It's ironical that Linux, the most secure OS, is commonly used to hack other machines.

Is that sentence correct, with respect to the irony part?


I don't see what's ironic about it, honestly. What is it about a more secure system being used to hack a less secure system that violates any expectation? That's like saying it's ironic that the reliable, well-armored, heavily armed German Panzer III tanks beat the bejesus out of the legendarily crappy British A9s and A10s in World War II. Well, no, that's really just pretty much what you'd expect to happen.

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    I agree with you mostly, but an operating system itself is not used for hacking. It is used as a platform for hacking. The security of one OS has no direct bearing on its ability to be used to hack a different OS. That's why I added a qualifier on my answer. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 3 '11 at 17:57
  • It would be ironic if all hackers used unupdated Windows 98 machines to hack every other machine out there. Only Sony'd fall for this, methinks. – Konerak Jun 3 '11 at 22:01

The definition of irony can be so elusive. It may help to think of irony as the juxtaposition of two contradicting states, one which is obvious and one which is unexpected.

Let's examine the two pieces of your example:

  1. Linux is the most secure OS.
  2. Linux is used to hack other operating systems.

If we could state that the Linux development community put a high value on developing a secure operating system in order to prevent hacking, then I think yes, we could consider this statement ironic.

In other words, we would be presented with two contradicting states:

  1. Linux is the most secure OS because Linus Torvalds wanted to prevent hacking.
  2. Linux is used for the most effective hacking.

Thus, irony.

  • +1, but if it were me I'd have written 1. in your second box as something along the lines of: It is much more difficult to hack into a Linux machine. The one you have is neither as evocative of the irony, nor (IMHO) true. – T.E.D. Jun 3 '11 at 17:41
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    @T.E.D. Being more difficult to hack into a Linux machine does not produce irony. It is only if the original intent was to prevent hacking in general that using Linux to hack becomes ironic. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 3 '11 at 17:54

Change "ironical" to "ironic" and you are spot on the money.

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    Ironical is an acceptable word. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 3 '11 at 17:23
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    @Kit - Is it? I've seen it before, but it always makes me wince. – T.E.D. Jun 3 '11 at 17:43
  • @The Raven: Don't know why someone downvoted you. I agree ironical sounds at the very least somewhat odd in OP's particular context. Offhand I can't think of an utterance where I wouldn't mind it, so I wouldn't go so far as @T.E.D. But it's not really my kind of word. – FumbleFingers Jun 3 '11 at 17:49
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    @T.E.D. I agree that it's unpleasant, but it is a word. @FumbleFingers I didn't downvote, but I'd speculate it's because this isn't much of an answer. The OP didn't ask about "ironical" and otherwise, this answer doesn't explain why the statement is ironic. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 3 '11 at 17:52
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    The question is "is this sentence correct"? The question does not appear to warrant a magnum opus on the subject of irony. The answer is thus a qualified "yes," as given. – The Raven Jun 3 '11 at 19:08

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