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Who is the BOFH?

BOFH, otherwise known as the Bastard Operator From Hell, is a fictional system administrator who went rogue long before anyone had even heard of Edward Snowden*. Known as either BOFH or only by his first name, Simon, he is the lead character in the long-running comedy column created by the brilliant Simon Travaglia that you can read here at The Register.

If you haven't yet experienced BOFH, it's set in a typical corporate IT department, headed up by an ever-changing gallery of Bosses, many of whom BOFH just happens to help, shall we say, move on. Another enemy of the operator is the users. Together with his sidekick-slash-assistant, the Pimply-Faced Youth (aka PFY), BOFH spends his days outmaneuvering clueless Bosses and HR types, outwitting and counteracting the stupidity of users, and occasionally seeing to it that his tech team of two is rewarded to the extent they deserve – with over-spec'd machines the users would never fully appreciate, or a few beers, say.

So why have you heard someone call the techies at work BOFH? It’s because the column is such an industry standard, so epic and well-regarded – it’s been around since Travaglia first started posting the tales on Usenet 30 years ago – that any cantankerous admin who has had enough nonsense from users may be called that by their peers.

Pro tip? The BOFH is root, so antagonize him at your peril.

BOFH stories span multiple episodes, each of which are published every other Friday, typically. You can find our complete BOFH archive below.

* The Register has heard Snowden claim his role within the NSA was as an analyst and not a sysadmin. It was one of the Bosses at the US super-spy agency, for which he worked as a contractor, who insisted Snowden was an IT administrator, and said his leaks made future techies' lives difficult by implementing tracking rules that now apply to every sysadmin who works there. Starting to sympathize with why BOFH is so quick to pick up a sack of quicklime yet?