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Episode 18

A couple of years back the chances of seeing Unix on a user's desktop machine was about as likely as seeing a Manager at the bar with his wallet open. But in recent months, thanks to the evangelism of a geeky type from R&D a number of people are converting from the Windows Dark Side to Linux.

And I'm not a happy man.

True, I should be happy that people are ascending the Operating System Evolutionary scale, but sadly this isn't the case. As expected, the helldesk know about as much about Unix as the Head of IT knows about dress sense - nil - which doesn't stop them from dispensing advice of course. Advice like: "No, No, no need to use the anti-relay code in your sendmail configuration.."

After the massive upsurge in our through traffic, I managed to nip that in the bud with a rather heavy-handed routing modification then wandered down to have a quiet word with the helldesk person concerned. Just a friendly heart-to-heart, nothing too dramatic.

Once I've dropped off their resignation form at HR (admittedly, they did think they were signing a company accident indemnity form) I pop back down to the office to clean up the complaint barrage by being slightly brutal with our MX records as well.

And of course, now that the geeky type from R&D isn't around (tripped in a stairwell whilst delivering a memo and broke both his legs in a manner that looks for all the world like he was hit with a length of pipe whilst unconscious - but was obviously caused by the fall) we've got to answer all the inane queries from the people who've already been converted to the faith.

"Hello?" I answer, picking up the phone and looking around for witnesses. The PFY, meantime, takes a rest break and diverts attention by engaging the Head of IT in conversation about his weekend.

The poor, stupid, bastard.

"I've got a problem with my Linux server," the user burbles to me, while The Boss extols the virtues of the traditionally crafted train carriage to The PFY

"Your Linux WORKSTATION, Yes."

"I can't seem to find Word."

"Yes - that's because Word was part of your NT applications, but not part of your Linux installation."

"Sorry?"

"You don't get Word with Linux."

"You're joking, how backward! Well how do I get it installed then?"

"You don't. You could install a third-party product like Star Office which is a bit like it, but that's all."

"Will my macros work?"

"Did you save them to a floppy before you changed your system over?"

"No"

"Ah well.."

"But wait, I think I have a copy on my home machine!"

"Excellent. But it won't work anyway."

"So why did you ask me if I'd saved them to floppy?"

"Oh, Just making polite conversation".

"?!"

"But wait a minute, you could run a Windows EMULATOR on your Linux box!! Something like Wine."

"Wine? What is it?"

"Something that users do."

"Pardon?!"

"Wine? It makes your Linux box pretend to be a Windows box again. Say, how much memory has your machine got?"

"64 Meg, the label on the side of the monitor says."

"And Processor?"

"Uhm, Pentium 166."

"Right, and you'd have, what, a 2 gig disk in that baby?"

"Got it upgraded to 18!" he brags cheerily.

"Excellent, it should run like a charm!" I cry, Pinocchioing away like a trooper "You can probably install it from the R&D guy's FTP server. Do you know how to install things?"

"Yes, I've got instructions and I've already installed some stuff this morning."

"Some stuff?"

"Ah, the SETI project thing, IRC Server and something else which I don't know what it does but this guy on IRC recommended."

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING!

"Someone recommended it, so you installed it?"

"Yes."

"I see. What's your disk activity light doing?"

"Disk Activity light?"

"There's two lights on the front of your machine - one's probably got a picture of a cylinder on it."

"Oh yes! But it's OK, they're both on."

"I see. Staying on constantly?"

"Yes. No, wait a minute, the disk thingy clicked off for a moment there. Is it something to worry about?"

"I shouldn't think so.."

. . .

Two days later.

"Very SLOW you say?" The PFY cries, after checking the machine specs. "I can't think why. Oh look! Your disk's all used up and the traffic stats on your machine have gone through the roof. You didn't by chance configure a public access FTP server?"

"Uh, I might have. To get operating system updates dropped off to me I think the guy said."

"Someone on IRC?" The PFY comments, in response to my hand signals - tho' how he got IRC-user from that is anybody's guess - "How thoughtful. Have you run any of those updates?"

"One yesterday morning - it took an awful long time to run."

"Around the same time as all those machines in your department crashed?"

"Uhhhhhmmmm, I don't recall. When was that?"

"It doesn't matter. Oooh, I see you've a large number of telnet connections to dialup lines in the Netherlands."

"That'll be my chat people. They needed telnet to chat properly."

"Of course they do. OK, I think your problem is what we call Phase/Nuetral Hysteresis"

"Phase Neuro Hysteria? What does it do?"

"Well, sometimes transformers and other magneto/coil devices can get into a hysteresis loop, which causes lossy power."

* * * DUMMY MODE ON * * *

"Duh huh"

"So what you need to do is to nip the Phase Neutral problem in the bud, by cutting the Phase Neutral source for a minute or two"

"D-OK?"

"Now to do this you'll be cutting through your power cable."

"I'll get electrocuted!"

"Not if you use non-insulated scissors to protect from static build-up..." The PFY cries, reaching for his jacket.

"D-Ok..."

. . . One minute later . . .

"That'll be the fire alarm" The PFY cries.

"Last one to the Pub's a MCSE professional!!" I respond, seeing an opening and taking it.

And they say there's no benefits in open source... ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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