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The Linux Contradictionary

I have just over a month left here at LXF Towers, so I'm busy clearing up my inbox, answering reader requests. One such request came in to put online the Linux Contradictionary, a side bar from the administeria section of LXF run by Dr Chris Brown, so here it is, in full:

Linux is full of jargon. Learn to bluff your way in this seemingly confusing universe with this handy guide.

  • Crack A mind-altering substance that confers upon its user the power to guess weak passwords.
  • Cursor A user expressing an opinion after quitting the editor without saving.
  • Buffer Terminator that’s found at the end of a line, indicating the need for a carriage return.
  • Shell The hardest part of Linux to crack, hence:
  • Bash Popular way to open a shell.
  • Yum What a Red Hat user says on being offered an ice cream.
  • Apt-get What a Debian user says on being offered an ice cream.
  • Aptitude Good skill at installing software packages.
  • Cpio The archiving droid from the first Star Wars movie.
  • Getty A Californian museum housing a vast collection of login programs.
  • Password file A file within Linux that doesn’t contain passwords.
  • Libcurses-devel The library of Hogwarts’ R&D department.
  • Ifup, ifdown Conditional tests in a shell script to judge the mood of the user.
  • Man Mechanism for reading documentation. Use only as a last resort.
  • Woman Mechanism for not reading documentation, even as a last resort.
  • NetworkManager A tool that undermines all efforts to have control over your various Ethernet interfaces.
  • Perl All-time winner of the obfuscated C competition.
  • Script Something you give to an actor before giving a program to the audience.
  • BNF (Backus-Naur Form) Notation for saying simple things in complicated ways.
  • Vi An ancient text editor invented by the Romans, otherwise known as ‘Six’.
  • Ex An even older editor; something you once loved but then went off in a big way.

Your comments

Well that cheered up my day

Well that cheered up my day :-)

You need to add one

You need to add one more:

Windows: the way out.


And don't forget to put your Mac on before exiting through the Windows.

How about SED Stream

How about

SED Stream EDitor, old fashioned helper for the incontinent texter?

Some more fluff for /dev/null

lisp: a method of wearing off the caps of your '9' and '0' keys
sql: a movie you knew you shouldn't have bought tickets for

not strictly linux but ...

Java - a cup of a hot beverage you grab while the JVM starts :)

They nailed NetworkManager,

They nailed NetworkManager, what a POS


<b>Ubuntu</b> African phrase that means "can't install Debian"

not original but seen on a tee shirt recently and appreciated the sense of humour from upstream.

MidnightCommander. WolrdWar

MidnightCommander. WolrdWar II commando like elite.

Mandriva. A monster from a japonese made children tv show.

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