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A Sysadmin's Worst Halloween Fears 41

Criswell writes "This weekend's Strenua Inertia Extravaganza comic strip deals with the fears of the system administrator... It's a special online 'exclusive'... Enjoy!"
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A Sysadmin's Worst Halloween Fears

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  • Well, at least MY worst fear is when Mount Redmond opens its crappy Windows to release the airborne toxin WinDozeium, which will cause anyone who inhales it to instantly pass out as a result of a brain GPF. However, my legion of Daemons will prevent this from happening with their superior error handling capabilities.
  • I believe there's a small glitch going on right now on slashdot giving lots of people 1 point of moderation every so often, instead of the usual 5 you get when the system selects you as a moderator.

    (I've had two points randomly appear for me in the past few hours, apparently so have others)

    This may explain the high amount of moderation happening right now. Either it's a burp in the system, or Rob's experimenting on us. :)
  • I think it has something to do with the redesigning of slashdot. I seem to be gaining moderator points randomly. But then again, I haven't been active for that long; it might have been doing that before too?
    If you like this sort of thing (who doesn't?) I've got some more similar stuff at []
  • by cdlu ( 65838 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:03AM (#1574409) Homepage
    Its just trying to emulate tar ... :)

    tar - is for stdin, so you use tar xvzf filename.tar.gz
    ps aux to me, though, makes me feel like i'm sending a request to my mouse on /dev/psaux. :)
  • i had the problem of converting over to not using the dash. for the longest time, i would type ps -aux and get ps griping at me... i eventually converted, but now when i'm at school and try to do a 'ps aux' on IRIX, it has _no_ idea what it is.

    btw, 'ps aux' makes me feel like i'm sending it to my mouse also :)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Leaving off the dash for BSD-style options is an attempt to reconcile the vastly different options between SysV and BSD style versions of ps. Parts of this are specified by the relevant standards, and the dual dash/dashless ps is used by a variety of unices nowadays.
  • I get (and more or less agree with) the overrated moderation. But could someone please explain the flamebait bit?
  • by slashkitty ( 21637 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:19AM (#1574413) Homepage [] is running a special Halloween Comics Section [] featuring comics with halloween related storylines and all sorts of crossovers between different internet comics. It's pretty fun. All of these are internet only as well.
  • by Eg0r ( 704 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:20AM (#1574414)
    mmhh.. be this thread be off topic :-)

    I do medical imaging, so I've been used for quite a while to dealing with monochrome/color displays. While color monitors are becoming quite good if you're willing to spend the money (All the color monitors I work on have trinitron tubes), matching the pitch of a grey monochrome monitor is quite chalenging (put R,G,B channels in the space of one grey pixel).

    The first time I came across this fact was in Russia, with diagnostic filmless X-ray here []. You wouldn't want to see the difference when compared to a color normal display! Displaying the same images on a color monitor just look awful, and can be quite dangerous if you rely on the quality of the monitor for diagnostic purposes!!!!

    So anyway, a few years later, here I am with my two monitors (saved from the skip). Both are 1280x1024 21" DEC monitors, there's a color one (VRT19HA) and a BW (VR21 I think) that is plugged on the green output of the color monitor (so in fact both display the same stuff).

    If I program and do a lot of text stuff, I will look at the BW monitor, whereas if I do color stuff, I will look at the color one, clever hey? ;-)

    Even better, with Xfree 4.0 I should now be able to get a different display on both of them (haven't tried x2x though), especially now that I managed to get myself a second matrox millennium 2, ideal for the purpose with the sync-on-green hack! When I am done, I will definitely use a true monochrome setup, because while the green channel is okay with most of the stuff, it's a little bit weird if you get color information in your xterms, sometimes you just miss some of the stuff :-)


  • I always thought the idea was that options had dashes, while actions did not. Thus tar c -vf blah was supposedly the "right" way to say it. Since a, u, and x are all options telling ps HOW to display the process information, they should have a dash.

    Besides, it's annoying to have to recompile ps just to get rid of a stupid *NAG* field. :)
  • Not to mention that the author can't distinguish between Greek and Egyptian mythology.
  • by Aaron ( 1233 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:23AM (#1574417) Homepage
    the man page tells all...

    Berkeley syntax (aka ps aux) doenst have a dash. SysV syntax (ps -ef) does. GNU ps does both, and it figures out what syntax you are trying to use based on whether the dash is there or not. (some flags have differing usages based on if they are berkeley or SysV)

    thus ps -aux whines, and ps -ef doesnt :)
  • That's a good comic. Go check it out for a bit if you haven't. The site needs some serious usability work but the comedy is dead on. Esp. the M$ bashing Linux slant.
  • We, are indeed priveledged to have Criswell, at the University of Arizona [], in our School Paper, The Arizona Daily Wildcat [].

    If you look for yourself, it is indeed refreshing to have some Geek Humor in this paper, and it is something to smile about in the morning, which, I'm sorry to say, cannot be said about the other comic stips.

    I was, indeed, pleased to see this article on Slashdot.


    *Carlos: Exit Stage Right*

    "Geeks, Where would you be without them?"

  • by pb ( 1020 )
    I just found this comic last night, and read through them all. And here it is on Slashdot. Don't bother searching the web, Slashdot will find all the good stuff...

    I thought that cartoon was so good, I sent it to my Operating Systems teacher (he always has cartoons before class, usually he alters Dilbert cartoons to make them more lame).

    I think my favorites were some of the ones with the dots. ("Hey, baby...")
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • by Penrif ( 33473 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @04:41AM (#1574422) Homepage
    And with our new Doom sysadmin tool, those zombies are dead within minutes!

  • This [] is also quite humorous.

  • by moonboy ( 2512 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @05:08AM (#1574424) Homepage
    I suggested the following as a story this morning and thought it was much funnier:

    Rasterman Shaves Head! []

    Mandrake's Seedier Life Exposed!


    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Visiting this site reminded me just how nice monochrome *graphics* is on a large screen. Anyone got their X setup in mono? (if you've used an older business Mac you'll remember....)
  • Hah, Yes, excuse me.
    My mistake.

  • by m3000 ( 46427 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @04:56AM (#1574427)
    I think this [] would be even more humourous than 404 error :-)
  • Of course, this site isn't really mono.. it's grayscale. On a true monochrome screen (like an old Mac) it would all be dithered to hell.
  • by droleary ( 47999 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @05:43AM (#1574429) Homepage
    when you pry it from my cold dead fingers!

    Who's idea was it to make the ps command inconsistent when it came to handling switches and complain about using it the standard way? The dash is used so often and (otherwise) consistently that it will always be "ps -ax" to me.
  • by cdlu ( 65838 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @04:58AM (#1574430) Homepage
    while(offtopic){Eh? No..I opened it with SVGALib in lynx :)
    hint: there is nothing you _need_ X for. }
    That comic reminds me though, does anyone know if there is an effective way of killing zombie processes? Or could we make unused signal 16 SIGZMBIE and instruct the kernel to destroy it at all costs? :)
    "init! You have misuderstood my orders! *alt+sysrq+l* (don't try that!!)
  • I want my dash! I have just about gotten all the letters memories on all the different unixies I use and you hit me over the head with a BSDism.

    What the hell is with this "depreciation"? are you going to depreciate spaces next?

    If I wanted a operating system that nags me, I'd use windows!
  • I don't know, 404 errors are pretty funny. Especially the ones that have lots of graphics, therefore making it look like the page is loading, but instead you get a page that says, "This page has loaded to tell you that the page you wanted is never going to load."
  • Document Not Found The page you are seeking cannot be found. Sorry, but we could not find the document you were looking for. If you were referred to it by a hyperlink on the website, try asking the site's webmaster to fix the link. If you are the site's webmaster and believe that the document does exist on your site, take note of the following: Filenames and subdirectories on BizLand are case sensitive, i.e., MyPage.html is not the same as mypage.html Filenames and subdirectories on BizLand can only contain alphanumeric, dot (.), dash (-), and underscore (_) characters. All other characters may result in the file not being retrievable by web browsers. In particular, spaces are not allowed.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Totally off topic (yet it will hopefully prove a point), this article has been very kind to posters. Just about every post has gotten moderated, and most of them are moderated up. Very weird, yet I guess it's expected for so few posts. Anyway, just an observation I had. Now watch this get moderated down : )
  • by poink ( 7454 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @06:20AM (#1574435)
    AN admins worst fear is NOT zombies, it is an uber-luser with the root/admin/supervisor password. Imagine the horror: "Since Nick isn't here, I'll just install SP6 for him" or "This QSECOFR person hasn't changed their password for a long time, I'd better disable their account!".
  • by qgj_rjimlad ( 78550 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @05:04AM (#1574436)
    Here's the URL for the aforementioned doom sysadmin tool: [].

  • by Bradley ( 2330 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @02:30PM (#1574437)
    I submitted this as a story, but its late in America now, so I doubt anyone will get to it while its still Halloween. (Its actually November in AU now, but thats a different matter...)

    Go to Google [], and look twice at the logo.
  • I want the dash too.

    export I_WANT_A_BROKEN_PS=t

    is your friend.
  • by Anders ( 395 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @06:27AM (#1574440)
    Zombies are children that have finished executing, but their parent does not care. The parent needs to call the wait function to shut down the child properly (and transfer the exit status to the parent process).

    You cannot kill such a zombie, since the parent might care at a later time. The kernel cannot know in advance when the parent is going to call wait and thus the only way to kill the zombie is to kill its parent. A zombie is merely the exit status of a program, waiting to be picked up. If you kill the parent, the kernel can finally be sure that the exit status is not being picked up, and both parent and child/zombie goes away.

    You can, when you program, instruct the kernel to take care of any finished children by saying that you are never going to call wait. But you have to do that on a per-program basis, and in advance.

  • If you think admins aren't worried about zombie processes, then I guess you've never administered a cluster that makes heavy use of NFS...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @06:33AM (#1574442)
    I don't think the kernel kills the zombies. Rather they are inherited by init (pid 1) that wait()s for them and finally puts them to rest.
  • Yes, that is correct - init inherits them. I was being a bit unprecise, sorry.
  • by Kaz Kylheku ( 1484 ) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @06:10PM (#1574445) Homepage
    Basically the same old worn out Microsoft bashing trying to come off as humor. What's missing is that essential dash of wit and the slightest hint of originality.

    I wonder, did someone purposely set this up to make Linux advocates look like twits?

Where there's a will, there's an Inheritance Tax.