Linus Torvalds Approves Inclusive Terminology for Linux Kernel

As reported previously, many companies and organizations are reviewing their use of racist and exclusionary language, and the Linux kernel development team has been doing the same.

Last week, Linux creator Linus Torvalds approved an “inclusive terminology” proposal from Dan Williams for the Linux 5.8 repository, saying he “did not see a reason to wait for the next merge window." 

This change means that, going forward, Linux developers will “avoid introducing new usage” of the terms “master/slave” and ‘'blacklist/whitelist.” 

Suggested replacements for “master/slave” are:

  • {primary,main} / {secondary,replica,subordinate}
  • {initiator,requester} / {target,responder}
  • {controller,host} / {device,worker,proxy}
  • leader / follower
  • director / performer

Recommended replacements for “blacklist/whitelist” are:

  • denylist / allowlist
  • blocklist / passlist

Exceptions would include updates to existing specifications that mandate those terms. For new specifications, however, developers are instructed to translate specification terminology to the new kernel coding standard where possible.