Sunday, August 10, 2008

Linux and Unix Humor With The Operator From Hell

A fairly-decent Sunday to you :)

This end (or beginning, depending upon your locale) of the week, during my search for Linux and/or Unix humor, I happened upon the documented exploits of The Bastard Operator From Hell. Pretty funny stuff if you take your system administration straight-up ;) I've positioned the first 4 entries in the series (from the link above) at the end of this post. If you like it and want to read more, you can pick up the rest at the Bastard Indexes page. In fact, check out the entire site as there are plenty more laughs where these came from.

Note, of course, that I've smudged all the profanity from this post, as usual. The original site has all of this, and more; with the inappropriate language in all the appropriate places. If I ever move off of my blog host, or become an "adult" site, I'm looking at a lot of backwords edits, which is going to be a m####rf####r ;)

Hopefully you can relate (with the BOFH) and can find a laugh or two in the following. If you're the other "person" and you can find a laugh or two, you either have very healthy self-esteem or you may be a doormat ;) Just kidding, of course. All in good fun :)


Thanks to Martin Hooper for his comment pointing out that there are even more, and newer, versions available:

You know there are new BOFH up at the Register?


The Bastard Operator from Hell #1

It's backup day today so I'm pi$$ed off. Being the BOFH, however, does have
it's advantages. I reassign null to be the tape device - it's so much more
economical on my time as I don't have to keep getting up to change tapes every
5 minutes. And it speeds up backups too, so it can't be all bad can it? Of
course not.

A user rings

"Do you know why the system is slow?" they ask

"It's probably something to do with..." I look up today's excuse ".. clock

"Oh" (Not knowing what I'm talking about, they're satisfied) "Do you know
when it will be fixed?"

"Fixed? There's 275 users on your machine, and one of them is you. Don't be
so selfish - logout now and give someone else a chance!"

"But my research results are due in tommorrow and all I need is one page of
Laser Print.."

"SURE YOU DO. Well; You just keep telling yourself that buddy!" I hang up.

You'd really think people would learn not to call..

The phone rings. It'll be him again, I know. That annoys me. I put on a
gruff voice


"Oh, I'm sorry, I've got the wrong number"

"YEAH? Well what's your name buddy? Do you know WASTED phone calls cost
money? DO YOU? I've got a good mind to subtract your wasted time, my wasted
time, and the cost of this call from your weekly wages! IN FACT I WILL! By
the time I've finished with you, YOU'LL OWE US money! WHAT'S YOUR NAME - AND

I hear the phone drop and the sound of running feet - he's obviously going to
try and get an alibi by being at the Dean's office. I look up his username
and find his department. I ring the Dean's secretary.

"Hello?" she answers


"I think so..." she says


"Um. Ok"


I hear her scrabbling at the terminal...


She sobs her assent and I hang up. And the worst thing is, I was just guessing
about the purity test thing. I grab a quick copy anyway, it might make for
some good late-night reading.

Meantime backups have finished in record time, 2.03 seconds. Modern technology
is wonderful, isn't it?

Another user rings.

"I need more space" he says

"Well, why not move to Texas?" I ask

"No, on my account, stupid."

Stupid? Uh-Oh..

"I'm terribly sorry" I say, in a polite manner equal to that of Jimmy Stewart
in a Weekend Family Matine Feature "I didn't quite catch that. What was it
that you said?"

I smell the fear coming down the line at me, but it's too late, he's a goner
and he knows it.

"Um, I said what I wanted was more space on my account, *please*"

"Sure, hang on"

I hear him gasp his relief even though he'd covered the mouthpeice.

"There, you've got *plenty* of space now!"

"How much have I got?" he simps

Now this *REALLY* *PI$$ES* *ME* *OFF*! Not only do they want me to give them
extra space, they want to check it, then correct me if I don't give them enough!
They should be happy with what I give them *and that's it*!

Back into Jimmy Stewart mode.

"Well, let's see, you have 4 Meg available"

"Wow! Eight Meg in total, thanks!" he says, pleased with his bargaining power

"No" I interrupt, savouring this like a fine red at room temperature, with
steak, extra rare, to follow; "4 Meg in total.."

"Huh? I'd used 4 Meg already, How could I have 4 Meg Available?"

I say nothing. It'll come to him.


I kill me; I really do!

The Bastard Operator from Hell #2

I'm sitting at the desk, playing x-tank, when some thoughtless bastard rings
me on the phone. I pick it up.

"Hello?" I say.

"Who is this?" they say

"It's me I think" I say, having successfully attended a telephone skills course

"Me Who?"

"Is this like a knock knock joke?" I say, trying anything to save myself
having to end this game.

Too LATE! I get killed.

Now I'm pi$$ed!

"What can I do for you?" I ask pleasantly - (one of the key warning signs)

"Um, I want to know if we have a particular software package.."

"Which package is that?"

"Uh, B-A-S-I-C it's called."

>clickety clickety d-e-l b-a-s-i-c.e-x-e<

"Um no, we don't have that. We used to though.."

"oh. Oh well, the other thing I wanted to know was, could the contents of
my account be copied to tape to I have a permanent copy of them to save at
home in case the worst happens.."

"The worst?"

"Well, like they get deleted or something..."

"DELETED! Oh, don't worry about that, we have backups!" (I'm such a *sh@@*)
"What was your username?"

He gives me his lusername. (What an idiot)

>clickety clikc<

"But you haven't got any files in your account!" I say, mock surprise leaping
from my vocal chords.

"Yes I have, you must be looking in the wrong place!"

So first he spoils my x-tank game, and *now* he's calling me a liar...

>clickety click<

"Oh no, I made a mistake" I say

Did he mutter "typical" under his breath??!? Oh dear, oh dear..

"I MEANT TO SAY: That USERNAME doesn't exist"

"Huh? >wimper< It must do, I was only using it this morning!"

"Ah well, that'll be the problem, there was a virus in our system this
morning, the... uh... DE VINCI Virus, wipes out users who are logged in
when it goes off."

"That can't be right, my girlfriend was logged in, and I'm in her account now!"

"Which one was that?"

He tells me the username. Some people NEVER learn..

"Oh, yeah, her account was just after we discovered the virus."...
>clickety clikc< "..she only lost all her files"


"But don't worry, we've got them all on tape"

"Oh, thank goodness!!!"

"Paper tape. Have you got a magnifying glass and a pencil? SEE YOU IN THE

I'm such a pr#ck!

The Bastard Operator from Hell #3

So I'm working so hard I barely have time to drive into town and watch a movie
before I told people their printing will be ready. The queue's WAAAAAY too
long to have everything printed (and sorted) by the time I told them, so I
kill all the small jobs so there's only 2 left and I can sort them in no time.

Then, after the movie, (which was one of those slack Bertolucci ones that takes
about 3 hours till the main character is killed off in a visionary experience)
I get back and clear the printouts.

There's about 50 people waiting outside and I've got two printouts. That's
about average for me. I thought I'd killed more tho. Anyway, I put out
the printouts and walk slooowly inside, fingering the clipboard with "ACCOUNTS
TO REMOVE" in big letters on the back. No-one says anything. As usual.

. . .

I'm sitting back in the Operations Armchair, watching the computer room
closed circuit TV, which just happens to be connected to the frame-grabber's
Video player (sent off for repair, due back sometime in '97) when the phone
rings. That must be the 2nd time today, and it's really starting to get to

"Yes?" I say, pausing the picture.

"I seem to have accidentally deleted my C.V!" the voice at the other end of the line

"You have? What was your username?"

He tells me. What the hell, I AM bored.

"Ah no, you didn't delete it - I did."


"I deleted it. It was full of sh@@! You didn't ever get more than a B- in
any of your subjects!"


"And that cr@p about being a foreign exchange student, that was your girlfriend
and we both know it!"


"Your academic records. I checked them, you were lying.. Besides which, you forgot to include your criminal record.."

"How did y.." He clicks. "It's you isn't it? THE BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL!"

"In the flesh, on the phone and in your account.... You shouldn't have called
you know. You especially shouldn't have given me your username.." >clickety<
>click< "Neither should you have sent that mail to the System Manager telling
him what you think of him in such graphic terms..."

"I didn't send any.."

>clickety< >click<......

"No, you didn't did you? But who can tell these days? Not to worry though,
It'll all be over VERY soon.." >clickedy clikc< "..change my username back,

"b-b-b.." he blubs, like a stood-up date

"Goodbye now" I say pleasantly, "you've got bags to pack and a life to start

I hang up.

Two seconds later the red phone goes. I pick it up, it's the boss.
He mumbles the username of the person I was just talking to, mentions something
about a nasty mail message, and utters the words "You know what to do...", with
the dots and everything.

Later, inside the Municipal Energy Authority Computer, as I'm modifying the
poor pleb's Energy Bill by several zeros, I can't help but think about what
lapse of judgement - what act of heinous stupidity - causes them to call.
Then, even later, when I'm adding the poor pleb's photo image over the top
of the FBI's online "MOST Wanted Armed and Dangerous, SHOOT ON SIGHT" offenders
list, I realise I'll probably never know; but then life goes on.

A couple of hours later, as I see the SWAT vehicle roll up outside the poor
pleb's apartment I realise that for some, it just doesn't.

But tommorrow is another day.

The Bastard Operator from Hell #4

It's a thursday, and I'm in a good mood. It's payday. I think I'll take
some calls. I put the phone back on the hook. It rings.

"I've been trying to get you for hours!" the voice at the other end screams

"Not, it can't be hours" I say, putting "Blade Runner" back into it's cover
and looking at the back, "it was more like 114 minutes. I was on a long phone
call with the big boss, trying to get you users some better facilities"

Hook; Line; and Sinker...

"Oh. I'm sorry."

"That's ok, I'm a tolerant person" I make a mental note to change his password
to something nasty in the next couple of days.

"Um, I need to know how to rename a file" he says.

Oh dear... Hang on, it's payday isn't it?! I'm in a good mood.

"Sure. You just go 'rm' and the filename"


"No worries" (Now I'm in a *REALLY* good mood. I think I just might write that
script to make saving impossible on rogue at random times like I've been
thinking about)

The phone rings again.


"Hi there" I say

"Is this the Operators?"

"Yes it is" I say, nice as pie

"Could you get my printouts out please. I need them urgently, and I printed
them over 5 minutes ago"

"Your username?" I ask

He gives it to me, and I write it down for later. "No worries at all!" I say,
and head to the printers.

There's a HUUUUUUUGE pile of printouts there, and sure enough, his is at the
top of the pile. I pick it up, split it out of the rest and pour our ink-
stained cleaning alcohol all over it, run it over a couple of times with the
loaded tape trolley then slam it in the tape safe door some times as well.


"Here's your printout" I say "Sorry about the delay, we've got a few printer

He takes a look and sh@@s himself.

"Well, can I print it again?" he asks, worried

"Sure you can" I say "But no promises, the printer's a bit stuffed today"

"Well can I print it on laser - is that working?"

"Yeah of course, but that'll cost you" I say, oozing compassion for the geek

"It doesn't matter about the cost, THIS IS URGENT!"

I slide-on back into the printer room and put in the toner cartridge we save
for special occasions - the one that prints thick black lines down the middle
of the page and is all faint on one side. It took me quite a while to make it
like that too. The printout shoots through and I bring it out immediately -
I don't want to miss this!

"W-w-what's happened to my printout?" the geek squeals at me.
Lucky I wrote that username down - I'm really starting to develop a taste for

"Well nothing. I mean sure, it's a little soiled, but that cartridge has
already done 47 thousand pages and been refilled 17 times. It's quite good
compared to some we get"

Geek pays up and starts blubbing.

"Hey now. There's no reason to cry! Have you got a disk with your work on

He gives me a box of diskettes and I step inside and buzz them thru the bulk
eraser. I come back out again.

"Sorry, I just remembered, our machine is on the fritz, you'll have to take
these to the other side of campus to the machine there, it'll print them ok,
and it had a brand-new toner yesterday."


"No worries. Oh, and hold the disks above your head the whole way there, the
earth's magnetic field is particularly strong today."


"No arguements, just do it."

He wanders off, hand held high. sh@@, I hate myself sometimes!

UNPRECEDENTED PERFORMANCE: nothing we had before ever worked this way

, Mike

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