Know your System Administrator

(A field guide)

There are four major species of Unix sysad:

  1. The TECHNICAL THUG. Usually a systems programmer who has been forced into system administration; writes scripts in a polyglot of the Bourne shell, sed, C, awk, perl, and APL.
  2. The ADMINISTRATIVE FASCIST. Usually a retentive drone (or rarely, a harridan ex-secretary) who has been forced into system administration.
  3. The MANIAC. Usually an aging cracker who discovered that neither the Mossad nor Cuba are willing to pay a living wage for computer espionage. Fell into system administration; occasionally approaches major competitors with indesp schemes.
  4. The IDIOT. Usually a cretin, or old COBOL programmer selected to be the system administrator by a committee of cretins, and old COBOL programmers.


SITUATION: Low disk space

SITUATION: Excessive CPU usage

SITUATION: New account creation

SITUATION: Root disk fails

SITUATION: Poor network response

SITUATION: User questions

SITUATION: Stupid user questions

SITUATION: Process accounting management

SITUATION: Religious war, BSD vs. System V

SITUATION: Religious war, System V vs. AIX

SITUATION: Balky printer daemons.

SITUATION: OS upgrade.

SITUATION: Balky mail.

SITUATION: Users want phone list application.

Typical root .cshrc file:

Hobbies, technical:

Hobbies, nontechnical:

1992 Presidential Election:

1996 Presidential Election:

Compound System Administrators:

—Stephan Zielinski

—Submitted by Durval Menezes

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