The maintainer of the Linux manual program
man has scrapped an "Easter egg" after it broke a user's automatic code tests.
On Tuesday, Unix systems administrator Jaroslav Kucera wrote in a Stack Exchange post: "We've noticed that some of our automatic tests fail when they run at 00:30 but work fine the rest of the day. They fail with the message 'gimme gimme gimme' in stderr, which wasn't expected."
He added: "This is an easter egg in
man. When you run
man without specifying the page or with
-w, it outputs 'gimme gimme gimme' to stderr, but only at 00:30."
The origin of this story appears to date back to a tweet in November 2011 by Marnanel Thurman.
Obviously "gimme gimme gimme" refers to the Swedish pop band ABBA's hit 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)'.
The single was written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. It came out in 1979 with 'The King Has Lost His Crown' as the B-side.
The BBC reported in 2005 that Madonna wrote to the band "begging" they let her sample it for her single 'Hung Up' (the band said yes).
Now, however, it does seem like this Easter egg is getting the axe. Maintainer Colin Watson commented in response to the Stack Exchange post today: "I'm glad that it made some people smile, which after all was the whole purpose of it, and my Twitter notifications and so on today suggest that most people thought it was more amusing than annoying.
"Still, some people did find it annoying, and six years seems like a pretty good run for that sort of thing; it probably isn't going to get significantly better exposure than it already unexpectedly has by way of this question."
"Time to put it to bed," he wrote, adding that it will "be gone in the upcoming
Watson told The Reg: "A friend suggested the ABBA 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)' reference and it tickled my sense of humour. Software doesn't have to be 100 per cent serious at all times.
"In this case it was only ever supposed to affect cases that were purely syntax errors and thus be clearly harmless; I made a mistake when adding a feature a few months later that caused this not quite to be the case. Such is life, and fortunately the consequences were minor and rare." ®