BOFH and the Linux Evangelist

Desktop Wars


Episode 18

A couple of years back the chances of seeing Unix on a user's desktop machine was about as likely as seeing a Manager at the bar with his wallet open. But in recent months, thanks to the evangelism of a geeky type from R&D a number of people are converting from the Windows Dark Side to Linux.

And I'm not a happy man.

True, I should be happy that people are ascending the Operating System Evolutionary scale, but sadly this isn't the case. As expected, the helldesk know about as much about Unix as the Head of IT knows about dress sense - nil - which doesn't stop them from dispensing advice of course. Advice like: "No, No, no need to use the anti-relay code in your sendmail configuration.."

After the massive upsurge in our through traffic, I managed to nip that in the bud with a rather heavy-handed routing modification then wandered down to have a quiet word with the helldesk person concerned. Just a friendly heart-to-heart, nothing too dramatic.

Once I've dropped off their resignation form at HR (admittedly, they did think they were signing a company accident indemnity form) I pop back down to the office to clean up the complaint barrage by being slightly brutal with our MX records as well.

And of course, now that the geeky type from R&D isn't around (tripped in a stairwell whilst delivering a memo and broke both his legs in a manner that looks for all the world like he was hit with a length of pipe whilst unconscious - but was obviously caused by the fall) we've got to answer all the inane queries from the people who've already been converted to the faith.

"Hello?" I answer, picking up the phone and looking around for witnesses. The PFY, meantime, takes a rest break and diverts attention by engaging the Head of IT in conversation about his weekend.

The poor, stupid, bastard.

"I've got a problem with my Linux server," the user burbles to me, while The Boss extols the virtues of the traditionally crafted train carriage to The PFY

"Your Linux WORKSTATION, Yes."

"I can't seem to find Word."

"Yes - that's because Word was part of your NT applications, but not part of your Linux installation."

"Sorry?"

"You don't get Word with Linux."

"You're joking, how backward! Well how do I get it installed then?"

"You don't. You could install a third-party product like Star Office which is a bit like it, but that's all."

"Will my macros work?"

"Did you save them to a floppy before you changed your system over?"

"No"

"Ah well.."

"But wait, I think I have a copy on my home machine!"

"Excellent. But it won't work anyway."

"So why did you ask me if I'd saved them to floppy?"

"Oh, Just making polite conversation".

"?!"

"But wait a minute, you could run a Windows EMULATOR on your Linux box!! Something like Wine."

"Wine? What is it?"

"Something that users do."

"Pardon?!"

"Wine? It makes your Linux box pretend to be a Windows box again. Say, how much memory has your machine got?"

"64 Meg, the label on the side of the monitor says."

"And Processor?"

"Uhm, Pentium 166."

"Right, and you'd have, what, a 2 gig disk in that baby?"

"Got it upgraded to 18!" he brags cheerily.

"Excellent, it should run like a charm!" I cry, Pinocchioing away like a trooper "You can probably install it from the R&D guy's FTP server. Do you know how to install things?"

"Yes, I've got instructions and I've already installed some stuff this morning."

"Some stuff?"

"Ah, the SETI project thing, IRC Server and something else which I don't know what it does but this guy on IRC recommended."

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING!

"Someone recommended it, so you installed it?"

"Yes."

"I see. What's your disk activity light doing?"

"Disk Activity light?"

"There's two lights on the front of your machine - one's probably got a picture of a cylinder on it."

"Oh yes! But it's OK, they're both on."

"I see. Staying on constantly?"

"Yes. No, wait a minute, the disk thingy clicked off for a moment there. Is it something to worry about?"

"I shouldn't think so.."

. . .

Two days later.

"Very SLOW you say?" The PFY cries, after checking the machine specs. "I can't think why. Oh look! Your disk's all used up and the traffic stats on your machine have gone through the roof. You didn't by chance configure a public access FTP server?"

"Uh, I might have. To get operating system updates dropped off to me I think the guy said."

"Someone on IRC?" The PFY comments, in response to my hand signals - tho' how he got IRC-user from that is anybody's guess - "How thoughtful. Have you run any of those updates?"

"One yesterday morning - it took an awful long time to run."

"Around the same time as all those machines in your department crashed?"

"Uhhhhhmmmm, I don't recall. When was that?"

"It doesn't matter. Oooh, I see you've a large number of telnet connections to dialup lines in the Netherlands."

"That'll be my chat people. They needed telnet to chat properly."

"Of course they do. OK, I think your problem is what we call Phase/Nuetral Hysteresis"

"Phase Neuro Hysteria? What does it do?"

"Well, sometimes transformers and other magneto/coil devices can get into a hysteresis loop, which causes lossy power."

* * * DUMMY MODE ON * * *

"Duh huh"

"So what you need to do is to nip the Phase Neutral problem in the bud, by cutting the Phase Neutral source for a minute or two"

"D-OK?"

"Now to do this you'll be cutting through your power cable."

"I'll get electrocuted!"

"Not if you use non-insulated scissors to protect from static build-up..." The PFY cries, reaching for his jacket.

"D-Ok..."

. . . One minute later . . .

"That'll be the fire alarm" The PFY cries.

"Last one to the Pub's a MCSE professional!!" I respond, seeing an opening and taking it.

And they say there's no benefits in open source... ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.


Other stories you might like

  • Chip shortage forces temporary Raspberry Pi 4 price rise for the first time

    Ten-buck increase for 2GB model 'not here to stay' says Upton

    The price of a 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer is going up $10, and its supply is expected to be capped at seven million devices this year due to the ongoing global chip shortage.

    Demand for components is outstripping manufacturing capacity at the moment; pre-pandemic, assembly lines were being red-lined as cloud giants and others snapped up parts fresh out of the fabs, and the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak really threw a spanner in the works, so to speak, exacerbating the situation.

    Everything from cars to smartphones have been affected by semiconductor supply constraints, including Raspberry Pis, it appears. Stock is especially tight for the Raspberry Pi Zero and the 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 models, we're told. As the semiconductor crunch shows no signs of letting up, the Raspberry Pi project is going to bump up the price for one particular model.

    Continue reading
  • Uncle Sam to clip wings of Pegasus-like spyware – sorry, 'intrusion software' – with proposed export controls

    Surveillance tech faces trade limits as America syncs policy with treaty obligations

    More than six years after proposing export restrictions on "intrusion software," the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has formulated a rule that it believes balances the latitude required to investigate cyber threats with the need to limit dangerous code.

    The BIS on Wednesday announced an interim final rule that defines when an export license will be required to distribute what is basically commercial spyware, in order to align US policy with the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement, an international arms control regime.

    The rule [PDF] – which spans 65 pages – aims to prevent the distribution of surveillance tools, like NSO Group's Pegasus, to countries subject to arms controls, like China and Russia, while allowing legitimate security research and transactions to continue. Made available for public comment over the next 45 days, the rule is scheduled to be finalized in 90 days.

    Continue reading
  • Global IT spending to hit $4.5 trillion in 2022, says Gartner

    The future's bright, and expensive

    Corporate technology soothsayer Gartner is forecasting worldwide IT spending will hit $4.5tr in 2022, up 5.5 per cent from 2021.

    The strongest growth is set to come from enterprise software, which the analyst firm expects to increase by 11.5 per cent in 2022 to reach a global spending level of £670bn. Growth has fallen slightly, though. In 2021 it was 13.6 per cent for this market segment. The increase was driven by infrastructure software spending, which outpaced application software spending.

    The largest chunk of IT spending is set to remain communication services, which will reach £1.48tr next year, after modest growth of 2.1 per cent. The next largest category is IT services, which is set to grow by 8.9 per cent to reach $1.29tr over the next year, according to the analysts.

    Continue reading
  • Memory maker Micron moots $150bn mega manufacturing moneybag

    AI and 5G to fuel demand for new plants and R&D

    Chip giant Micron has announced a $150bn global investment plan designed to support manufacturing and research over the next decade.

    The memory maker said it would include expansion of its fabrication facilities to help meet demand.

    As well as chip shortages due to COVID-19 disruption, the $21bn-revenue company said it wanted to take advantage of the fact memory and storage accounts for around 30 per cent of the global semiconductor industry today.

    Continue reading
  • China to allow overseas investment in VPNs but Beijing keeps control of the generally discouraged tech

    Foreign ownership capped at 50%

    After years of restricting the use and ownership of VPNs, Beijing has agreed to let foreign entities hold up to a 50 per cent stake in domestic VPN companies.

    China has simultaneously a huge market and strict rules for VPNs as the country's Great Firewall attempts to keep its residents out of what it deems undesirable content and influence, such as Facebook or international news outlets.

    And while VPN technology is not illegal per se (it's just not practical for multinationals and other entities), users need a licence to operate one.

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft unveils Android apps for Windows 11 (for US users only)

    Windows Insiders get their hands on the Windows Subsystem for Android

    Microsoft has further teased the arrival of the Windows Subsystem for Android by detailing how the platform will work via a newly published document for Windows Insiders.

    The document, spotted by inveterate Microsoft prodder "WalkingCat" makes for interesting reading for developers keen to make their applications work in the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA).

    WSA itself comprises the Android OS based on the Android Open Source Project 1.1 and, like the Windows Subsystem for Linux, runs in a virtual machine.

    Continue reading
  • Software Freedom Conservancy sues TV maker Vizio for GPL infringement

    Companies using GPL software should meet their obligations, lawsuit says

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit which supports and defends free software, has taken legal action against Californian TV manufacturer Vizio Inc, claiming "repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL)."

    Member projects of the SFC include the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project, BusyBox, Git, GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, Homebrew, Mercurial, OpenWrt, phpMyAdmin, QEMU, Samba, Selenium, Wine, and many more.

    The GPL Compliance Project is described as "comprised of copyright holders in the kernel, Linux, who have contributed to Linux under its license, the GPLv2. These copyright holders have formally asked Conservancy to engage in compliance efforts for their copyrights in the Linux kernel."

    Continue reading
  • DRAM, it stacks up: SK hynix rolls out 819GB/s HBM3 tech

    Kit using the chips to appear next year at the earliest

    Korean DRAM fabber SK hynix has developed an HBM3 DRAM chip operating at 819GB/sec.

    HBM3 (High Bandwidth Memory 3) is a third generation of the HBM architecture which stacks DRAM chips one above another, connects them by vertical current-carrying holes called Through Silicon Vias (TSVs) to a base interposer board, via connecting micro-bumps, upon which is fastened a processor that accesses the data in the DRAM chip faster than it would through the traditional CPU socket interface.

    Seon-yong Cha, SK hynix's senior vice president for DRAM development, said: "Since its launch of the world's first HBM DRAM, SK hynix has succeeded in developing the industry's first HBM3 after leading the HBM2E market. We will continue our efforts to solidify our leadership in the premium memory market."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021