192

      Re: DIY

      "He can write his own OS, his own version control system (Git), why can't he write his own spam filter? Or at least bother to setup his own LINUX server with a nice FOSS mail server and spam filter."

      Linus Torvalds openly admits that his strength is coding the Linux kernel, and he has little time, interest or skill for other aspects of computing, such as the GNOME or KDE shells.

  11. Barry Rueger

    On No. Another Google Screw-up ahead?

    Is it just me, or does Google manage to break everything that they create?

    Certainly search is not as useful as it used to be, the new Contacts thingy sucks big time, Maps has become just plain irritating, and the new Gmail interface looks like a dud.

    And Android... don't get me started.

    Google's excellent spam filtering was one of the very few things that have made me stay with Gmail.

    Lately though I'm seeing hundreds of spam filtered messages each day in the spam folder. A month ago it may have been a couple dozen.

    Sure enough, it looks like Google is "improving" their spam handling.

    I expect nothing but a complete disaster.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: On No. Another Google Screw-up ahead?

      Do you have any mail messages looking like gorillas? If Google used the same AI, I'm not surprised.

      Moreover I believe the mailing list messages are very different from the average mail message because of their peculiar contents, and I'm sure they fooled that AI easily.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: On No. Another Google Screw-up ahead?

      "Is it just me, or does Google manage to break everything that they create?"

      Yes, just like everyone else does. Marketing is involved in everything and products need to be "refreshed" regularly. People have shorter attention spans and expect "new, shiny" on an ever more regular basis, mostly instigated and exacerbated by the self same marketing crowd. They've created a demand for "new" and have to fulfill, even it's just a new coat of paint with no technical improvements or even a technical backward step.

      Those of us who are older or getting older either never fell for this marketing trick or are becoming jaded and cynical enough to see through it. But there's another (million) suckers born every minute.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On No. Another Google Screw-up ahead?

      Yep, this explains it all:

      the Gmail team said it is bringing the same machine learning technology it developed for Google Search and Google Now to bear on Gmail's spam filter

      Well, except I don't know how it accounts for the yuckiness of the new Maps.

  12. eesiginfo

    Simply agog!

    I thought that everybody just used gmail for web accounts.... stuff that's not related to genuine work.

    Why would anybody do anything serious with gmail?

    Is this a joke?

    If so..... I've bought it!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Simply agog!

      "I thought that everybody just used gmail for web accounts.... stuff that's not related to genuine work."

      You need to think this through a bit further. You are wrongly assuming that places where spammers harvest addresses and genuine work addresses are different things. If genuine work involves a presence on mailing lists then you use gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail/Live/Outlook/whatever-MS-calls-it-this-week for such addresses. And you have another private address for less public work and probably another for private life. If that really so difficult to understand?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Simply agog!

      "Why would anybody do anything serious with gmail?"

      At least two of the universities I deal with have farmed out their email systems to Google, as did my ISPs. Having said that, my ISP is currently pulling it's email service back in-house.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can also confirm more false positives in spam

    Curiously all from mailing lists I've been subscribed to for years AND that I had to mark as "no spam" previously already. Maybe GMail lost some memory.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can also confirm more false positives in spam

      Can also confirm a false positive on the 14th through a mailing list, originating from a gmail address. Since I only see spam or advance fee BS about once or twice a year, I hope this is just an ordinary regression and it goes away.

      1. Antonymous Coward
        Holmes

        Re: Can also confirm more false positives in spam

        "I hope this is just an ordinary regression and it goes away."

        I have a feeling that this has just become an extraordinary regression and will go away very, very quickly.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Can also confirm more false positives in spam

      It would seem from friends complaints that a lot of the webmail services are having this lately... AOHell, Yahoo, etc. Not sure if they're all connected and I would not know where to start looking.

  14. Adam Jarvis

    Google manages to patent 30% of ideas Linus Torvalds thought he'd thought of.

    In other news..

    Google managed to issue Patents on 30% of the ideas Linus thought he'd thought of, before him.

    Nothing like scanning his Emails/Spam conversations for some juicy new IP, hey Google?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    am I the only one wondering....

    ... Why didn't Linus just call up someone at google or perhaps even send an email, I am sure he knows *someone that could allow him to bypass the lack of customer service.

    I have alot of respect for this guy's skills and what he has done, but I only seem to hear about him going nuts about something or at someone.... is he Steve Balmer's long lost brother, raised by the kind and loving people of Finland, thus not being the same evil Steve?

    Linus, a nice guy but calm down, given the work on the kernel never ends, he of all people must know computers are not yet perfect!

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Perhaps Ballmer had calm rational moments

      For some reason, those never made the news. Much more of Linus' work is available for all to peruse via the LKML. Judge by those emails, not the unusual ones picked out by journalists. (Imagine how dull the Register would be if Journalists did not filter LKML)

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: am I the only one wondering....

      >>"Why didn't Linus just call up someone at google or perhaps even send an email, I am sure he knows *someone that could allow him to bypass the lack of customer service."

      Possibly because Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, has a community spirit and wants to raise things publicly and for the benefit of all, rather than some invisible and perhaps partial fix.

      Though equally plausible, when dealing with a corporation the size of Google, even Linus realises that public opinion is a useful weapon to wield.

    3. Christian Berger

      Yes

      It may be that Google doesn't even have places where they can take bug reports, and there is a serious reason why Linus might not know people involved in Google Mail.

      There seem to be 2 groups of software engineers. The one Linus belongs to is the one trying to solve problems in the most elegant and simplest way. They think that knowing how to solve a problem is the most important part of software design, and a low number of lines of code is one of their top priorities. They know that, when they do a proper job, a small number of orthogonal features can provide a world of use to the user.

      The other group puts its emphasis on development processes. They commonly start with hugely complex designs and frameworks designed to solve very general cases, often even much more general than what they want to actually do. The rationale for this is that, hypothetically, you could reuse those components. In reality, this rarely gets done, as they are not as general as the developer thought they would be, and changing them to be more general would mean changing them, which means changing your old projects.

      Those two groups rarely talk to each other since their views are so different. Google Mail probably was done by the later group.

      It's noteworthy that in the bigger scale of things, the first group is seen as the one that gets things done. UNIX is a typical example of a product of that first group. In contrast the second one seems to be responsible for many projects which try to solve a rather trivial problem in such a complex way, it's hard to maintain the code. Such projects also seem to "never get done" and continuously evolve for years without getting to a point where they are "done".

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Yes

        " In contrast the second one seems to be responsible for many projects which try to solve a rather trivial problem in such a complex way, it's hard to maintain the code."

        Ah, much like systemd then?

        1. Christian Berger

          Re: Yes

          "Ah, much like systemd then?"

          Perhaps yes, but there are so many other examples. A great example are "modern" desktop systems like Gnome or KDE which try to solve trivial problems, but are huge. That's why there are other developments like "suckless" which aims to create simple yet powerful tools.

          Systemd is probably not the worst in that range, but it's the most problematic as both groups need to boot their systems. Therefore it's a point of conflict. It's possible to live without a GUI, but it's incredibly hard to live without your OS booting up.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Yes

            'A great example are "modern" desktop systems like Gnome or KDE which try to solve trivial problems, but are huge. That's why there are other developments like "suckless" which aims to create simple yet powerful tools.'

            However one of my requirements for a desktop system is to enable me to place files etc on the desktop just where I want them. It's amazing how many developers who style themselves "UX designers" or the like seem to take it upon themselves to design systems which expressly prevent this in the name of simplicity. Things should be as simple as possible but no simpler.

            1. Christian Berger

              Re: Yes

              "However one of my requirements for a desktop system is to enable me to place files etc on the desktop just where I want them."

              Yes, but that's actually not simplicity, that's just the usual UX-designer idiocy. In fact not having that ability creates more complexity. Suddenly the desktop behaves differently to directory windows which both takes more code and makes everything less consistent to be used.

          2. JEDIDIAH
            Linux

            Re: Yes

            ...except modern desktop systems are trivial to replace and don't sit close to the core of the system barely separated from the hardware.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes

        I don't think the Linux kernel can reasonably claim to be solving problems in the "most elegant and simplest way". Maybe back in 1990 when it was tiny and lightweight and didn't need to run on much besides i386, but even then I seem to recall all kinds of ugly hackery to get past the processor's way of doing things. Fast forward 25 years and the amount of cruft in there is astounding. That's not a dig at anyone's l33t skillz, but Linux is huge now and by definition huge is not elegant nor simple.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Yes

          How much of that bloat is device drivers? I get the impression the kernel core is still relatively compact, but keep in mind it's got drivers for every common desktop device since 1990 in there. Fortunately they made it modular so you don't have to load that stuff if you don't need it.

    4. Lars Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: am I the only one wondering....

      Linus gave all Gmail users a favour, simple as that.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: am I the only one wondering....

      Actually The Reg and other news sites generate revenue based on hit rate, which means they write sensational stories to get more people to click/read. This increases ad revenues considerably and that's what the hacks here get paid to do.

      As far as Linus is concerned, like many of us, he is outraged at the incompetence, ignorance and unacceptable demeanor of people who are entrusted with properly performing their responsibilities. Improperly marking 30% of legitimate e-mail as SPAM can cause a world of problems for anyone, especially anyone in business. Those like Google, Comcast, AT&T, et al who through ignorance or evil cause millions of people serious financial losses due to their improper and misguided decisions, could care less about the people they damage and the costs to others for the irresponsible behavior.

      The fact that governmental authorities charged with protecting consumers from this type of abuse rarely punish unscrupulous companies who violate laws while damaging consumers, only serves to illustrate how mad the world has gotten and why people like Linus are outraged by the devious acts of brain dead entities like Google, Comcast, AT&T et al. When these unethical, disgraceful entities can buy favor with the government consumer protection and regulation agencies to continue their evil ways, it frustrates the Hell out of honest, educated, hard working people who are doing their best to contribute to society and make this a better world. The bad guys are starting to surpass the good guys and it's because the governmental agencies have sold out in many cases to the crims.

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: am I the only one wondering....

      "but I only seem to hear about him going nuts"

      Since No News is Good News, that leaves us with the corollary...

  16. Eponymous Cowherd
    Joke

    Dark Helmet

    I mean, he just is, isn't he?

  17. viscount

    Much as I like a good moan, I have always find gmail spam filtering to be excellent.

    I suspect Torvalds is quite an unusual profile for a gmail user.

    1. Stumpy Pepys

      I was going to write exactly the same thing. People have short memories and, as a victim of the recent Adobe hack, I get spam delivered into my Outlook inbox at work all the fucking time.

      Google reckons their AI now catches 99.9% of spam email.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        I could catch 100% of spam

        Simply mark everything as spam. Woot!

        What do you mean, that's useless?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    mailing lists

    Our work had a spam filter that blocked mailing lists - Even ones from inside our own network that we needed

  19. Velv Silver badge
    Facepalm

    If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer, you're the product being sold.

    1. Antonymous Coward
      Holmes

      I think you'll find that just as often applies when you are paying for it.

  20. Justthefacts

    Finnish Americans don't get irony either

    Linus discovers that free stuff is worth every cent he paid for it?

    Why doesn't he put a spam filter into Linux, if he thinks this is important.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Finnish Americans don't get irony either

      "Why doesn't he put a spam filter into Linux, if he thinks this is important."

      Because the kernel is no place for a spam filter? The kernel doesn't know anything about email.

      Your question is equivalent to asking why an engine designer doesn't paint the white walls on tyres.

      1. Justthefacts

        Re: Finnish Americans don't get irony either

        I made two separate points in my post.

        The main point is - why would a grown-up use gmail for work purposes? The irony (which downvoters obviously didn't get), is that this particular free software isn't fit for purpose, as it never is, BECAUSE NOBODY PAID FOR IT.

        Second point you've focused wrongly. have a ponder about whether IE is part of Windows. Most of general population will say yes.....

        Hint: very few of the users would understand the concept of kernel space.

        A child complains "why won't the rest of the world do what I want"

        A grownup would have sat back and said "I see a problem in the world (SPAM, not SPAM Filter) I have a huge influence in what I do, but I'm in slightly the wrong box to fix it. What can I do to expand the box to put myself in the position to fix it."

        I can think of half a dozen fixes at kernel level, given the Linux install base in email servers. Probably most of them are crap solutionsp, as IANAE, but surely Linus and his cronies could have a go? Just consider email as a (standardised) NIC driver with a broken security and fix it. Write an RFC to standardise a email security layer, if that makes you more comfortable. Or, maintain hash-tables for duplication of SMTP packets

        Change your ideas of the boundary between kernel and user. $deity$ didn't write the boundary!

        1. Bob H

          Re: Finnish Americans don't get irony either

          Are you sure he didn't pay for it?

  21. cynthb

    The gmail spam folder is basically just an alternate inbox these days. I have to go through it with the same frequency as the regular inbox because of the number of false positives. /rude to the new algorithm.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using Gmail makes it easier for the spooks to read his mail

    So someone is benefitting at least

  23. sequester

    Google Mail is hell to send mail to. I haven't encountered any other receiving system or network that was quite as idiotic.

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge

      @sequester

      Are you a spammer ? Please be more verbose about your rant ... if you want to avoid a lot of spam, a receiving system must be able to test if the sender really exists.

      SPAM accounts for over 97% of email our company receives, yes we manage to filter out the whole lot of it, no, we do not use gmail, but I guess that for gmail, it is more like 99.99997% (note that that was just a wild guess, it might be much worse), checking the sender is legitimate.

  24. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Well I know it's not working. I got an email saying a relative died leaving me a fortune. I sent the processing fee and haven't heard back. Google, you owe me millions.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately Google is not the only clueless e-mail processor

    Unfortunately ISPs like Comcast Cable are illegally blocking ALL e-mail from hundreds of ISPs around the world under the false claims that the ISP is sending out excessive SPAM. Instead of just blocking SPAM as reputable ISPs do, Comcast has made a unilateral and arbitrary decision to use automated blanket blockage of all e-mail including proper, legitimate e-mail sent to U.S. Comcast customers from ISPs in Europe, Asia and Australia including some of the largest ISPs in these countries.

    That means that U.S. Comcast customers are unable to communicate with family, friends, business associates, etc. in other countries when Comcast is illegally blocking whatever ISP these people or businesses are using and there are many of these legitimate ISPs.

    Comcast has failed to even notify it's U.S. customers that it has been illegally blanket blocking legitimate international e-mail for close to two years. The FCC and FTC has been provided irrefutable proof of Comcast's illegal international e-mail blockage via the error messages Comcast sends to people sending e-mail to U.S. Comcast subscribers. When contacted Comcast ALWAYS insists that it is only blocking specific e-mail addresses and not ALL e-mail from certain ISPs. This is an outright lie.

    After showing Comcast the proof that they are illegally blocking ALL e-mail including all legitimate e-mail which is the majority of e-mail from ISPs who's servers are "white listed" by industry sources who check on SPAM daily, such as Cisco, Comcast still refuses to terminate their illegal blockage of legitimate international e-mail servers. On occasion Comcast will unblock a specific e-mail address for perhaps a few days or weeks and then their automated system blocks the legitimate e-mail once again. Comcast routinely lies to it's customers and government authorities about this illegal e-mail blockage.

    Like most U.S. government agencies the FCC and FTC have proven completely incompetent and unresponsive to Comcast's illegal international e-mail blockage. The typical response is to send the complaint to Comcast who responds with a politically correct letter to deceive the regulator agency into believing that Comcast is using an appropriate procedure to reduce SPAM when in fact the blanket blockage of legitimate e-mail constitutes consumer fraud as Comcast customers are paying for ALL legitimate e-mail to be delivered and it is not being delivered. No one authorized Comcast to illegally block legitimate international e-mail.

    Probably not one in a hundred Comcast customers knows that international e-mail sent to them is being blocked. So if you are for instance trying to book hotels in Europe, Asia or Australia for travel purposes, you are unable to do so when Comcast is blocking ALL e-mail from whatever ISP the hotel is using. This illegal blockage of international e-mail sent to U.S. Comcast subscribers is not only illegal, it's unacceptable and undermines the services that Comcast customers pay for monthly.

    While we all want to stop SPAM using illegal blanket blockage of all international e-mail from legitimate ISPs with white listed servers is simply unacceptable and outrageous yet Comcast has been doing this for close to two years and refuses to terminate this unlawful act.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Unfortunately Google is not the only clueless e-mail processor

      This looks like a spammer rant...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unfortunately Google is not the only clueless e-mail processor

        Reality is stranger than fiction but the Comcast illegal e-mail blocking is as real as a heart attack. Attacking the messenger doesn't change reality. All statements in the above are documented to be factual and that is precisely why people should be outraged at both Google and Comcast and any entity that illegally blocks legitimate e-mail or mis-marks e-mail as SPAM when it is not. There is a very good reason why Linus was pissed off because the e-mails he failed to receive are important and failing to receive them has compromised his ability to perform his responsibilities.

        There is no SPAMMING at all, just facts that should make any reasonable person angry just like Linus is.

      2. Techmeister

        Re: Unfortunately Google is not the only clueless e-mail processor

        Your worthless comment adds nothing to this discussion about good e-mail being improperly labeled as SPAM. If Google, Comcast or some other ISP is also completely blocking e-mail or mislabeling e-mail as SPAM, it is certainly useful for people to know this problem exists so that they can take action to resolve this serious matter. Most people care greatly about their e-mail as Linus demonstrated.

  26. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    The Great and Powerful Oz doesn't run his own mailserver for crucial Linux business?

    How unexpected.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      I'm guessing the guys who build engines for F1 cars don't assemble the cars they drive to work every day, either.

  27. graeme leggett

    " that its spam filter's rate of false positives is down to less than 0.05 per cent."

    but that's just a single statistic. an average across all mailboxes. Without knowing something more descriptive (such as the Coefficient of Variance) you can't really measure their success as experienced by users.

    You could get 0.05% by having 99 users with an exceptional 0.01% false positives and one unlucky sod with 4% falsely identified

    Probably a better descriptor would be the Positive predictive value (http://www.networkworld.com/article/2336754/software/spam-and-statistics.html)

  28. Joe Montana

    Unusual content

    The kind of mails Linus receives will be relatively unusual compared to the average gmail user, and the filtering is probably based on learning what kind of mails people usually receive and don't mark as spam.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Unusual content

      I think that's probably right. Gmail keeps throwing my logcheck messages in the Spam folder, too. Pro tip: If you make a rule that tags those messages, it will bypass the spam filter.

  29. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Google made Gmail unreliable

    I've NEVER had real spam to my Google email address, but regularly have to check it to pull out false positives, so make that a 100% false-positive rate for me.

    I was annoyed when I discovered what was happening, so went to disable it. But can you? Like hell!

    "I know, let's add a feature that silently deletes peoples email..... and make it so that it can't be switched off!"

    [ Yes, you can get around it by creating filters to automatically undo the spam categorising, but what's wrong with a simple "Off"? ]

  30. phil8192
    Boffin

    Monkey-wrenching Gmail

    Unfortunately, Gmail doesn't provide an explicit way to disable their spam filter, something simple, like checking a box in the configuration menu that reads "disable spam filtering". However, there's a non-obvious way to throw a monkey wrench into the works to effectively disable it so ALL messages stay in the inbox or are forwarded to a destination of one's choice. This is particularly important for POP3 users, as the Junk folder on Gmail's server is inaccessible with POP. It is also important if you're using multiple Gmail accounts and want copies of messages to the various accounts to funnel into a main account that you monitor regularly.

    The way to do it is set up a filter that says something like, if the message DOESN"T HAVE the string "AbeCeiw32#%x139tt3", NEVER send it to Spam. By picking a long, random string of characters for the test, the probability of ever getting a message that contains that string is essentially zero, so all messages go to the inbox.

    1. Vlad The Impatient

      Re: Monkey-wrenching Gmail

      I tend to create a filter that looks for a single @ in the From field and tell it Never go to Spam. Can't remember where I learned the trick as it was years and years ago, but it seems to work.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Albeit based on a much small sample,I also see around 30% false positives. Their algorithm doesn't seem very good. Even after making something as not spam, the next mail from the same source is very likely to be marked as spam again.

    Sigh.

  32. Stephen Leslie

    Google runs on Linux

    So no surprise.

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Google runs on Linux

      Yes, the only surprise here is your comment, or is it.

  33. Kev99

    My heart bleeds, Linus. Why don't you have a dedicated email server? Oh, wait. That would cost money.

    1. Handy Plough

      I'd accuse Torvalds of many other things before accusing him of being cheap.

    2. Orv Silver badge

      Developers rarely enjoy being system administrators, and they're rarely much good at it. The two skill sets are actually very different.

      I *am* a system administrator, and I still started farming out my email after a while. There's a reason this was one of the first "cloud" services. Maintaining a mail server is a lot of work, and the work doesn't scale down much with size; if anything it gets worse, because many spam filtering techniques don't work as well without a large volume of mail to chew on. When I realized I was spending a couple hours a week tweaking spam filters and babysitting queues, I decided I had better uses for that time.

      1. razorfishsl

        And maintaining an email service in the cloud is only SLIGHTLY less work.

  34. twilkins

    Googlewhat

    He posted a rant on Google+?

    Would have got a bigger audience in the spam folder!

  35. liac

    Small introduction

    Linus Torvalds, meet Taylor Swift. Taylor, Linus has a small problem.....

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    His "Herd" of developers?

    "...from his herd of developers"???

    Wow, I can't believe everyone missed that! Talk about poking trolls... this one was insanely funny.

    1. Antonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Re: His "Herd" of developers?

      What have you been sniffing? -------------->

  37. razorfishsl

    You would think that such a smart tosser would use something more reliable that a cheap ass Email service.

  38. ifconfig
    Holmes

    Finally.

    If Linus gets sufficiently annoyed he'll solve the spam problem and release it as an open-source alternative, breaking Google's hegemony as an email provider and putting a finger in the eye of the NSA. (xref: Linux, Git).

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google had not responded to The Register's request for comment. Torvalds, on the other hand, did have some advice for the Chocolate Factory's mail wranglers.

    Long before the hacks at El Reg wrote this up Gmail Anti-Spam Product Manager Sri Somanchi had already replied to the G+ post saying "The Gmail anti-spam team would love to look into why this is happening"

    just sayin'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is it possible that Torvalds gets a lot of email containing or with attached program code. Surely the mere presence of that should raise a red-flag for potential malware. OK so maybe G have recently done something that increases the likelihood of that being flagged as spam and maybe if Torvalds flags the false positives G's AI will "learn" his preference. Viewed from another perspective if G's change is to be more aggressive about code inclusion/attachment that's probably beneficial to most non-tech users.

      1. Vic

        Is it possible that Torvalds gets a lot of email containing or with attached program code. Surely the mere presence of that should raise a red-flag for potential malware

        Any code that Torvalds receives will be source. This looks very different to executable malware; a spam filter that mistakes the two is beyond useless.

        Vic.

        1. Indolent Wretch

          Yes and possibly he receives it as a compressed archive, possibly as an encrypted compressed archive. Possibly with something in the content saying "open this".

          How could anyone mistake that for spam?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong choice

    He should use GMX which gives the ability to blacklist and whitelist and also sends a daily spam report. I can't think of anything decent that Gmail has that GMX hasn't.

  41. dustinsherrill

    Good but not that good

    I don't believe the .05 % false positive ratio that Google is claiming either. It is good but not that good.

  42. k9gardner

    Not only Linus

    I discovered the same problem last week, but didn't go beyond moving the messages back to my inbox. This could be a real problem for any businesses relying on gmail (hosted gmail counts too!). I need to make an announcement to my company, and google needs to make a fix to theirs!

  43. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    Joke

    Linux spam

    Top marks to Google. I for one am sick to death of Linux spam.

    Every day I get numerous emails from Nigerians offering me ten million lines of code if I'll send them my bank details. Then there are the offers of kernel patches to increase my penis size, to say nothing of the improbable emails from young women offering hot device driver action.

  44. Herzo
    Linux

    Checkout Geobytes' Message Keys technology

    Ask Google what their "Lost Message Rate" is, as opposed to their "False Positive Rate".

    The "Lost Message Rate" tells you what proportion of non-spam messages are being gobbled up by the spam filter. While on the other hand, the "False Positive Rate" is more of a reflection of the amount of spam you are getting - as the more spam you get, the better the "False Positive Rate" gets - even thought you may be loosing the same number of non-spam messages.

    In any case, fortunately it is easily fixed. Just in a key in your email address itself - which might look something like this:

    "John Smith -12345" <joHN.SmiTH [email protected]>

    OK - Google currently won't let you do this, but that is another issue.

    More here: http://www.geobytes.com/message-keys/

  45. Kiwi Silver badge

    50-ish% here

    Just checked. Only 31 messages in my spam folder, but 18 of those should not have been spam.

    In fact they belong to a mailing list that I've created a filter for in gmail that should be putting them into an appropriate folder before any other filtering takes place!

    What's the point of being able to create email filters when gmail decides to ignore them and do its own thing?

    (And yes, I do own and run my own email server, but I've had the gmail address for some time and use it for all my personal email)

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